Tired? Sleepy? Need to sparkle in a hurry? You really NEED this beauty product in your life

Anyone who follows The Beauty Gypsy would know I rarely review off-the-shelf skincare products. Why? Because somewhere along the decade-long journey in the annals of beauty, I’ve become jaded with all the inflated promises and airbrushed images. And the mile-long ingredient lists that require a chemistry degree in order to decode both exhaust and frighten me in equal measure. So. Far. Better. Avoided. 

Something else those who follow this blog would know: I am perpetually short on sleep. Mind numbingly, muscle achingly, skin crushingly short on sleep. Which means I am constantly walking through a mental haze in the morning and piling on loads of makeup to camouflage a dull, dry and totally exhausted complexion by the evening. So when Garnier put out their new Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream™ Anti-Age + Anti-Fatigue Night Cream, even my inner cynic couldn’t resist a trial run.

And even though it normally takes a month for the benefits of any skincare product to really take hold, here I sit five days later reviewing Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream. And because sleepy, fatigued minds don’t need any more complicated gibberish, I’m going to cut the crap clutter and simply distill into six short-ish points everything that’s impressed me about Garnier’s new launch:  
garnier 2

1. The laundry list: Or the lack of one, actually. Because it feels good when you look at a list of ingredients and actually recognize most of the components, especially within the crucial “first five” zone. I love the simple yet effective blend of natural and botanical ingredients, especially the super-hydrating jojoba oil, castor oil and all that luscious lavender essential oil (more on this later).

2. The science: Imagine if I was to keep you up all night, night after night, then deny you any caffeine or energy shots, while simultaneous expecting you to be all perky and sparkling and scaling mountains. Not going to happen, right? Like the rest of our bodies, sleepy skin is exhausted skin. And exhausted skin needs some serious help to heal, renew and keep itself strong. Deny it this support and you’re looking at an avalanche of dryness, dullness, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging. Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream counters this with jojoba oil for skin strengthening; hyaluronic acid for intense hydration; extract of Albizia, which combats fatigue; and extract of Ruscus, which boosts skin’s microcirculation. Plus, it also contains a small amount of salicylic acid and has a pH that makes it a gentle exfoliator to boost cellular turnover.

3. Lavender: Lavender is one of the most powerful remedies in the plant world. So powerful that the ancient Egyptians and Romans ranked its oil right up there with gold. It owes this amazing spectrum of healing powers to a complex natural makeup, which is chockfull of antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory goodness. Even a mere whiff of its fragrance has potent aromatherapy benefits–in the case of the Miracle Sleeping Cream, sending me on the way to a soothing slumber (added bonus!).

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4. That bit about the night: Why use a night cream? Why not slap on something after you’ve woken up? Our skin temperature is higher and the surface layer more porous during nighttime, allowing for greater penetration of active ingredients. Plus, since the vital organs are at rest while we sleep, the body can direct its healing resources to the skin more easily. And as skin doesn’t need to compete with makeup, sunscreen or environmental aggressors during the night, it’s able to shift from defensive to regenerative mode.

5. The texture: The first night I put on Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream, it was a bit of a worry. Because even though it didn’t feel heavy or greasy, the gel-cream just refused to totally sink into my skin. It was only later I realized this is intentional, with Garnier using an innovative polymer that literally stretches over skin like elastic to deliver active ingredients with maximum efficacy. On the skin, it just feels fresh and cooling–almost comforting in some strange psycho-tactile manner–sans any heaviness.

6. The effects: Moist. And plump. That’s how I would describe my skin after five days of using this gel-cream. Everything looks visibly smoother and brighter; and while I don’t really have any fine lines or wrinkles, those nicks and creases that follow my insomniac thrashings have been plumped away. I find myself wandering out with far less makeup and yet not terrifying puppies, kittens and small children. In fact, this is one of the most hydrating and skin softening products I’ve seen in a long time and would strongly suggest that it needn’t be limited to “aging” skin. Now I am almost tempted to try its sister product–the Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream: Anti-Age + Anti-Fatigue Eye Cream!

Do you plan to try Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream Anti-Age + Anti-Fatigue Night Cream to help fight wrinkles and the signs of fatigue? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card.

PS (Because I love you guys!)

Can’t get your nightly beauty sleep? Garnier has you covered with prizes that will make you look like you didn’t miss a wink! Enter the Sleep With This Sweepstakes now for the chance to win Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream, a Westin Heavenly® Bed and more.

Plus receive a $1 coupon* to try Garnier’s Ultra-Lift® Miracle Sleeping Cream out for yourself. Enter daily for a chance to win a Miracle Sleeping Cream product prize package.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. 

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 4/8/15 – 5/10/15.

Be sure to visit the Garnier brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

12 Beauty products French women swear by (no, you haven’t heard about these a zillion times already!)

I love France. I love shopping. And I love beauty products. Put these together and you know any trip to Paris won’t be complete without visiting all the outposts of French skincare in the city. Till now, this has translated into hours-long expeditions to the city’s cult pharmacies because in Paris, skincare means French pharmacy. But somehow, after every visit I come back less than satisfied. Tubes of Vitamin A and bottles of thermal water are all well and fine but where are those gorgeous rose balms, those soaps redolent with the very air of Provence, those powdery fragrances that literally define French glamour? Surely, there has to be something more than these clinical, sterile looking bottles that speak of efficiency but are short on any of the femininity that so defines the French? And what’s the point of stocking up on brands like Biotherm and Avene in Paris, when these are easily available all over the world? Surely, there has to be something more?

Seems, there is a lot more. A lot more about French beauty products that the Parisians don’t want us to know. Because these are their secret pleasures, their own private indulgences. Both pretty and potent, these are the beauty products French women are really stocking up on at home. Not only do French women love and use them, makeup artists and beauty editors obsess over them as well. And thankfully, with the advent of internet shopping, these little marvels can be shipped to wherever you reside. Want to know the real art of French beauty? Here it is.

Le Couvent des Minimes 3-in-1 Micellar Water, $17

Say hello to the beauty world’s latest obsession: micellar water. Why all the fuss? Micellar water is made up of microscopic oil molecules that cut through the heaviest of makeup without irritating the skin. Le Couvent’s version takes things three steps further with its mix of rose water, centifolia rose absolute essence and wild rose hip polyphenols to refresh, soften and tone the skin while protecting if from ageing free radicals.

french-beauty-products-3La Société Parisienne de Savons La Poudre Marjolis, €24

This retro-inspired silky body dusting powder calls upon sensual jasmine and ylang-ylang to take you back in time. Don’t miss the vintage-style label, which required some intensive research, legal meanderings and other technical obstacles in designer Daniel Pelavin’s quest for visual authenticity.

french-beauty-products-1Jardins D’ecrivains Le Bain de Wharton Bath Soak, €40

Inspired by the luxurious world of Edith Wharton, this gorgeously fragranced bottle looks like it came straight from the shelves of an ancient apothecary. Made with salts from the Guérande marshes on the western coast of France and floral honey, Le Bain de Wharton is the perfect way to unwind after a long day.

french-beauty-products-2Pre de Provence Rose de Mai Balm, $23.50

While it’s also brimming over with Shea butter, sesame seed oil and vitamin E, Rose de Mai Balm’s star ingredient remains the botanical rose blend. And with good reason: it’s anchored by Rose de Mai blossoms, which bloom for only 5 weeks in the year and are fabulous at softening, hydrating and protecting the complexion. Apply it anywhere skin needs a little TLC.

french-beauty-products-4T. LeClerc Loose Powder, $38

T. LeClerc Loose Powder is a French pharmacy staple, which makes sense given that it was created by an actual pharmacist. Formulated using rice starch, its extremely light texture helps set makeup, mattify shiny spots and thanks to the zinc, protect from the sun. The pressed versions are equally iconic and both ranges now come in 30 shades.

french-beauty-products-5Doux Me Soupçon d’insouciance, €29

Doux Me products are so natural, French mamas often use this brand on their bébés. This daily moisturiser is brimming with beta-carotene for energising the complexion, antioxidant-rich poppy extract to help preserve the skin’s freshness and lemon extract to tone and reduce hyper-pigmentation. My favourite bit: when skin is looking lacklustre (say after a long night or ultra-stressful days) apply Soupçon d’insouciance in a thick layer, leave on for 15 minutes and then wipe away the excess product with a cotton pad soaked in rose water.

french-beauty-products-6Senteurs de Fée Revitalizing Hair Oil, €22.50

This one’s as natural and organic as it gets: no artificial colours or fragrances, no parabens or petrochemical derivatives, no testing on animals. Instead, you have an aromatic complex of ylang-ylang, lavender and rosemary essential oils saturated in a base of organic sesame oil to regulate sebum production, prevent hair loss, stimulate re-growth and restore your hair’s natural shine. Added benefit: its gorgeous fragrance. No wonder this oil is a hot favourite with some of the top Parisian hair stylists.

french-beauty-products-7Laino Soin des Levres, €2.69

These über-cute lip balms are both paraben and phenoxyethanol free. Plus, they are packed with softening and regenerating agents like calendula extract to take care of damaged and dry lips year-round. They also contain UV filters and delish aromas to round up the benefits.

french-beauty-products-8Mistral Fruit Les Sentiments Gift Soap, $9

These all-vegetable soaps are triple milled from pure organic Shea butter according to a time-honored French tradition. My favourite is Fruit de la Passion, a sweet and tart blend of passion fruit, ripe strawberries, peony, pear, lychee and pomegranate.

french-beauty-products-9Mistral Sur La Route Gift Soap, $9.50

Scented with authentic fragrances, Mistral’s triple milled Shea butter Sur la Route soaps are perfect for bringing home a bit of rural France. I am currently stocking up on Lavande de Senanque, whose lavender, rose, pine, musk, cedar wood, sandalwood and vanilla notes evoke a July picnic while the lavender is in full summer bloom.

french-beauty-products-10Savon de Marseille with Crushed Flowers, $14.99

These all-natural olive oil soaps are still handcrafted in Marseille in antique cauldrons from pure olive oil, the alkaline ash from Mediterranean sea plants and sea-salted water – just as they were made in the Middle Ages. In fact, a 1688 French law declared that only soaps made according to certain ancient methods could bear the mark ‘Savon de Marseille’. Cut and dried without any machines, they are sold piled high on open-air market tables like fruits or vegetable, wrapped in paper. There is no plastic packaging and the soaps are totally biodegradable… combine this with the environment friendly manufacturing process and you have a product that’s super-high on eco cred. And your skin will thank you as well: Marseille soap is recommended by dermatologists for dry or sensitive skin, eczema and other ailments. sun-dried flower petals for gentle exfoliation and you can see why Marseille soap is a perpetual classic. PS: Authentic Marseille Soap is stamped with its weight in grams – a practice left over from years ago which allowed households to compare prices and plan their inventories.

french-beauty-products-11Molinard perfumes

Molinard is one of the oldest French perfume houses in continuous existence, and remains an entirely family-run business even today. The label was founded in 1849 in Grasse – the birthplace and anchor of modern perfumery. Over the last two centuries, it has produced some of the world’s most iconic boutique fragrances (including Les Fleurs De Provence Mimosa and Habanita, both of which are still available today). And this perfume house is a firm believer in form as well as function, calling upon cult bottle designers like René Lalique and Baccarat. The aesthetic continues today, with Molinard’s range of perfumes, soaps, body care, candles and aromatherapy products that come packaged in spotlight-worthy bottles that you will hold on to long after the contents are gone. My favourite buy here: the Concréta, the world’s first solid perfume compacts, which incorporate natural flower wax as a fragrance component.

french-beauty-products-12Have you tried any of these French beauty buys? What’s your all-time favourite overseas beauty find?

Out of nail polish remover? Use perfume

nail polish removerYesterday I was swatching Chanel’s new spring nail polishes (posting them soon) when Mr. Husband calls and says we have to go for a formal dinner. And then I realise there is not a single drop of nail polish remover in the house.

So, nails covered in 4 different colours that needed to come off ASAP, it was time to risk this really strange tip I had once heard backstage at Paris Fashion Week: spritz some perfume on a cotton ball and use it to wipe away the nail polish. And know what, it took a couple of minutes of wiping but the nail polish came off completely!

Apparently, perfumes contain ethyl acetate – which is also a key ingredient in most nail polish removers. I used Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gioia though you can pick and choose from whatever takes your fancy 🙂 Wouldn’t recommend this as a daily regimen though. Not only is perfume more drying than most good nail polish removers but the latter also cost a lot less!

What’s your secret remove-nail polish-in-a-pinch tip?

10 rules by Givenchy on how to recognise a gentleman

How do you recognise a gentleman? Why, with a little help from Givenchy, the long term muse and mentor for chic ladies and dapper gentlemen, of course. At Milan Fashion Week, the couture house revealed this 10-point test for gentlemanly quotient.

givenchy gentlemen onlyWhile I can think of a few more essential gentlemanly traits (does not grumble while shopping with you, even if its for perfumes and lipsticks; does not allow you to lift heavy suitcases after a trip to Singapore; readily gives lends you money for casinos visits and shopping sprees; does NOT hog the TV or air conditioner remote… !), Mr. Husband scores 8/10 on the Givenchy list (tuxedo, yes; drive his vintage Delahaye 135 MS or detach him from the iPad… are you kidding?). Of course, he would score considerably lower on my own set of requirements but since Simon Baker seems to be a more universally accepted authority on chivalrous nuances, let’s go with this one for the moment.

And yes, it helps that Mr. Husband has fallen completely in love with Gentlemen Only by Givenchy, nudging aside his treasured bottle of Penhaligon’s Sartorial to give this new fragrance pride of place on the dressing shelf. Which brings me to men’s fragrances in general. There’s a reason you’ve not been seeing them on this blog lately – most of the new launches in this category just seem to insipid for words. Literally. A vast majority are too bland and boring to be even disliked properly.

geivenchy gentlemen only simon bakerWhich is where Gentlemen Only stands out and makes its mark. Not surprising, considering that Givenchy has always been a trailblazer in the genre of men’s perfumes. Decades back, when every perfume house was busy going the cologne and lavender route for men, Hubert de Givenchy broke with tradition to craft the original Gentleman (launched in 1975). The potently aromatic and woody concoction made everyone sit up and take notice, paving the way for male perfumes that were both audacious and elegant at the same time.

Now, almost 40 years later, Givenchy is rebooting the formula to give it a thoroughly contemporary feel. Gentlemen Only takes the signature tree bark that underpinned the ’70s Gentleman (patchouli, cedar and vetiver) and lightens it with a crisp blend of mandarin oranges, pink peppercorns and nutmeg.

Consequently, where Gentleman comes across as deep, earthy and leathery, Gentlemen Only is fresh, spicy and woody. It’s like the difference between a cloak-ready English aristocrat and a man-of-the-world dressed in a sharp black suit and crisp white shirt. With a naked woman sitting on his lap. After all, Hubert de Givenchy did believe that a gentleman should aim for “Sir Walter Raleigh’s manners, Casanova’s seduction techniques and Beau Brummel’s wardrobe”.

In fact, there is only suggestion that comes to mind for this otherwise superlative formula – the choice of Simon Baker as spokesperson. The Aussie actor does nothing for me (so lynch me!) and would much prefer to see Patrick Dempsey instead (he even owns a LOT of vintage sports cars). But then since I am a little obsessed with McDreamy Dempsey, maybe this suggestion should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Price: $67 for 50ml EDT, $88 or INR 5,695 for 100ml EDT, $57 for After Shave Lotion, $25 for Deodorant

What about you? What’s on your list of essential qualities to be a gentleman?