Musings of a self-confessed beauty addict from the heart of London!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

New Essie treats

After a stressful couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts this month), I decided to treat myself to some new nail colours, partly to celebrate my new healthier nails, and partly because by chance I found Essie nail polish being sold at half price.

Essie is relatively new to Brussels. They started stocking it at some Di branches (Superdrug type stores) about two months ago, but I didn't know that they had it at the incredibly posh 'Haute Parfumerie' down the road from me on Place Stephanie. Senteurs d'Ailleurs has taken up a whole block on Place Steph and despite it's gorgeous dark alluring appearance it remains, to me at least, prohibitively intimidating. There is the parfumerie at the front, all black shelves and burning candles and shop assistants gliding around in sleek black suits. At the back via a separate entrance is the brighter, but equally intimidating 'Haute Cosmetique', where you can buy skincare and make-up. This is very much like Space NK in the UK.

So, the other day I saw a little paper on the door of the 'Haute Cosmetique'; 50% off all Essie polish.

I didn't really need much more encouragement to push open the door and shamelessly start grabbing bottles.

Splash of Grenadine
I was drawn to the sorbet berry gorgeousness that is Splash of Grenadine....

Mint Candy Apple
the chic, cool minty turquoise that is Mint Candy Apple...

Lapis of Luxury
the beautiful periwinkle tone of Lapis of Luxury....

Sand of a Beach

and the prettiest lilac, nude shimmer that is Sand of a Beach (how much do you love that name???)

Sand of a Beach has an incredible pink-lilac shimmer to it which I've tried (and probably failed) to capture here. It truly is STUNNING, like crushed mother of pearl on your nails. I can't wait to wear this!

These bottles were reduced to €6.89 each which is a great price for Essie polishes here in Europe. I urge all you pretty polish lovers to get yourselves down to Place Stephanie before they stop the offer, which I expect they will do soon, especially after I raided the joint again yesterday and also picked up Cute as a Button, Tart Deco and Au Naturel for good measure.....

Don't they all look purty together?

Senteurs d'Ailleurs is on 1a Place Stephanie, Brussels. If you're an expat and your hankering after brands you thought you could only find in the elsewhere then know that the Haute Cosmetique stocks Khiels, Laura Mercier, Bumble and Bumble, Molton Brown, Tom Ford Dermalogica & Eve Lom amongst others. The Haute Parfumerie stocks Jo Malone, Ormonde Jayne, Penhaligons and lots of other hard to find scents.

So, what colour should I try first?

Friday, 27 January 2012

June in Bengal - A Chanel comparison

So, Chanel have released their Spring collection and one of the nail polishes, June, has been much hyped as is usually the case with Chanel limited editions. The other shades, April and May will be part of the permanent collection so there is less fuss over those, but this year June is definitely busting out all over...

Last year,  it was instant love for me with Mimosa. The colour was so unique and summery and I really couldn't get it out of my head, even though the formula was total pants.

This year I'm feeling a bit 'meh' about these colours, but I went the other day to swatch June on my pinky and I realised that there was something about it that didn't look new to me. Something familiar.

The colour is a pale juicy cream apricot. It's pretty, and I like it, but in certain lights it looks like I tried to go 'nude' and got the colour a bit wrong, if you know what I mean.

Anyway I got home and found an old Chanel polish in my collection gifted to me by GG some years back. It's called Bengal and on swatching it next to June it's remarkably similar.

Chanel Bengal (ring finger), Chanel June (little finger)
 There is a difference of course, and Bengal has more pink in it to make it more of a peach rather than an apricot colour, but no one can deny they are very similar. Too similar for me to have both at any rate.
 Bengal has some shimmer and a touch of microglitter and requires 3 coats to achieve opacity. June is a cream with no shimmer and needs two coats. It's a good formula, way better than Mimosa was. But Mimosa still has my heart, despite it's formula flaws.

Bengal (left), June (right)

Looking back on my photos I realise that I do like June quite a lot, but with Bengal already in my collection I'm not sure I can justify buying it.

The Dior spring collection however has two absolute beauties which I'm drooling after and have nothing like in my stash:

What colours are you itching to wear on your nails this Spring?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

NOTD - Essie French Affair

The oracle has spoken. Well, kind of. Here is the NOTD as chosen by some of you.

I'm so happy to be showcasing my new & improved nails! If you want to know more see my post on the product which saved them. 

Anyway, onto the colour. This is Essie French Affair, a cool-toned, almost lilac creamy pink. It's very opaque and was actually a bit tricky to apply neatly but with a little clean-up operation using a fine eye-liner brush and some remover I think I did a half-decent job.

 This is two coats with Essie Good to Go top coat. In these lights it leans more baby pink than it actually is, but everyone knows that pinks/purples are especially hard to capture on camera. It's actually a much cooler, brighter and lilac-toned shade which tops off the fingers like those candy sweets which contain so much colour they turn kids hyper.

I haven't worn a colour like this in.... well, actually I don't think I've ever in my life worn something like this, but I really like it! It's fun, and fresh and makes me long for spring. Oh, and it's uber girly and after weeks of slobbing about in unflattering jeans and manky old walking shoes because it's too wet and cold to go about in anything else, I'm welcoming a return to hyper-femininity...

Would you have a French Affair? ;)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Nailtiques Formula 2 Review

Here it is. The miracle that has saved my nails and restored my pride and my sanity.

For approximately 10 months of 2011 my nails were peeling. I'd disguised this by painting them all the colours of the rainbow and using thick layers of ridge filling base coat to fill in the uneven nail base.

I'd also tried various nail treatments, including OPI Nail Envy for soft, weak nails, and a Sally Hansen one in a purple bottle which I bought from the USA. I massaged cuticle oil into my nails 2-3 times a day, I used hand cream regularly, and I even tried giving my nails a complete break from polish altogether, but to no avail. My nails were a horrendous mess and just wouldn't stop peeling, flaking and breaking.

In desperation I did some searching online and heard lots of people raving about Nailtiques Formula 2 protein treatment. I picked mine up from  for about £7.95 or thereabouts. It comes in two sizes, 7ml and 15ml. I went for the small bottle.

I began the treatment a week before Christmas, religiously (well, almost...) applying a thin coat on my poor shredded nails every day avoiding the cuticle area.

It's not an instant fix, but this clear shiny protective layer makes nails look much better than with nothing. It's not a growth accelerator either, like some of the famous Sally Hansen bottles. I was expecting to see more nail growth than I did.

What it does do is gradually thicken and strengthen the nail bed and it halts further splitting. My nails have completely stopped spitting and flaking, and the the 3 nails that still have a 'peeled' layer are right towards the end of the nail, to be cut away once the nail grows a bit more. And that's the thing, once the nail has peeled, there is nought you can do but wait for it to grow out. The huge problem is that in the waiting time further peeling usually occurs. Nailtiques 2 stops this completely but it's crucial to use it every day for the first two weeks at least to give your nails a good chance to recover.

It's been roughly a month now and I'm still using Formula 2 on a reduced basis, once every 2-3 days. I've had no further peeling and I'm not ashamed to be sans polish. My nails for the most part look so much healthier and are a lot stronger, they are no longer soft and bendy. I couldn't be happier.

Nailtiques recommend that you do not wear polish while using the treatment and that after treatment you use their own polish which contains the same nail protein. I'm tempted to invest in one or two colours although I'm also very aware that this could be a marketing swizz too. Still, their polishes retail at about £10.95 so they are still cheaper than a lot of brands, so it might be worth a shot.

Thanks to Formula 2, I can bring colour back onto my nails, into my life and onto my blog :)

NB: If you haven't done so already, please vote here for which colour you'd like to see next!

Score 10/10

Friday, 13 January 2012

YOU choose the nail!

A Thing for Beauty has gone interactive. I need YOUR help in choosing my next NOTD.

I've been on a 3 week protein nail treatment which has meant that I've not been able to paint my nails for a while, but now that they are finally 98% flake-free I am in a rapturous state of glee at the prospect of being able to paint them again.  I will post about the treatment very soon!

Here's where you come in; I have a few 'untrieds' in my collection and I simply can't decide which one to make the next 'nail of the day' post with. So, I'm letting you all pick. The one with the most votes wins (obviously... )

 You have nine colours to choose from, all un-used (apart from the Dior which I've used once but not swatched on here):

Essie French Affair - a pale lilac-pink
Essie Midnight Cami - deep midnight blue shimmer

Dior Camel - Mitzah Collection - Camel, mustard nude

Sephora I'm Wired - pinky coral

Essie California Coral - pinky coral

Barry M Red Black - Deep, burgundy wine jelly

Mavala Rococo Red - Classic rich red

Sinful Colors Bleu de Pluie - misty, dirtied blue

Mavala Bronze Green - forest green with golden glints
 Please vote by commenting below! The more votes then the more thrilling and exciting it all becomes..... which colour will it be? Which one???

The suspense is just too much....


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Magic Muji Make-Up Boxes

Muji perspex storage boxes
 This was going to be entitled Storage Porn but I thought against it due to possible search engine 'misadventures'.... to be honest though that's exactly what it is to me. These magnificent, sleek acrylic boxes had me drooling for months in the same way (ahem).... a gentleman may look upon a lady's garter.....

I've recently been a little more than obsessed with storage ideas, spending so much time on the Ikea website that I've all but memorised the names and measurements for various boxes and shelving systems.

These babies, however, are from Muji. We don't have Muji in Brussels so I carted them back from London.  I confess the idea was not originally my own, GG introduced me to these beauties a few months back and after seeing her make-up impeccably stored within these crystal-like cubes I've dreamed about them every since.

I picked up 3 sets of the large double drawer system, two of them with a lift-up lid, although in hindsight you only need the lift-up lid for the top.

In a handy double whammy you get to see most of my make-up collection too. So, in the top drawer I've placed my base make-up, you can see my Erborian BB creams, my Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage palette and some concealers and foundation samples.

The second drawer I've dedicated to dressing my cheeks with a mixture of cream and powder blushers and my huge MAC mineralize skin finish powder.

I've put my lip products in the third drawer (which in reality is the top drawer of the next set of boxes). This is where I regret buying it with a flip top lid as the weight of the boxes on top pushes the lid into the drawer and makes it a bit stiff to open. Here I have a right old mix of brands and colours, a bit of MAC, a couple of Chanels, and some highstreet brands like Rimmel and Collection 2000. The pink tube on the right is my latest love, Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector, which I will wax lyrical on at a later date.

The next drawer houses my mascaras, liquid liners, brow products and eye primers. Here I need to throw out a few old mascaras, but when organising everything I also discovered a brand new unopened YSL one (a gift) and a couple of new Rimmel Sexy Curves ones which I stocked up on recently and forgot about. All hail the greatness of see-through storage.... no more waste and forgetfulness!

These last two drawers are dedicated to single eye shadows and palettes. I have quite a few MAC single shadows which I can now use more because I can see them face-on every day. My new Naked palette takes pride of place on the bottom draw. Next to it is a new Clarins lipstick I bought in the sales and haven't found room for in the lip drawer but it will probably end up in my handbag soon, aka the lipstick graveyard...

Last but not least, I forgot to post about my compliment to the boxes which is the matching 'brush holder'. I think it's meant for stationery but it suits my brush storage needs well enough. I bought it a few weeks back and it's got a bit manky from Mr P splashing about the sink like a dolphin. :p

The acrylic boxes with lids are £11.50 each and the ones without lids are £10.95, they are all stackable.
The brush holder (desk organiser) is £7.95.

How do you store your make-up treasures?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

2011 favourites!

Just to clarify, I mean favourite products of 2011, not 2011 individual products.... but you knew that, right?

2011 has been my first blogging year, and what an amazing time I've had finally getting to write about all the stuff I love. Since blogging myself and avidly reading the blogs of others I've realised how much more aware I am when shopping and how much more I think about the quality of the things I use. I find that writing about something makes me appreciate it more and consequently it gets more love.

Without further ado, here are my personal favourite products this year:



  • Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (because I tried to live without it and failed)

  • La Roche-Posay Effaclar K (because it saved my skin)
  • La Roche-Posay Cicaplast (Not technically a moisturiser but it's the ultimate skin healer)
Lip balm

  • Nuxe Reve de Miel (possibly a contender for product of the year, I will not be parted from this)

    •   Liz Earle Brightening Treatment (an oldie but a goodie. Always, always delivers)

    • Burt's Bees Citrus Face Scrub (delicious, divine, like smothering your face in Christmas pudding, plus amazing smoothing and brightening results)
    Body Care:

    Body cream/lotion

    • L'Occitane Lait Concentre Amande (ironically I've never possessed the full size but I still think it's the best thing I've ever put on my skin. I saved my last sachet for Christmas day)
    Cellulite Treatment

    • Soap & Glory Sit Tight (delivers good results and doesn't break the bank. A summer staple)
    Fake Tan

    •  Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs (not really a fake tan, it's more leg make up, but I can ditch smelly fake tans now that I've found this. Can't live without it in the summer. A real revelation)
     Body Scrub

    • L'Occitane Pate Delice Amande (for me this just makes all other scrubs pale into insignificance)

    Hair Care:


    • Lush Karma Komba (compact, smells gorgeous, detangles my unruly mane)

    • Garnier Ultra Doux Henna (a supermarket staple that gives my hair incredible shine)
    • Lush Jungle solid conditioner (cannot beat the smell of this.... leaves my hair looking gorgeous)
    Make-Up (yay!)


    • Erborian BB Creme au ginseng (probably the number one revelation of 2011)
    • Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (just beautiful light, natural coverage)

    • Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection (best ever concealer, just buy it. Beats most high-end ones hands down)
    • Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (probably the only high-end concealer the one above doesn't beat for staying power. This has saved me in bad skin times)

    • Maybelline Dream Touch cream blush (there was a close call between the Armani Blushing Fabric and this, but this topped it because the price is unbeatable. A truly great quality cream blush)
    • Nars Blush (I only have one, but the quality is superb and it lasts for yonks)

    • Maybelline The One by One (in hindsight it proved to be the best mascara of the year for me delivering both length, volume  and flutteryness :))

    • MAC Hibiscus (from the Surf Baby collection. This was on my lips all summer and was definitely my stand-out lip colour of the year)

    •  Sleek Storm palette (probably my most used palette)
    • Benefit Creaseless Cream shadow in Birthday Suit (still lost, still not repurchased, still longed for)
    • MAC Creamy Bisque (vanilla ice-cream for your eyes, always looks good)
    • MAC Hold that Pose mineralize eyeshadow (a newbie but a goodie, my most worn shadow of the last few weeks. I adore this. Some MAC stores still have them in stock so go grab one!)

    Smashbox liner (bottom)
    •  Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner (Brown) (The perfect shade of dark brown and so easy to use)
    • MAC pencils (The best quality eye pencils I've ever come across. Coffee is my favourite)


    • Diesel Loverdose (have you smelt this stuff?? It's amazing! My newest addition to my perfume collection, I've been drowning myself in it's vanillary-liquorice lusciousness since I got it for Christmas. The matching body lotion is also yumyum)

    Nail stuff (2011 was definitely the Year of the Nail!)

    • Nailtiques Formula 2 treatment (has restored my wrecked nail beds to their former glory. The ONLY thing I've tried so far which stops the nails from peeling further. Review to come)
    • Ciate My Fair Lady (ironically the only colour I didn't actually purchase, and I purchased  A LOT this year but which came free with a mag. My perfect nude, my perfect everything)

    • Real Techniques brushes (Gorgeous quality, apart from the one which shed on me, and very original brush designs)
    • MAC 217 eye blending brush (never fails me)
    • Ecotools Blush brush (lovely and soft, blends colour into the cheeks beautifully)
    Well, I'm sure I've forgotten something I 'urgently' need to nominate as a favourite, but for the meantime I hope you've enjoyed a nosey through the ones I have remembered.

    Don't forget to let me know about your favourite discoveries of 2011!