Sunday, 28 July 2013

Review: Be The Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Toner, Serum & Moisturiser

For the past 6 months or even longer, I've been using the Be The Skin skincare set I chose as part of my $300 shopping spree I won from Peach & Lily. I still can't believe I won that. It makes me feel a bit better considering the bad luck I've been having lately. I'm almost to the end of the face cream so I thought I'd better review it now before I can't take a photo of the cream! This review may be a little long and photo heavy as it's essentially three reviews in one.
Brand: Be The Skin
Name: Botanical Nutrition Power Toner, Serum & Cream
Price: $29 for the toner, $39 for the serum and $39 for the cream
Where to buy: Toner, serum & cream, all from Peach and Lily

The Botanical Nutrition Power line is formulated for dry skin types. It's the first time I've tried the toner, serum and cream from one line. All the products promise to revitalise skin from the inside out, transform dull and dry skin, hydrate and firm skin and provide long lasting moisture.

All the products are infused with royal jelly, fresh herbs, phytogreen 266 (calms skin), hyaluronic acid (hydrates skin, we naturally product it), FEG 60 (firms skin) and Butterfly Bush (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties). I also have reason to believe it contains Vitamin C too.

Each bottle is made of glass so it definitely feels high quality and sturdy. It also doesn't feel like it would break easily if I dropped it, thankfully; the glass feels super thick. Each one has a yellow to orange gradient on the bottle which stops light getting into the products and breaking down the ingredients, making the items less effective. They have a matte finish which adds to the high quality feel but they're not easy to get dirty, unlike some matte packaging.

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Each box is white with 'Be The Skin' in dark green and the line & product name gilded in gold. It has the brand concept/motto in dark green underneath it, which is 'Be The Skin believes the real beauty comes from a skin with natural balance and will lead you to a blessed world everyday'. A pretty good theory! Each box also has an inner lid and feels more high quality than cheaper boxes that may just be a thin cardboard box with a shiny finish. Are matte finishes more expensive to produce? It seems to be the case as only higher quality brands have matte card packaging. Anyway, I digress. Both packagings of the product feel high quality, sturdy and give a good impression of the brand.

Here are the items in my hand to give you a better sense of their size.

You get 150ml of the toner, the bottle is quite big, as you can see. The toner comes out of a hole in the top of the bottle. It's pretty much a perfect sized hole - it's not too small and not too big. The toner doesn't spill out too much or come out really slowly. Considering you only need a few drops of toner, this will last you forever. I'm only just halfway through it and I've almost finished the cream so I will be using this throughout my next cream and maybe even the one afterwards!

You get 50ml of the serum, which is pretty good. Most only come in 30ml ampoules and I have never bought one because I'd feel kind of ripped off for paying $30 for 30ml of product. That's $1 per millilitre! The serum bottle is the pump dispenser type, keeping things nice and clean. It even has a little cap that goes on top of the pump to prevent it being pushed down whilst in your bag, by accident, etc.

You get 50ml of the face cream, standard volume. On all of the products, the back is in Hangul. This plural nonsense is hard to figure out. XD 'the backs are in Hangul'? The cream comes in a tub, obviously but it comes with a spatula to scoop cream out so you don't need to put any potentially dirty fingers in there and muck it all up!
All the products smell the same, or very very similar. They smell amazing, very citrusy, like oranges or kumquats (specific much? Not as sour or bitter as lemon or grapefruit though). A natural citrus scent, not an artificial, cloying one. It's very refreshing and awakening to smell whilst applying. I really love this scent and wish more products would have citrusy scents instead of floral ones. My skin isn't really sensitive to scents (except weird 'planty' ones like in Avon's Botanical Sensitive Cream) and I haven't had any reaction from these scents.
Toner: The toner is a little thicker than water but quite fluid and light. I only need 3-4 drops of toner and it spreads really easily on skin, even whilst dry. It only takes a few seconds to absorb into my skin and makes my skin feel matte and velvety.
Serum: The serum is thicker than other serums or essences; they're usually similar in viscosity to toners which is why they try and only give you 30ml of product, because it spreads easily supposedly. The serum is quite thick and has a jelly-like feel rather than a creamy one. I only need one pump for my whole face (this is one pump) and I usually split it in half and apply to both my cheeks, then rub in. Again, it's very easy to spread, especially when prepped with the toner. It has a silky feel when applied, not sticky or greasy.

Cream: The cream is, well, creamy. Not as thick as Nivea's cold cream or Garnier's Goodbye Dry cream. I use a 10p sized amount for my face and along with the toner and serum, it glides on. It doesn't leave a sticky or greasy residue although it takes a few minutes to absorb. It makes my skin feel hydrated, soft, smooth and plumped up.
I apply this cream in the morning and at night time. When I first started using this line of skincare, I had dry patches around my nose and cheeks. Within a few days of using the toner, serum and cream, those patches had all but gone. With continued application, my skin feels plump, soft and hydrated all the time. I no longer have to apply foundation within seconds of applying my face cream in the hope of concealing dry patches, it's better for me to leave the cream to absorb for a few minutes before applying make-up. I can even wear matte-finish foundations without it clinging to dry patches and flakes, because I have none! I wonder what using Dream Matte Mousse would be like now?

I think these products contain Vitamin C because of the citrus scent and because I've also noticed my skin tone evening out. I used to have a little redness on my cheeks but that's almost totally gone now. I can't believe how good my skin has been since using this. I love the toner more than my homemade ones as it provides more moisture rather than astringent properties and doesn't turn rancid after a week or so. I've never tried serums before but now they're an essential part of my skincare to keep my dry skin happy and flake free.

The only time I had a dip in my skin was during and after I came home from Austen & the Abbey, because I was so worn out and sad, I just couldn't be bothered to keep up with a good skincare routine. I took my make-up off using baby wipes as opposed to olive oil & baby wipes and didn't apply my toner, serum and moisturiser. The moisturiser claims to give 72 hour hydration and to be honest, I didn't really see much change in my skin until about 3-4 days after slacking in my skincare routine. None of the dry patches showed up again, my skin just felt a bit rougher and drier than usual.
I absolutely love this skincare line. It has rebalanced my skin and given me one less thing to worry about. The packaging is nice and gives a high quality feel, the scent is amazing and by using all three products together, my skin has just lapped it up and chilled out. I now know why brands recommend you use items from one line as opposed to different ones from different ones and I'll try and stick to that now. It's much harder, in my opinion, to find different products with different ingredients and benefits that work together and don't clash. The only thing is, I'm running out of this cream more than the other items so I'll try and use up some samples then switch to my Secret Key Snail & EGF Cream or Senite Polynesian Intensive Cream (although I really wanna try the serum and toner of that line too!) but I can't imagine I will have many problems switching. If I do, I'll let you know. That is probably one of the only downsides of this line - the volume of products don't really match up; I have 2/3 of the toner left, about 1/3 of the serum left and I'm down to my last 3-4 applications of the cream so you can never really run out and restock at the same time.

The price for all these products is over $100, which is quite pricey to me. I would like to repurchase but I am in hope I can get the same results by using the same items in only one line from a different brand, such as Etude House's Collagen Moistfull line. I won't repurchase but these products have definitely made serums an essential to me and shown me only to use the same products from one line.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Keeping Cool in Goth Fashion

We've been having a bit of a heatwave in the UK, with days reaching up to 30 degrees at some points. Some people have complained that that's nothing compared to where they live but we hardly ever have to face very hot weather. In comparison to what we're used to dealing with, 30 degrees in the UK is like having to deal with 45 degrees in Arizona or Texas.

A lot of people have been complaining in the UK about the heat and its effect on productivity but who needs an excuse to be lazy?! Lots of people have worn what keeps them coolest instead of bothering about what looks good or their personal style, which is fine. Myself, however? I've worn what I wear usually but with a few tweaks to keep myself a bit cooler in the weather. As I've been out and about, the amount of times I've heard 'I bet you're boiling!' and 'Why don't you wear something more summery?' is ridiculous, to which I reply 'Goths don't have summer'. They do really, but the term 'summery' doesn't have to mean 'not black'. If you have a personal style, you'll know how important it is to maintain it whilst dressing best for the climate so here are my top tips on keeping cool in Gothic fashion!

Everyone knows basic summer wear to keep cool - sun hats, sunglasses, sandals, hand fans, etc. Don't you think you can get Goth versions of these? You might not have been able to find much 5 or 10 years ago but as people have realised there's a market for almost anything online, individuality and novelty items have come on in leaps and bounds.

Summer Goth Hair Accessories

Rose headbands are in at the moment, not just for Goth. Lolita, Gyaru, Fairy Kei and more mainstream fashions are loving rose headbands because they're cute, easy to wear and versatile. A black rose headband is perfect for summer goth and you can add charms, spiderwebs, veils and other items to it to match your personal style. Mix it up a bit by adding purple or red roses, or have a totally purple or red rose headband instead of black, whichever floats your boat. I know I couldn't have a black rose headband because I have black hair so the point is null and void; I'd much rather have a purple or red, or even white rose headband to break things up a bit.

I would love a Gothy sun hat, personally! It's hard to find ones with darker decorations and aesthetic to it without it costing the earth from somewhere like Etsy but customising your own sun hat has to be one of the easiest things in the world. Add a ribbon band or sash, some roses, a cross, tulle or a veil, maybe even larger things like bats or candles! It doesn't have to be a black sun hat either; a straw coloured one would look super cute with a black sash, black and/or red roses, a tulle veil, some bats hanging from it - the world is your oyster. Go for a slightly batty 40s or 80s feel for best results.

Fascinators are a lot lighter to wear than hats and the lightness of tulle, veils and other items means that the breeze can pass through it more easily, keeping your head cooler than if you were to wear a hat. Fascinators are a commonplace Goth hair accessory so you don't need me to tell you which ones to go for - whichever colours and themes you like best and will wear often with your outfits.

Summer Goth Essentials

Sunglasses will prevent you from unattractively squinting and possibly creating wrinkles around your eyes, as well as making you look super cool and sleek. Either go for big, mysterious celebrity sunglasses, vintage statement ones or smaller, cooler ones a la old-school Lace Croft or Morpheus, whichever suits you best. Again, they don't have to be black; red, purple or green ones provide a pop of colour and turn heads.

For me, handheld fans are way better than battery operated ones because, well, your hand never runs out of batteries! If it does, I think you're doing something wrong... You can get big, lacy fans to complete your opulent Goth outfit as well as smaller, more classic-looking ones and those cutesy round shaped ones in cute motifs like Hello Kitty and Doraemon to throw people off. I wouldn't go for a feathery burlesque style one however, as the feathers will go everywhere when you fan it, they can get stuck in zips, bag closures, etc. and they're just a bit over the top and pretentious in my opinion. I've just bought a round shaped one from eBay that has a 3D cutesy ball-jointed doll image on it that opens and closes its eyes when you fan it! Suitably wacky and creepy for Goth fashion! I want to put a cute charm on the end of it but they fly everywhere when you wave it so I know it will only get in the way.

Parasols are definitely well known in the Goth world but to be honest, I don't really like them. I feel silly using them and even though I stand out because of the way I dress, I get noticed way more if I have a parasol, it just draws attention to you so much more. They can be very cute in Goth and Lolita fashion and the girl above rocks a parasol so much but I feel a bit conspicuous with a parasol. Moving on from my personal issues with them, you can get them relatively easily on places like eBay or Etsy for super fancy, customised one and you can customise your own easily. You can find also find them in bridal shops (perhaps only in white or ivory), prom and evening wear shops. If you're like me and aren't a fan of using parasols personally, just stick to the shade under a tree or failing that, a bus shelter.

Summer Goth Clothing

Chiffon blouses are amazing at keeping you cooler in summer. I feel exposed if the tops of my arms show so I love wearing blouses and boleros. In this heat it's not often possible to wear full long sleeves in heavier fabrics like cotton or silk but chiffon is just so...light. You can feel the breeze go around your arms and neck much more than regular blouses and they look so pretty and feminine. Details like pintucks and ruffles can weigh blouses down and make you feel stuffy in cottons and synthetic fabrics but are pretty much weightless when on chiffon blouses.

Layers rock. The lighter the material, the better. Long lacy skirts and Cult Party Kei style peignoirs are great for layering, keeping the air flowing underneath your clothes and not weighing you down. Take some inspiration from Dark Mori Girl, Dolly Kei and Dark Cult Party Kei, I swear they are the queens at layering. I just bought a floor length sheer lace dress from the 1930s that feels so good to wear on hot days! I wear a vest top and mid-thigh high skirt underneath but feeling the swishy fabric, breeze and bare legs is awesome! Other items to layer are lace shawls, boleros and those skirts that are short at the front and slope down longer at the back.

Goth flip-flops?! Is there such a thing?! Apparently, yes. Only would Demonia create Gothy platform flip-flops as well as other summer-suitable Goth footwear. I would like to try and make my own pair by simply buying regular sized black flip-flops, taking the toe bit out of all but one pair and gluing the soles together! Platflops? I've still been wearing my boots all summer and although I haven't suffered too badly in them, the tongues of the boots get really wet and sweaty after a while which is unpleasant. XD So it's up to you whether you don't mind that and can keep on wearing boots during summer!

Personally I feel naked if I don't wear tights. I feel exposed and that my unsightly, pale blotchy pins will scare off small children. Just because it's summer doesn't mean you have to tuck away tights, just wear sheerer ones for more breathing space! Lots of shops have cutely designed tights nowadays, including faux stockings, crosses, bows, hearts, pin-up style lines down the back and much more. You can get them from Primark, New Look, H&M and other high street stores but I always pack my newly bought ones away for a few months so there aren't as many people wearing the same pair as me. XD *so pretentious*

In this heat and inevitable sweating, it's important to keep ourselves cool and as sweat free as possible. Sweat can lead to blocked pores, spots and can even cause infections, especially in susceptible places like the back of your neck. Yuko, the director of Atelier Pierrot, had a super cute updo on both the Saturday and Sunday of Austen & the Abbey. It looked so cute, slightly messy and nonchalant - I can bet it kept her cool as well as looking cool too! Goth fashion can get away with slightly messier or 'out there' updos; think Helena Bonham Carter in pretty much anything. A messy updo can be the perfect, slightly unhinged finishing touch to an outfit, especially a Victorian or Edwardian inspired one.

Along with these hints and tips, there is the obvious drink lots of water, stay in the shade as often as possible, wear sunscreen, etc. Try keeping windows open slightly in each room to circulate the air around, sipping ice water frequently and apply cold compresses if the heat gets too much. I'd love to hear if you have any other tips and tricks for staying cool in the summer and looking awesome! Are there any Goth essentials you can't live without, even in summer? I say if you can stand summer in a corset, go for it!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Hello and Blargh! Also Austen & the Abbey Follow-Up

Hello! The reason for my post title is because I haven't blogged in a short while, mostly because 'blargh' is how I've been feeling. Life update anyone?

I've recently been stuck with what to do with my life at the moment. I don't know whether to keep at my business (not that I would ever close it down, I mean make it my full time devotion and income), get a job to supplement my income whilst doing my business on the side, etc. Getting a job seems optimistic and gives me the pleasure of having solid money each month but it is just so hard in this economy in the UK. I get so demotivated each time I don't hear back from a job application. I used to make custom headers for each CV I sent in, depending on what the job was, their brand colours, etc. and got some good feedback when I initially handed in my CVs but then they just never got back to me. It's hard to continue doing that when you've made and sent 20+ custom CVs yet I like to think it sets me apart from the rest of the job-seeking world, or at least shows I have some creativity and drive. The option of 'getting a job' definitely isn't as easy as that. Another way I can go is put more of my time into my business and handmade jewellery, accessories and start to do more clothing. I have ideas to supply local independent stores with my items, have a stall at more conventions/events and generally just try harder. The only thing is, you need money to do that at first, buying stalls, paying for transport and accommodation, etc. and then there's the risk of not making the money back selling at the event and you're back to square one again, unable to do it a second, third or fourth time at a different event. So that's really something I have to keep thinking about and make a decision on soon.

I don't have much planned in terms of meets, events or conventions except Frock On at the end of August then J-Con in September which I have a stall at.

I've just returned from Austen & the Abbey, a dedicated Lolita event held in Warwickshire. I shared a stall with my good friend Joanne who owns Rocking Horse Designs. The event was the first that the organisers had done and there were a few hiccups, as there normally is with many new events and even with events that have been running for years. Unfortunately I had a box of my stock and my purse stolen towards the end of the Saturday event, which had my train tickets home in as well as my railcard, bank card, National Insurance card as well as sentimental purikura photos of me and my friend and numerous store loyalty cards. Thankfully it had no money in it, as I had put my money in my cash box to use as change for my store. I cannot begin to imagine what would have happened if the cash box had been stolen too but thankfully my friend and assistant for my stall had it with her. Despite the hiccups, I met some amazing people including lovely Lolitas I hope to see at future events and even Lolita 'celebrities' and icons! I also think I didn't look too bad despite the ridiculous heat the UK is suffering at the moment! So this post isn't too pessimistic, I'll show you some photos of the event!

My outfit for the first day! I'm impressed my hair sort of stayed in curls.

Chiffon blouse: Random Chinese brand from eBay
Dress: Alice & the Pirates (lucky pack release)
Shoes: T.U.K.
Rose hair corsage: 8th Sin Creations

My outfit for the Sunday event, held at Stoneleigh Abbey. I was feeling pretty crap after what happened on Saturday night and I didn't want to go but I'm glad I did and that my feelings didn't reflect on how I looked.

Blouse: Anna House
Skirt: Anna House
Boots: Bodyline
Hair ribbon: Stocking Shock

Me and Joanne at our stall - polar opposites!

One of Joanne's most popular dresses for the day - isn't it beautiful? It goes with the whole aesthetic of the event and venue so wonderfully! Also one of the hair corsages I made, a large purple & black rose corsage with pearl chain and a silver cross

Joanne also sold handmade rose headbands that were very popular too. I heard a few people saying they were going to commission them in custom colour schemes once they got home.

On the Saturday I got to do some awesome things, including modelling for Atelier Pierrot (both days), meeting Coco of Die Milch and giving her the hair accessories I made her and Jasmine and modelling in the Mori Girl fashion show as Dark Mori Girl.

My Dark Mori entry for the Mori Girl fashion show. The skirt is high waisted with salopette straps attached with buttons, I made it! I was sewing the buttons on in the hotel room the night before!

I got to meet Sapphira Van Doorn of Elegant Poupee! Here she is modelling Fairy Wish and looking absolutely beautiful doing so. I've read her blog for a long time and was nervous meeting her but she is so nice and down to earth! She's also so elegant, tall and thin, I'm jealous! *0* She looks amazing in those tights! I wish I had bought some in black now. >3>

Here is me and Coco of Die Milch! Her music is amazing, very neoclassical inspired with a Gothic Lolita feel to it. I made her a rose hair corsage that is the same as mine and a blue rose hair comb to take home to Jasmine. She was so nice, beautiful and happy. She comforted me and held my hands when I heard the news my stall had been stolen from, then gave me a hug and said she was pleased she met me when we went home on the Sunday.

She sang live just before the fashion show so I missed it as I was rehearsing for Atelier Pierrot. T_T I'm really sad I didn't get to see her perform but there is a video on YouTube and I'm sure there will be more occasions to see her! I'm a dedicated fan now!

Waiting for the Atelier Pierrot clothes we were going to wear, I was invited to the Fairy Wish tea party going on on the Saturday. We got to ask Alice Kobayashi (brand owner/designer) any questions we liked with the help of a translator and there were some yummy cakes and drinks too. She said her main concept for her brand is cute and comfy Lolita clothes that can even be machine washed with ease! She has a really cute car with flower hubcaps and enjoys gardening. *trivia time*

Here she is at her stall, Fairy Wish. The tights on the cabinet behind her were so beautiful and weren't even sold in Japan yet (they are now). I really want the black floral ones with birds on but I didn't buy them on the day. >_< Thinking back, it's a good job I didn't spend all my money as I had to pay for taxis on the Sunday and new train tickets home.

A beautiful dress from Fairy Wish, it looks very comfy and easy to wear for Lolita! I love the floral panels as opposed to just having the dress totally floral.

Coco played the piano beautifully and we even got an unscheduled taster whilst we were setting up on the Friday! She played classical music later on for the evening ball.

Here's what I got to wear for the Atelier Pierrot fashion show on the Saturday. Yuko Ashizawa, director of Atelier Pierrot, was wearing the same dress that day. She looked much more beautiful and cool in it than me, haha. I think it looks nice, I'm really flattered I got to wear Atelier Pierrot clothes for the fashion show!

We were supposed to attend the Atelier Pierrot butler banquet in the evening whilst the venue was changing for the evening ball/disco and karaoke but we had to go to the police station and missed it. :( There was an evening meal that looked nice and some yummy sparkling elderflower water we got to drink before rushing off, haha.


Here is the beautiful director of Atelier Pierrot, Yuko Ashizawa and Coco together. They look like amazing dolls. I'm really jealous how cool and edgy Yuko looks. A lot of Lolitas try to be all cutesy and demure but Yuko was super cool, acting the way she wanted. She was ill and had a cough/cold unfortunately but even her coughing and sniffling was cute and made her look super cool/not caring. Coco was wearing all Atelier Pierrot for the Saturday event.

The Sunday event was held at Stoneleigh Abbey, a beautiful stately home that inspired Jane Austen to base some of her novels in similar surroundings. I made it my goal to get my photo taken with Yuko-san and Alice-san as I was so busy on the Saturday.

Check one! Yuko looking super beautiful. I even got to watch her stall for a short period of time although I didn't sell anything. XD I love the choker she is wearing and would've liked it in red or black but I dithered too much and it was sold out the next time I went back. T_T

And checklist complete! Me and Jayde with Alice Kobayashi! She is soooo cute and tiny, we feel like Godzilla next to her, haha. She also took photos of us together on her iPad, they may be going on her website or Facebook page soon.

Because we missed the Atelier Pierrot butler banquet on the Sunday, Keren, one of the organisers, amazingly let us attend the Atelier Pierrot tea party on the Sunday. I actually preferred this set up - there were less people so it was more intimate, the surroundings were absolutely beautiful, it was in the fresh air so it wasn't too hot and we got to talk to Yuko-san more. She has been the director of Atelier Pierrot for 3-4 years and was a designer 6-7 years previous to that so she's been working for Atelier Pierrot for over 10 years now! So lucky! I was saying some music I liked and when I said Amuro Namie she shouted 'Daisuki! (I love her!)'! I'm so happy we have something in common! She also likes Visual Kei like Buck Tick and Ali Project.

I also got to model for Atelier Pierrot on the Sunday - we were actually the finale of the big fashion show so it was nerve-wracking! I got to wear a different outfit to the one on Saturday; a cream blouse with a black and cream bustier style JSK, I'm fifth from the left. I love the outfit and would love to buy it! We practiced specific poses but because we didn't know the layout of the room, I screwed up which way to walk. T_T We were supposed to stop to the left of that small table in the foreground, pose, then walk behind it, around it towards a door on the right and twirl as we walked out. I walked around the front of the table, remembered I screwed up, stopped, walked behind it and twirled as I walked out the right door. XD I bet Yuko-san doesn't want us (or just me) to model for her again, haha!

As you can see, apart from the unfortunate situation with my stall on the Saturday and missing our train on the Sunday, I met some amazing people and did some amazing things. The photos make the event look so good! Next up will be Frock On in August, in which I'm modelling for Lief and Cherie Cherise! I will try and resume more regular posting now I have had a chance to recover from Austen & the Abbey and bring out more fashion posts, reviews and other stuff. Is there anything in particular you'd like to see? Thanks for reading this long and picture-heavy post, I hope you enjoyed it!