Zombie flu pick-me-ups: what's on my sick day tabletop (feat. Caudalie, Paula's Choice, Homeoplasmine, The Body Shop, L'Occitane, This Works)

Where: Southbank, London
When: last Friday, the first night of the Southbank Centre Christmas Market
What: mulled wine, all permutations of fat and carb combinations, and a screening of Tarantino's True Romance at the BFI

Basically a recipe for a great night, yeah?

It was just too bad, then, that I was starting to look and feel like a viral outbreak movie character, right before they turn into a zombie: cold, pale, sweaty, nauesous. Not even a double-shot hot toddy helped. I held it together until I got home, and spent the weekend feverish, aching, and doing my best impression of a consumptive invalid.

I wish I'd taken a photo of my bedside table -- think Tracey Emin's My Bed, but with more phlegmy tissues and less vodka #lifestyleblogger. Here are a few products that made me feel vaguely human.

The ones that smell good: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle and the Caudalie Beauty Elixir

The ones that smell good: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle and the Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Put this one in the not-sure-if-it-does-anything-but-it-smells-good category: This Works deep sleep heavenly candle isn't quite as soporific as the pillow spray in the same range, but I think the lavender and chamomile made me feel more zen than zombie.

The Caudalie Beauty Elixir is an old favourite (Six Word Review here), and I recently won a bottle from their stand at Stylist Live (which I also won tickets to -- just as well, because it so wasn't worth the £25!). The rosemary and mint essential oils act like a less repellent Vicks Vaporub (although I think Will feels differently...), and the citrus and rose components also help make it a good pick-me-up. It does contain alcohol, though -- it might be that or the essential oils that make my raw nose sting, so I spray it on my neck instead. 

The French pharmacy loves: Homeoplasmine and Embryolisse Creme Nutritive Douceur Mains

The French pharmacy loves: Homeoplasmine and Embryolisse Creme Nutritive Douceur Mains

On the subject of sore noses (and cracked lips because of all the mouthbreathing, holy crap), I like Homeoplasmine. This stuff is basically Vaseline, but... it's fancy French Vaseline! I picked this up when I was in Paris earlier this year -- totally an Into The Gloss-provoked purchase -- and it's a really good all-purpose balm. There's no smell, and it's far less greasy than actual Vaseline. (I've previously written about similar balms here and here.)

Another French pharmacy pick-up was the Embryolisse Creme Nutritive Douceur Mains. While lightweight, it's really quite softening and hydrating and non-greasy -- basically all I want in a hand cream but often have a hard time finding.

Is it a bird? Is it an amoeba? No, it's the Body Shop's Luxury Face Flannel!

Is it a bird? Is it an amoeba? No, it's the Body Shop's Luxury Face Flannel!

I barely washed my face (or showered, for that matter. YOU'RE WELCOME), but when I did I used the Body Shop's Luxury Face Flannel. This isn't your traditional terry cloth flannel or thin, rough muslin cloth. It's made from PVA, which makes it ultra smooth and soft after you wet it. I've been using it for a few months now, and it's so great for sensitive skin. I normally use it to remove my cleanser, and it's good at taking off makeup. Since it's basically plastic, it also dries fast and stiff which means you can mould it into weird shapes if you so desire.

The nourishing skincare: L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Cream and Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid

The nourishing skincare: L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Cream and Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid

Skincare-wise, I stuck with my usual Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid (previously reviewed here). This helped get rid of the flakies and cleared up any blocked pores. I always feel like I look better the day after I use it! L'Occitane were giving away luxury-sized samples of their moisturisers recently, so I tried out the Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Cream. It's a gel-cream formula which absorbs quickly and dries to a matte finish, and has a light rose scent. I haven't tried it under makeup yet, but I have a feeling it would work well on my oily skin. The pot format grosses me out a little -- pump bottles all the way -- but hey, that's what preservatives are for, right?

BRB, looking for my brain: I need it back at work this week!

Keep Calm, Carry On: What I Packed for Greece (Skincare, Makeup, Packing List)

Bangkok, around seven years ago: Will and I were about to head to the airport to go home. We struck up conversation with another Kiwi (who knew someone I knew, funnily enough - two degrees, etc) and went on to share a taxi.

I was impressed by how lightly she packed -- an everyday sized backpack and a tote bag, from memory, whereas I had been lugging around one of those big 60L backpacking monstrosities for three weeks around Tokyo and Thailand. Those packs have their place (tramping, festivals, or transporting your favourite possessions when moving across the world, like I did last year), but I couldn't help thinking how I would have been a much happier traveller had I not had to constantly schlep around a good fifteen kilos on my back.

Ever since then I've tried to pack light, with varying levels of success. For this trip, a week-long Greek sailing holiday, I went as minimal as I could. It helps that it was hot, and that we pretty much only fly with the budget airlines where you have to pay extra for checked luggage. This is SO NERDY, but here's what I packed, for anyone out there who obsesses over this stuff like I do:

Sunset in Aegina: the black & Other Stories maxi is a little boobilicious at times. Wearing the Soap and Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude over Marc Jacobs Nude(ist) Lip Pencil.

Sunset in Aegina: the black & Other Stories maxi is a little boobilicious at times. Wearing the Soap and Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude over Marc Jacobs Nude(ist) Lip Pencil.

  • Three dresses -- a long black maxi (similar to this one, but in stretch cotton) and a short racerback tank dress (similar to this one, but with a twisted back), both from & Other Stories, plus a white linen sundress with crochet panels from Country Road several years ago (second from left in this pin).
  • Soft white button up shirt from Miss Selfridges, similar to this, and denim shorts from H&M - I probably could have done without both of these.
  • Two pairs of shoes -- jandals from Muji and plain black chunky sandals (£10 from a local department store).
Same day I threw up my breakfast Greek yoghurt and figs over the bow of the boat.

Same day I threw up my breakfast Greek yoghurt and figs over the bow of the boat.

  • Two pairs of togs -- a one-piece and a bikini. Next time: two bikinis, which would double as bras.
  • Undies! And two bras.
  • Blue cotton towel from Sicily -- chartering the boat included towels but I used this as a sarong as well.
  • Two plain black singlets (H&M) and a pair of soft black shorts (Trenery) for sleeping.
Calzedonia bikini top and a blue cotton towel from Sicily.

Calzedonia bikini top and a blue cotton towel from Sicily.

  • My beloved Saben Tilly's Big Sister handbag for going onshore, and a backpack from H&M (similar to this) as my carry on "personal item" for stuff like my diary, camera, notebook, phone, and travel documents. The challenge for next time is a smaller personal item. 
  • Sunglasses, an aviator style. I dropped them in a dirty toilet just before we left for the airport BAHAHAHAHAH. Luckily they were $5 from Cotton On.
Evening in Hydra. Wearing the makeup in the next shot, applied on-deck! Mostly piled on the Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange.

Evening in Hydra. Wearing the makeup in the next shot, applied on-deck! Mostly piled on the Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange.

Cosmetics-wise, I tried to fit everything into this Muji case and the regulation-sized ziplock bag (although I cheated and put some stuff in Will's). It's a mixture of favourites and a few new things I've been playing with:

Muji travel case with everything shoved in it. Applying makeup on-deck while moored up in Hydra: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush, EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Estee Lauder Doublewear Eyeliner, Korres Wild Rose and Vitamin C Treatment, Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher.

Muji travel case with everything shoved in it. Applying makeup on-deck while moored up in Hydra: Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush, EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Estee Lauder Doublewear Eyeliner, Korres Wild Rose and Vitamin C Treatment, Korres Zea Mays Blush in Orange, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher.

Maybelline Powder, Coppertone Facial sunscreen, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher in Queen of the Jungle.

Maybelline Powder, Coppertone Facial sunscreen, Muji eyelash curler, ArtDeco Bronzing Glow Blusher in Queen of the Jungle.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

  • Maybelline Clear Smooth All In One Shine Free Cake Powder SPF25PA++ (£1 at the local pound store! I think this is an Asia-only release), applied using the Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush (from the duo fiber collection). I know from past experience that liquids and BB creams would simply melt off my face in the 30+ degree heat, so I just used the powder over the top of sunscreen if I felt like a bit of coverage.
  • ArtDeco Queen of the Jungle Bronzing Glow Blusher (limited edition from a couple of years ago, but still available here and they seem to do a variation on the theme every now and then), applied with the EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush
  • Estee Lauder Doublewear dual ended eyeliner in Onyx and Coffee (I think this was a limited edition release; the full sized version has a smudger on the other end), smudged out with the Real Techniques Shading Brush, and the Makeup Revolution Awesome Double Flick Liquid Eyeliner. I probably could have done with leaving one of the liner options behind.
EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Makeup Revolution liquid eyeliner, Marc Jacobs Lip Pencil in Nude(ist), Real Techniques Shading Brush, L'oreal False Lash Telescopic mascara, Estee Lauder Doublewear eyeliner, Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush

EcoTools Tapered Blush Brush, Makeup Revolution liquid eyeliner, Marc Jacobs Lip Pencil in Nude(ist), Real Techniques Shading Brush, L'oreal False Lash Telescopic mascara, Estee Lauder Doublewear eyeliner, Real Techniques Duo Fibre Face Brush

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, Lush Solid Perfume in Karma, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

Soap & Glory Motherpucker in Super Nude, Sephora Rouge Infusion in Peony, Lush Solid Perfume in Karma, MAC Mattene in Eden Rouge.

  • Coppertone facial and body sunscreens (these were three for £1 at the local pound shop; another Asia-only release I think), contact lens solution (FYI: no one seemed to sell solutions for RGPs in Greece, and mine got confiscated at customs because it was 120 mLs... woe), and mini shampoo and conditioner (I got the Charles Worthington Sunshine Protector range from Boots).
  • Collistar Glycolic Acid, previously reviewed here.
  • A freebie pack of Simple Face Wipes (although I've bought them in the past) to remove makeup and sunscreen, and then I would do a second cleanse with the (shock horror) freebie soap on board.
  • Lush solid perfume in Karma, in the old push up packaging -- such a gorgeous scent! It's an orange and patchouli blend, and almost smells fizzy, if that makes sense.
  • Skinny cotton buds from Muji, a few cotton pads, tweezers, and hair ties.

Looking back, I could definitely have gone lighter, but hey... [insert something about minimalism being a journey, not a destination]. What about you -- what can't you travel without? How many lip options would you be happy with? And would you mind if I write more travel posts? I've got a lot more to say about Greece!

Ahhhhhhhhh take me back.

Ahhhhhhhhh take me back.

Extras for experts: How to Pack Like Joan Didion (Into The Gloss).

Travel: Scent Memories and Zagara di Sicilia Colonia perfume

I like doing the mundane when I'm travelling. Because it's not really mundane then, is it? Grocery shopping became a scavenger hunt when navigating a supermarket with scraps of Italian. Deciding which of dozens of cheeses to take on a beach trip in Spain was an exercise in restraint. Even buying mouth ulcer gel in French was an experience.

Supposedly, people are happier in the long run spending money on experiences, not things. It makes sense! We all have different priorities, but for now I'm putting a lot of my money towards travel. I don't think it needs to be a zero-sum game, though -- I've made a point of saving up for beauty-related purchases on my travels this past year, and subsequently have enjoyed using those products in my every day life.

Looks as good as it smells.

Looks as good as it smells.

Scent always plays a bit part in my travel memories (related: food). Our accommodation hosts in Sicily welcomed us with pastries in the fridge, and a plate of home-grown lemons on the patio table. There were still blossoms attached to the stems, and that, combined with the zagara (orange blossom) trees surrounding the property and dotted around the landscape, will stick with me for a long time to come. 

Zagara di Sicilia Colonia by Profumi Zuma

Zagara di Sicilia Colonia by Profumi Zuma

Along very similar lines is the Zagara di Sicilia perfume by Profumi Zuma, found in a shabby chic-style souvenir shop in Scopello, a town quite close to where we were staying. This has the slightly bitter opening note of neroli -- a bit like when you squeeze a lemon and the essential oils burst out from the skin -- and mellows out to the sweet, heady combination of orange blossom and something warm (I can't find a list of scent notes anywhere, and I'm crap with them anyway, but I think it might be amber).

I can't be the only one who makes a point of shopping for beauty products when travelling, so tell me: what's your favourite beauty-related souvenir?

This is part of the Brunch Club #BlogGreatness link-up -- this week's theme is travel. Read other bloggers' posts here!

L'Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d'Emotion

L'Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d'Emotion

I attended the launch of the L'Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d'Emotions series at Tessuti a few months ago, and this post has been percolating in my brain ever since. Why has it taken so long?

Writing about fragrance is challenging. There's no colour or texture, which means no swatching or demonstrating it on myself. As much as I like to throw around words like "sillage", "accord", and "animalic", I suspect I still do a pretty poor job of actually describing a perfume. 

But hey, why not talk about $332 (NZD) perfumes anyway!

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