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Brazilian Nail Lacquers for the New Year

By Dâmaris, Brazil Local Contributor

Dâmaris is 37-years old and Brazilian. Her parents taught her to love nature and observe its colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and fragrances. She deeply appreciates nature and respects it, and she has found this education helped her develop a taste for beauty in all its various expressions, like music, photography, and cosmetics.

She studied in Psychology and currently teaches at the University. Dâmaris believes there is an art of self-care, which is good for your emotions. She describes her philosophy as, “Taking care of the body is good for the heart, thoughts, and does good to the will to live. Highlighting your points of beauty is a secret we learn every day.” Check out her blog, Village Beaute!

Hits Mari Moon Cool, , Fáculas Solares Raio Alfa, Hits Speccialita #11, Ludurana Aurora Boreal Emocianante,
Ludurana Aurora Boreal Fascinante, Ludurana High Definition Perolado, Fina Flor Sol, Impala Enamels Chrome

Holiday Gift Guide: Brazil Edition

When I think of New Year’s Eve parties, I think of bright lights with gold and glitter–what do you think of?  I thought I’d make some gorgeous suggestions from Brazil to give you a sparkling, shimmering manicure for the New Year.

From Ludurana Enamels, I love their poly- and duo-chromatic shades.  Ludurana Aurora Boreal Emocianante (R $ 14.80) is a multi-chrome of burgundy, purple, and copper, while Ludurana Aurora Boreal Fascinante (R $ 14.80) is a multi-chrome that features olive green, metallic copper, and molten red.  Ludurana High Definition Perolado is a shimmery gold (R$ 3, 20).

Hits Enamels, which launches new collections often, has two spectacular glazes for New Year’s Eve parties! Speciallita HITS #11 (R$3,20) a gold with a hint of pink, and HITS Mari Moon Cool (R$ 8.50), a multi-chrome of chartreuse, navy, and green.  Impala Enamels has Chrome (R$ 2,90), an old, antique gold, that I love. If you prefer a glitter with a golden glow and a 3D effect, try Fina Flor Sol (R$7,00).

Finally, to top that all off, consider Big Universo Fáculas Solares Raio Alfa (R$10,00) is a flaky top coat.  For swatches, I first applied a layer of black, and then I used a layer of the top coat to give it that sparkle!

These are my favorite enamels with that sparkle for the holidays–the beauty all depends on the angle, and they can highlight other colors as well!  Which was your favorite?

Check out more photos! 

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Lakme Absolute Brings Understated Glitz and Glow to the Holidays

By Mehak Sagar, 24, India, Global Contributor

Mehak is 24-years old and a number-crunching economist from India. When she’s not analyzing data, she’s analyzing beauty, which is where her real passion lies. She loves blush and the color peach, and together, the two give her unparalleled happiness (hence her blog, Peaches and Blush). Aside from beauty, she loves food, shoes, traveling, dancing, and painting. She has an unhealthy obsession with chocolate cookies, lip balms, her three-year-old niece, and planning her upcoming wedding. Mehak lives with a joint family, which means 13 people in a single house, but she says it just means there is more makeup to go around!

Lakme Absolute Moonlit Highlighter

Lakme Absolute Brings Understated Glitz and Glow to the Holidays

What is glitzy and glamorous and brand new in India? No, it isn’t the latest Bollywood blockbuster but the spanking new Holiday collection from Lakme:  the Lakme Absolute Collection! Designed to be a pro makeup range, which will last up to 16 hours, Lakme has unveiled a whole host of new products with one common theme:  soft, understated sheen. Unlike disco ball glitter, this shimmer is subtle, lending a soft sheen quality to blushes and highlighters and adding extra prettiness to lipglosses!  Here are three of the products I sampled and loved:

Lakme Absolute Moonlit Highlighter (Rs 550 or $11.00) consists of shimmery white highlighter and molten gold bronzez.   It is perfect for that soft-focus glow for warmer skin tones. My favorite way is to just mix the shades together to get a lovely gold sheen and apply that to the apples of my cheeks.  It’s great for those cold December dates as it fakes that natural candlelight glow!

Lakme Absolute Lip Glosses (Rs 375 or $7.50) promise more than six hours of wear, and though I only get about four and a half, I love my Lakme Absolute Lip Glosses. They hug the lips and have a multi-coloured micro-shimmer that gives a glitzy, yet understated, effect to the lips while still keeping them moisturized. The colours they come in may not scream “holidays!” since bright lips are not a very commonly seen trend in India, most of them are flattering on a variety of skin tones!

Lakme Absolute Baked Blush (Rs 550 or $11.00) are hard to overlook these for a winter night out when they have names like Night Desire and Night Sheen.  Night Sheen is a deep peachy gold, which adds an instant oomph factor to your look. Blended, it gives a very warm diffused terracotta glow–think MAC Springsheen but warmer and much more affordable!  These are also available in the shades Night Sparkle, which is a deep plummy pink with lots of silver shimmer, and Day Sheer, a peachy pink with understated gold shimmer.

See more photos & swatches!

Two French Must-Haves

By Christelle, France, Local Contributor

Christelle lives in Corsica, which is in the south of France, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, though she was born in Paris. She lived in Paris for eighteen years before settling in the south of France. Christelle studied public law for three years and grauated in European Affairs two years ago; her daytime job is in public administration.

She loves to travel and has visited most of the European countries (she loves visiting Budapest and Roma). In her free time, she loves to ballroom dance, go out with friends, and enjoy the beautiful weather of her locale.

Two French Must-Haves

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse ($26.00) is a multi-purpose dry oil. Nuxe is a French brand created in 1989 by Aliza Jabès, a young businesswoman with a passion for aromatherapy and phytotherapy. She grew up with the strong belief that plants are a fantastic res source for skin care.  Created in 1991, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse was designed as a comprehensive product for active women. It contains six precious oils (Borage, St. John’s Wort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnut and Macadamia) and Vitamin E to nourish, repair and protect not only your face but also your body and hair. It has no preservatives. Nuxe uses no mineral oils or animal substances. 98.1% of the ingredients are natural.

As a multi-purpose oil, it can be used on the face and body, even on combination skin types. It leaves your skin soft as silk!  It improves the global aspect of stretch marks. It enhances your tan. It also does wonders on your hair: it is repaired and deeply nourished. You can use it as a hair mask for few minutes before you wash it. It is great for nails, too!  Once applied, does not feel greasy or sticky.  The fragrance is very nice; really sensual: it smells like flowers, but real flowers, nothing synthetic: rose, orange blossom and lily of the valley.

It is the perfect product to take on weekends or short trips when you do not want to bring your whole bathroom with you. A little goes a long way so the bottle will last a long time. You will only need a few drops to get shiny hair and get rid of your crocodile skin. Make sure you get the spray version, so you will not waste any product! The glass bottle looks classy, although some might think a plastic bottle would be more practical. Tip: wrap it in rubber bands, that way it won’t fall off of your hand. You can also find Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or; this one is infused with golden glitter, which is great for the coming holidays or to enhance your summer tan!

Agnès b. is a French cosmetic brand launched in the 80s by the French designer Agnès Troublé. She created Monobulle, a range of beautiful, vibrant eyeshadows. Agnès B Monobulle Taupe (€9.90) is a pinkish grey-taupe. It is very shimmery and has an excellent color payoff. Used wet, it almost has a metallic finish. It is the perfect shade for a soft smokyeye. You can build the color for a nice and easy smoky look. The taupe color flatters any eye color. Monobulle are incredibly soft and have a satin smooth finish.  Apply it with fingers or eye brush. I love the packaging: you can identify the color immediately in your stash, thanks to the clear lid. I get a seven hours wear without base and ten hours wear with eye base.  Try pairing it with red lips for an immediate twist!

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A Few Italian Favorites

By Stefania, Italy Contributor

Born in a Southern Italian region on a clear morning of the Spring Equinox of 21 years ago, she lived your average middle class life there, up until she had to move to Naples at the young age of eight; in such a both infamous and famous city, she spent her adolescence, attending a Scientific High school, wisely and completely disregarding her disposition for words rather than Maths or Physics. After having graduated with flying colours in spite of adversity, with a choice just as sharp as the previous one, she then decided to study Modern Literature at University, granting herself a certain future of precarious, hard to find, low paid–if at all paid–jobs, which, for the sake of being politically correct, are usually referred to as ‘flexible’. Currently, about to graduate only to have at least two more years of classes to go through, writing is one of her few attempts at having a life on the side and keeping her sanity- or what’s left of it, rather.

Roma, Italy

A Few Italian Favorites

All good relationships are based on mutual knowledge and the ones that revolve around make up are no exception; it is exactly for this reason that today I am going to share with you all {or everyone who’s willing to go through my less than linear ramblings, rather} my favourite local beauty products. Keep on reading if you’d like to have a taste of me and Italy both, spending only what was given free to us and yet is the most precious gift of all: time. Without further ado, let the countdown begin!

My very first beauty crush, which actually turned out to be a serious relationship, since it has lasted for years, are Pupa Beauty Kits ($20 to $35.00). When I first became interested in makeup—back in middle school—they were my favourite Christmas gifts. They were colourful with fun shapes (angels, candy bags, Matryoshka dolls), and had an endless array of eyeshadows, glosses, blushes, and powders inside. Today, they’re still fun, creative gifts for anyone just starting out with makeup. The can be a bit of an indulgence for makeup connoisseurs rather than a necessity, but I wanted to mention them as an important item of the Italian market.

Picture every colour and texture you could possibly want in a nail polish and you’ll have the Essence nail polish ($0.99) range. All right, perhaps that was a hyperbole, but it serves to introduce you to one of the loves of my make up life. Small enough to throw in a purse for a weekend away, big enough to last you for a long time! They’re chip free for a week or so with crazy colours as well as office appropriate ones in an array of finishes: cream, metallic, shimmer, glitter. They also have a good, wide brush and come with an affordable price tag. What’s not to adore?

Usually, I am not one for tame things. I like for my metaphorical coffee to be strong, metaphorical heels to be high, and my literal lipgloss to be opaque. As always, there is one exception to the rule, which, in this case, happens to be the Collistar Supergloss (€15,50). They’re similar to your regular lipgloss in a squeeze tube with a slanted applicator and a medium to sheer color pay off; nothing new under the sun, right? Maybe but still I can’t help but stare at my lips every time I wear one of these for the incredible shine, volume, and fullness they provide. They also have amazing lasting power. Be warned though: these may hydrate your lips as much as applying honey would, but they’re almost as thick feeling. Yummy, if you ask me!

Deborah Eye Pencils (€5,90) are large, creamy pencils that can be used on the eye, though I strongly recommend applying a crease-proof eyeshadow base underneath them. The creamy consisistency makes for no tugging on the delicate skin around the eyey and easy blending, but they can crease without a proper base. They are similar in concept and performance to NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencils.

Seasons may change from winter to spring, but my feelings for this mascara are built to last, aere perennius. It’s the Collistar Supermascara Tridimensionale (€21,50), which provides great volume and fullness to the lashes as well as medium length and decent definition. It’s not a product for the faint of heart, as it is really noticeable when applied; the aim here is definitely not a natural makeup look, but if you’re looking for a complete mascara and you have access to the brand, I’d strongly recommend this. No fancy applicator or extravagant formula; just a good, dramatic, and reliable mascara. And that’s no easy task to accomplish, in my book!

A Look at a Cosmetic Chemist’s Skincare Routine

By Cecile, Cosmetic Chemist

Cécile is 28-years old and is half French, half Belgian. She spent most of her life in France, with a little in Belgium and Cyprus, but she currently resides in Switzerland. For the past six years, she has worked in the cosmetic and perfume industry after she obtained her Master’s in Chemistry from ISIPCA (founded by Mr. Guerlain himself!), with an emphasis in cosmetics. She prides herself on her extended knowledge of cosmetic ingredients, skincare products, and European cosmetic legislation. She has been developing cosmetic products like skincare and suncare and is wise to marketing claims.Cécile has a natural curiosity about everything in life. She loves cooking world food and anything related to nature and animals. Her two cats, Guinness (Cyprus) and Guru (Siamese) are always there to keep her happy!

A Look at a Cosmetic Chemist’s Skincare Routine

My skin care routine is pretty simple:  I like to say that once you have found the products that suit your skin, it’s good to keep it simple–less is more!

In the morning, I use Noviderm Boreade Cream Cleanser ($10.95), which is a soap-free facial cleanser, and then I apply a soothing serum and light, hydrating cream followed by an eye contour cream.  Once everything has absorbed, I apply my makeup.  Before going to bed, I like to use Bobbi Brown’s Cleansing Oil ($39.00) to remove any makeup and then use Boreade Cleansing Cream to cleanse.  Then, I repeat my morning routine and use my serum, moisturizer, and eye cream.  Now, let me tell you why these products have become my morning and evening staples!

I have combination skin with pores that tend to clog, sometimes even breaking out, so I need to ensure my skin is well-cleansed.  Both in the morning and after I remove makeup, I use a mild, soap-free facial cleanser: Noviderm Boreade Cream Cleanser ($10.95).  It’s very effective in the long-term, used once or twice per day.  There are three active ingredients:  one that helps re-building or preserving the hydrolipidic film of the skin, which means no dehydrationor no irritation; one that has mild anti-bacterial properties to help minimize breakouts; and one that helps regulating the sebum secretion, which helps combat blackheads. It also helps to remove any impurities left, like pollution.

When I wear makeup, I love using cleansing oils to remove it; they clean the face so well and remove all kinds of makeup without drying out the skin, since they are soap-free and very mild.  My favorite is Bobbi Brown’s Cleansing Oil ($39.00); the texture is nice–not too thick, easy to spread and massage on the face, and it’s easy to emulsify and rinse off.  It has a nice essential oil scent, and it’s the most effective makeup remover I’ve come across.

To hydrate, while I haven’t found my holy grail moisturizer, I have been trying Avene Thermal Water Soothing Hydrating Serum ($34.00) for a few months now and really like it (though I am still trying out different brands and textures!).  The Soothing Hydrating Serum soothes away redness and irritations, is perfume-free, and developed to reduce the risk of allergies.  It has been helping to keep my skin hydrating without feeling oily.  It does need a moisturizer or cream on top, so I have been using Nuxe Creme Prodigieuse Anti-Fatigue and Moisturizing Cream ($35.00) for normal to combinations skins. I haven’t yet tried this one for long enough to make a full judgment, but it has been working okay so far.

During the day, it’s important to protect your skin from harmful sun rays.  If I’m only going to and from work, which means I’m only out for a few minutes at a time, I find the SPF 15 in my foundation sufficient.  If I’m going to be outside for an hour or longer, no matter the season (sunlight passes through clouds!), I apply a minimum of SPF 30.  My favorite is Lancaster Sun Beauty Care SPF 30 ($65.00).  It’s lightweight, not oily at all, spreads evenly, and doesn’t clog pores–it also has anti-aging properties and can be used before makeup

I’m still searching for the perfect face and eye cream–do you have a product to recommend?

Simply Beautiful: Pure Rose Hip Seed Oil

By Angela, Cosmetic Chemist

One of the leading brains behind beauty, Angela is an industry-renowned Cosmetic Chemist with over 11 years training and experience in developing cosmetics and toiletries. Having been immersed in the wondrous beauty world from an early age, she was instantly captivated by the rituals, the artistry and the allure. This initial intrigue soon developed into an unequivocal beauty obsession partly fuelled by teenage skin dilemmas but also stemming from a deep seated creativity and desire for self expression. This was quickly followed by a behind the scenes role in new product development where she formulated make up and skin care for an array of global brands.

Still not content with the industry offerings, especially those for women of colour, she still indulges herself with customised formulations to suit her specific beauty needs! Despite her wealth of scientific knowledge Angela takes what she calls a “feelosophical” approach to the industry. So whilst analysing ingredients and technologies, addressing safety fears and generally aiming to reveal the truth she never loses sight of the one essential thing about beauty and that is appreciating how it simply makes you feel! Check out her blog Beauty Feelosophy!

Rose hip by die.tine

Simply Beautiful: Pure Rose Hip Seed Oil

I would not call myself a naturalist, as I know that both natural and synthetic ingredients have their place in cosmetics. However, on occasion, less seems to be more and that is when I go back to basics by using simple ingredients that cut straight to the heart of my skin care needs. Rose Hip Seed Oil or Rosa Mosqueta (Rosa Affinis Rubiginosa) is one such ingredient so full of skin nourishing goodness that it has earned itself a coveted spot in my daily beauty routine! I keep mine in the refrigerator and use the pure oil every night before bed by applying it before my moisturiser for a little extra skin rejuvenating boost.

What is rose hip seed oil?

A beautifying wild rose, with fruit rich in vitamin C, leaves and petals used for refreshing infusions and seeds that produce a uniquely nourishing plant oil – and that’s were this fabulous product I so love comes into play!

So, what’s to love?

I use it for its moisturising and skin smoothing effect but there is a lot of science to also show Rosehip seed oil has many special qualities:

  • Moisturizing
  • Anti-wrinkle
  • Skin smoothing
  • Diminishes scars
  • Helps fade stretch marks
  • Healing
  • Treats sun burn and age marks
  • Helps regenerate skin cells
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Rich in vitamins, Omega 3 & 6

You might be surprised to learn that I love this product despite having oily skin, since conventional wisdom has taught us oily skin types to stick to “oil free” products only. Although this may be true some of the time, it is possible to achieve a balance between effective cleansing, which can undoubtedly strip the skin of some of those essential natural oils and good moisturizer. I wouldn’t recommend it for use in the day time under make up but the oil is quite light in texture, absorbs very easily and has a low spot causing probability so it can be used on acne-prone skin. For acne sufferers, I would recommend treating the problem skin first, and once you reach that point of clearer skin, use this along with a few facials to help deal with any residual scarring.

The Secret in the Science

The secret to how Rosehip seed oil works of course lies in the science! It contains a very high percentage of Linoleic, Linolenic and Oleic acids. These are important fats that ensure the vitality of your natural skin cells, and this gives Rosehip seed oil a regenerating and soothing power. Rose hip seed oil also contains Tretinoin, a very close relative of Vitamin A, which gives the skin a rejuvenating and scar healing benefit. Results are immediate for smoothing and improvements to the general complexion, but for scars, as you would imagine, it is not an instant fix so real results will take some time.

Where to find it?

You can find Rosehip seed oil at local health food stores, such as Aromantic.co.uk, iherb.com, and in some skin care products (like Liz Earl’s Super Skin COncentrate).  Alternatively, if a pure oil is not for you, look out for Rose hip seed Oil, Rosa Canina or Rosa Rubignosa in your product ingredient lists to benefit from this simple yet truly amazing beauty elixir!