Sunday Random Ramblings, Vol.179

Hello gorgeous,

are you having a nice Sunday? I hope so. Sit back, relax, and enjoy my weekly ramblings. And feel free to share yours in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have been up to too!

My Favourite Italian Designers

favourite italian designers

Italy is famous for its fashion as much as it is for its food. Italians love to look their best and dress up to the nines. Even when we go casual, we usually give much attention to every detail of our outfit to make sure everything harmonises well. And our designers are known the world over for their timeless, traditional, yet modern aesthetics that make any woman feel special. Here are my favourites:

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana love controversy. I don’t, but you don’t have to like a designer or agree with what he says to appreciate his creations. And there’s no denying that Dolce & Gabbana’s creations are stunning. Their aesthetic is feminine and sensual, bold and extravagant, elaborate and voluptuous, and greatly influenced by Sicily and the Mediterranean. It’s stepped in tradition, but still very modern.

Luisa Beccaria

If you’re the romantic type, you just can’t help but fall in love with Luisa Beccaria’s creations. Dreamy, poetic, flowy, and feminine are just some of the adjectives that spring to mind to describe her aesthetic. Her gowns are traditional, but with a modern vibe, and look like they have just come out from a faitrytale.

Alberta Ferretti

Charming, romantic, and contemporary. That’s Alberta Ferretti’s aesthetic. Famous for her twisting, tucking, and draping techniques, she often uses layers to create a flowy, feminine look. She always knows how to make a woman look and feel gorgeous.


Timeless. Valentino’s creations can be worn in any era without ever looking out of place. Famous for his signature red hue and romantic style, Valentino always make women feel and look like princesses. In recent years, and under the new creative directors, the brand has started breaking with tradition, opting for a more minimalistic and modern aesthetic that’s still, however, very regal. I’m still a big fan.

What are your favourite Italian designers?

Beauty Wishlist, Vol.06

beauty wishlist 05

How gorgeous is this bronzer? The pattern reminds me of a day at the beach, and that’s what the sunkissed glow it provides is said to mimic too. I just wish the packaging were prettier. I noticed several high-end brands are starting to use white packaging, and I don’t like the trend. It looks so cheap! Available at Debenhams.

Urban Decay’s new blush promises to give your skin an easy, sexy, lit-from-within glow that makes people wonder if you spent the whole weekend in a secret love den. Its creamy texture is said to blend effortlessly, making for a foolproof application. It is available in 12 shades, ranging from pinks to nudes, from purples to reds! Available at Sephora.

Urban Decay has released 8 new eyeshadow colours. My favourite are four duochrome shades: Tonic (lilac with blue shift), Lounge (brick red with green shift), Dive Bar (medium blue with pink-purple shift), and Sideline (gold with green shift). Available at Sephora.

Inspired by the ethereal and delicate beauty of watercolours, this set contains 12 soft shades for a translucent wash of colour and alluring shine. Next to red, pink, and coral shades, you’ll find unusual hues such as yellow and mint, but don’t worry. They’re very sheer and wearable. Available at Sephora.

What I’m Reading Now

non obvious
Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future by Rohit Bhargava
Everyone can follow trends, but how many of us can spot them while they are just emerging? Bhargava can and, in Non-Obvious, he explains how you too can “see the things that others miss”. First, he teaches us his simple methods and the tools he uses to spot trends. Then, he shares the 15 top trends of 2015, highlighting how some brands have already taken advantage of them, and pointing out ways you can do the same. That way, you’ll be able to take better decision to propel your business, or even your blog, forward. Written in an engaging and easy-to-understand style, the book flows easily. If you want to know how to be among the first players in your industry to adopt a successful trend, or lead the way, give it a read. It’s available at Amazon.

The Links

The Best Of Charlotte Tilbury - Lily Pebbles

Why I’m Quitting Gel Nails: A Temporary Beautiful Result For Long-Term Pain – London Beauty Queen

How to choose a skincare mask – Lab Muffin

What Does Capitalism Have to Do With Body Image Anyway? - Adios Barbie

The Straight Line Technique For Hooded Eyes - Wayne Goss

Disclosure: I received the book from Netgalley. In addition, the post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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Book Review: How To Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing

how to get dressed

Title: How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing
Author: Alison Freer
Pages: 256
Price: paperback, $13,53; kindle, $12,36

Costume designer Alison Freer’s styling kit is a magical bag of tricks, built to solve every single wardrobe malfunction on earth. TV and film productions wait for nothing, so her solutions have to work fast. In How to Get Dressed, Alison distills her secrets into a fun, comprehensive style guide focused on rethinking your wardrobe like a fashion expert and making what’s in your closet work for you. She provides real-world advice about everything style-related, including:
• Making every garment you own fit better
• Mastering closet organization
• The undergarments you actually need
• The scoop on tailors and which alterations are worth it
• Shopping thrift and vintage like a rockstar
Instead of repeating boring style “rules,” Alison breaks the rules and gets real about everything from bras to how to deal with inevitable fashion disasters. Including helpful information such as how to skip ironing and the dry cleaners, remove every stain under the sun, and help clueless men get their sartorial acts together, How to Get Dressed has hundreds of insider tips from Alison’s arsenal of tools and expertise.

Costume designer Alison Freer has had to deal with every possible wardrobe malfunction, from bad fit to stubborn stains. Over the years, she has learned how to solve them all in pinch, and send her actors on set looking fabulous. Now, she’s sharing all her secrets in her new book How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing.

Forget all the rules you have ever learned about fashion. There’s only one secret to looking effortlessly stylish and put together: proper fit. Freer firmly believes that every piece of clothing you buy can’t be worn as is, but must be altered to fit your shape to a T. And no, that won’t break the bank.

Some alternations are costly, but others, like shortening your skirt or taking up a shoulder seam, are quite inexpensive and can easily and quickly transform your look from sloppy to chic. But how do you know if a dress or jacket is worth altering?

Freer explains what you should look for in every piece of clothing before you go shopping, so you’ll know straight away how much a tailor or seamstress will charge you for any modification and whether is better to leave the dress on the shelf after all. No point in taking it home if it is gonna lie forgotten in your closet because it doesn’t flatter you or feels uncomfortable on.

Talking about uncomfortable, how do you deal with ill-fitting shoes and the pain they cause? Is not buying them the only solution? Nope. A piece of moleskin where the shoe badly fits will do the trick (and it can also help repair an underwire bra!). Moleskin, together with safety pins and topstick, can solve pretty much any wardrobe malfunction you’ll ever experience.

That’s not all. Freer shares a lot of useful tips on how to organize your wardrobe so that you’ll always and quickly find what you’re looking for, how to do laundry properly (it’s a lot harder than it seems!), how to take good care of your footwear, and how to remove every stain you could possibly ever get on your clothes. There’s even a section for men, so you can help those in your life look their best too.

I could go on and on. How To Get Dressed is chockfull of practical tips to help you look your best in every situation. It’s not about trends or silly fashion rules (who said that redheads can’t wear red?), but about the secrets of an art, dressing, that have been long forgotten by most, but that will always make its followers look effortlessly polished and stylish, setting them apart from everyone else.

If you can only buy one fashion book, definitely make it this one. It’s informative and useful, but funny and entertaining too, and covers pretty much everything you ever need to know about clothes and accessories. My only problem is the lack of photos. There are a few pretty illustrations, but pictures would have, I believe, provided an easier visual reference. Even so, I’m sure I’ll consult this book very, very often in the future.

Available at: Amazon

Informative and entertaining, How To Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing is packed with useful tips to make you look your best in every situation and solve any possible wardrobe problem you could ever experience.

Rating: 4.5/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration. In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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How To Make Rouge

beauty patches 01

Rouge was one of the most popular cosmetics used in the past. Worn by both women and men to add colour to their cheeks and lips, it was said to give a youthful look to the complexion and make you more attractive. That’s because its reddish hue mimicked the colour of cheeks and lips during sexual arousal.

The Toilette of Health, Beauty, and Fashion, published in 1834, gave readers a few tips and recipes to help them make their own at home:

It would be well were those ladies whose taste may lead them to relieve the deficiency of their complexion by means of rouge, were they to compose the articles themselves. They would not then run the risk of using those dangerous reds in which deleterious minerals are ingredients, of spoiling the skin, and of exposing themselves to the inconveniences which we have alluded to, as liable to result from the use of metallic paints.

The more dangerous reds are those compounded with minium, which is a calx of lead, or cinnabar, otherwise called vermilion, produced by sulphur and mercury. Vegetable red therefore should alone be used. These are attended with little danger, especially when used with moderation.

The vegetable substances which furnish rouge, are red sanders wood, root of orchanet, cochineal, Brazil wood, and especially the bastard saffron, which yields a very beautiful color, that is, mixed with a sufficient quantity of French chalk or talc.

Some perfumers compose vegetable rouges, for which they take vinegar as the excipient. These reds are liable to injure the beauty of the skin. It is more advisable to compound them with oleaginous or unctuous substances, and to form salves. For this purpose, balm of Mecca, butter of cacao, oil of ben, &c. may, for instance, be employed.

There are females whose skin cannot be reconciled to unctuous bodies; such, therefore, may use the following:

1. Take Briancon chalk, and reduce it to a very fine powder — add to it carmine in proportion to the vividness of the red which you intend to produce; and carefully triturate this mixture, which may be applied to the skin, without danger; or

2. Take French chalk prepared, four ounces; oil of almonds, two drachms; carmine, one ounce.

Obs. — The makers of rouge, from motives of economy, sometimes substitute cinnabar for carmine. It may be ascertained if carmine be genuine, as in this case it is not altered either by the mixture of oxalid acid, or volatile alkali. The rouge of which we have just given the composition, may likewise be made up with salves; it then produces a superior effect, being a better imitation of the natural colors.

3. A liquid rouge to produce a perfect imitation of the colors of nature may be made as follows: — Add to a pint of French brandy, half an ounce of benzoin, an ounce of red sandal wood, half an ounce of Brazil wood, and the same quantity of rock alum. Cork the bottle with care, shake it well once a day, and at the end of twelve days it will be fit for use. The cheeks are to be lightly touched with it.

4. Take Brazil wood and rock alum; pound and add them to a bottle of red wine, and boil it till it is reduced to one fourth part. To use this, dip a piece of cotton wool into it, and rub the cheeks.

5. Take half an ounce of red sandal wood, half an ounce of cloves, and five pounds of sweet almonds. Pound the whole together. Upon this paste pour two ounces of white wine, and an ounce and a half of rosewater. Let the whole be stirred up well together. In about eight or nine days, strain this paste in the same manner as is done to extract the oil of sweet almonds, and a very good red oil will be obtained.

6. Alkanet root strikes a beautiful red when mixed with oils or pomatums. A scarlet or rose-colored ribbon, wetted with water or brandy, gives the cheeks if rubbed with it a beautiful bloom, that can scarcely be distinguished from the natural color. Others only use a red sponge, which tinges the cheeks of a fine carnation color.

Would you have used rouge back then?

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Product Review: Avene Skin Recovery Cream

avene skin recovery cream 01

Name: Skin recovery Cream
Brand: Avene
Size: 40ml
Price: $34.00

From Avene’s website:
Calming cream specifically designed for naturally sensitive skin (fair, thin, prone to redness), or skin which has become sensitized due to climatic conditions, excessive cleansing, drying cosmetics or dermatological treatments. It quickly calms irritation, helps restore the hydrolipidic film and provides long-lasting protection. Its formula has been specially developed with a minimum of ingredients, all selected for their gentleness.

What I liked:
– lightweight texture, sinks in quickly
– moisturizes skin, leaving it soft and smooth
– creates a protective barrier that prevents water from evaporating and external agents from penetrating skin
– gentle, doesn’t irritate skin

What I didn’t like:
– very basic formula
– not moisturizing enough for very dry skin

Dry, intolerant skin can be a nightmare. It gets all red, starts to flake, and becomes prone to all kinds of irritations. Sometimes, it seems everything you put on it will cause havoc. *sighs*

Avene wants to come to the rescue. Its Skin Recovery Cream claims to be able to quickly calm irritations, help restore the hydrolipidic film and provide long-lasting protection. How does it accomplish all this?

Mineral oil. Are you put off? Many are. Mineral oil is derived from oil, which is enough for some people to refuse to use it. They are scared it will cause cancer or other health problems. But it doesn’t. Cosmetic grade mineral oil, the only kind allowed to be used in cosmetics, must undergo a rigorous purifying process to rid it of all toxins and impurities. So, it is safe.

But is it effective? Yep. One of the most moisturing ingredients available today, mineral oil works by creating a protective barrier on the skin. Skin already has its own protective barrier. When it is intact, skin is soft, supple, and hydrated.

But when it is broken (harsh weather, sun damage, drying cleansers, and overexfoliation are just some of the things that can damage it), it allows water to evaporate and bacteria to penetrate inside the body. It’s this that leads to dryness and causes irritations.

That’s when mineral oil comes in. The barrier it creates prevents water loss, restoring the hydrolipidic film of the skin, and offers protection from external agents that are now unable to get in. Now that the skin’s barrier function is restored, irritations calm down.

avene skin recovery cream 02

So, yes, Avene Skin Recovery does what it claims, which is a good thing. But I am a bit disappointed its mechanism of action is so simple. Mineral oil is indeed a good choice for a cream designed for dry and sensitive skin, but I would have loved to see some anti-inflammatory agents, and maybe antioxidants and SPF, included too.

Instead the formula is pretty basic. In addition to mineral oil, it contains glycerin, which helps replenish moisture in the skin by attracting some from the environment. The other ingredients are slip agents (they allow the product to glide on smoothly), emulsifiers (prevent the oily and watery parts of a formula from separating) and preservatives.

Even the Thermal Spring Water Avene is so famous for is pretty unremarkable. All the studies that rave about its alleged benefits for the skin were conducted by the brand. But at least, the cream doesn’t contain fragrance, alcohol, or other irritating ingredients that sometimes sneak their way even into products especially formulated for sensitive skin.

Enough about the ingredients. Let’s talk about the texture now. That’s lightweight, spreads easily on the skin, and absorbs quickly. But this also means it’s not moisturizing enough for very dry skin. I’d also say it performs better in the summer rather than winter. But again, that depends on how much the weather dries out your skin.

So, is it worth purchasing? That depends. Personally, I don’t like to spend money on moisturizers with very basic, albeit effective, formulas. I want something that both moisturizes and helps fight premature aging. This one only moisturizes. But if you are ok with that, and have very sensitive, irritations-prone, skin that reacts to anything, then a basic formula with few ingredients like this may be worth considering.

Avene Thermal Spring Water, Mineral Oil, Cyclomethicone, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Squalane, Benzoic Acid, Carbomer, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Triethanolamine

Available at: Amazon, Derma Store, and Escentual

Avene Skin recovery Cream has a lightweight texture and very basic formula that moisturizes skin (as long as it is not very dry), leaving it soft and smooth. Gentle, it doesn’t irritate skin.

Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration.In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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Cheek Brushes: Which One Does What?

cheek brushes 101

Doesn’t matter how wonderful your blush or bronzer is, without the proper tools to apply them, you’ll never gonna achieve a flawless, natural look. I learned this the hard way. When I was a teen, there were only a handful of poorly made, scratchy brushes in the shops. Using your fingers was often the better option!

But even that wasn’t always ideal. So, I sometimes ended up with muddy or clown cheeks, or unblended lines of blush on the cheeks. Not good looks! But if once we often lacked the proper tools, now we have too many. Cheek brushes are available in all kinds of shapes, each one best suited to a different product or technique.

Which ones should you buy, and which ones are unnecessary in your personal kit? Read on to find out:

angled cheek contour brush

Angled Cheek Contour Brush

This brush has an angled tip that perfectly fits the cheekbones (to find yours, simply suck in your cheeks), allowing you to easily sculpt and shape them. Just pick up some bronzer or blush and apply it right on your cheekbones. Then, using short strokes, start blending it out, making your way across towards your ears. For best results, choose a brush with dense and firm, but soft, bristles.

My favourite angled cheek contour brush is from MAC. Although a bit pricey, the 168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($35.00) is an investment that’ll last for years. My only problem with it is the colour. Those white bristles get dirty so quickly!

If you don’t like white bristles, you could try Laura Mercier Angled Cheek Contour Brush ($45.00), which can be used for both highlighting and contouring. On a budget? Opt for E.L.F. Studio Angled Blush Brush ($3.00). Their studio line has never failed me yet.

blush brush

Blush Brush

This type of brush has large and dense, but fluffy, bristles that taper at the tip to give it a rounded shape. This allows it to pick up a generous dose of blush and blend it out easily. If, like me, you have pale skin, use this brush only with sheer and medium pigmented blushes, or you may end up looking like a clown!

Pretty much any brand makes this type of brush. My current favourite is E.L.F. Studio Blush Brush ($3.00). I’ve had it for years and it is still going strong. Another good option is MAC 116 Blush Brush. Again, pricey, but well worth it. You just can’t go wrong with a MAC brush.

bronzer brush

Bronzer Brush

The best bronzer brushes have a rounded head, which allows for a more even application. Not designed for contouring, this brush is ideal for applying, diffusing and swirling bronzer all over your face, cheeks included, for that pretty sunkissed look.

If price is not a problem, Nars Bronzing Powder Brush #11 ($52.00) is well.worth the splurge. If you’d prefer something cheaper, opt for Eco Tools Bamboo Bronzer Brush ($11.99). If you want something you can easily carry in your bag with you everywhere you go, consider Real Techniques Retractable Bronzer Brush ($12.99).

fan brush

Fan Brush

The most underrated makeup brush ever, the fan brush is both useful and versatile. Originally invented to remove excess powder and fallout from the face and eye area, a fan brush can also be used to apply a little dusting of highlighter just above your cheekbones or, for those who want just a hint of flush on their cheeks, a very sheer layer of blush.

The perfect fan blush has bristles that feel both airy and light on your skin. Luckily, there really is no need to splurge on one. Both Eco Tools ($6.99) and E.L.F ($3.00) make cheap fan brushes that work very well.

flat contour brush

Flat Contour Brush

Ideal for contouring and sculpting, this brush features a flat top head that effortlessly creates shadows and highlights on your face to play up your favourite features. Look for synthetic bristles if you plan to use it with a cream product. For powders, natural bristles work best.

Real Techniques 301 Flat Contour Brush ($25.99), part of the Bold Metals collection, is both useful and beautiful. If you don’t mind spending more, MAC 163 Flat Top Contour Brush is another great option.

pointed blush brush

Pointed Blush Brush

This is a twist on the classic fluffy blush brush. It features a dense, large body and a point tip that allows for a flawless blush application. Every. Single. Time. The tip picks up less product than a normal, fluffy, blush brush, allowing you to apply even the most pigmented blushes without ever getting clown cheeks. Once you try it, you’ll never want to go back!

But which one to get? Not a lot of brands make this kind of brush yet. The best is from Hakuhodo. It’s called S103 Powder Blush Brush Pointed and retails at a whopping $97.00! A cheaper, but larger (it won’t work as well if you have a small face) option is Nars Yachiyo Brush #27 ($55.00).

stippling brush

Stippling Blush

A stippling brush has a two layer bristle design. A dark set of dense but short natural bristles, and a lighter set of long and sparse synthetic bristles. This allows it to pick up two layers of product, resulting in different looks depending on how much pressure you use.

Apply the blush with a heavy hand, and you’ll get a more intense look. Use a light hand and you’ll achieve a natural sheer finish. This makes this brush a great option for both cream and highly pigmented powder brushes. If you’re careful, you’ll never overdo them.

MAC makes several stippling brushes. The best one for cheek products is the 188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush ($35.00). It applies blush like a dream, and can also be used for foundation, highlighter, and concealer. It’s very versatile. A cheaper, and more feminine (it’s pink!), option is Real Techniques Stippling Blush ($9.99).

How many cheek brushes do you use? Which ones are your favourites?

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