Monday, 22 December 2014

Asia 2014: How It All Began...

At the end of May 2014, we set off for a three-week trip to Asia... 

This began with a quick pre-flight dinner in Strada, followed by an hour-long flight delay.

After our 12 hour flight, we had our two hour stop-over and watched the sun set over Hong Kong, before boarding the plane for South Korea!

Arriving safely at the airport, we took the KORAIL to Seoul.

Eventually arriving at our hotel around 11pm, we had our post-flight dinner of Bulgogi Gimbap and Hot Stir-Fried Pork Gimbap!

It was a super tiring birthday, but all worth it for what was to come!...

I was sure looking forward to spending my several million won!!!

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be posting a series of blog posts covering our daily happenings during our time in Korea. I can't wait to relive the memories and share them with you :) 

Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few of my own photos do appear, but the majority do not belong to me.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Korea Haul: Nature Republic

Firstly, I must confess that I forgot to include one of my favourite items in this post - the famous Soothing & Moisture Aloe Gel! I somehow forgot to take a photo of the huge green tub! A brief review however; a great, lightweight and refreshing gel that applies easily and soothes my skin without breaking me out. Dry patches require exfoliation and extra moisturiser, but this is a cheap and relaxing way to soften and rejuvenate tired or dull parts of the body.

Anyway, moving on. Having never tried any of Nature Republic's foundations, I chose the Botanical Vanilla foundation having noticed BeauTeen Pouch use it constantly on YouTube.

I had a dilemma picking the right shade in store - it didn't help that the store assistant continuously followed me around the store and provided no help at all... After swatching for a while with her watching me like a hawk, I decided to employ her skills and asked her which shade would suit my skin tone. She responded with: 'just go with the darker shade - they are both very similar and if you don't just pick one, you will stand here all day swatching. It won't make a difference.' The service was certainly the most terrible I had received in the shopping district - all the other stores and their assistants were exceedingly helpful and not at all rude or obtrusive!

I ended up going with shade 21 Vanilla Nude, as the majority of Korean BB and CC creams that I own are in this shade. Plus, as this was the paler shade out of the two, I concluded that it would be easier to warm up a lighter foundation with bronzer, than having to mix a darker foundation with a paler one.

For some reason, the blogosphere seems to imply that this product is being phased out soon, but I saw no signs of this in Korea - stock seemed abundant, and there didn't seem to be a push to get rid of it. I have yet to try this, so I am hoping that if this gains Holy Grail status, it will still be around for me to repurchase whenever I manage to finish it (read: most likely after several years).

Next, I purchased the Nature Republic Angel Lip Balm in 01 Peach Tint Balm. I had read several reviews online before my trip, all highly rating this product and comparing it to the Dior Lip Glow. It was no surprise that this shade was sold out in every Nature Republic store that I stepped foot in. I visited all the stores in Myeongdeong to no avail, before keeping an eye out at stores that we passed on our travels. Eventually, I found it in a Nature Republic store housed in a subway underground mall, owned by an extremely friendly and helpful male shop owner! Also: I may have bought the second last one!! :D

The product itself comes in a lipstick form, with a transparent light pink bullet which changes colour on application, leading to a wide variety of different shades depending on your natural lip colour. For me, the product provides a lively, bright-ish pink colour that doesn't scream for attention, but gives a little more colour to my overall complexion. I love how light and moisturing this is - it isn't sticky, and feels exactly like the Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm which is my absolute staple. I continuously reach for this product, and it is no surprise that I am gutted that I didn't leave the store with that very last lip balm.

What do I say about this concealer? I was not planning to purchase this product, but when I saw the advert claiming 'Good Bye!' to under eye darkness, I thought it would be worth a try - anything promising the cover up of dark circles and flawless skin tends to get me like that.

Again, I purchased shade 21, this time called Light Beige.

The product itself comes in a squeeze tube, which is new for me. All the concealers that I own either come in a mini pump bottle, a 'twist and click' dispensible pen, a stick, or a pot. The packaging is a lot more hygienic than the majority of my concealer collection, and it is something that I am grateful for. It also makes it easier to dispense the right amount of product, and is easier to clean.

Indoor swatch of Nature Republic Botanical Concealer in Shade 21, Light Beige

Outdoor swatch of Nature Republic Botanical Concealer in Shade 21, Light Beige
Unfortunately, it was getting a little dark at this point ><

On swatching, I actually found the product to be a little drying. It sets quite quickly, which can make it difficult to work with. Alternatively, warming the product up may help with application, but may be time consuming and waste a lot of product. I have not yet tried this on my face, so cannot vouch for its longevity, or how it sits alongside other make up.

Of my Nature Republic purchases, I would highly recommend the Aloe Gel and the Angel Lip Balm - that's two out of two products that I have tried! I will report back on the other two products, but in the meantime, get looking for that Lip Balm!!

Have you tried these products before? 
What are your Nature Republic must haves?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Korea Haul: Etude House

Having always been a fan of Etude House products, with their cute packaging and wide variety of products and shades, it was only fitting for it to be the first brand that I researched when compiling my 'list of things to buy' before my trip to Korea.

I had heard so much about BB and CC cushions, it was the first item to make it onto the list. On entering the store, I made a bee line for the Etude House Any Cushion.

I originally had my eye on the Minnie Mouse case that I'd spotted online, but when my eyes landed on the Cinderella case in store, I knew it had to come home with me. To save a bit of money, I bought the Cinderella case and a refill of the Etude House Any Cushion in W13 to put into the case.

I wore it over the next few days in the hot, humid weather before coming to the conclusion that I needed a refill for when I ran out back home!

During the course of my time in Asia, this was the item that I kept reaching for over and over again. To review it briefly; great coverage and lasting power, but the application might take some getting used to. It took a while for me to train myself to tap-tap-tap consistently all over the face.

I had never heard of the Nymph Aura Volumer prior to my research, but quickly noticed that this product was quite highly rated among the blogging community. It has been compared to Benefit's High Beam, acting as a highlighter that gives a natural, lit-from-within glow. With three shades to choose from, I went for #3 Transparent Nymph Aura. From what I saw online, #1 is more orange-based, whilst #2 is more pink-toned, with both containing shimmers.

As directed on the bottle, the product can be used on its own as a highlighter, or mixed in at a 1:3 ratio with BB cream or foundation. The resulting look is meant to reflect those worn by Korean actresses; beautifully lit-from-within, but not sweaty or greasy looking.

One of the things that I love about this is the packaging - a pump that comes without a stalk, using only pressure to release the product from the bottle!

I have yet to use this, but if the hype around this product is justified, then I know I'll be reaching for this as much as I reach for my High Beam!

Nymph Aura Volumer in #3 Transparent Nymph Aura

Around the time of my trip, Etude House had just released the Play 101 Pencils, which includes 50 different creamy pencils in a wide variety of shades and finishes. They are suitable for use on the eyes, cheeks, and lips. As I adore Korean eye liners for their long-wearing and budge-proof abilities, I purchased two shades: #6 and #50.

The pencils twist up for easy application, and the coloured end pulls out into a convenient plastic sharpener!

These pencils are extremely creamy and glide a hundred times better than the famous Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil. No tugging or dragging; just pure creamy eye liner that's relatively quick to set and does not budge AT ALL. Before trying Etude House's Color Pop Drawing Show Creamy Pencil set a year ago, I never thought I would find anything better than the Urban Decay, which served me well but had a couple of what I regarded as downfalls.

Left: #50 - matte, deep brown.
Right: #6 - peachy/pinky metallic silver.

These pencils lived up to my expectations and continue to work really well for my monolids, as do the Etude House Drawing Show Creamy Pencils, with these perhaps being even slightly more creamy - if that is even possible.

The Face It Primer was actually something that I purchased on a whim. Prior to this, I only owned the GOSH Velvet Touch Foundation Primer in Clear, which I don't really think does much for me despite its good reviews.

With the choice of the Velvet Skin Primer or Moisture Fitting Primer, I went for the one I felt would be more useful in the impending, drier weather.

The packaging is similar to the Nymph Aura Volumer - a stalkless pump, with the product housed in a creamy, metallic, plastic bottle.

The product itself is thick and a very pale pink. On swatching, I noticed that it leaves a slight greasy feeling to the skin, but I'm not sure if this is due to swatching such a large amount of product on such a small surface area.

The consistency reminds me of a thick moisturising lotion, which is also a little off-putting. I have yet to test this out properly under make up, but am putting this off because I'm worried it might feel too greasy and heavy!

Finally, the last product that I purchased from Etude House was the Surprise Stick Concealer. I initially planned to purchase #01, but swatches in store and a discussion with the sales assistant lead me to purchase #02.

The product comes in a twist up tube, with the concealer itself feeling a little drying and more difficult to blend than others. I have yet to use this properly aside from swatching in store, so unfortunately I cannot say whether or not this is worth purchasing!

The packaging for this concealer seems cheap, and another downside is the lack of shades available. With shade #01, the concealer is super cool toned and appeared more of a pale peachy-pink on my hand, whilst the #02 shade appears more warm toned, but has definite shades of orange. As I have yet to use this on my face, I cannot confirm what shade #02 would be suitable for in terms of shading for other brands.

Hopefully I will find time to review these products in the future!

Are there any products that you would like to see a review on?
Are any of these your personal favourites?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Korea Haul: Innisfree

In light of my recent trip to Asia, I decided it would be appropriate to share some of the skin care and cosmetics products that I deemed worthy of purchase. Granted, I put together a well-researched list of products for possible purchase which I brought with me on my travels. On arrival in each store, I would refer to my list - this made sure I stuck to things that I knew would be worth the money; products that fellow bloggers had rated highly and recommended for purchase. I believe this enabled me to reign in on the impulse purchases and meant that I spent a lot less money than I otherwise would have had I just gone in willy-nilly and picked out everything that I thought looked good...

So, first up - Innisfree. This is a brand that I seem to have fallen helplessly in love with after my trip to Asia. I just wish I'd bought some of their other products whilst I was there. There were a few products on my list that I decided to pass on such as the Innisfree Smart Foundation, Longwear Cushion, and Green Tea Mist. At the time, I figured it would be wise to pass on these for now: "I already own quite a few foundations... who needs more?" (I guess I was thinking more logically and less like a beauty blogger. Le sigh.) 

My very first purchase from Innisfree came in the form of the Water Glow Cushion, which has SPF50+ PA+++. I stood there for a while, deliberating between this and the Long Wear Cushion. Did I want a dewy finish despite my current greaseball status in Asia, or should I go for the Long Wear Cushion that would last me all day in the current climate?

After discussing with the sales assistant and testing out both products on the back of my hands, I decided to opt for the Water Glow Cushion. Despite the fact that my hands were not what you would call dry, the Long Wear Cushion appeared cakey and settled into crevices on my skin. The Water Glow Cushion was definitely more moist as suggested by its name, and there was no issue with it settling into creases.

As a more moisturising cushion, I felt that this was more suitable over the Long Wear Cushion for the drier UK weather - particularly for the winter where my skin is more prone to dry spots and looking a lot duller. The suitability of the Long Wear Cushion in warmer climates was lost on me as I was looking for something that would work in the British weather - something infamous for being cold, wet, and particularly unpredictable. (You hear that, September Summer...?!)

Compared to the Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion and the Iope CC Cushion, the Innisfree cushion packaging for both the Long Wear and Water Glow Cushions are much flatter, making it look more sleek. The flatter top also makes it easier to store either in a make up drawer or stacked with other products.

On opening the pact, you are faced with an in built mirror as well as the special CC cushion sponge, resting on top of the plastic protective cover that is so common and clever of Asian cosmetic pacts.

In its unopened form, the cushion itself is sealed with a hygiene sticker. As I have yet to give this its trial run, I have not been able to take a photo of the cushion sponge itself. I am planning to test this cushion through Autumn until the beginning of Winter to see how this product fares through the change in temperature and my different skin conditions, so keep an eye out for that pending blog post!

With the wide varieties in colour and products, the lip product section of Innisfree was the second area where I spent the majority of my time. I think I actually bought these products in a few different Innisfree stores... I also purchased a Dual Eyebrow Brush but forgot to include it in this post (fail).

I picked out three easy-to-wear shades in three different product forms. From left to right above are: The Color Glow Lipstick in Shade 3, Vivid Tint Rouge in Shade 9, and the Glossy Lip Lacquer in Shade 3. The first is obviously a lipstick, with the second being a 'tint' that feels more like a pigmented lip gloss without the stickiness. The lip lacquer itself reminds me of the Rimmel Apocalips lip lacquers.

From left to right: Innisfree Color Glow Lipstick in #3, Vivid Tint Rouge in #9 and Glossy Lip Lacquer in #3

From top to bottom: Innisfree Color Glow Lipstick in #3, Vivid Tint Rouge in #9, and Glossy Lip Lacquer in #3

Unfortunately, I have yet to open their popular Waterproof Microcara - be sure to check back though, because I will be testing it out and reporting back on its waterproof claims!

I've already used all the other products and really, really like them! The Color Glow Lipstick has fast become a favourite due to its ability to give me a sheer wash of colour without getting sticky or drying out my lips. Reviews are in the works for all of these products, but all I can say for now is that none of the products that I have tested so far have been a disappointment.

So, thumbs up to Innisfree! Definitely looking forward to trying more of their products!

Have you tried any Innisfree products? 
What do you think I should try next?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Paris: Day 5

This was our last day in Paris. You can catch up with the previous four days here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

After the previous day's excitement, we spent our final day in Paris with a spot on shopping and super last minute sight seeing.

Our first stop was at Galeries Lafayette, a French department store that I personally like to explain to people as the French version of Selfridges. Granted, the interior design is far more beautiful in Galeries Lafayette - just look at the ceiling!

Once Sharon had made her purchases, we headed back out towards the Metro station, where my dessert radar located a free-standing Amorino store just across the road!

I went all out and asked for three different flavours, since it was our last day... totally justifiable, no?! I seem to remember choosing the lemon, hazelnut (nocciola) and raspberry. Just thinking about the lemon flavour is making my mouth water D:

With me devouring my Amorino, we headed towards Musée de Louvre for some last minute tourist shots.

We then hurried back to our apartment to finish up packing and headed for the airport. Sharon had a forward flight to Belgium later that evening, but came with us to the airport. Once we'd arrived, we checked in, strolled through a few souvenir shops, then found a place to chill out together in our last hour or so together :(

With our hand luggage in tow, we said our sad goodbyes to Sharon and headed towards security and immigration. Before we'd even managed to reach the queue, we were pulled aside by a couple of Air France staff who gestured towards the luggage measurement racks and requested to weigh our hand luggage.

At this point, I panicked. I knew for sure that my suitcase would not fit into the luggage rack - the wheels make it too long to fit! Despite this, I did as requested and hoisted my luggage onto the rack. Turns out it doubled up as a weighing scale! Once my suitcase was balanced safely on top of the metal rack, the staff asked me to place my hand bag on top - a huge, black, never-ending pit of a bag...

Needless to say, I was heavily overweight - as was Kin. We were both instructed to go immediately to the baggage drop counter and pay £30 each to check in our luggage. (Joe had only brought cabin luggage so just waited during our ordeal.) In refusal to pay such an extortionate price for a few extra kilos, we opened our suitcases there and then, deciding to put on every single piece of heavy clothing we could find. On top of the day's ensemble which consisted of a lace dress and my emergency shorts, I immediately donned a pair of jean shorts, a pair of Converse, a tank top, a t-shirt and a jumper. I gave my non-liquid make up to Joe as he still had some space in his backpack, and wheeled my suitcase back over to the guy who had been dealing with me.

I was still overweight. So was Kin. But when I looked up at the man weighing our suitcases, I could tell that he didn't care any more - he knew that all we'd do would be to reopen those suitcases and throw on more clothing.

It was such an eventful departure, I'll never forget this holiday. It took us from a sad farewell that caused a few tears from Sharon, to her laughing at us endlessly with Joe filming it on his phone.

It was definitely one of the best holidays I've ever had - it's funny how you can become so close to people when you've known them for such a short amount of time!

Thank you for reading this long overdue and extensive blog series - I really enjoy reliving my holidays and sharing them with everyone. To many more holidays to come!


Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few of my own photos do appear, but the majority do not belong to me.

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