Monday, July 6, 2015

Beauty hangover

I recently got back from a lovely trip to Europe with my stepmother - we were in Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. We spent a total of two weeks wishing we had more like 4 to spend more time everywhere. Seriously tour provider - how could you think 4 hours would be anywhere near enough time in Bruges? There are a LOT of chocolate stores to sample and cute little shops to wander into.

If I'm being perfectly honest though, I had two primary shopping goals for this vacation: a stop into a Kiko Milano store in at least one city, and a trip to a French pharmacy to stock up/try a variety of beauty products. For that latter stop, I wanted to go to CityPharma in particular, since I had heard from several sources it had the best prices/wide variety of stock.

I managed to make it into a Kiko while in Madrid. I had heard good things, and being set loose in that store, I was quite literally like a kid in a candy store. My stepmother laughed while telling me that I had a glazed look in my eyes as I wandered from section to section - I didn't want to miss anything. I would compare Kiko to MAC in terms of the variety of products, colors and special collections they offer, but much much more affordable. Some of their products are more impressive than others, but overall, for a makeup-aholic, the amount of pretty/shiny to be found was almost overwhelming.

The Kiko nail polishes were so affordable, I couldn't resist.
(Most were gifts)
I ended up buying a bunch of nail polishes, since they were on sale for basically about $2 US, and seemed pretty good quality. My nail polish loving buddies were very happy upon my return - since they got a bottle as my gift from Europe. I tried one, and although it was very easy to apply and nicely opaque, it did seem to chip pretty quickly. Of course, the fact that I tried it while traveling and having to carry bags and suitcases every day might have been a slightly unfair testing ground. In addition to the rainbow of polishes, I also bought one of their highly pigmented eye shadows, in the color 139 (although their products have names on their website, in store all the products just have numbers.) The website calls it "pearly salmon" - it's a frosty peachy champagne shade that I am very happy with. It became my default shadow on the trip - it applies very well with a fingertip, it has good lasting power, and has a lovely brightening quality that was very necessary when traveling on a crowded bus from city to city on not quite a full night's sleep. I also bought one of their water eyeshadows, metallic shades meant to be used wet or dry, in the shade 218 (grapefruit pink.) I honestly did not remember putting that shadow in my basket. It's a nice, long-wearing shadow, but definitely not an everyday shade for me. I got their Ultimate Pen Long Wearing eyeliner, which is a felt-tip liquid liner pen in black. It is definitely long wearing, and I like it fine, but I prefer a brush tip pen. I also bought one of their "smart eye pencils" which I ended up not being very impressed with. So overall, I really liked Kiko, and am incredibly excited to discover that they now actually have a retail store in my neck of the woods. (I guess they are slowly expanding their stores in the U.S.)

Then, a few cities later, I was in Paris, with my carefully written out pharmacy shopping list. Nice and early on a Monday morning, my stepmother and I hit up CityPharma. I promptly told her "see you later!"and lost my mind. I honestly could have easily spent hours in there, especially since there were so many products from brands I know and trust at prices half of what they are here in the US. There were so many products I had never heard of and would have loved more time to research and perhaps buy, but as is, I decided to just stick to my list.

Of the things I already knew I loved, I got: a 2-pack of Bioderma Créaline H2O, a no-rinse micellar cleanser and makeup remover; a pot of the Nuxe Reve De Miel ultra‑nourishing lip balm which is the best lip balm I have tried; a bottle of the Caudalie beauty elixir, a part-toner, part-serum mist of essential oils that makes me feel fancy; Klorane dry shampoo to extend the good hair days when I straighten my hair (I got a big bottle and a mini for travel); and a La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo, an acne treatment I have found to be fantastic for treating breakouts. (I will say that I noticed right away that the French Effaclar Duo is different than the one they sell here in the 'states - different texture, different smell, and less of a spot treatment product. I might actually like the French version better.) I also got a couple of soaps - the French make lovely scented soaps.

Besides all that, I had a list of things to try: La Roche-Posay Serozinc, a spray solution for oily blemish prone skin that I had heard good things about and they don't sell in the US for some reason (I got 2 bottles, have been using it pretty much daily since purchasing and love it); Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, a multi-use oil supposedly for face, body and hair (I find it too fragranced to try on face, but it is a lovely dry oil that does soften body and hair); Embryolisse Hydra-Mat Emulsion - I had heard great things about Embryolisse, and this hydrating moisturizer and primer with a mattifying effect did not disappoint; Bioderma Hydrabio Brume, a soothing refreshing water spray which is awesome for after waxing (and is supposed to be good for dehydrated skin); and last but not least, I picked up some Biafine, a water-based emulsion that is supposed to help damaged skin heal and helps manage wounds, burns, and other skin abrasions. It's supposed to be great for super dry/chapped skin and heal sunburns. I haven't tried it yet, but am happy to have it on hand for when needed.

So after quickly weaving my way through to tight aisles of CityPharma, and wandering the upstairs and main level, we left and moved on to other touristing and shopping pursuits. But after a few hours and comparing notes with my stepmother, I tentatively asked if she would be willing to go back again to get a few more things, since I had realized I might want to pick up a few things as gifts. Well, that return trip in the afternoon was mayhem. CityPharma at 9:30 in the morning was busy, CityPharma at 3:30 in the afternoon is what I imagine a Target to be like on Black Friday. There were women from all over the world elbowing each other over lotions and potions. And several of the things I was able to get in the morning had been depleted from the shelves by the afternoon. Thankfully, I was still able to pick up a few little gifts, and some other things I had eyed (like the stick version of the Nuxe lip balm, which is nice to have in my purse.) By the time I elbowed my way through the aisles and squeezed my way through the checkout process, I left pretty tired, and feeling a little dizzy. It was like I got drunk in there. The hangover didn't leave me with a headache though, just a depleted wallet and the start of a new list of products. Needless to say, I would go back in a heartbeat.

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