QOTW: What Beauty Product Do You Have A Love/Hate Relationship With?

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What beauty product do you have a love/hate relationship with?

My answer: liquid eyeliners with a brush applicator. Love the intense look they provide, but I just can’t draw a straight line with them. Also, Pupa limited edition palettes. The packaging is so cute and whimsical, but the shades inside get sheerer and sheerer every year.

Product Review: Carolina Herrera 212 Sexy Men Fragrance

carolina herrera 212 sexy men

Name: 212 Sexy Men
Brand: Carolina Herrera
Size: 3.4oz
Price: $80.00

What I liked:
- lovely vanilla-woody scent
- good sillage and staying power
- can be worn by women too
- the packaging

What I didn’t like:
- not particularly original
- some men may find it too sweet and powdery for their taste

It’s rainin men
It’s raining men
Every special men

Tall blonde dark and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean

Every time I wear Carolina Herrera 212 Sexy Men (yep, I wear men’s fragrances too), this song pops into my head. Although Herrera’s 212 sexy men aren’t “rough and tough and strong and mean”. Nope, they have a softer side, and remind me more of metrosexual than macho men, which I love as I find the former a lot sexier than the latter. ;)

212 Sexy Men is a vanilla-woodsy scent. It opens with a fresh citrusy burst (mandarin and bergamot), that’s soon joined by spicy whiffs of cardamom and pepper. Its smell at this stage reminds me slightly of curry. Then, the vanilla kicks in, giving the scent a sweet and powdery vibe that will remain till the end.

Slowly, the base notes begin to emerge too. The drydown is a sensual blend of woods (sandalwood and guaiac wood), enriched with musk and amber. It’s warm, elegant and classy. Although the scent never gets too feminine or old-fashioned, you need to appreciate vanilla, and its sweet aroma, to like it.

Because it’s so warm and powdery, 212 Sexy Men is more appropriate for fall and winter evenings that summer nights. And it could easily be worn by women who are looking for a less sweet vanilla scent than those usually found in their section of the department store. Sillage is good: not too loud, but not too quiet either. Lasting power? About 8 hours on my skin. Then, it starts to fade.

Available at: Amazon and Sephora

Carolina Herrera 212 Sexy Men is a warm and powdery vanilla-woody scent that can be worn by women too. Sillage and staying power are good. However, it’s not very original, and some men may find it a bit too sweet for their taste.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: I got a sample of this product at my local beauty shop. The review is based on my own personal and honest experience with the product. In addition, the review contains an affiliate link, which means we get a commission when you purchase the item from this link. By doing so, you’ll be helping to support Beautiful with Brains. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Book Review: Lawrence Zarian’s 10 Commandments For A Perfect Wardrobe

lawrence zarian's 10 commandments for a perfect wardrobe

Name: Lawrence Zarian’s 10 Commandments For A Perfect Wardrobe
Brand: Lawrence Zarian
Pages: 252
Price: Kindle $9.01, Hardcover $19.25

Lawrence Zarian’s 10 Commandments for a Perfect Wardrobe is an informative and entertaining, step-by-step guide to looking and feeling your best. Written by a renowned fashion/lifestyle expert and TV personality, this book highlights affordable and creative ways for both women and men to hone their fashion instincts and build a stylish, multi-purpose wardrobe, regardless of budget or body shape. As a family member on Live with Kelly and Michael, Steve Harvey, Rachael Ray and The Doctors, LZ (as he’s known), is probably one of the most sought after on-camera personalities today when it comes to fashion. He truly understands that part of looking fabulous is feeling fabulous. In the book he’s also very candid about his personal journey, opening up about his own 15 year struggle with weight, self-image, and self-acceptance. His honesty will inspire readers to love themselves, inside and out. The book includes before and after photos from some of his miraculous makeovers, detailed illustrations, inspirational anecdotes and exclusive tips from some of the biggest names in fashion, beauty and fitness. There’s also an illustrated fashion glossary, so you’ll no longer have to wonder about fashion lingo. With LZ’s 10 Commandments for a Perfect Wardrobe, you’ll feel as if Lawrence Zarian is your own personal stylist! There’s never been a better time to #GetURGlamOn

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Well, you shouldn’t judge it by its title either. Take Lawrence Zarian’s 10 Commandments For A Perfect Wardrobe for instance. When I picked it up, I thought it would simply teach you how to build and organize your wardrobe, but once I started reading it, I realised that I got more than I bargained for. A lot more.

Zarian doesn’t simply teach you how to shop for clothes that fit your body shape, but he also acts as a friendly counsellor to help you learn to love yourself. The first commandment, in fact, is “Thou Shalt Look In The Mirror And Love What You See”. Zarian believes that, it doesn’t matter how beautiful and expensive your clothes are, if you don’t feel good about yourself, you will never look good.

So, in the first chapter, he encourages you to confront your demons and the issues you have with your body. Easier said than done, I know. But Zarian has been there too. He too had lots of insecurities about his body, and openly shares them with you. What he recommends is what worked for him, and if you follow his tips, you too will learn to feel good about yourself no matter what size or shape you are.

Zarian is not one of those people who believes you have to be a size zero and 20-something to be pretty and fashionable. His book offers tips to make every woman feel her absolute best. And for that, you also need to be healthy. That’s why Zarian also stresses the importance of eating a balanced diet and working out regularly.

And, of course, there are also quite a lot of fashion tips. Zarian believes that the foundation of every look is shapewear and properly fitting underwear. He explains what you need to look for when shopping for them, and shares his favourite brands at all price points. He also teaches you what styles suit different body shapes, how to use accessories to spice up your outfits, and why you should dress as though every day was a special occasion.

There are also chapters about how to dress your man and make his shopping experience as pleasant (and short) as possible so that he won’t complain too much when you hit the stores together, how to do your makeup, and how to decorate your closet so that it will be both well-organized and stylish. That way, when you open it, you won’t be overwhelmed by the mess it used to be, but will be inspired to put together beautiful outfits that reflect your personality and flatters your body shape.

Zarian writes in a very entertaining, witty, and colloquial manner that makes you feel like he’s talking directly to you. It’s like he were in the room with you, giving you tips on how to always look fabulous. Plus, the book features cute illustrations, pictures of before and after makeovers so you can see how Zarian worked his magic on women of every age and size, as well as shot of Zarian with his family, which add a lovely personal touch.

If you already lead a healthy lifestyle and your self-esteem is pretty high, you may not find enough information about fashion in this book to justify its purchase. Those who are looking for a quick fix and think that to look great you just have to buy this or that piece of clothing and do no work at all on improving your bad habits and low self-esteem will also be disappointed. But for all those who want to look their best, both inside and out, and are ready to do the work it takes to get there, this is an informative, honest and inspirational read. I highly recommend it.

Available at: amazon

Written in a colloquial and entertaining way, Lawrence Zarian’s 10 Commandments For A Perfect Wardrobe provides tips to feel good both on the inside and out. Zarian doesn’t only teach you how to choose, and accessorize, the most flattering outfits for your shape, but also encourages you to improve your self-esteem and lifestyle.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration. The review is based on my own personal and honest experience with the product. In addition, the review contains an affiliate link, which means we get a commission when you purchase the item from this link. By doing so, you’ll be helping to support Beautiful with Brains. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

New Collection: Lise Watier Eden Tropical Summer 2014

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Eden Tropical, the new summer collection by Lise Watier, features wearable bright and sunny bronzy hues that evoke the colours of a tropical paradise. Here are more details:

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A palette of wearable bright shades with a light shimmery finish.

These silky eyeshadows are available in four new, permanent, shades: Prune Astral, Sortilege, Tinker Bell, and Wonderland.

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25 HRS GEL LINER ($25.00)
This pigmented and longlasting gel eyeliner is available in a deep jet black shade.

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The cute compact contains a peach blush and a bronzing powder to create rosy cheeks and a shimmery, sun-kissed complexion.

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Available in Coral Paradise and Rose Eden.

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Available in Coral Paradise and Rose Eden.

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NAIL POLISH ($13.50)
Available in Coral Paradise and Rose Eden.

The collection is available at Lise Watier. Do you love it? Hate it?

How To Create The Best Skincare Routine For Your Skin

multiple skincare products

Who doesn’t want gorgeous skin? That’s something every woman (and man) struggles to achieve, but there are just so many different types of products on the market that choosing the right ones for you can be really confusing. Do you really need them all? And once you’ve got everything you need, when should you use them?

Fret not! With these tips, you will be able to create a skincare routine targeted to your own needs. Here’s how:

Know your skin type

Before you go shopping, it’s essential that you know what type of skin you have. Skin types include normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive. Your skin may also be two of these things at once. For instance, it can be both oily, prone to break-outs, and sensitive. Knowing your skin type will help you choose the best products to target its concerns. Sure, there are many products that claim to work for all skin types, but that’s rarely true. If you have dry skin, for example, a moisturizer designed for all skin types may not be rich and moisturizing enough for you.

Once you’ve figured out your skin type, you’re ready to hit the stores. Here’s what you need:

Basic skincare routine


1. Cleanser: a gentle but effective cleanser, such as Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, removes all traces of dirt and impurities from the skin, leaving it clean and soft, and ready to receive the benefits from the skincare products you’re gonna apply next, which will now be able to penetrate skin more easily.

2. Sunscreen: the sun’s rays, some of which can penetrate through clouds and be reflected on snow, cause premature wrinkles, sun spots and other signs of aging. Sunscreen is therefore the best anti-aging weapon in your arsenal. But make sure it contains broad-spectrum protection! Not every sunscreen does. If you use a physical sunscreen (one that contains only Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide), such as Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40, you can apply it after moisturizer. Otherwise, slather it on before you apply anything else.

3. Exfoliant: exfoliants remove the dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface, revealing the brighter and smoother new skin underneath. If you use the Liz Earle cleanser with the washcloth, you may skip this step. Otherwise, if you have dry, normal or combination skin, opt for a gentle Glycolic Acid exfoliant. Those with oily, acne-prone skin will instead benefits from an exfoliant with Salicylic Acid, which has the ability to get inside the pores, removing all the gunk that accumulates in them. My favourite exfoliants are from Paula’s Choice.

4. Moisturizer: a moisturizer prevents skin from becoming dry, rough, and even cracked. They contain ingredients such as humectants that attract water from the environment into the skin, and occlusive emollients, like mineral oil, that creates a protective barrier that prevents water loss. This helps skin remain supple, hydrated, and younger-looking. If you have oily skin, opt for a very lightweight formula. Drier skin types will instead benefit from richer formulas (although they too can use something lighter in summer).


A nighttime routine is very similar to a daytime one, with the exclusion of sunscreen, of course. If your skin is very sensitive and can take only a little exfoliation at a time, you may skip the exfoliant too. But you will still need to use a cleanser to remove all the gunk that’s accumulated on your skin during the day, and a moisturizer to keep it soft and smooth during the night too.

Advanced skincare routine

When you’re young, a basic skincare routine is usually enough. But as you get older, and your skin starts showing signs of aging, you may need specific products to keep your skin healthy and younger-looking for longer. And, of course, you can develop skin conditions, such as acne, at any age. Here’s what you should use to target all these concerns:

Acne treatment: use a product with Benzoyl Peroxide, an ingredient that can kill the acne-causing bacteria and reduce redness. If that doesn’t work, you may need a stronger treatment that requires a prescription. In this case, consult your dermatologist.

Anti-aging treatment: moisturizers and serums chock full of antioxidants and retinoids can protect skin from environmental and sun damage, boost collagen production and reduce redness. The result is smoother, brighter skin that stays looking younger for longer. There’s not an ideal age to start using anti-aging creams, but don’t leave it till it is too late. With the exception of retinoids (which, however, work very slowly), anti-aging products can only prevent wrinkles, not eliminate those you already have.

Skin lightening treatment: these treatments can, by reducing the overproduction of melanin (the skin pigment that causes skin to darken), treat brown spots, sun spots, or any other type of discolouration.

All these treatments, unless differently specified by your doctor or directions on the packaging, should be used both in the morning and at night, before your moisturizer. The only exception is retinoids. Because they make skin more sensitive to the sun, it is recommended to use them at night only.


Toner: the jury’s still out there on whether you need to use a toner. I believe that alcohol-based toners can do more harm that good, as they tend to dry the skin too much, which then compensate by producing even more oil. Toners with moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients, on the other hand, have some benefits for the skin. Personally, I prefer to invest my money in a well-formulated mosturizer filled with antioxidants, but if you’d like the extra boost a toner can provide, and don’t mind forking out the money for it, go ahead and use it.

Eye cream: this is another controversial product not every expert believes is necessary. Why? Because the ingredients that moisturize your skin, protect it from the sun, boost collagen production etc are the same in all types of skincare products, including both face and eye creams. That’s why I believe that, if the skin of your eye area is just as dry (or oily, or normal, etc), as that of the rest of your face, you can just keep using your usual face moisturizer. You’ll get the same benefits and save money. If however, the skin of the eye area has different needs, or if your face moisturizer contains fragrance, alcohol, or other irritating ingredients, then it’d be best to use a separate product.

Scrubs: some people dislike AHA or BHA exfoliants, preferring to stick to physical scrubs that remove dead skin cells with the help of little beads, grounded walnut shells, or sugar. These can’t be used daily. The frequency of use depends on how much exfoliation your skin can take. If you have dry skin once a week may be enough, whether those with oily skin may need to exfoliate three or four times a week.

Masks: there are all kinds of masks available. Some have anti-aging benefits, some help absorb excess oil (although none can remove toxins from the skin), while others simply moisturize skin. Masks should be used once or twice a week, or, if you have great skin, just on special occasions. It just depends on whether your skin needs the extra help or not.

Is your skincare routine basic, or do you use any special products to target particular needs?

New Collection: Chanel Reflets D’Ete De Chanel Summer 2014

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Summer loves colour with a passion. In the radiant light, pink is even more cheerful, orange tones explode with vitality and sunbeams of gold and bronze dazzle like never before.

At the water’s edge, the colours in the summer palette shimmer to the max; pure or flamboyant, always magical in the reflection of the waves. An idyllic vision of sunny days that we wish would last forever.

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95 Mirage: bronze
96 Utopia: luminous lavender
97 New Moon: iridescent copper

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911 Ambre Doré: gold

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67 Violet Touch: purple with gold shimmer
77 Orange Touch: orange with gold shimmer

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87 Cheeky: rose with bronze tint

Available in N°40.

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184 Hello: jelly light rose
185 Sexy: jelly fuchsia
186 Happy: jelly coral
188 Sunny: jelly orange
03 Glaze: light purple/pink

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LE VERNIS ($27.00)
613 Eastern Light: white beige
615 Sweet Lilac: lilac
619 Pink Tonic: fuchsia
621 Tutti Frutti: soft Coral
623 Mirabella: orange

The collection will launch late this month at Nordstrom and Macy’s. Do you like it?

Product Review: Jordana Glitters In Magenta Magic

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Name: Glitters in Magenta Magic
Brand: Jordana
Size: 15ml
Price: €2,28

From Jordana’s website:
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…
but Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald & Amethyst are a family of jewels nails will adore
Multi-Shaped, Multi-Sized, Multi-Colored Glitter
Use Alone Or Over Your Favorite Nail Polish

What I liked:
- pretty fuchsia glitters make nails sparkle when hit by light
- nice texture, easy to apply
- glitters stick well to the nails even without a top coat
- the packaging

What I didn’t like:
- you need to swirl the brush in the bottle well to pick up the chunkier glitters

Does applying glitters on top of your nail polish count as nail art? Well, I hope so, cos that’s the only way I know how to decorate my nails. My hands are too unsteady to do anything else! ;)

One of my favourite glittery nail polishes is Jordana Glitters in Magenta Magic, sent me by my friend Annabella (thanks hun!). The cute bottle contains both tiny and chunkier magenta and fuchsia glitters in a clear base. The glitters look quite dark and a bit flat on the nails, until the lights hit them. Then, they become brighter and sparkle beautifully. I wish my camera had been able to capture the effect, but it is absolutely stunning, trust me!
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Because the base is clear, I prefer to apply Magenta Magic on top of other nail polishes, to give them that sparkling touch. In the swatch above, I’m using Layla Ceramic Effect n.21, a pretty Barbie pink, and no top coat. I find the glitters stick well to the nails for days even without one.

Instead, it takes some effort, at least at the beginning, to dispense the chunkier glitters evenly on the nails. And you need to swirl the brush well in the tube, if you want it to pick those up too. If you don’t, only the tiniest glitters, and the odd chunkier one, will end up on your nails. But maybe you prefer that effect?

Available at: Cherry Culture and Jordana Cosmetics EU

Jordana Glitters in Magenta Magic contains tiny and chunky magenta and fuchsia glitters in a clear base. The glitters stick to the nails well, but you need to swirl the brush in the tube carefully to pick up the chunkier ones.

Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: this product was sent me by a friend. The review is based on my own personal and honest experience with the product. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

New Collection: Essence Nail Art Spring 2014

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Love nail art, but don’t know how to do it? Don’t worry. Thanks to Essence, and its new nail art collection, which features stickers, magnetic and cracking top coats, glitters, and jewels, everyone can create a cute and unique design in minutes. Here’s what the collection includes:

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Now available in five new shades.

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Available in three new shades: black velour powder, 3D glitter in turquoise, and multidimensional glitter flakes.

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These cute boxes include both little jewels to apply on top of your bare nails or nail polishes, and a glue.

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Now available in a beautiful emerald green shade.

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With this magnetic top coat, you can magnetize every Essence nail polish. Just paint your nails as usual and let them dry completely. Then, apply a layer of this top coat and, while it is still moist, hold a magnet above your nails. And voilà, a unique design will appear on your nails.

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Hold the magnet above the still moist top coat for 15 seconds to create unique designs. Available in two version that allow you to create an elegant plaid pattern or a pretty heart design.

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Transparent nail stickers that can be designed and embellished with all types of nail art decorations. Simply place the stickers flat on the table, decorate with nail polish, glitter, flakes, rhinestones or whatever your heart desires and leave to dry. Next, peel off the stickers, apply on your nails and then file down the excess foil – and voilà, your nail art is done! Each sheet contains 14 stickers in various sizes.

The collection, which has joined the permanent range, is already out. Is there anything that has caught your eye?