Glossier versus Nars concealer

I am no professional makeup artist, far from it! I mentioned it before but I use about 6 products in my routine and rely solely on concealer to make my face look decent. A quick makeup routine with little products means that I have no time to lose applying and reapplying throughout the day, everything I use needs to do the job easily, quickly and last most of the day. When it comes to concealer my whole face relies on it, so as much as I love to try new products there are only a very few that make the final cut.

Today I am talking about the two most famous and popular concealers of the past year or so – Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer. All the bloggers and beauty editors talked about them when they came out. You know me, I like to thoroughly test products before giving my opinion and I have been using Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer for months now, and here is my verdict.

Packaging

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer packaging

Both Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer are pot concealers so the shapes and sizes of the packaging are pretty much identical. Glossier’s pot is made of glass which makes it a bit more fragile but better to recycle when finished. Nars’ pot is in plastic making it lighter to travel with.

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer packaging

The pots may be the exact same size but the quantity they contain isn’t! Nars has 6.2g of product whereas Glossier only has 4.8g. An almost 2 grammes difference which, when the product is under 10g, is pretty significant.

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer packaging

Winner: Nars with more product and a travel-friendly packaging.

Price

Nars Soft Matte concealer is priced at £24 so £3.8 per gramme. Glossier Stretch concealer costs £15 which is £3.1 per gramme. Glossier is therefore cheaper even with the quantity difference.

Winner: Glossier which is simply cheaper.

Colours

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer colours

For this post, I compared Nars Vanilla to Glossier Light, as you can see on the picture Nars come out a bit pinkier than Glossier which looks more neutral.

Glossier Stretch concealer exists in 5 shades whereas Nars Soft Matte concealer has 16 shades which makes it a lot friendlier for all skin tones.

Winner: It’s a tie! I like Glossier more neutral tint but Nars is the only one catering for all skin colours.

Textures

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer texture

Just looking at the pots you quickly notice that Glossier Stretch concealer is much sheerer and dewier than Nars Soft Matte concealer which looks very matte. Once on the skin, Glossier remains very dewy which for a combination skin like mine can eventually turn into a rather oily effect. Nars looks matte on the skin but not drying or cakey at all. It melts into the skin very nicely and gave a soft-focus finish.

Winner: Nars. Its soft matte texture makes it look natural without any shine. Glossier may suit better dryer foreheads but not my mildly-oily one.

Lasting power

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer

I carried multiple tests to evaluate the lasting power of both products and give them a fair chance, including months of wear. For this post, I challenged the products even more by wiping them gently with my finger. At that point, the products had been on my hand for a good few minutes and had time to set.

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer

As you can see on the picture above, Nars Soft Matte concealer did not move at all whereas Glossier Stretch concealer was wiped away (middle section of the swatch). You can also see that both original textures remained with Nars staying on the matte side and Glossier retaining its dewiness.

Nars Soft Matte concealer and Glossier Stretch concealer

I took the following picture about thirty minutes later. I also added Nars in Custard on my hand. Glossier retained its neutral colour and dewiness, however, it started to fade and crease (lower section of the swatch). Nars concealers stayed put and retained their matte finish without creasing, however, the colours definitely oxidated both turning a bit orange and pink.

Winner: Nars! I am typing this about three hours after I took the initial pictures and while Glossier is long gone, Nars is still firmly on my hand. Even though Nars oxidise a lot more, with 16 shades to pick from you should be able to find one that suits you well even oxidised.

***

You have probably guessed that my favourite is definitely Nars which I have in two shades to fit the different areas of my face. I have already re-purchased both Custard and Vanilla multiple times. I also know that some people swear by Glossier and I understand why! It has a dewy finish which dry skins may really benefit from and the colours are perfectly neutral. I think my skin is just a bit too oily for it.

I hope this detailed review will help you make an informed decision when purchasing either Nars Soft Matte concealer or Glossier Stretch concealer or even both!

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Favourite facial cleansers

Living in London, which is very polluted, the first thing I want to do when coming home is to wash my face. Nothing beats the feeling of getting the city’s dirt off my face in the evening (except a nice glass of wine of course).

After more than 7 years in London, I have finally figured out what cleansers work best. I have used all of the products I mention below for more than 3 months at least, so they have all been thoroughly tested!

Favourite facial cleansers

Now quickly before I share with you my favourite cleansers let’s talk about my skin type. I have the ultimate combination skin, my T-zone starts the day normally and end it as an oily mess. My cheeks are dry when I wake up but ease into a normal type eventually. Finally, I do get mild redness and adult acne every now and then. So, if you are like me enjoy the products below as I do, if you are on the drier or more sensitive side maybe avoid some of the more balancing products or the tools I use.

To remove all traces of makeup – Clinique Take The Day Off Balm

Clinique take the day off

If you pick only one product make it this one, hence why I mention it first! Clinique Take The Day Off Balm removes EVERYTHING in a very gentle way. It is quite a greasy and rich balm so make sure to thoroughly rinse it if you have oily skin. It is a fantastic cleanser for dry and normal skins and will remove even the most stubborn waterproof mascara.

The micellar water – Bioderma Crealine

Bioderma Sensibio

I mentioned it in my French Pharmacy guide and in my in-flight essentials guide for good reasons, I have been using this micellar water for 9 years! It has been essential in any French skincare routine for many years. I know there are now other brands doing it but I am faithful to Bioderma Crealine as it is the first micellar water I have ever used. I apply it with a cotton pad in the morning after rinsing my face with water and in the evening after using one of my other cleansers. I also use it as a makeup remover on lazy days.

For a thorough cleanse – Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish is great if you want a very thorough cleanse or as a second step cleanser on a very heavy makeup day. Apply it on dry skin and wash it off with a damp face cloth. It will remove dead skin and any last bits of makeup. I love to use it on a very hot day to remove traces of sweat and sticky sunscreens.

For the mornings or non-makeup days – Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

A simple no-fuss cleanser, perfect to use in the morning or on non-makeup/non-city day. It is very gentle and should please even the most sensitive skins.

To use with a facial brush – Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

I am a Clarisonic brush convert and have been for years now. I use mine in the shower every other day or so. And because the Clarisonic brush is the star of the show and does most of the scrubbing I use a very basic cleanser with it to avoid irritating my face too much. Cetaphil is the ultimate simple cleanser, so much so that it is recommended by most dermatologists. If you have very sensitive skin skip the facial brush but keep Cetaphil.

For adult acne – Neutrogena Visibly Clear

Neutrogena Visibly Clear

Aaaaaah good old adult acne! No one really tells you about it, and one day in your mid/late thirties your skin has an emotional meltdown. Mine isn’t too bad but I do get random breakouts on my face and neck, and when I do I go back to a classic Neutrogena Visibly Clear. It is basic yet efficient and the grapefruit scent makes it a lovely cleanser to use during a morning shower.

Pick your favourite among the above, follow with a face mask if you need to and your skin should thank you!

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Best facial cleansers

Favourite face masks

SONY DSC

Behind every great skin, there is a great routine! I don’t know about you but I can really see the difference when I stick to a solid skin care regimen with efficient products. Sometimes though I slip out of the routine (we are only human right?), that is when I reach out to some of my favourite face masks. They are a great way to bring back some balance to my skin and get rid of the unwanted signs that come with falling off the wagon.

So meet my skincare super-heroes, here to help when I am having a bad skin day!

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask

I started using REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask as part of my bridal skin care routine. This is the mask I reach out to when my face is uneven and dull, it exfoliates deeply and gets rid of all the dead skin. Use it at night and follow with the best moisturiser for your skin type and you will wake up glowing.

Cattier Organic Mint Green Clay mask

Cattier Organic Mint Green Clay mask

I mentioned several times that my T-zone can get quite oily and I used to have some mild acne as a teenager, so my skin is prone to breakouts. When my forehead is having a bad week I make sure to apply Cattier Organic Mint Green Clay mask for a good 20 to 30 minutes. It helps reduce the inflammation and the size of any spot I may have. It also feels very refreshing which is pleasant after a day out and about in London’s pollution.

Avene Soothing Moisture mask

Avene Soothing Moisture mask

This mask already featured in my French pharmacy guide and for good reasons – it is brilliant! Avene Soothing Moisture mask is suitable for all skin types and even my sometime-oily face welcome the moisture it gives, mostly in winter. I usually apply it once a week on clean skin and leave it on overnight. It is light enough that it won’t break me out, yet moisturising enough that even the drier of skins will enjoy it.

Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle balm

Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle balm

Your face is uneven and not the softest? Dreaming of baby soft skin? Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle balm is here to help! This balm will gently exfoliate your skin and the probiotics will restore balance and softness. The only downside of it is its price. It is very expensive but if you can afford it I highly recommend it! It is not called ‘Miracle’ for nothing.

Kose Collagen and Royal Jelly mask

Kose royal jelly and collagen sheet mask

Unfortunately, this mask is a little tricky to get a hold of if you are not in Japan. But if you can get it make sure to pack it for any long-haul flight. My skin never suffered too much on the plane, at least that is what I thought until I used a Kose Collagen and Royal Jelly mask on our flight back from Barbados. What a difference it made! My skin was perfectly balanced, neither dry or oily, for the following 24 hours!

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Wedding skin care routine

Wedding season is upon us! Only three short months until we are in the thick of it. This means that, for the brides and grooms to be, now is the time to implement a pre-wedding skin care routine if you don’t have one already! Most skin care products will start to show some results after about a month, so with three months to go until wedding peak season there is no time to lose!

On my wedding day, I knew I wanted my make-up to remain minimal. I am not one to contour or lip-line. I like my makeup to be simple yet effective, like most French women. This meant that I needed my skin to be in the best possible shape so there would be not much to hide. Therefore, I introduced new products ahead of the big day which really helped my skin and fixed some problems I had, and I think I looked quite alright on the day.

WEB_claire_andrew_20160528_105

Below are the key products I introduced into my bridal beauty routine. I have started using that skincare regimen in late 2014 and I still follow it today! I think four years of testing should be enough to prove that it works.

The pleasant, the efficient and the ugly, I am sharing it all!

Exfoliate your skin with acids

A first step is to stop exfoliating your face with physical scrubs! Those are very aggressive to the skin and can potentially scratch and damage it. Also, microbeads are destroying marine life so you may as well bin them now. Instead, start using acids, the name may be scary but these will gently exfoliate your skin.

Make sure to also pick the right acid for your skin! Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) are great for oily and acne-prone skin. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are great to exfoliate and reduce fine lines.

I have combination skin, my T-zone can get oily, my pores are fairly visible. Yet I am starting to show first signs of ageing and the rest of my face can get dry, so I had to find the right balance between AHA and BHA. My favourite AHA is REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, it is a fantastic mask which will get rid of dead skin and give you a lovely glow in only 10 minutes once a week. For my T-zone, I use CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid each morning as a serum after washing my face. It has done wonder to my large pores which look clearer (yum! I told you I would share all the details!) and therefore appear smaller (pores don’t shrink). My occasional acne spots have also almost completely disappeared since starting using it.

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask and CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

Start using a retinol

If you haven’t already, make sure to start using retinol as soon as possible. This ingredient will do wonder for your skin as it is the only proven efficient anti-ageing skincare product. Be aware that the first few weeks of using retinol, your skin may break out a lot more than usual and start peeling a bit. This is completely normal as the cell renewal process is accelerating and your skin is purging all the nasties out. Make sure to introduce the retinol gently into your routine, using it once a week and increasing usage to every other night over a month.

A great retinol to start with is La Roche Posay Redermic R, it is gentle and efficient. This was the first retinol product I used, and I could see real improvement in the texture of my skin without any breakout or peeling. As I have been using retinol for four years, I have increased the strength, first with SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3, and now with The Ordinary Retinol 1%. I even converted Andrew to retinol and he is using The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% which is very gentle for beginners.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% and Granactive Retinoid 2%

Vitamin C will give you the glow

As I mentioned above, I use retinol every other night as an evening serum, which means that on the alternative nights I use a Vitamin C serum. Vitamin C is a fantastic antioxidant which will help your skin fight pollution and UVs. It can be used in the morning too but needs to be followed with an SPF.

My favourite vitamin C serum is the outrageously expensive SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. The price tag would make anyone cry but the results are really worth it, IF you can afford it. If you cannot justify spending such an amount of money on skincare, I am currently testing Vichy Liftactiv Fresh Shot Anti-fatigue Concentrate which is new on the market but so far has done the job well! Plus it smells a little like the Skinceuticals serum (it stinks!) which I assume is a good sign!

Vichy Liftactiv Fresh Shot Anti-fatigue Concentrate

Use sunscreen every day

Seriously, do wear sunscreen every day! I haven’t been without SPF since 2014 and I have to say my forehead lines are less deep than a lot of people my age, or even younger! Sunscreen is all you really need to keep your youthful glow a little longer.

I use sunscreen as a day cream after my CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid serum and a hydrating serum. My favourite SPF day cream in the winter is Avene Hydrance Optimale Light UV SPF20 which hydrates while protecting. In the summer, I like to use Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel SPF50+ which I get in Japan, but you can find it on Amazon too. Finally, if it gets really hot or if I am on vacation somewhere exotic, I use Avene Cleanance High Protection Emulsion SPF30 to combat the oily glow on my forehead.

Avene and Biore sunscreens

Get rid of all the spots

Now, this is a little embarrassing to share, but we are all friends here, and I promised to be honest and open. I get small pimples on my chest very easily when it is hot or if I am stressed. I am not sure why but my cleavage can look like a teenager’s forehead at times. My wedding was at the end of May, in Alsace. It was 28 degrees Celsius that week, and with the added stress my chest was covered with teeny-tiny pimples by Wednesday, and I was getting married on Saturday. My dress had a deep V-neck at the front and was backless which meant that these little red-dots could have been on full display. Not really the type of necklace I was planning to wear…

Luckily, knowing my skin, I knew this could happen and I had tested products to fight this issue in the months leading up to the wedding. On the big pimples, I used a sulfur paste and left it on overnight. My favourites are Mario Badescu Drying Lotion and Malin + Goetz 10% Sulfur Paste. In a couple of nights, the spots went from ugly to flat fainted marks easy to cover with a bit of concealer. For my chest and shoulders, I thoroughly applied Boots Back Spray after each shower, the Tea Tree oil worked like magic and kept my skin fresh preventing other pimples to show up to the party.

Boots Tea Tree back spray and

Dry brush your body

I suffer from keratosis pilaris, also known as ‘chicken skin’, on the back of my arms and my thighs. It is a very common condition yet it is impossible to get rid of it. The only treatments available help manage the condition but won’t cure it. I knew that regular exfoliation and hydration were my only options to reduce it enough so it would be barely visible.

Dry brushing is known to be really good for the skin, helping the vascular blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, and – in my case – reducing keratosis pilaris. I did it thoroughly before each shower during the month leading up to the wedding and my skin looked really good on the day, including my arms! I use one of the basic body brushes from Boots, but you can find some fancy ones on Amazon too!

Boots body brush

So brides and grooms to be, follow these six principles and I can guarantee you will be glowing on your wedding day, and long after if you keep using these products!

Martina-Liana-wedding-dress

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Favourite beauty blogs

The second post of my ‘Favourite blogs’ series is dedicated to all things beauty (here is my first post on interior blogs). As you may know, in addition to travelling the world and painting walls, I have a little French pharmacy in my bathroom. I am quite simple and scientific when it comes to beauty – I like to have a few products that work very well. Quality over quantity!

This means that I am very thorough when looking for a new cleanser or retinol and the blogs below are exactly that – very rigorous and detailed!

Into the gloss

I am pretty sure I was one of the first readers of Into The Gloss, when I first discovered it on a lunch break in my cubicle at work, back in 2011, it only had two pages of content. Fast forward to today and Into The Gloss is not only one of most respected blogs in the industry, it has also now launched a beauty brand!

Into The Gloss
Source: Into The Gloss

Founded by Emily Weiss (The Hills anyone?), Into The Gloss opens the bathroom’s doors of some of the most beautiful people on the planet.

Caroline Hirons

Caroline is the queen of all things beauty in the UK. A qualified aesthetician by background, she has encyclopedic level of knowledge when it comes to skincare. Not sure what retinol to get? Check her blog! What are acids anyway? Check her blog!

Caroline Hirons
Source: Caroline Hirons

She has also a Youtube channel which I am subscribed too! I love her personality, direct and honest – no beating around the bush there!

The Anna Edit

Anna is probably one of the loveliest persons on the internet! I want to be her friend and I adore her simple yet very stylish universe. She is a girl after my own heart, with a preference for straightforward beauty routines.

The Anna Edit
Source: The Anna Edit

Also like me she has greasy eyelids which made me feel so much better as I thought I was the only one with this problem! Anna if you read this I think we should start a #gressyeyelidstribe!

Gothamista

First of all Renee is absolutely gorgeous, if I can look like her in a few years by following her advice I will be one happy lady! I also love her very scientific approach to skincare.

Gothamista
Source: Gothamista

Ingredients, combinations of products, she has also incredible knowledge of Asian skincare routines which are world famous for their efficiency. I watched most of her videos before going to Japan and I came back with a bag full of products!

I am just hoping that with all that reading I will still look thirty in twenty years!

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Christmas 2017 – Beauty Gift Guide

Last post in the Christmas 2017 – Gift Guides series! After the interior and travel gift guides, today is the beauty gift guide. This will help you find a gift for anyone who likes a nice pampering session!

I selected the products based on my experience using some, reviews – and some of these are actually on my letter to Santa!

Christmas 2017 beauty gift guide

1. Jade Facial Roller

So this is a gift I want for myself actually! I heard great things about jade rollers and the benefits of facial massages. This will make anyone feel like in a spa when applying their regular face cream.

2. Glossier Balm Dotcom

A multiple purpose balm great to hydrate lips or any dry skin patch. It is cheap and you can choose from six different scents: regular, coconut, birthday cake, rose, mint and cherry.

3. Real Techniques Core Collection Brushes Kit

I love the Real Techniques makeup brushes, in particular the foundation ones. This kit will give you all the essential brushes you need for a flawless look.

4. Oliver Bonas Velvet Makeup Bag

Stylish and practical this Oliver Bonas makeup bag is big and can fit skincare and make up easily when travelling. They also have a smaller version in navy blue if you have less to pack!

5. Kiehl’s Crème de Corps

A big favourite among the beauty and skincare community,  Kiehl’s Crème de Corps will make any beauty aficionado happy and their skin super soft!

6. The Ordinary Regimen

Who hasn’t heard of The Ordinary already? The hype is real and justified! Cheap skincare products that work. So why not asking Santa for the products they recommend as part of their regimens?

7. Lush Merry Christmas Gift Box

The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, so nothing like a warm bath to relax and warm up at the end of the day! Those Lush bath bombs will transform your tub into a spa like experience!

8. Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash

Now this is a real treat! Aesop hand wash cost north of £20 which is A LOT for a hand wash, BUT it smells absolutely divine, it is very gentle on the skin and makes the chore of washing your hands feels like a beauty treatment.

9. L’Occitane Delicious Almond Collection

L’Occitane is very famous in France for its products ‘Made in Provence’. It is all about the Almond shower oil in this gift pack! Super gentle on the skin, very hydrating, and it will make you feel like you are in the South of France.

10. Byredo Super Cedar Fragrance

This would make a very very very special gift. I have actually asked my husband if that could be my only Christmas gift this year. I have been looking for a new Fragrance for a while and Byredo Super Cedar is the one! It’s fresh, woody and perfect for the winter months. If you find this fragrance a little too masculine Bal d’Afrique is another great option!

Looking forward to Christmas day already!

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What’s in a French girl’s makeup bag?

French women are famous for their natural beauty. There seems to be a myth where people assume that we just roll out of bed looking fresh and polished.

What is true is that less is always more when it comes to beauty in France. Extreme contour, thick foundation, glittery eyeshadows or sophisticated nail art design are just not really a thing in France. Our ultimate objective when it comes to beauty is to look like the best version of ourselves.

The reality, however, is that it takes a lot of work to look naturally healthy, mainly with the use of efficient skin care products. We like our fancy French pharmacy cosmetics. This is also why French women can then get away with less makeup. We invest in a good canvas so we can use less paint.

So what makeup will you find in most French girls’ bag?

Longchamp French makeup bag
Longchamp makeup bag

A concealer

Forget about foundation, it’s just too much work! Commonly us french girls will only cover what needs to be hidden. A pimple, redness, dark circles, etc. Whatever doesn’t need to be hidden, we don’t cover it! If your skin is good why bothering spending time applying a cream of the exact same colour on top of it?

I personally even go as far as using my concealer as a foundation if I have an event that requires having a full face of makeup. In 30 plus years, I have never ever bought a foundation.

Nars Soft Matte Complete concealer

My favourite concealer at the moment is Nars Soft Matte Complete concealer. It gives good coverage and doesn’t crease. I have it both in Vanilla and Custard so I can tailor the colour to the different areas of my face.

Nars Soft Matte Complete concealer in Vanilla and Custard

A bronzer

That’s how we get the glow! A good bronzer is the secret for the healthy ‘I just woke up like this’ look. A lot of my French friends (including me) use bronzer only and don’t even bother with blush.

My favourite is the Guerlain Terracotta! I have been using it for years. Unfortunately, it slipped off my hand the other day and crashed to the ground in tiny pieces. So at the moment I am using The Body Shop Honey Bronze powder, which is good as it is completely matte.

The Body Shop Honey Bronze powder

A powder

This one is only used by the women who, like me, are on the shinier side. If you are French and have beautiful matte skin, chances are you don’t even have one of these. Unfortunately, my forehead easily goes from dewy to greasy so a powder is a must in my bag!

My favourite at the moment is the Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot powder. It does the job without any powdery white cast.

Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot powder

An eyeliner

French women like classic looks when it comes to makeup, a small eyeliner wing, a bit of red lipstick, boom! Done! That’s why most of us go-to look involve a good eyeliner.

Being lazy with make-up, I need an eyeliner that will last all day as I will very rarely bother to reapply anything. I love MAC Liquidlast liner, once set it is like a tattoo on your eyelid and will not smudge. It is a little difficult to apply though and takes a bit of practice. The other eyeliner I absolutely love is a gem I found in Japan. Koji Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner is a little bit easier to apply and will stay put until the evening.

MAC Liquidlast liner and Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner

Neutral eyeshadows

As I mentioned earlier, the less is more look is the ultimate goal, therefore a few natural toned eyeshadows are all a French woman need. Shades of browns and greys are usually our go-to. And forget about blending colours, the easier the better! That is why I love the Kiko Long Lasting stick eyeshadow, they require minimum work and last all day.

Kiko Long Lasting stick eyeshadow

A mascara

Not too volumising or thickening, a good mascara needs to simply lengthen and separate lashes. Ironically, my favourite mascara cannot even be found in France! Maybelline Full ‘N Soft mascara is simple, lengthening, black and doesn’t smudge (when will it be sold in Europe Maybelline????).

Maybelline Full 'N Soft mascara

A lip balm

Most days a lip balm is all I wear on my lips. I cannot really be bothered with applying lipstick. It’s too much work! So once my makeup is on and my teeth are brushed, I swipe a bit of Dior Addict Lip Glow, it is very hydrating and gives a subtle rosy glow.

Dior Addict Lip Glow

A natural lipstick

When I need to look a little bit more put together, for a work meeting or date, my go-to lip product is an almost nude colour. In my case ‘nudy’ nudes just don’t flatter my skin tone at all, so my favourite shades are usually very subtle pink or mauve lipsticks. My all-time favourite is Revlon ColourBurst Balm Stain in Honey, it’s a cool shade of mauvy pink and is super simple to apply.

Revlon ColourBurst Balm Stain in Honey

A red lipstick

Last but not least, the main and only statement makeup item most French women have is a red lipstick. Some of my friends wear it every day, some keep it for special occasions, all have one. I usually use the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red as it doesn’t move once set. You can eat and drink with it and be confident that your face won’t look like Pennywise the Clown by the end of the meal.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red

As you can see below, it only takes 6 products to go from the ‘I woke up like this’ to natural French beauty. All I applied was concealer, bronzer, powder, eyeliner, mascara, and a bit of lip balm.

All in all my makeup routine using these products takes about 10 minutes. This is why French women can just roll out of bed and be ready a cup of coffee later.

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French Pharmacy guide – 10 products to buy

For those of you who have been visiting my little corner of the internet for a while, you will know that there are three things I love more than anything! Well… After my cat, and my husband. I guess.

I love travelling, decorating rooms and skincare. I am actually obsessed with skincare. I have so many pots and tubes on my bedside table my husband calls me the ‘little chemist’. I am always on the search for the best ingredients and the most effective, yet not too expensive, products.

I have a good excuse though (desperately trying to justify myself here), I am not very good at makeup so I need to have decent skin. And, to be completely honest, I know where this obsessive-compulsive behaviour comes from – 1) I was born in France, 2) French pharmacies are skincare heaven, 3) see 1 and 2.

Talking about French pharmacies, if you are travelling to France and venturing in one of the shops with a giant green cross at the front, chances are you may feel a little overwhelmed. Mostly if you don’t speak French! So I thought I would put a little French pharmacy guide together of my favourite French skincare products. I have been using all of the products I mentioned below for years. No-nonsense marketing fluff here, just real French staples proven to be efficient AND not that expensive!

French pharmacy must buy products

You don’t need to ruin yourself for beauty!

Cicaplast Pro-Recovery, La Roche-Posay

I use the Cicaplast Pro-Recovery balm every. single. day. It is a fantastic hydrating serum! It goes on quite greasy, but give it 5 minutes and your skin will feel as soft as a peach!

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast

I have a little backstory with this product. About 2 years ago, I started to have teeny tiny pimples all over my cheeks, little red dots full of water. It wasn’t acne and my skin was quite dry. It could have been a reaction to something or maybe dehydration. I was visiting my parents at the time and I went to their village’s pharmacy looking for some sort of ointment that would protect and heal my skin. I ended up buying Cicaplast Pro-Recovery and, 3 days later, all the pimples were gone! It’s a miracle product and I haven’t stopped using it since!

Redermic R, La Roche-Posay

Redermic R was the first retinol cream I have ever used, and one of the bests I have ever come across. For those of you who are not too familiar with retinol, it is one of the only anti-ageing ingredients that has been proven to scientifically work. It is also excellent for acne prone skins, and you will actually see results using Redermic R!

La Roche-Posay Redermic

Retinol can be aggressive on the skin but I have never had any issue with La Roche-Posay Redermic R. I recommend you use it in the evening and make sure to use sunscreen during the day as retinol will make your skin more sensitive. Trust me, get that tube and in 10 years time, you will look better than the person who didn’t buy it.

Crealine H2O micellar water, Bioderma

First thing first! Biorderma Sensibio is called Bioderma Crealine in France. They changed the name outside of France, maybe because Crealine wasn’t the easiest thing to pronounced (my assumption only). So in doubt, look for the pink bottle!

I have been using the Bioderma micellar water for the last 8 years. It has only become popular outside of France recently, but in France, it has been a staple in bathrooms for more than a decade.

Bioderma Crealine micellar water

It is very gentle on the skin and removes all the dirt and makeup quickly. Bioderma has a version for all skin types when I was younger and my skin was greasier I was using the Sebium version (the blue and green bottle).

I recommend you buy the 2 bottles pack as it is excellent value for money and a 500ml bottle will last you up to 3 months!

Soothing moisture mask, Avene

Simple and efficient, Avene moisturising mask is a no-fuss hydrating treatment for the skin. It is very gentle and suits my combination skin, as well as very dry skins. It is affordable and lasts a long time if used once a week like I do. My tip: apply it to clean skin at night and sleep with it on!

Avene soothing moisture mask

Beauty Elixir, Caudalie

A little bit of a ‘princess product’ Caudalie Beauty Elixir is simply a refreshing and hydrating face mist. It is nice to have in your handbag and to take with you on a long-haul flights. It won’t transform your skin or turn you into a glowing unicorn, but it will make you feel a little more human after a long day/flight/workout.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Atoderm nourishing cream, Bioderma

I have been blessed with keratosis pilaris (thanks Dad!) which means I have very dry ‘chicken skin’ on my arms and legs. The condition is completely harmless but there is no treatment that can cure it, so to find a body lotion which leaves me with baby-soft skin for more than 3 hours is nothing short of a miracle. This is exactly what Bioderma Atoderm cream does! It leaves me with soft skin for most of the day. It isn’t as cheap as a drugstore body lotion, the bottle is huge and lasts a good while.

French-Pharmacy-Bioderma-Atoderm
Ran out of it before writing this post – Source

Deodorant Dry Touch, Vichy

About a year ago I took the leap, the dangerously smelly leap to the land of natural deodorants. This was mainly due to my anxious doctor (who also happens to be my mother) sending me links to studies confirming that aluminium salts are harmful. For those of you who have taken the leap too, you will know that the quest to find a natural, yet efficient, deodorant is a pungent and, at times, very embarrassing one. I tried quite a few and got regular “hmmmm I love you, but you smell a little funny” comments from my husband in the process.

Vichy deodorant dry touch

Luckily, I eventually went back to France and to a pharmacy where found a little pack of 2 Vichy stick deodorants. I took it home with me and since I have never looked back. It leaves a dry feeling on the skin and leaves me fresh for most of the day without any of the nasty ingredients!

Huile Prodigieuse dry oil, Nuxe

A classic, the holy grail of body oil, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse has been around for more than 25 years and has become a cult beauty product. So much so that Nuxe created a fragrance inspired by the Huile Prodigieuse!

Nuxe huile prodigieuse shimmering

It hydrates and leaves the skin glowing. The fragrance is quite strong and may not be to everybody’s taste, but once you get hooked it is hard to ever look back. In the summer, you can use the shimmery version (pictured) which will make you glow under the last rays of sunshine of the day.

Emulsion, Biafine

Biafine is a must-have in your pharmacy cabinet! This product was originally created for burn victims to help heal their wounds and the damaged skin. It works wonders on sunburns and has been very much used over the years by my very pale British husband.

Biafine emulsion

In case of sunburn, I apply a thick layer on the skin and let it sink overnight. Depending on the severity of the burn the results can go from reduced redness and pain to fully healed skin in just one night. Biafine is a skin saver, quite literally.

Sunscreens

Last but not least, sunscreens! French brands do some of the best sunscreens on the market. Most, if not all, are chemical sunscreens, which have been proven to protect better against UVAs. So if you are from the US especially, make sure to grab a few tubes while in France (or in Europe as most are available across the continent). Which one should you pick? I have an entire post dedicated to my favourite sunscreens so check it out before you go shopping.

That’s it guys! With all those products you should be the softest and most glowing human being around for a good while! And you won’t be completely bankrupt either!

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My carry-on skincare

Summer is upon us meaning travel season is here! Get excited for the lists of lists of things to pack, overweight luggage, crowded airports and long-haul flights.

To make your life a little easier I listed below the skincare I am taking with me on flights. It’s all under 100ml and fits in a ziplock bag!

carry on skincare bag

Cleanser – Bioderma Sensibio 100ml 

I always pack 4 cotton pads and a small bottle of Bioderma Sensibio micellar water. I have been using it for 8 years now (I am French) and it is the best. Wiping my face with it is the first step of my in-flight beauty routine. Note that my bottle on the picture is called ‘Crealine’, this is because I bought it in France, Sensibio is the name used outside of France.

carry on skincare bioderma sensibio

Face mask – Avene Instant Soothing Moisture Mask 50ml or ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy

I don’t have dry skin but when flying it can get quite dehydrated, so I make sure to always apply one of my two favourite hydrating face masks on clean skin.

Avene Instant Soothing Moisture Mask 50ml is the perfect light hydrating mask that sinks into the skin immediately – ideal for short/medium haul flights. If you are packing for a long haul or you need something a little bit heavier, ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy should do the job, the one I have is a travel size perfect for that ziplock bag!

carry on skincare avene espa face masks

Face mist – Caudalie Beauty Elixir 30ml

Caudalie Beauty Elixir is a little bit of a ‘princess product’ but very soothing and pleasant to use on a busy flight. It helps refresh the face and the smell is just lovely. It won’t transform your skin but it will make you forget the plane’s food smell for a few seconds.

carry on skincare caudalie beauty elixir

Lip balm – Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant 50ml

It doesn’t get much better than this. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream hydrates, protects and can even be used as a hydrating eye mask!

carry on skincare elizabeth arden eight hours cream

Hand sanitizer – Carex Aloe Vera Refreshing Hand Gel Antibacterial 50ml

A classic and it is excellent value for money! I always use it after boarding, before eating or washing my face.

carry on skincare carex hand gel

Hand cream – Yes Nurse Protect Your Lovely Hands 50ml

I HATE sticky hand creams, and this one isn’t! It sinks in almost instantly, has a very subtle smell and does an excellent job hydrating my little hands. I have it in my handbag all year round!

carry on skincare yes nurses hand cream

Face cream tester

About 30 minutes to landing? Now is a good time to wipe your face mask off with the trusty Bioderma Sensibio 100ml. I then use the flight as an excuse to try a new face cream and finally use one of the testers that sits at the bottom of my bathroom drawer. No favourite here, just have fun, be bold and try something you never have before!

carry on skincare face cream testers

Fragrance tester – Givenchy Very Irresistible Sensual or Le Labo Santal 33

About to leave the plane and potentially interact with other human beings? Now is a good time to spray a nice fragrance on to hide the ‘plane smell’ until your next opportunity to shower (no one’s judging here!). I always pack a tester of my favourite fragrances which are either Givenchy Very Irresistible Sensual or Le Labo Santal 33.

carry on givenchy lelabo fragrances

Here you go! Eight products that should make your flight a little more pleasant and your face a little more glowy!

carry on skincare bag

Skincare & Cosmetics – 11 Japanese Must-Buys

Asia is known to have some of the best skincare and cosmetic products. Japan, in particular, is renowned among beauty-lovers (yours, truly) for it’s very high-quality, yet affordable, cosmetics. For a beauty product addict like me, the Land of the Rising Sun was heaven! I visited the drugstores there about 4 times. The first 2 times I found it really intimidating and rushed out. With mountains of products, Japanese drugstores are overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for. A few moons later and after watching about 10 YouTube videos and reading a plethora of articles, I had a list and I was ready! Japanese drugstores here I come!

Once in and armed with a list and a credit card, I faced another issue – packaging! Bloggers and vloggers will talk a lot about Asian beauty products but they will often show you the actual product, not the box which contains it, and sometimes the difference is huge.

So in this post, you will find a list of skincare and cosmetic products I recommend buying in Japan, with a picture of the packaging when needed. I also tried to find a link to the products when I could find it.

Japanese skincare and cosmetics

Another tip, you can buy all cosmetics tax-free as long as you don’t open the bag before leaving the country. Great way to spend more… I mean save more!

– Sunscreens, sunscreens, sunscreens

Japanese women look ridiculously young, I know it is mainly thanks to genetics but they do wear sunscreen religiously. The minimum SPF available is 50+ in most shops!

I myself wear sunscreen as a day cream every day, so I thought I would try some that are not available in Europe. I went for the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence which is a bestseller there and came highly recommended by Gothamista, who I adore. I also got a couple of the Biore mists which will be useful to have at my desk for lunch breaks this summer. My future self will thank me in 20 years.

Japanese Biore sunscreens
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+/PA++++

2 – Eye-makeup

One thing Japanese are good at is eye makeup. Japanese love a very thin eyeliner and very long lashes, a look right up my street!

I have hooded eyelids which means my makeup constantly crease or smudge, and with the promise of smudge-proof everything I had to get a few products. I went for the Dolly Wink eyeliner which is SO GOOD that I bought a second one on my last day in Japan. I also got an Avance eyelashes serum (because who doesn’t like long lashes?) and a Shiseido eyelash curler (Shiseido is a lot cheaper in Japan).

Japanese eyeliner, lash serum and lash curler
Koji Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner Deep Black New
Avance EyeLash Renewal Re growth Serum EX 7ml
Shiseido Eyelash Curler + Refill Set

3 – Masks

An obvious one! Like in South Korea, Japan has a lot of sheet-masks on offer. I got the pink LuLuLun ones which have excellent reviews and are a bestseller. I also got some Kose ones with the ‘top 1 bestseller’ logo.

Finally, I saw the Black GelPack Materic mask and had to have it! It’s black, sticky and promises to leave your pores squeaky clean.

Japanese face masks
Lululun JAPAN NEW face mask Rururun 7 pieces (balance moisture type)
Kose Clear Turn Vitamin C Whitening Mask—5pc

4 – Nail clippers

Wait, did she just said nail clippers? Yep!

For some reason, nail clippers are excellent quality in Japan so I bought a few. I have to say, they feel very sturdy and the blades are really sharp, they don’t break the nails instead of cutting them.

Japanese nail clippers
Takuminowaza High Quality Nail Clippers L Size

5 – Eye drops

If it’s good enough for Lily Aldridge it’s good enough for me! I heard about the notorious ‘minty’ Japanese eye drops. People describe the feeling they give as a third-degree burn followed by the clearest vision.

I can attest that the third-degree burn feeling is a massive exaggeration. Yes it feels very cooling, yes you will tear-up for 30 seconds, but it really isn’t that painful. I got two types, a normal one and a contact lenses friendly one (did I tell you that I am completely blind?). After the first 30 seconds, the relief feeling kicks off and it is amazing! Your eyes feel fresh and moist, and they look whiter than usual. My new best friend to deal with a sleepless night!

Japanese eye drops

6 – AHA

AHA is great to gently exfoliate the skin. As an alternative to an aggressive physical scrub, I bought the BC AHA soap and the Rosette AHA face mask/scrub. They should be perfect to peel off my winter skin!

Japanese AHA skincare
B C Cleansing Research Bar Soap with AHA – 100 g
ROSETTE GOMMAGE Gel 120g (japan import) [Badartikel]

7 – Kose Medicated Sekkisei

I heard very good things about the Kose serum, a best seller in Japan. With summer around the corner, I thought I could do with a light serum/moisturiser which is supposed to make me look flawless.

Kose Medicated Sekkisei
Medicated Sekkisei 200ml/6.7oz

8 – Lip stains

A big trend in Japan is the ‘lollipop lip stain’ effect. Young women have a little hint of colour on their lips just like after sucking on a lollipop. It’s cute (‘kawaii’) and natural looking, I liked it and I bought one of the million lip stains on the shelf of the drugstore!

Japanese Visee lip stain
Visee Richer Lip & Cheek Cream – PK-2 (Green Tea Set)

9 – Camellia oil

A best seller in Japan and Camellia oil is supposed to be great for hair. I hope it will tame my frizzy hair.

Japanese Camellia oil
Oshima Tsubaki Oil 60ml

10 – Oily skin little helpers

Combination skin means mid-day greasy shine, a problem Japanese people are familiar with. To help tame my mid-day ‘glow’ I bought some Shiseido blotting papers (once again, MUCH cheaper there) and a nose primer, you read that right, a primer dedicated to the nose area.

Japanese blotting papers and oily skin products
Shiseido Pureness Oil Control Blotting Paper Sheets – Pack of 100

11 – Very random things

Japanese drugstores are full of very random surprises! You can find detox masks for the bottom of your feet for instance (yep). My feet being fine, I went for warming lavender eye masks, because why not?

Japanese lavender eye mask
Kao Megurhythm Steam Hot Eye Mask 5 Sheet – Lavender

I wanted to buy many more things but my bank account didn’t let me, so for now, here are my 11 Japanese must-buys! Until next time Japan!

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