The Importance of Understanding Cosmetic Ingredients

If you flew across the world today and you’re a beauty guru or enthusiast, you’d probably pop into Sephora. With Kat Von D, Huda Beauty, Fenty Beauty, Cover FX, It Cosmetics, Zoeva, YSL, Hourglass, Sephora Collection and so much more (!!) all in the flesh, it’s a beauty emporium of glitz and goth, and everything in between. Sure, Debenhams is great and Selfridges’ choice of luxury beauty is a treat upon every trip into London, but UK beauty lovers can all agree: Sephora is where it’s at.

And, when you combine this selection of brands with wide-eyed, eager-to-beautify staff furnished in black branded tops and intense glitter cut creases floating around as if this is their perfectly polished living room and you’re the first guest they’ve had in years, it’s hard not to get swept up in the Sephora experience.

But, while the beauties at work celebrate the makeup that pushes boundaries, innovates and entrances, and encourage you to do so too with every ‘babe’, ‘hun’ and ‘gorgeous’, they are masking a darker reality. That is, maybe sometimes a Sephora product might be shit… and might give you a violent rash that looks like cracked red nail polish smudged across your eyelids. Yes, that happened to me.

I purchased the Sephora Collection Extra-Gentle Bi-Phase Makeup Remover For Eyes & Lips with such optimism. I believed it may be Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover dupe I dreamed of. Alas, I was wrong.

My insensitive skin took a battering. Confused and concerned, I did some research.

This ‘extra-gentle’ formula contains 1,2-hexanediol. 1,2-hexanediol is a humectant and coupling agent composed of seemingly harmless chemicals, like anti-inflammatory compounds. But it has been criticised and challenged because it is known to irritate skin and even cause dermatitis – especially around the eyes.

Let me iterate, my issue is not with Sephora but rather with myself. I didn’t do my homework. Like many beauty-interested individuals, I believe what I am told and pursue what I assume. Which is largely okay, but I must say, a silly choice where your eyes are concerned.

It is okay to believe a bronzer is ashy and test it to find it oxidises orange. It is okay to believe a set of lashes are wispy to wear them and discover the opposite. But I jeopardised a very delicate area of skin, around a very vital organ.

After learning about 1,2-hexanediol, I raided my bathroom shelf to discover that it is not in any of my other make-up removers or gel cleansers. Perhaps if I was aware of the chemicals I already use and don’t react to, and researched the new ones I was investing in, I would have avoided a scaly, inflamed rash and days of painful blinking.

But I only have myself to blame. The lesson learnt from this is that I should be more vigilant about what I am putting onto delicate and raw skin. Rather than considering the consequences of new eye-skincare without checking the ingredients, I chose to join the cut-crease babes in dancing around their perfectly polished counters like I was the first guest they’ve had in years.

The Sephora experience gobbled me up and spat my eyes out, but I have learnt my lesson.

Reflections On Travelling

Creeping up on me is the last month of my 5 month quasi-backpacker holiday. Time really does fly when you’re having fun – everyone’s least favourite phenomenon.

Travel is the best way to make time (and money) fly. I have seen things I still can’t process as real – yes, I’m talking about Whitehaven Beach – managed to enjoy sushi, met people from corners of the world I didn’t know existed and swam in pools in amazing locations, like a rainforest. All this spanned over a series of months and yet, I’ve still fallen victim to time’s cruelest side-effect.

Holidays always speed past us in a blur of good food, UV rays and adventure. Before we know it, it’s the end and we’re thinking, ‘where did all those days go?’ That’s me right now. Science theorises that the wiring of our brains causes these feelings; it emphasise the short and long-term recollection of joyful memories while shrinking memories of life’s monotony. Our brains sun dry monotony until it is raisin small, while joy is watered until it is watermelon big.

I write this as I sit on a Monday morning plane to Fiji. Fiji, a destination I’ve been organising to visit for months, has abruptly turned up to the party and it feels way too early. I wasn’t expecting the early arrival so I haven’t even had time to lay out some nibbles.

Sat here now, I wish I could learn to recollect holidays and the exciting planning period that precedes them through a slo-mo lens. I wonder if I can ever retrain the way my brain recollects memories. But science tells me this isn’t likely.

Perhaps somewhere in its harsh truths, science is telling me the only way to ease the travel-induced pain of time flying is to never stop.

4 Skin-Care Tips For Travelling

The cost of travelling (besides the hefty fee you’ve probably paid a travel agent) is your skin’s health. Travelling exposes your skin to in-flight dryness, intense UV rays, increased alcohol and junk-food consumption and a blasè skin-care routine. Amidst the pleasure and excitement of backpacking or holidaying, we momentarily neglect the skin-care routines that we took months honing at home.

When I boarded the plane to Australia 2 months ago, I knew that a 4 month backpacking adventure was far too long for a blasè skin-care routine. I’ve dedicated years to trying various treatments, medication and products to improve my once oily and acne riddled skin, and I had no intention of reversing its improvement.

So, here I am: a guinea pig that has been pacing the international hutch for so long that I don’t know which bed of hay I sleep on, figuring out the easiest and most efficient ways to look after my skin while travelling. And I’m sharing four major tips that have helped me keep my skin glowing at destination adventure.

  1. Say No To Sunscreen.

Don’t put suncreen on your face. Of course, the minerals in sunscreen create an essential barrier between UV rays and your skin, but they also clog your pores. On the flip side, the also not-formulated-for-facial-skin chemicals in body sunscreen often irritate facial skin. So, to avoid breakouts, don’t put body sunscreen on your face.

2. But Say Yes to an SPF Moisturiser.

As sixties model and British cultural icon Twiggy once said, the golden rule for looking good is to “moisturise to ridiculousness”. This is especially true when travelling. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise, but make it tinted and SPF. When you’re not applying sunscreen to your face you still need to protect it from UV rays. So, an SPF moisturiser is your skin’s best friend when travelling. To keep your skin looking extra glowy, opt for a tinted one that provides colour alongside moisturization and protection.

I am living for the Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Mineral Tinted Moisturiser while backpacking – it’s SPF 15 and gives a matte foundation style finish, covering all blemishes and eradicating all oiliness.

3. Give Vaseline a chance… on your face.

Airplane aircon, cruising altitude, prolonged UV exposure and sunburn are just a few things that can severely dry out your skin. They’re also part of the parcel when travelling. There’s been days on my travels when a multitude of dry and flaky patches will appear on my face and neck. I put Vaseline petroleum jelly on those dry areas overnight when this happens. When I wake up, it’s as if the dryness and flakiness were never there. Vaseline creates a thick barrier between your skin and outside influences, soothing the dryness much quicker than a daily moisturiser by locking your skin under a moisturising jelly barrier. Make sure you wash your face in the morning though, Vaseline and sunlight are not a good combo.

4. Sheet Face Masks.

Maya Jama isn’t posting stories in these twice a week for no reason. Sheet face masks are beauty’s latest holy grail. A sheet mask is a fibrous sheet soaked with concentrated serum, containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid. The sheet locks its water-based ingredients in between your skin and itself to prevent quick evaporation of the serum – the moisturising effect is consequently intensified and prolonged. I recommend giving yourself 20 minutes, twice a week, to boost your skin with a sheet mask. After all, backpacking is tiring work. ATM, I am loving Sephora’s own brand sheet masks. The range, as well as being affordable, has a mask targeted for every skin concern.

What To Do In Cairns: Eating, Shopping, Relaxing & Viewing

Cairns is more than a coastal city that gateways the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a tropical micro-city that fuses cosmopolitan living with a unique ecology. Cairns’ size gives it a laid-back town vibe that’s big on water adventures, with promotions of Coral Sea snorkelling, diving and cruising from open-air shops on every block.

If you’re staying in Cairns, you’re probably staying around its waterfront centre. And whether you’re treating your visit as a relaxed holiday or backpacking adventure stop, here are my picks of the best things to eat, buy, enjoy and view in Cairns. P. S. you can thank me later that all of them are budget friendly.

Eating & Shopping

2 words, open 7 evenings a week: Night Market. Located in the heart of The Esplanade, Cairns Night Market has your late night hunger and entertainment covered. Vibrant and multicultural, here you can shop for boomerangs and didgereedos after a Chinese pressure point massage or fishy foot treatment. The market supports and promotes local businesses and creatives, giving it a community vibe of artists and business-minded people passionate about what they create and sell.

The Night Market’s food court attempts to transport you to a South-East Asian street market. Dominated by self-serve chinese food counters and Thai curry shops, hit the spot for your sticky rice craving with whatever stall you choose.

Relaxing

Cairns is famous for its lagoon, which mimics a white sand and crystal clear water beach – just in the centre of a city. It’s location means that it’s permanently abuzz with tourists and locals alike. The lagoon’s grassy knolls are the perfect place to sunbathe and chill, while the cold water is perfect for a hot day dip. There’s nothing quite like bringing a tropical beach setting to this city’s gentle hustle and bustle.

Viewing

Cast your eyes upon the city’s weirdest and wonderfulest art at the local gallery. The Cairns Art Gallery describes itself as ‘an elegant fusion of contemporary and heritage, offering international museum standard lighting, security and climate controls’ – and it serves just that. The paintings downstairs were telling of cross cultural dialogues and rural Australian history, while upstairs, Patricia Piccinini’s ‘Life Clings Closest’ exhibition taps into ideas about evolution, environmemt, technology and relationships. Warning: Piccinini’s sculptures are both highly disturbing and highly fascinating – I haven’t stopped having nightmares since.

Staying the night? Here’s some options.

I stayed at Global Backpackers hostel, which is conveniently located opposite the lagoon and next to the Cairns Night Market. The facilities were modern and clean, and the staff super friendly. The hostel had a chill vibe, though, so if you’re feeling fun, Gilligans might be the place for you. A mixture of dorm and hotel accommodation, Gilligans is talk of the city due to its bouncing night club and party-promising outdoor pool.

A Weekend Visit Guide To Madrid

With busy boulevards, contemporary architecture, and an abundance of roof top bars, Madrid is an underestimated city when it comes to culture trips. The Spanish capital provides an unparalleled submersion in both city and Spanish culture, and here is Josie Marie’s weekend visit guide.

Location

Plaza Mayor is the best place to stay. I stayed here in Air BnB overlooking the city’s most popular square. The highlight of this location? There’s never a dull moment.

A balcony in Plaza Mayor grants you atmospheric access, as well as distance from the hustle and bustle. You can check out where looks good before the stress of crowds and trotting along cobble stones in heels is necessary (or at least, we did.)

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Cuisine

If you only eat one thing in Madrid, it must be a calamari sandwich. Forget the paella dinners that the British always pine over in Spain, and shift your desire to calamari lunches.

Lining Madrid’s back streets are little shops with trays of fried calamari. For me, these shops were the height of fast food. A squeeze of lemon over your squid and soft bread is the ideal lunch for just 3 euros.

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The Palace

The Royal Palace of Madrid is a monumental building of baroque architecture and artistic prestige that you don’t even need to go inside to appreciate. You can browse it’s outer stone walls and iconic columns from the outer pathway.

The palace has a classical look perfect for pictures and historical wonderment.

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The Metro

A far cry from London’s suffocating underground, the Metro is somewhat clean and un-claustrophobic. Once you have mastered the art of Spanish ticket machines, the metro is the best way to get around.

Although, I recommend knowing the stop name of every location you are travelling to before going to the machines – it’s better to be smart than sorry.

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Rooftop Bars

Madrid does not mess around with its rooftop bars. My favourite was the Circulo De Bellas Artes. This bar boasts the best views and the best beds in all of the city. It also provides cushioned beds under wicker shaders for day drinks and picturesque views.

At night, go classier with Radio rooftop bar. This chain has the best daiquiris in every city you can find it in.

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Saludos a ti, Madrid.

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Le Specs’ Sleek Cat-Eye Shades

When classic silhouettes meet contemporary style in the world of shades, small cat-eye sunglasses are born… and Bondi Beach’s Le Specs hasn’t disappointed on this front. Their approach to design and fashion has produced some of the grooviest shades this side of 2010, finding their staple style on a range of colourful sunnies.

Le Specs have merged the traditional cat-eye with the rising trend of small-enough-glasses in their latest ranges. But I’m not talking tiny lenses, I’m talking bold and beaut, as well as sleek and slim, frames with lenses big enough for UV protection.

I have always struggled with sunglasses – my eyebrows are too arched for smaller, rounded lenses but my face is too small for a large frame. When I discovered my 59mm lens Blaze Round Ray-Bans, I thought I’d never find glasses I liked as much again. The perfect shape and size with a mirrored pink lens and sleek gold frame is a bit of me.

But behold, the small cat eye. The trend merges together high-end accessorising with a sleek design and wide accessibility. The price bracket Le Specs pieces sets them as a desirable item without having to break the bank (unless you wanted to channel some YSL or Dior this season) ranging from £40 to £90.

For a sporty-chic pair, The Fugitive pieces are perfect. But if you want to vibe with thicker frames and classy-but-colourful shades, The Last Lolita range is for you. There is literally no time like the present to put away your standard black square frames and invest in a staple pair of sunglasses before summer starts.

Think about it… it won’t be long until high street brands clock on. And while that’s all well and good, you’d defo feel better off sporting a more sophisticated brand for this trend. It’s an investment.

Le Specs really has come through with providing a range of designs on this iconic silhouette, and there’s something for your street-style, motocross or city-chic looks this summer. Personally, I’m feeling the gold and rose gold editions of each style – keeping the style elegant but still a little street.

Let me know what colours and styles you’re loving in time for Summer 2018,
Josie Marie xo

Diana: Her Fashion Story

She knew that she was the most photographed woman in the world and she wanted to use that… to help others” – Geeta Sarin

Kensington Palace’s latest exhibition follows Princess Diana’s fashion journey through a collection of original and replica pieces. It explores how the Princess’ style evolved and influenced people.

Continue reading “Diana: Her Fashion Story”