Le Labo, Le Lovely

Monday, April 21, 2014

I smelly like a rich, old man. That might sound strange, but it's true. I generally gravitate towards more masculine, opulent scents, as opposed to stereotypically floral, feminine fragrances. Pretty much always have and probably always will. Fortunately, this babe isn't alone. Amanda, a bezzie of mine, is also a lover of dude smellz. Le Labo Santal 33 in particular. She, a purveyor of all fine things, discovered it on a semester at NYU a few years ago and it is now all she wears. I can remember the first time I smelt it - it was when we were blabbing away over a huge cup of froyo, naturally. I caught a whiff and I was shocked. Hooked! It was this perfect, woody, smooth, almost-retro, Mad Men-y scent that was just so perfect on her. It felt like hot New York, and whiskey, and cigars, and open fires, and summer, all at once. It really is a transfixing scent of sandalwood, cedar, cardamom, violet and other bits and bobs, but what struck me was it is was so unusual, so challenging but so perfect and personal. 

Obviously I asked her where she found it, and obviously she told me. So, on my first trip to New York over Christmas/New Year, Le Labo was on the top of the Places I Must, No REALLY MUST Go List. And it should be on the top of yours too, because if you're reading this, you probs like nice things. And this shop only has nice things.

Located in quite literally all the coolest parts of the world (their flagship is in NoLIta, NYC), Le Labo hand makes and labels all of their fragrances, which are all high end, unusual, modern and delightful. By hand make, I mean you order your fragrance, they pull out a recipe, a bottle, the ingredients, and pipette it all into a bottle in front of you. This is the definition of bespoke. The space in NoLIta is an immaculate balance of NYC cool and comforting edge. You can sit at the steel bar-esque counter and sniff away (testers of all fragrances are on offer for you to try), um-ing and ah-ing over all of their lust-worthy delights. The gorgeous people who work there are helpful, attentive, so knowledgeable but not at all pushy. A perfect combo when you're about to drop a fair few $$$ on a bottle of smell.

Being a lover of all things vetiver, I naturally plumped for the masculine, modern incense laden, green, woody Vetiver 46, while my sister, a more delicate, floral gal, chose a bottle of Lys 41, a very pretty jasmine, tuberose blend. What's even more lovely is they print the labels upon mixing the bottle, so each and every product can be personalised, which is even a more special touch. My Mumma was so swept away with the modern romanticism of the place that she shouted sissy and me a candle each. Sis chose a Fig, I chose a Santal 26, recminiscent of Mandy's fragrance, makes my room smell like Don Drapers bedroom... divine. 

For me, smell is my strongest scent. As a child, I used to choose library books on the smell of the pages. I can tell you what type of oil is heating in a pan from many meters away. I associate all well-known fragrances with someone special in my life, and my own fragrances with where I bought them and that particular period in time. This fragrance, for me, is New York City. Bold, strong, forward, confident. And that's how it makes me feel. And that is why it is simply a must see for all those visiting one of the best places on earth. 

But FEAR NOT! For those who don't want to fork out the, um, ya know, quiet $2000 to get to NYC, Le Labo is also stocked at Mecca Cosmetica. They still make it freshly for you, and prepare the fragrances with as much care, love and attention as they deserve. I so badly highly recommend a visit to the Mecca Cosmetica fragrance counter at Myer, Bourke Street, where you will be met with incredibly clever, helpful fragrance assistants who will help you find something you love. You'll probably find me there too: it is one of my Happy Places. They know me by name #noshame.

Chisel and Sculpt: Contouring

Monday, April 14, 2014

Big faces. For people who have em, life is tough. Glasses don't fit property, hats are always far too snug and you noggin just always looks disproportionately large in photos. I am a sad sufferer of such a cause, and although I haven't been able to solve all the problems I mentioned above, I have, slowly but surely, found a way to give my cheeks enough definition that I don't look like Moonface or a big wheel of cheese.

Contouring. For the not so beauty savvy, this might be a new, unfamiliar term. For the beauty lovers, it conjures images of Kim Kardashian and zebra stripes on the side of your head. For Moonfaces, it should conjure images of rainbows and Nutella crepes and endless supplies of carbonara, because it is THAT GOOD. TRANSFORMATIVE. AND EASY. EASY. Like, peasey. I promise.

Provided you use some good prodz and the best toolz. Cos essentially, contouring is just defining and shaping your face, by creating a shadow in the hollow of your cheek. You do this by using a dark product to enhance that shadow and create more sculpture to your face.

Real Techniques Contouring Brush

Firstly, you need the right implemented. My favourite is the Real Techniques Contouring Brush. The rounded tip is incredibly forgiving and the duofibre bristles mean you can see how much product you're piling on and adjust your strokes accordingly. I also find these brushes are so, so easy to clean, as opposed to my Simga brushes which I ADORE but take DECADES to dry. If you don't want to invest in a contour-specific brush, you can always use those rando, flat brushes that come with heaps of powders and bronzers. Load it up with prod, line them up along the hollow of your cheek and swipe and blend. Nice.

To chisel, you can use your fave bronzer for a more sun-kissed, chiselled look. My favourite, as I have already blabbed on about, is the Guerlain Teracotta Bronzer in #02. This is the most easy, clever mixture of brown and orange and leaves your skin looked effortlessly bronzed and healthy. I use this when I want to look obviously and radiantly bronzed. Always a winner.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium
You can also choose to use a contouring product that is more grey, meaning it mimics the tones of the shadow on your skin, rather than imitating a natural tan. On the top of my American Shopping List during my visit in Dec/Jan was Kevyn Aucoin's Sculpting Powder in Medium. OH yes. So hyped and so deserves it. Pigmented, smooth and subtle, this greyish brown gives you an incredibly human shadow that pops your cheeks out perfectly in preparation for blush.
Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow
My most recent and perhaps most loved of the bunch is Illamasqua's Cream Pigment in Hollow. I actually don't even know where to begin... OK I DO: this product is so well formulated that it is a mind ferk. I mean, you cannot see it when it is applied but when you apply it to one cheek, it looks so obviously different to the other. This is a similar, perhaps lighter, grey-brown to Kev's, and melts into your chops, making you look 4% more like JLo than you did before. And, like, no one looks like JLo. Apart from Kimmie K. Those women, and their cheekbones, are angels.

Go on, chisel. Chip. Sculpt. No matter what your face looks like, cos we all deserve some definition in our life.

Keep It Near: Kindle

Friday, April 11, 2014

I should be paid by Amazon. Commission, for all the sales I induce. Honestly. Because I am completely evangelical about my Kindle. Rant and rave about it to anyone who listens. Force my bookish friends to invest.

I should explain that I, too, am a bookish type. I'm not one of those snobs who only reads unreadable texts, either. I am completely and sometimes shamefully eclectic in my taste. But this is precisely why Kindles are so fab. They allow you to read whatever, wherever, at any time. My Kindle Paperwhite is even more wonderful, as it illuminates, allowing me to indulge even when the lights are off (and I should be snoozing). The lightweight convenience of a Kindle means you can take your favourite novels with you, allowing you to dive in and lose yourself no matter where in the world you may be. 

I should also explain that I am crazy, MAD for bookshops. I couldn't and cannot choose my Happy Place, because I cannot split Mecca Cosmetica and my favourite book sellers. I get butterflies when I set foot in my faves. So nothing makes me sadder than hearing that Kindles and e-readers are forcing local bookshops to close, and smaller publishers to struggle. But I DO believe there is a way that e-readers and 'real' books can co-exist. In my house, they most definitely do. In fact, I have been known to buy two copies of my most treasured texts: one for me to take with me everywhere (on my Kindle), and another tangible, solid copy for me to share with my friends and keep as a treasured possession. Half way through Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch I hurried into my local bookshop to grab a hard copy to force into my Dad's hands, so that I could share the genius with him. With someone! I think as long as people continue to read, and as long as publishers allow bookshops to offer competitive prices, the love that literary lovers have for sharing and flicking will keep those local vendors afloat.

It is undeniable, though, that the price of Kindle-version books is one of the most appealing aspects of the device. It's also the most challenging, as vendors find it increasingly difficult to compete with Amazon's prices which factor in next-to-no labour or shopfront costs. And this really is a sad reality that is difficult to overcome. But I also believe that today, so few of us really read. Like, really READ. Not read 2 paragraphs of an article and then check your Instagram, not read half a novel then finish it off with the summary on Wikipedia. I mean snuggle in your bed and destroy 300 pages in a sitting. I mean sitting on the train and forgetting where you are. That is reading. And if the availability, ease and price-point of the Kindle is converting more of us in to real readers, then it's hard to complain. 

Two Tonez: Foundation

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My skin is a bit of a chameleon. Let it see sun for anything more than 2 minutes and I look as though a gold paint brush has splattered all over my face. In a lovely way! I embrace this pale, freckly face by smearing dewy, sheer-ish bases all over my dial.

The problem with that is one colour is not enough. I need to be able to mix, blend and customise. Nay, all dolls need to be able to tailor their foundation depending on the sun, the season and the occasion. Best way to do this is by identifying what bases you love to rock, and grab two of them, one light and one dark.

My two all-time favourite bases are at either end of the economic spectrum. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk smooths and evens out the complexion, leaving you with a perfected and glowy finish. I adore this. I do find it a little bit too glowy when I'm locked in an air-conditioned office all day, but for special occasions, dinners and days when I get some fresh air, it is just perfect. I have this in the neutral 3 and 5. 5 is for Summer, it gives me a warm and radiant finish. When mixed with my Winter 3, it is a lovely, balanced trans-seasonal blend. What's better is this pump is magic: two and your face is perfectly covered. What could be better.

Revlon Nearly Naked is the foundation for everyone. Quite literally. I have convinced dozens of my friends to buy bottles of this, and they all are addicts. And I just love that: affordable, accessible and available for everyone for everyone to try. #REVLONROX! A little less dewy than GALS, this gives a similar amount of coverage with a natural look that just lasts and lasts and lasts. When I don't know what to wear, I go for this. One in 120 Vanilla, one in 130 Shell. Both relatively neutral, both delightful.

Do you own multiple colours of foundation? Which one? Why? TELL MOI!

Bullets I Take: Hourglass Femme Rouge Lipsticks

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beautiful, beautiful bullets. Hourglass can do no wrong. They just get galz. It was the shade Muse that drew me in, at first. I think I saw the beautiful, neon coral on a celeb, or Anna of Vivianna Does Makeup. Because she basically is a celeb, in my eyes, at least. And that one purchase was like falling into a black hole of lovely lips. 

L - R: Hourglass Femme Rouge Lipsticks in Icon, Grace, Nocturnal and Muse

These Hourglass Femme Rouge Lipsticks could be my favourite lipstick formula. Void of shimmer (Yay. Yes. Let's hear it for creamy goodness). Heavy enough that you don't frantically check your lips like an idiot to confirm that it hasn't slipped all over your chops, but light enough that it doesn't cake or clump. Smooth enough that it glides on. Moisturising and sticky so that it just stays put. Think 5 hrzzz at least! Opaque in one swipe. Tastes delicious. Sleek gunmetal, heavy black bullet. Give. Me. More.

And the colours. OH the colours. One of everyone. For everyone. Where to begin...

Muse is a skin-brightening, glowy coral that I almost always reach for when I want to wear something bright but am just not sure what. I am a coral fiend, and this could be my favourite. Think Revlon Strawberry Suede good. YES. 

Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) enabled my purchase of Icon
Joanie (Christina), sporting Icon. BECAUSE SHE IS ONE.

Lessbehonez, the woman could smear doggie poo poo on her lips and I'd buy it, but this is so much more than that. Thank gawd. The colour is incredibly retro and vintage but the finish is so modern and current. It is a deep, blood, blue red that makes your teeth and eyes glow like Mr Burns when he ate that radioactive grain of rice, but the finish is dewy, and hot and sweaty. A must-have for any babe that loves to rock a red lip.

Grace is my kinda nude. Not too peach, or brown, or pink, just in the middle. This looks perfect just dabbed over the lips for a 60s pastel lip vibe, or smeared on and covered with gloss for a cute, fun and wearable daytime nude lip. An all-rounder, a triple-threat. Kinda like JLo.

My newest addition is Nocturnal, an insanely wearable vampy, plummy rose colour that looks just RAD with a deep berry blush, think Nars Sin or Tarte Exposed. 2 shades darker than my lips, makes me feel put together and #FLAWLESS. 

These babies are gorj. GIMME MORE.

The Hybrid Table: Bedside, Books, Bits and Bobs

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

There's nothing better than having a squiz at someone else's room. I remember as a child, I loved having a quick sneak peak at my friends' bookshelves, bedside table and desk while they were in the loo. Nosey, I know. This inquisitive (invasive!) part of me lives on today. I still often find myself trawling interior design pins on Pinterest. There's just something fascinating about seeing how people organise their shit, ya know? But throughout all this searching (stalking!), I have come to realise there's one thing missing: cluttered bedside tables. I love the look of a crisp, clean white bedside table, littered only with an antique lamp, artisan candle and obscure hand cream as much as the next person... but I find that that's just not practical, or useful. And I should know. Just take a look at my beast of a bedside table. 

A nightstand isn't just a home for your iPhone and hair pins. A well used, loved and styled bedside table can be a focal point of your room and be one of the most useful areas of your life. I'd like to think mine is an OK example of this!

Friends have labelled this table a Bookside table, and they're not wrong. I love to read, and love the thought of having stacks and stacks of books right by me, ready to go, even when my eyes aren't even open. I also find that when these beauties are the last thing I see every night, I feel more of a pressure, and incentive, to devour them all, which is fab for my brain and my sanity

On top of these tours of tales I have little troves filled with all of my trinkets. I am unbelievably lazy, so I love that I can whip off my jewels before I collapse into my bed. The whimsical wood-lined silver box was a birthday gift from an old friend, and a brilliant one at that. An incredibly thoughtful, precious and useful present that I fill with my dainty, and most worn, necklaces. I am willing to deal with the insane fury that erupts when I find I must detangle these beauties every single time I wear them because I think the metallic pool contrasted with the dark wood is really, really pretty. 

On the second tour I have a Bison low-lipped bowl holding all my rings and watches that I wear on a daily basis. Yep, I am a ring lady. I am ALWAYS nail-polished and adore the look of well manicured nails contrasted with stacks and piles of rings. This pot of gold and silver and rose next to my bed is inspiration for my day when I get ready every morning.

I hope this serves as some inspiration to those less tidy folks out there. Clean lines and empty space isn't always the only way.

Get in the Glow: Stila Convertible Colors

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Summer here in Australia and I have been wanting to replicate the glow of that big old sun of ours on my own skin. I find that cream blushes, in particular Stila's Convertible Colors are just perfect at making you look dewy, fresh and glowy. And it's due to this fact that I have been using these blushes almost exclusively when the temperature has been over 30 degrees (read: EVERY DAMN DAY).

These babies are one of my most favourite products, of all time. Definitely. Whenever people ask me what they should stock up on when they are overseas, or at Mecca, or anywhere, I automatically say this product. I believe there is no finer cream blush formula, and if it wasn't for Nars blushes, I would say there is no finer blush. Massive call, I know.  
L-R: Stila Convertible Colors in Gerbera, Gladiola and Lilium
But it is a fair one, because these blushes are real beauties. They are terribly creamy, especially in the Strayan Summer, but when (oh so easily!smeared and blended across your cheek with your warm finger, or lightly dabbed on with a stippling brush, they give the most natural, healthy and radiant glow that not even the biggest matte maven could ignore. What really sets them apart is their pigmentation and staying power. A little goes a long way when it comes to these gems, and I find that even after 12 hours in and out of an air conditioned office and a 40 degree CBD, I still look bright and beaut at the end of the day.

L-R: Stila Convertible Colors in GerberaGladiola and Lilium
Stila generally nails it when it comes to modern, chic but fun colour palettes and the Convertible Colors are no exception. My first love was Peony, a dusty rose that is dark enough that it can look appropriate at night when matched with thick lashes and a strong lip, but also sweet and feminine for daytime wear. When I had scraped every last drop of product out of that pan, I decided that I needed more. MUCH more, so I hauled these three into my stash. 

Gerbera is the most wearable of the three. It imparts a peachy pink shade that looks lovely with and without a tan, and with pretty much any lip or eye. I find that as a redhead, this one really compliments the coolness of my colouring, rather than accentuating my redness. Suitable for all gals, me thinks. Gladiola, a bright orange, was an Estée-induced purchase, and a lovely one at that. This one can be a little more challenging to pull off, but when I am bronzed, contoured and mascara-ed, I almost always reach for this as it's an edgy, wear-ably editorial cheek colour on my skin tone. Really cool. Worth taking the plunge. Hashtag YOLO, ya know? Finally, there's the much blogged about Lilium, a pretty light dusty pink. This one's the younger, safer sister of Peony, perfect for more serious occasions. I love to top this one off with Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Exposed or Nars Blush in Douceur for a really, really, like, really long-wearing happily flushed cheek.

I honestly believe that every woman needs one of these in their life. And I honestly may or may have not picked up two more in my recent trip to the US. But more on that later...