Stories by: Grace

Beauty, MakeupRimmel Brow Shaping

scupltingkit_productWhen I’m doing makeup on the go (subway, uber, planes), I need products that are easy to apply but foolproof that don’t require a lot of technical prowess. One nifty little compact that packs a punch is the Rimmel Brow This Way to create defined and manicured brows by filling and shaping. There are two easy steps: first apply wax to shape & fix, then layer powder to set. I’ve even used the wax on its own before with good results. The formula glides on easily and blends well, creating a natural look. The mini brush it comes with includes ends for precise application, and I love how this tiny box fits into my makeup pouch with no bulk.

The kit is available in three shades- dark brown, mid brown, and blond, there’s no complicated color matching since these are meant to complement a variety of natural brows. I have black brows myself, and find that the dark brown blends without looking unnatural (I’ve tried jet black brow liners before and look like Cruella Deville). The result is long lasting and dependable. And the icing on the cake? It’s around just five bucks!

SkincareJuara Radiance Enzyme Scrub

juara_radianceenzymescrub_900x900So many of the best beauty products draw their ingredients and inspiration from exotic roots. The Chinese found that proteins found in egg whites tighten and hydrate skin, and Queen Cleopatra bathed in milk, honey and olive oil to soften and smooth her legendary skin. Juara is one of my favorite lines which incorporates extracts from fruits and plants from ancient Indonesian traditions. For its products, Juara draws on time-tested beauty rituals as well as current research and modern advances to make products effective and safe even for sensitive skin. I always gravitate towards products with a natural base and a long history, simply because the knowledge built up from hundreds of years holds much wisdom from utilizing nature’s remedies.

The Radiance Enzyme Scrub contains bamboo and Jojoba beads to gently and effectively remove impurities including dead skin cells, dirt, and makeup from deep down. Apple enzymes naturally soften skin by dissolving dead skin cells, and cinnamon fights bacteria and is especially great for oily skin. Only gentle to moderate pressure in circular motions is needed when applying to wet skin, as the beads are firm and substantial enough to do all the work. The formula itself is fluid and milky and does not leave a residue as it rinses off easily. Clove flower brightens and protects by inhibiting melatonin production, which is how those pesky dark spots appear in the first place. My skin tone was more even after settling down for 30 minutes following the scrub, and dry patches were virtually eliminated, revealing fresh skin underneath. I love the end result, which is smaller pores, tighter skin, and best of all, a natural glow. The scrub is part of my post-workout routine twice a week, and I love the feeling of scrubbing out all the toxins and giving my face a new start!

 

 

Fragrance, InternationalDolce Vita

dv-eds--flacon-_-packAnnick Goutal is a legend in Paris, both for the charming and storied life she led, and for her impeccable house of fine fragrances. She was one of those women whom I fantasize about spending a day in the life of. Before opening her boutiques in Paris and New York, the beauty wore many (chic) hats including pianist, international model, antique furniture shop owner, and mother. In 1981, Annick opened her first shop on the Rue de Bellechasse in Paris, and instantly those in the know with an appreciation for couture fragrance became clients. I instantly became obsessed with the limited edition summer trio of scents named the Dolce Vita. The deeply sophisticated collection is inspired by Camille Goutal (Annick’s daughter) in collaboration with DJ extraordinaire and creative director Cecile Togni. This tribute to Italy tells a story of an olfactory journey into parts of the beautiful country. Eau du Sud instantly captured my heart and is my personal favorite. Upon my first spritz, I was taken by the vibrant layers of the citrus perfume, making me reminisce about warm summer evenings I spent al fresco in Tuscany. I prefer scents that are less flowery but confident and unique, which powerfully envoke nostalgia while giving off hope, which is all incredibly captured in this elegant and classic bottle.

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Fitness & HealthFitness + Fashion

37810117-STAINED%20GL-a6a50224-This summer has been a diet-a-week for me, as I struggle to balance health and weight with a propensity to celebrate social occasions (aka weekends) with food and drink. It’s so frustrating when my favorite shorts from last summer are waaay too tight, and I feel tired and run down. After a stream of “quick fix” diets, I’m settling nicely into the infamous Whole30 diet which I’m combining with extra workouts sprinkled throughout the week. So far, it’s been great because I don’t have to starve myself, but there is time that goes into planning and shopping for meals. The workouts are tough but much more fun when I have new activewear, and I’ve been really hooked on Yummie by Heather Thomson! The quality and comfort of their line is steps above some other popular brands, and I can trust it to hold up while looking edgy. One thing I hate is accentuating my “fat pads” with unflattering thin or flimsy materials. I’ve never had that problem with Yummie, and the sweat-wicking fabrics keep me comfortable and supported during runs, burpees, and situps.

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Food, InternationalSummer Spread

green-jar-boxJust in time for festive summer gatherings to kick into gear, I’m perfecting some simple recipes to serve, from girls night to a Saturday picnic at the vineyard. My go-to ingredient to make any simple dish zing is Maille’s limited edition mustard with Rosemary honey, made in the Pyrenées Mountains on the west side of the French Mediterranean coast. The fragrant condiment is such a zesty treat for the tastebuds that I love spreading it on a hearty wheat cracker as a snack. I savor the flavors as they hit, from the sweet Grand Cru honey from bees pollinating rosemary grown in rich soil and of course the Dijon mustard base ferrying these flavors forward. I love the creativity the veteran French house has shown a seemingly simple condiment, and has elevated it in a way that showcases carefully sourced herbs and ingredients.

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Bath & BodyBudget Beauty

21532620Being on a budget does not mean your beauty regimen must suffer! I happen to love quite a few products that are effective and work just as well as the “investment” lines. One of my faves that has saved me a trip to the spa is the PediSpa Gentle Exfoliating Foot Mask ($9.99 for a pair), a foot exfoliate plus treatment filled in a pair of wearable and disposable foot masks for your feet. Key ingredients like chamomile and natural botanical fruit extracts help control callus build-up for visibly smooth feet within two weeks. A few days after application, dead skin will actually slough off on its own, sans pumice or a file of any sort! The first time I tried it, I actually forgot that I had done the treatment and a couple days later, was pleased to notice some dead skin rolling off (painlessly, I might add).

A tip on application- I would recommend treating this like a home-spa ritual- lie down, and do a mask at the same time, and relax. I tried to move around and clean up while wearing the masks, and felt a little sloshy and slippery. There was no noticeable discomfort, only some mild tingling while the formula did its job. I ended up encouraging my baby soft heels to reveal themselves by exfoliating a bit after I noticed the sloughing, which required much less force than without the treatment.

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Insider's Obsessions, InternationalPalais des Thés

961-jardin-suspendu_3I’ve had a long love affair with Palais des Thés after gleefully discovering it many years ago in my Paris hotel room on the Left Bank. I recall fingering the delicate muslin tea satchel and taking in the deep, sweet, and herbal aroma of a finely crafted tea. Since then, I’ve found some way of bringing loads of it back from Paris, as I can’t imagine going for any period of time without it. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when Palais des Thés opened their first boutiques in New York. My love was renewed this spring with their new collection of herbal teas, which defy any notion of tea I’ve held in the past. Spring is synonymous with blooms, sun, fresh fruit, and the essence is captured beautifully in the bright orange tins. Upon opening the tops of the floral and fruity Jardins collection, the colorful dried fruits mingling with tea enchanted me with eyebrow-raising aroma. I’ve tried three well-rounded flavors so far, and have found each to have its own personality and can fit into and enhance the mood of the day.

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Beauty, MakeupGuerlain Summer 2016

guerlain_cover2I’m a perpetual admirer of the House of Guerlain, one of the most storied French cosmetics and perfume houses which remains at the cusp of fashion today.  Guerlain defines the haute-couture of beauty, and with each thoughtfully created collection, my notions of a classic product are redefined with fresh trendsetting ideas. The Color Collection 2016 is truly amazing and luxurious, and I’m excited to share with you my favorite highlights.

G042203It’s such a pleasure to unwrap and discover one of the ever-evolving Terracotta bricks which have an incredible cult following. The Terracotta Pause D’Éte is a limited edition, and my favorite of this summer’s bronzing powders for the face and décolleté. It warms beautifully, and magically produces cheekbones that remind me of Christy Turlington’s glamorous photos. The long-lasting blush/bronzer gives that nuanced glow deepened by a fine sun-kissed hint of gold which does an amazing job of hiding my freckles. The Duo Shades are flexible depending on the look you want to achieve. If I’m going for more of a flush to go with a brighter day outfit, I concentrate my brush in the middle for more of the pink-coral shade (which is a bit more powdery), and for a more sophisticated evening look, the medium-brown tone (the best-selling Terracotta shade 03) mixed with a shimmer of gold is stunning. An element of the swirl is inevitable, and for good reason: the blend is formulated to capitalize on natural skintone. The contouring “3” is perfect for applying the terracotta from forehead scooping in to cheeks to pop cheekbones and down to the chin. The magnetic case is a work of art in itself and is made of sustainably harvested wood. The top is held on by magnets but can be lifted off completely. A light fragrance of orange blossom, vanilla and musk makes for a delicate ending to an impeccable product.

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Food, InternationalPrintemps! A Taste of France

maille-760x428The French countryside in the spring is one of my favorite places to visit in person or in my daydreams. Picturesque lavender fields set against a perfect blue sky are paradise on earth, and the beauty and romance are never quite fully captured in pictures and words. I treasure each and every delicacy from France, whether it is gorgeous chocolate or a gooey cheese. This spring, French mustard expert Maille’s garden-inspired trio of mustards captures the spirit of France- the focus on the most beautiful and aromatic herbs and high quality ingredients. Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet  collaborated with Maille to create each flavor, drawing inspiration from his childhood garden in rural France. Maille has been the expert on all things mustard since 1747, and I still have the clay pot which years ago held my first tastes of the exquisite Maille condiment. I recall savoring every bit of it, and spread it on anything I could find. Who knew mustard could be so addictive? The new trio comes gift-ready in a beautiful box fit for the treasures it holds, and the three varieties include Mustard with Carrot and a Hint of Shallot, Mustard with Olives and Herbes de Provence, and Mustard with White Wine, Beet, and a Hint of Honey.

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Home, Insider's Obsessions, InternationalProject Rebel Walls

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I’m so excited to share with you the results of my project with Rebel Walls to transform a bedroom that badly needed a heavy dose of personality and whimsy. I absolutely love how it turned out, and it’s quickly become my favorite room in the house to relax in. A few weeks ago, I introduced the creative Swedish company which has taken upon itself to transform the way the world sees wallpaper. They encourage the inner artist and make it possible to design your own wallpaper or choose from their growing bank of texture and designs, with themes like travel, nature, and architecture. I adored the Bellewood paper at first sight, and now that it’s been installed, the effect on the room is even better than I expected. The description paints the background story:

There is something indescribably beautiful about a classic toile pattern based on small hand-drawn strokes painting up romantic scenes usually consisting of lovebirds ​talking in the shade. We wanted to create a modern toile but maintain the traditional craftsmanship. This inviting and a little mysterious forest ​are ​based on several toile designs where we only ​picked the trees from the romantic ​sceneries. If you want fill the woods with a love message of your own, you can always ​use our ​designstudio to carve your beloved’s name in one of the tree trunks.

The mural was custom fit to my wall, and the resolution and color are vibrant and sharp. I will admit that I had a professional installer come in, but the paper arrives with instructions and paste for the brave DIYers.

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