Trip to Spain 2016!

Hello everyone!!

I have been MIA for a while in the blogging world since I was out on holiday 🙂 This year we headed over to Spain and spent 10 days travelling around the country. Spain has been on my to do list for a really long time and I was really happy to finally set foot there this November. We spent time in Madrid, Seville and Barcelona and did day trips to Cordoba and Toledo.

Out of all the places we visited, I think Madrid was my least favorite, primarily due to the weather. It was cold and wet which is not the best weather to be out and about exploring a city.We still managed to see the things we wanted like the royal palace, the mercat , the Prado museum, Retiro Park etc. We also managed to catch up with friends in Madrid which was so much fun 🙂

The best part about Spain was of course the food and drinks 😉

Churros and Chocolate anyone? :)

Churros and Chocolate anyone? 🙂

Seville was a charming city in the south of Spain with lovely weather. The sun was out and the temperature was just nice! We did go visit the Seville Cathedral which is huge ( it is the 2nd largest cathedral in the world) and quite frankly a bit overwhelming! The other star attraction we thoroughly enjoyed viewing was the Real Alcazar. Now, if you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you have pretty much stepped into the water gardens of Dorne 😀

A part of the Real Alcazar gardens

A part of the Real Alcazar gardens

We also spent a day and a night in Granada to visit the UNESCO world heritage site, the Alhambra Palace.  The architecture and the level of detail in the designs in the Nasrid Palace (inside the Alhambra) is quite something! I do recommend that you book your tickets online and a month or 2 in advance since they sell out real fast!

Intricate ceiling inside the Nasrid Palace

Intricate ceiling inside the Nasrid Palace

Our final stop was Barcelona and I loved the vibe of the city! The weather was amazing and we had awesome fresh seafood during our entire stay. We generally enjoyed strolling around the gothic quarter, checking out the Gaudi buildings and checked out the famous La Boqueria. We did enjoy our self guided audio tour of the Sagrada Familia which is synonymous with Barcelona.

La Boqueria- so colorful !

La Boqueria- so colorful !

Overall, our trip was fantastic! I hope to go back to Spain again sometime to savor more of the Tapas and drink all the Sherry and Sangaria I can!!

I did do some damage to my wallet while in Spain, especially in Barcelona :D…so stay tuned for a haul post coming soon!!! Until next time…ciao!

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Quick trip to Delhi, India !

Hello folks!

Apologies for the lack of posts! It has been a very busy 2 weeks with travelling home, battling flu situations in the house and then a quick trip to Delhi! I was in Delhi, India for 4 days total..which is a shame since the place has so much to see, do and of course eat! I had accompanied the husband on a business trip and because he was so caught up with what he was in Delhi for, we barely saw anything 😦 Plus he was still recovering from the flu and he was tired after work related activities everyday so we did not explore areas too far way from where we stayed.

I tried to make the best use of my time there and did manage to go shopping 😉 and explore the local food scene. We stayed at a really nice part of the city at a guest house/hotel at The India Habitat Centre. The Lodhi Gardens which is a public park was walking distance from where we stayed and so I did spend a good amount of time there. The park houses the tombs of the Lodhi dynasty kings who ruled much before the Mughals.

The structures which house the tombs are quite impressive and the place was teeming with couples taking wedding photo shoots! The first structure that greets you upon entering the gardens is the Bara Gumbad.

The Bara Gumbad

The Bara Gumbad pictured above is a mosque and not a tomb. The facade inside the dome has largely worn off however some regions of the structure notably the area to the left with the smaller domes still has intricate inscriptions.

Inside the Mosque (Bara Gumbad)

Walking further into the gardens , there is a water canal with an ancient bridge build by Akbar the great (a Mughal ruler). The tomb of one of the Lodhi kings overlooks this water body. The structure housing his tomb was decorated with intricate tile work, traces of which you can still see.

Other places I saw include the India Gate and the city in general while commuting from one point to another. I did manage to do a teeny tiny bit of shopping at this place called Khan Market where I was thrilled to see an Innisfree shop! I will post my mini haul soon 🙂 Stay tuned for that!!

Overall, I enjoyed my really short stay in Delhi..hopefully the next time I travel to the city I will have more time to explore the older parts of the city!

Until next time, ciao!!

 

 

The skincare ingredient must have : Ceramides

Hello folks!!

Sorting through all the anti ageing skincare products in the market, I am pretty sure you might have come across the term ceramides at some point. They are often touted as miracle workers for ageing and dehydrated skin. So what exactly are ceramides?

Imagine that the brick and mortar structure you see in the picture below is the outer later of your skin. If the bricks are to be your skin cells, then the ‘glue’ or mortar holding your skin cells together is ceramide.

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Brick and Mortar (image source: wikicommons)

To nerdyify things a bit.. the intercellular spaces between skin cells are occupied by lameller sheets. The major lipid component of these lamellar sheets is ceramides. In addition to ceramides, cholestrol and free fatty acids are also found in the lipid domain. Together, they play an important role in maintaining skin hydration by preventing water loss and holding on to moisture. Unfortunately, as we age our ability to produce ceramides decreases and hence our skin gets dry and dull. Ceramides also play an important role in keeping our skin firm and thus when the production declines with age, our skin starts to sag 😦

An important thing to note is that ceramides refer to a family of molecules, in other words there are many different types of ceramides occurring naturally in our skin. There are 9 different types found naturally in human skin: they are labelled ceramide 1 thru ceramide 9.

So how do we go about choosing the right moisturiser that helps us maintain firm healthy moisturized skin ?

Ideally, for ceramide creams to work optimally to restore skin balance and function , cholestrol and fatty acids should be present along with ceramides . As you may recall, these 3 components together form the majority of the intercellular spaces between the skin cells naturally.

Ceramides found in skin care products are usually synthetic or plant derived. When looking through the ingredient lists, you will  notice that ceramides are often labelled in the following fashion:

Ceramide 1 : Ceramide EOS
Ceramide 2 : Cermamide NS = N-stearoyl sphinganine
Ceramide 3 : Ceramide NP = N-stearoyl phytosphingosine
Ceramide 4 : Ceramide EOH
Ceramide 5 : Ceramide AS
Ceramide 6 : Ceramide AP = α-hydroxy-N-stearoylphytosphingosine
Ceramide 6 II : Caproyl sphingosine
Ceramide 7 : Ceramide AH
Ceramide 8 : Ceramide NH
Ceramide 9 : Ceramide EOP
Ceramide E : Cetyl-PG Hydroxyethyl Palmitamide and Hexadecanamide

If you are curious to know more about the different ceramide containing moisturizers in the market, I suggest checking out the following website : https://www.verywell.com/ceramide-moisturizers-1069550. The author has detailed 6 ceramide containing moisturizers.

Is there proof that ceramide containing moisturizers work?

Now this is where things get a bit complicated. There are so many different types of ceramides and depending on the other ingredients present, the concentrations etc the story can change. Here is a sampling of different studies showing the efficiency of ceramides as a skincare ingredient:

There are of course, more studies outlining the efficiency of ceramides as a skincare ingredient. As I mentioned earlier, this is just a sampling of different types of studies done with ceramides which prove that they can be effective in fighting atopic dermatitis, wrinkles and also hyper pigmentation.

After reviewing quite a few research publications, I personally believe that ceramides can be a beneficial skincare ingredient. Have you tried any ceramide creams? If so what do you think of them?

References:

  1. Hashizume H. Skin aging and dry skin. J Dermatol. 2004 Aug;31(8):603-9.
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12553851
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12492545
  4. http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/cerami122014tent.pdf
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24656726/

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in Nudist

Hello folks!!

I am not a big fan of matte liquid lipsticks because of how dry my lips are, and hence I jumped into the matte liquid lipstick bandwagon rather cautiously . I am so jealous of all those people who can rock a matte lip without their lips looking like dried prunes. After looking around a bit I decided I should venture into the world of matte liquid lippies with the Bourjois Rouge edition velvet liquid lipsticks.

The Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick

The Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in the shade Nudist

The Bourjois rouge edition lipsticks appealed to me primarily due to the great reviews I saw and also the word ‘velvet’ made it sound like these would be comfortable to wear. After using this guy for close to a year now, I can firmly say that I like the formula and would recommend it to anyone with dry lips 🙂

The shade Nudist, is a lovely everyday shade which has the right balance of pink and brown in my opinion. There are some really nice bright fun colors in the range in addition to 2 other nude like shades.

I always like to prime my lips with a lip balm before applying any lipstick and I did the same before applying this one. I love how smoothly the color glides onto your lips. I am able to achieve an opaque coverage in a single swipe! The applicator is the standard doe foot but it does a great job in spreading the lipstick without patches.

Standard doe foot applicator

Standard doe foot applicator

Once applied on the lips, these do take a little bit of time to completely dry down to a velvet matte finish. Once dry, my lips are very comfortable and it is lightweight on the lips. I have not tried to apply a second coat since I get full coverage in a single swipe and hence do not know if the formula clumps up with layering.

Swatch of the shade Nudist

Swatch of the shade Nudist

Bourjois claims that these can last 24 hours on the lips. Unfortunately, these don’t last long if you plan on eating and drinking a lot. I have found that the lipstick transfers slightly onto straws and the color fades significantly after a heavy meal. The fading occurs in a patchy way sometimes and that is my major pet peeve with this product.

Overall, I love the formula, the shade and the feel on the lips. I would give it a score of  4/5. If only the fading away of the liquid lipstick was more even! Also, I do think it is quite expensive (12~15$) for a drugstore product. Have you tried the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet matte liquid lipsticks? What do you think of the formula and staying power?

Until next time…ciao!!

 

H &M High Impact Eye color in Kobai Azalea

Hello folks!!

So the single eyeshadow in the shade Kobai Azalea is the second product I have tried so far from the H &M beauty section and I must say I am pretty impressed with the beauty line already. Currently the beauty world is quite obsessed with dark cranberry, red, magenta type eyeshadow shades and if you are on a budget and looking to try out a shade in this family range…let me introduce you to Kobai Azalea…..

H&M High impact Eye color in Kobai Azalea

H&M High impact Eye color in Kobai Azalea

The shade Kobai Azalea is a very scary intense pinky red shade in the pan. I picked this up initially thinking if I don’t like it as an eyeshadow I’ll try it out as a blush! Guess what..it works great as both an eyeshadow and a blush 😀

Look at that color! Kobai Azalea

Look at that color! Kobai Azalea

One of the most discussed palettes in the beauty world right now is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette. Now, I do not own this palette but to me this shade looks a lot like Venetian red /Love letter in the pan and swatched.

Kobai Azalea is matte and though the texture of the shadow is not very silky, it is not very chalky either. The shadow looks lovely in the crease and blends effortlessly. I feel that I was able to use this as a blush as well all because of how easily bendable this shadow is! I did not notice any fading after wearing this shadow for around 9 hours.

Single Swipe brush swatch of Kobai Azalea

Single Swipe brush swatch of Kobai Azalea

The shadow is very build able although I have not tried packing this color to its maximum intensity  on my lids..primarily since I am not a colorful eye shadow girl most of the time 🙂 For me this is a great crease shade and I can see myself reaching for this more in the coming fall months.

Overall, this is another great beauty product find for me from H&M. The eyeshadow has great staying power, is blendable and pigmented! The packaging is quite okay as well.

I plan to pick up more items H&M beauty soon! Tell me… what are your favorite items from the line?

Until next time, ciao!!

Tarina Tarantino Jewel Shadow Palette in Dreamy

Hello folks!

Tarina Tarantino is a famous jewelry designer who had a few years ago partnered with Sephora and bought out her own line of makeup. Sadly, they are no longer available at Sephora but on the bright side, they can be still purchased on her website and also on Hautelook.

Sometime last year I picked up the Jewel Shadow palette in Dreamy when her products were on Hautelook. I had also picked up her lipstick which I reviewed HERE a while back!  I will let the cat out of the bag right now itself..these shadows have one of the best formulas I have tried 🙂

Tarina Tarantino Jewel Shadow Palette

Tarina Tarantino Jewel Shadow Palette

The packaging is very luxe. The gun metal compact has a nice weight to it and the design is so sleek and stylish, I would never think twice about whipping this out of my bag in public to touch up 😀 The brown hologram is also a nice touch. I really like the outer box of the compact too which is why I still have it with me!

Eyeshadow palette in Dreamy

Eyeshadow palette in Dreamy

The palette houses 5 beautiful shades. I would describe this palette as being a neutral palette with a pop of color. 4 out of the 5 shadows are satin shimmer shades, with the dark brown shadow at the bottom of the quad being more of a glitter shadow. If you are a lover of matte shadows, this quad sadly may not be for you. The standout shadow in this palette is of course the beautiful burnt orange copper shade!

Single swipe brush swatches

Single swipe brush swatches

The shadows are smooth and glide on the skin like butter! They are extremely pigmented too! Above are swatches of the 5 shadows in this palette obtained with just 1 swipe of a brush. The glitter shade has some fallout but not so much so that it is a deal breaker. I have used these shadows with and without a primer and they have excellent longevity. They look really fresh even at the end of a 12 hour day when used with a primer. I have used these shadows once without a primer and they did not fade even after 8 to 10 hours of wear!

Overall, I love everything about this palette – colors, the texture, the performance, pigmentation, packaging..everything!!

The only con/negative about this palette is that it is not very easily available. I like to wait till they come up on hautelook to get them at really great prices 🙂

Have you tried anything from the Tarina Tarantino line?

Until next time…ciao!!

Marula Oil: Argan oil’s wonderful sister perhaps :)

Hello folks!

I have been MIA since I have been enjoying some wonderful downtime with family 🙂 Lets kick off September with a post on Marula oil which is one of the current darlings of the cosmetic industry. General curiosity had made me dig up scientific info on this oil and now I can’t wait to try it out on my skin 🙂

 

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Sclerocarya birrea or better known as Marula tree (Source: Wikimedia)

The Marula tree plays an important role in traditional African medicine and diet. The tree grows throughout Africa. It can be found in South Africa and all the way up north in Ethiopia and Sudan. The tree is also found in the western African nations like Gambia, Nigeria and Cameroon.

The fruit of the Marula tree is eaten fresh or fermented to make beer 😀 (Would love to try that out if I ever visit any African nation). Marula oil is obtained from the soft white edible kernels found inside the fruit and is considered a good source source of dietary protein and oil.

Marula01.jpg

Marula Fruit (Source: Wikimedia)

Traditional Uses
Local populations in southern Africa, have been using marula oil for years to protect against dry and cracking skin, as a base oil for soap and as a shampoo for dry, damaged and fragile hair. The oil is also used to massage babies and as body lotion massaged onto the skin of their face, feet and hands.

Properties of Marula Oil

Marula oil is a clear, pale, yellowish-brown colour and has a pleasant nutty aroma. The oil is classified as medium rich and is silky to the touch with an excellent ‘slip factor’ making it ideal as massage oil. The presence of high amounts of Oleic acid and Linolic acid both of which are beneficial for skin moisturization makes this a great skincare ingredient.

File:Marula Oil.jpg

Marula Oil (Source: Wikimedia)

Proven Benefits

Scientific evidence supporting some of the traditional uses of Marula oil exist. It has been shown that Marula oil can improve skin hydration and combat skin redness. The presence of large amounts of fatty acids , especially Oleic acid enables easy absorption into the skin. Marula oil has also demonstrated anti inflammatory properties which explains its ability to calm skin redness.  A study on the  irritancy potential of Marula oil not only concluded that it was non irritating, but also that the oil has moisture retention properties and has a moisturizing effect on the skin.

A lot of the Marula oil based products in the market claim to be anti ageing. However, I could not find any studies supporting those claims. Overall, I think Marula oil sounds fabulous to combat dry skin issues. Have you tried Marula oil in your skincare routine?

Until next time…ciao!!

References

  1. African seed oils of commercial importance —Cosmetic applications
  2. Sclerocarya birrea (Marula), An African Tree of Nutritional and Medicinal Uses: A Review
  3. Safety and efficacy of Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst (Marula) oil: A clinical perspective