The sun might not have been out too much this past week, but Spring has definitely arrived… which means it’s time for some beautifully flowery make-up!
I’ve always been a huge NARS fan. The products are generally great and the limited edition collections are often daring and gorgeous. As a blogger and avid Pinterester (are you following me yet?), I adore the campaign visuals, which are always stunning. Not a huge surprise there, as François Nars is a photographer himself!
For the newest summer collection Strange Flowers, NARS collaborated once again with long time fashion design partner Erdem Moralioglu, who says that for him, «flowers represent the wonderful strength of the feminine.»
«It was really interesting to explore my aesthetic in collaboration with NARS and see how far we could push different elements through color and product,» says Erdem. «It was fascinating to develop new pigments and palettes as well as the cosmetics themselves.»
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? But I still kind of have the urge to mess up his hair and hand him a large glass of sangria, but that’s just me.
The 13 limited products in the Strange Flowers collection all come in light grey, soft-touch packaging with floral prints, designed specially by Erdem himself.
Pretty, isn’t it? Fun fact for blog nerds: I bought some beautiful lilies for this photo shoot, but when I wanted to get rid of my (dying) peonies to make room for them, their petals just dropped all at once, and suddenly made for a very nice, impromptu background.
MY LIFE IS SO EXCITING.
Enough talk… let’s have a look at all of the products!
If you like drama for your lips, this one is for you: Four lip powders and a «lip priming balm», which is to be applied underneath the powder. The colors can be worn lightly or boldly, it’s totally up to you. There is a brush that comes with the palette, but I kinda like the soft smudgy effect you get when you apply it with your fingers only!
This soft rosy tone Loves Me Not almost looks like a highlighter, doesn’t it? And yes, the other shade is called Loves Me, which is a strawberry red with a soft golden shimmer. Sounds a bit like NARS cult favourite Orgasm, but is more pink than orange, which you can see here in the gorgeous official press visual…
And now, on to the stars of the collection, the eyeshadow palettes!
Let’s be real for a second: These are some very expensive blotting papers… but oh so beautiful! I’m a big fan of them in general – they’re just very handy to have in your purse and don’t add a lot of product onto your face in the summer.
Heya, pretty! Welcome back to the blog with a big, fat, well-that-escalated-quickly (but hopefully informative) edition of the Hey Pretty Beauty ABC! Sandra launched this skincare series back in January with a special on cleansing… and yesterday, I contracted a serious case of research-itis and decided to tackle a pretty big subject:
As a beauty blogger, I frequently get asked which ingredients one should look out for in facecare (good and bad), but very often, it’s not that simple to answer, because there is a huge range of actives that are great for your skin, from hydrators like hyaluronic acid, glycerin or squalane to anti-aging power players like acids or retinol to anti-oxidants that protect and repair.
With a bit of (okay, LOTS of) help from my «skintellectual» friend Maja, I already blogged about Anti-Aging with Actives here, but now I want to present the bigger picture, with a comprehensive overview of the highest-quality active ingredients that facecare products can offer – and, consequently, which ingredients you can be on the lookout for when buying your next serum, moisturizer or facial oil.
Are you ready for actives camp?
This «ultimate moisture booster» has been used in skincare (and especially face care) for decades. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is produced by the human body as well, and acts like a sponge, as it can bind over 1000 times its own weight in water within the skin cells. As our natural level of hyaluronic acid in the dermis starts declining around the age of 25 (eek!), basically every moisturizer should contain some hyaluronic acid, because it not only delivers hydration, but keeps the skin’s own hydration levels up.
Due to its low molecular weight, hyaluronic acid is able to spread easily in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin, here’s a good article on this), and is very well tolerable, even for very sensitive skin. And yes, it can be injected, too: Nearly all of the currently available dermal fillers and «freshups» are essentially composed of hyaluronic acid varying in viscocity (thickness), which, depending on where they’re being injected, need to be either denser, or more liquid.
Ideally suited for: Wrinkles and fine lines, and dry skin… but it’s a great ingredient in any moisturizing product!
Two great products with a high percentage of hyaluronic acid that I can personally recommend:
This fat-soluble essential vitamin (also known as beta carotine, which can be absorbed by the body and turned into retinol) is basically the Roger Federer* of anti-aging actives, and for good reason, too: It helps retain moisture levels in the skin for hours, stimulates cell and collagen production, tightens the skin and helps protect the epidermis, tool
*sorry, I’m Swiss.
Retinol has a photosensitizing effect on the skin, which means that it becomes (much) more delicate and can burn even at low doses of UVA and UVB radiation. That translates to: You really, REALLY need to use sunscreen daily when using products containing retinol and retinoids!
In general, any concentration of retinol can irritate the skin, which means that, upon beginning treatment, it may flake or feel dry. The irritation usually disappears once the skin has built up tolerance for this particular active, but it’s usually worth gradually implementing retinol into your skincare regime. So you can initially use your retinol product every second or third day.
Ideally suited for: Pigmentation, wrinkles and fine lines, dull skin. Retinol’s scary big brother is the (prescription-only) Tretinoin, which is used in acne treatments as well as in anti-aging.
Two products that contain a proper percentage of retinol (or similar substances) worth trying:
One of the most effective (and cheapest!) anti-oxidant actives around is good old Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid in its pure form. This naturally occurring organic compound is a real heavyweight in terms of cell turnover, and is especially efficient as a serum or moisturizer, as it can work on the skin directly, without any product barriers. Vitamin C protects the collagen structure in our skin from the damaging effect of free radicals, and also lessens micro-inflammation in the skin that can cause acne.
Additionally, Vitamin C inhibits the production of melanin and also protects the skin (cells) from UV rays. Because Vitamin C is relatively instable as a substance, you should choose a skincare product that is protected from UV rays (dark or opaque container) and from air as well, for instance with an airless pump dispenser.
Ideally suited for: Pigmentation, dull skin and acne.
Vitamin E (and tocopherols, which have Vitamin E activity) is very efficient in terms of cell protection: It’s basically your own personal anti-aging bodyguard! Vitamin E delivers moisture to the corneal layer, and as an anti-oxidant, once again fights free radicals that can age the skin prematurely. But that’s not all: Vitamin E plays the flute beautifully. That is absolutely NOT true, I just wanted to see if you’re still paying attention.
Vitamin E is a popular preservative in organic skincare, and is a total team player and performs best when combined with other anti-oxidants. Vitamin E and Vitamin C is a dream team for your skin. And, fun fact: When used in haircare, Vitamin E prevents hair color from fading!
Ideally suited for: Fine lines and sallow skin.
Two lightweight, but very efficient Vitamin E «bombs»:
Sheesh, this word!«Nye-a-cyna-mide»!», Steffi! It’s not that hard!
Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 is a form of Vitamins B3, which we coincidentally cannot produce in our own bodies, and therefore have to find in food or as a dietary supplement… or in skincare! Niacinamide lessens skin damage, strengthens the skin’s barrier function, has an influence on oil production in the skin (which is why its commonly used as an acne treatment) and also has an effect on pigmentation. Ironically, Niacinamide can both lessen and create redness, so it’s another one of those «start out gently» actives!
Thanks to its very small molecular weight, Glycolic acid has excellent capabilities in terms of skin penetration and is most often used as a chemical peel to lessen pimples and blackheads, enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation.
Glycolic acid also stimulates the skin’s natural collagen production and help shed dead skin cells, which also intensifies the effect of any following skincare products.
As it’s a chemical peel, the skin will be much more photosensitive during and after any AHA treatment, and really needs to be protected DAILY with an SPF of at least 30. I’m not kidding around!
Ideally suited for: Wrinkles, enlarged pores, sun damage and hyperpigmentation, local cornifications and on dry/dull skin.
Two products that’ll make you go «ah-HAAA!» (sorry!):
BHAs are basically deep cleansers for the pores, and practically miracle weapons for acne-prone and blemished skin. If the concentration of BHA acids is listed (which, sadly, isn’t the case for al lot of products), 1% is great for slight impurities, 2% for acne and visibly blemished skin.
Salicylic acid has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be combined with AHAs. Actually, they work even better as a duo, but your skin needs to be «introduced« to them gradally, as they are pretty effective! Salicylic acid works like a chemical peel, so – once again and with feeling – you gotta do your daily SPF!
Ideally suited for: Oily skin, blackheads, blemishes and acne, as well as with rosacea*
Salicylsäure ist als Toner oder Lotion besonders effizient, und in diesen beiden Wässerchen verträglich konzentriert: Salicylic acid is especially efficient as a toner or lotion, such as:
*Even if both of these products are relatively gentle, I have utmost respect for at-home treatments of it, and would recommend visiting a dermatologist first, okay?
Strictly speaking, lactic acid is an AHA acid and one of the fruit acids. Lactic acid molecules are bigger than those in AHA or BHA acids, which means that they can’t penetrate quite as deeply into the skin and doesn’t effect its thickness. But this is pretty good news for sensitive skin, as lactic acid is much more hydrating than glycolic acid and is generally more easily tolerated. It also boosts ceramide levels in the skin, which makes it smoother and more radiant.
Ideally suited for: Sensitive, dehydrated skin
Two products with lactic acid (und just so you know, you can smell the slightly sour tinge of lactic acid in most products containing it, so don’t freak out!):
It sounds a lot like chemistry class where the boys would start guffawing in an extremely immature way (they never really stop doing that, do they?), but Squalane is a natural component of our own sebum! As an ingredient in skincare, squalane delivers softness, helps lessen moisture evaporation and acts like an anti-oxidant on the skin – similar to the Vitamins C and E.
Squalane is a natural oil and used to be derived from shark’s liver (ew!), but today, it’s extracted from olives, and most recently, from sustainably farmed sugar cane that can even carry the EcoCert certification. Squalane creates such a silky finish on the skin that, in certain products, it can feel a bit like silicone. But don’t worry, it really is good for the skin!
Ideally suited for: All skin types as a non-comedogenic, gentle hydrator.
And just in case you’re asking yourself why not ALL skincare products contain squalane if it’s so fabulous… it’s because it’s pretty expensive to make, and not quite as stable (i.e. long-lasting) as other oils.
Here are two formulas with a high percentage of squalane:
Ich mag okay BRAUCHE ihn in Form von Kaffee, um am Morgen überhaupt ansprechbar zu sein… und auch in der Hautpflege ist Koffein eine Art Taser für die Zellen… aber auf eine gute Art, ahem! Die anregenden Eigenschaften, für die wir ihn in Kaffee und Schoggi so lieben kommen besonders in straffenden Anti-Cellulite-Cremen, (Männer-)Shampoos und Augencremen zum Zuge, denn Koffein fördert in erster Linie die Durchblutung – und transportiert damit Nährstoffe schnell dorthin, wo sie gebraucht werden… und Abfallstoffe schneller weg.
I enjoy okay NEED it in my morning coffee, just to be able to function – and in skincare, caffeine is a kind of taser for the cells. But in a good way! Its stimulating properties that we so love in coffee, tea and chocolate naturally lend themselves to slimming anti-cellulite creams, (men’s) shampoos and eye creams, as caffeine’s principal effect is to stimulate circulation, which rapidly transports nutrients where they’re needed most… and to flush waste materials.
These organic, water-soluable molecules can be found in nearly every plant – especially in green tea, olives and grapes. Polyphenols have amazing anti-oxidant properties that (as you well know by now, or you wouldn’t still be reading) protect our skin cells from stress of many kinds. Which is why they’re widely-used in anti-aging skincare.
French skincare brand Caudalie really put Polyphenols on the map (well, it helps if you have your own vineyard and are able to create and patent an active component straight from home!), but there’s a bunch of other brands that have started using this natural, efficient molecule.
P.S.: Yes, red wine actually contains healthy Polyphenols, so… cheers!
Ideally suited for: First signs of aging, fine lines and (I’m just gonna say it) WRINKLES.
Two Polyphenol-rich products that you could apply while drinking a lovely glass of Cabernet:
I know… I immediately think of Nivea, too! The Coenzyme Q10 found its moment of glory thanks to beauty giant Beiersdorf, but it’s the perfect «cell food» for our entire body, and is also available as a supplement.
Q10 (also called Ubiquinol) in its pure form is a bright orange, yet 100% natural substance that strengthens connective tissue, catches free radicals and makes the skin more pliable… which translates into «less wrinkles». Generally speaking: The higher the concentration of Q10 in an product, the yellower it will be – and as an ingredient, it should be listed pretty high up.
Aaaaaand… another one of those resourceful vitamins! The official name of this active ingredient is Dexpanthenol, and it’s pretty great at binding water, which is fab for dehydrated skin, but for dry, damaged hair, too! B5 also encourages energy metabolism of skin cells and accelerates wound healing, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Because of its high compatibility, Pantheol is also a popular ingredient in wound care and baby care, which shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some «tender lovin’ B5 care» in your facecare products, too!
Ideally suited for: Out-of-balance, sensitized skin, fine lines and as after-sun care (but you’d never get a sunburn anyway BECAUSE YOU USE SUNSCREEN, RIGHT?)
These two moisturizers contain a nice amount of calming Panthenol:
So… WHOA, am I right? I know. That was a lot to take in in one sitting, but hey… you’re more than welcome to take a coffee break or annoy the poor person sitting next to you: YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOUR MONDAY.
And now, you can add «skincare actives expert» to your list of talents!
I hope you can take away something from this, otherwise you can just bookmark this blog feature and refer back to it the next time you’re standing at the cosmetics counter and have no idea what you really need.
And now, repeat after me three times: «nye-a-cyna-mide»!
This post was written according to my own personal experiences, my acquired knowledge in skincare during a 10-year career as a beauty writer, and research. It is by no means exhaustive and, when in doubt, should not replace a consultation with a dermatologist.
This post also contains some affiliate links to products, yet this never influences my choice of product recommendations. More on that on «about me»!
Great News! I’m still sitting on my sofa… but I’M NOT IN MY PAJAMAS ANY MORE! Day six of the worst case of the flu that anybody ever caught has begun quite nicely, and I’m wearing mascara again. I still look like death warmed over and am coughing myself into oblivion, but I daresay that I think the worst might be over.
Maybe, just maybe I might venture into my nearby supermarket to buy some lemons, fresh ginger root, gossipy magazines and ready-made smoothies. If you run into me, only talk to me if you want to praise me for my incredible bravery, okay?
If you’re on the bus right now and can’t listen to the clip at full volume, we’ll make do with a little bit of poetic mood-improvement.
«The sun is shining across golden fields, full of strength, rich in precious grains. Hearty oats, airy barley, earthy rye. A warm and healthy feast with a cool breath of flowery freshness. Poppies, primroses, cornflowers. Life awakened by colors. Happily dancing to the sound of chirping cicadas. The humming of bees. The essence of the Englisch countryside caught in five enchanting fragrances. Each of them an example of elegant simplicity and designed for Fragrance Combining.»
The five fragrances of the English Fields Collection is presented in these darling stoneware-look bottles containing 30ml and costing 72 Francs each.
Green Wheat & Meadowsweet Cologne smells really crisp, rather innocent and fresh „like an English meadow at dawn“, covered with young, green freshly sprouting wheat. With hints of grapefruit and soft white meadowsweet.
Poppy & Barley comes across as fruity, lively and happy. It evokes fields of barley sprinkled with red poppies, and delicate notes of cassis and white musk.
Primrose & Rye Cologne takes its inspiration from fields covered with primroses and soft breezes wafting across it all. «Vivid, glowing and addictive».
I got Oat & Cornflower Cologne to try and I’m delighted with the contrasts of soft, powdery notes and the spicy, „manly“ fragrances of blue cornflowers, hazelnuts and vetiver-grass. A great, somewhat surprising scent.
Honey & Crocus Cologne is very soft on the skin, almost powdery and will delight all fans of baby powder essences, containing honey from the hive, «glowing» crocus flowers and English lavender with a slight touch of almond milk.
It’s ironic that all five fragrances are based on grains containing gluten and they are basically off-limits to me as a person suffering from coeliac disease like myself…. but what a lovely inspiration to create a new fragrance, right?
Master Perfumer Mathilde Bijanoui who created the English Fields Collection says:
«As a perfumer, I alway delight in being surprised and English Fields is something totally unexpected. Using grains and kernels as main essences is totally new for me. I really never came across this kind of fragrances before.»
THE HEY PRETTY CONCLUSION:
The English Fields Collection is incredibly pretty: Soft, natural and very feminine. For those of you who like gentle fragrances that still should have some pizzaz – you will love them.
And their summery vibes are good for the soul, especially as I just saw that they’re forecasting snow again. But for right now, we’ll just cling to each and every ray of sunshine we can catch, agree?
Have a great week, ma chère!
The five fragrances of the Jo Malone London English Fields Collection are available in Switzerland at Jelmoli, Zurich and at the Globus branches Zurich-Bellevue, Glatt, Lucerne, Lausanne and Geneva, for CHF 72 each (limited edition).
*The products reviewed in this post were sent to me free of charge by the brand or its PR agency.
So, it’s you. Your printer. You’re in a crafty mood, and it’s two days to Easter. I’d say it’s the PERFECT time to pick a cute DIY project, don’t you agree? Here in Switzerland, Easter is celebrated chocolate (of course), and with brightly colored hard boiled eggs, which first have to survive an «Eiertüschtis» fight:
You select the strongest-looking dyed Easter egg and then bash it against your rival’s egg. The one whose shell breaks first, loses. I have no idea WHY we do this, but my family gets super-competitive at Easter Brunch, which we’re having next Monday in a cabin in the woods.
In any case: I truly love Easter, and love creating at least one fun craft project especially for it (here’s a roundup of DIY Easter Crafts I wrote for my German blog, but the links are almost all to English sites!), but this year, I want something NEW!
So «work becomes play» with today’s free printable Easter bonanza here on Hey Pretty!
I spent hours and hours (okay, it was fun) on Pinterest, where I found thirteen neat DIY projects that are easy to do, and free printables that are no-fuss and fun… even for kids! These projects are great for decorating your Easter table, for a seasonal update for your walls, or simply for giving all your easter sweets a lovely home (because none of us actually eat that Easter candy, but rather store them in a paper carrot).
FIRE UP YOUR PRINTER AND LET’S GET STARTED!
This cake topper is super-cute, and not hard at all to recreate.
DIY Spring Cake Topper by The Pretty Blog
Step-by-step instruction and the free printable PDF download is right here, and the only answer to the question «what kind of cake should I put this topper on?» is CARROT CAKE, of course!
Easter? Bunnies? Eggs? Baskets? That brings us to another adorable free printable crafting idea!
Not into pastels? The graphic designer-slash-lawyer (!) Tasha has four different, not-too-sugar-coated prints for spring ready on her blog:
Four Spring Printables by Designertrapped
Here’s your link to the blog entry on Designertrapped. Quick heads-up: You’ll have to register for her newsletter to get access to the free download for these prints, but it’s a small price to pay, as they’re so pretty!
Zut alors (which is my favorite expression in French), it’s «The Pretty Blog» again! It’s probably the name, but this amazing free printable «Hop!» gift wrap can be used for so many thins. Even as an egg cone, tee hee!
Pretty Easter Printables by The Pretty Blog
Gift wrap and a cute bunny gift tag can be downloaded right here.
Oooh, these lovely floral wreathes with a monogram would look great as placecards… or even as wall art for a breath of springtime air!
Free Printable Monogram Wall Art by The Happier Homemaker
Wait… what’s that? This is all a bit too twee for you?
You’re more of a Nordic-Simplicity kind of person? Then this one’s for you:
Geo-Printed Paper Eggs in black and white by Barfuss im November
Free template for your own printing pleasure can be found here. And once again, it’s in German, but don’t freak out: «You can do it!» is «Du schaffst das!»…
So… I don’t know what kind of mood you’re in, but it’s possible that you’re all crafted out by now. I mean, you still have a couple of days till Easter, but you should get your printer prepped and all those ink cartridges filled anyway, right?
In closing, I found a cute DIY on YouTube, on how to fold napkins into Easter bunnies. I CAN’T STOP! I’M OUT OF CONTROL! I HAVE SPRING-DIY-PRINTABLE-EASTER-BUNNY-FEVER!
Too cute, right? Good thing I can take my mind off all this crafting with work today – even though the day before Good Friday is a school holiday here in Switzerland. My two teenaged daughters are making the most of the day and are still in bed as I write this, AT 10:47 AM!
In any case: Have a wonderful Thursday, and Happy Easter!
P.S.: Are you following Hey Pretty on Pinterest yet? If not, click here!
*All images via Pinterest and credited to their creators!
I’m sorry it’s been a bit quiet here on Hey Pretty… I’ve been so busy, AND got a horrible case of the flu that literally put me to bed for a week! I’m back in fighting shape, though, and ready to deliver some make-up news. Today, it’s all about the eyes. And that’s right up my alley, because I love myself a good cat eye!
These new beauties by NYX make my signature look go on way easier:
This eyeliner comes with seven different tips, each designed for a different look or need. The formulation of the product ist the same with all seven of them: A really intense black that lasts for ages!
Since it’s essential to be really precise with such a pigmented color, these seven felt tips allow maximum precision. Also, they dispense the right amount of product with each swipe!
While I don’t think I will be using the round tip very often, I really like that there’s a wide selection for different styles and also skill levels.
My personal favorite? The chubby one, of course!
The «Put a Wing»-tip is short, fat and very sharp… and allows a really easy winged eyeliner!
If you’re a fan of graphic liners, you will definitely like this new launch: from simple to artsy – there’s nothing you can’t do with these. They dry in about 20 seconds and are VERY longlasting!
*The products reviewed in this post were sent to me free of charge by the brand or its PR agency. This post contains one or more affiliate links, which means that if you like the product and purchase it through one of my affiliates, I will receive a small percentage of the sales price. More on affiliates in the «about me» section!
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This is turning out to be a week of introspection (see my last blog entry) here on Hey Pretty… but you know what? Sometimes, when I get really stressed out and have a thousand deadlines to meet, I tend to procrastinate in a really «woke» way: First, I had a thousand things to say about body positivity… and THEN I decided that, instead of finally getting around to opening that scary envelope from the Tax Department of the Swiss government…
I simply HAD to spend an hour trawling YouTube for the best Disney Princess Song medley.
I mean, it happens to us all, right?
Okay, maybe not. Maybe you don’t secretly long to be a Disney princess and are dead inside and really just wanted to see Essie’s new Gel Couture «Enchanted» collection for spring 2018?
Well, here you go, you emotional iceberg, afloat ALL ALONE IN THE ARCTIC SEA!
This wintery collection is still perfectly fitting for the chilly spring here in Switzerland, so the new Gel Couture range and its six inspired-by-fairy-tales pastel shades is perfectly pretty and perfectly NOW!
Here are the shades in close-up:
Matter of Fiction, an icy pale pink and Princess Charming, a creamy blush-pink with blue undertones…
…the winter-sky-ish grey-blue Once Upon A Time the light mossy-green Spellbound, which features a beautiful gold shimmer…
…and the «give me your crown RIGHT NOW»-gold Daring Damsel, and the deep, almost-black red Good Knight
Some quick ball gown porn for all you princess-wannabes, and then we’ll do a bit of swatching!
I was in a bit of a hurry and not in a pink mood, so I chose the mysterious greenish-grey Spellbound – which kind of reminds me of Ursula of «The Little Mermaid» (she’s my spirit animal)…
Oooh, I LIKE! It’s restrained enough to work for the office, but is surprisingly glam, close-up. Especially in direct sunlight!
As all Gel Couture nail polishes by Essie, these new shades are formulated to be used without a base coat. I would highly recommend that you do use the Gel Couture Top Coat to seal them, which is available in a new, even tougher Platinum Grade Finish.
Fun fact: I actually use Essie’s Gel Couture Top Coat for all my manicures. It’s quite simply the best top coat out there right now!
Can I sneak in one last super-princess-worthy GIF?
What’s that? That’s too much for you? MY GOD.
I feel sorry for your future prince. He’s been counting on you coming to save him!
In that case, I’ll go put on my tiara and pop out for a gallon of milk. Do you need anything… or do your servants take care of that?