Japanese Beauty

Regular readers will already know of my love for all things Japanese, and their beauty products are special favourites. Japanese women take their beauty ritual very seriously, so brands there always seem years ahead of the West in terms of innovative beauty technologies, potions and lotions. By way of example, they were using brightening treatments, serums and BB creams for ten years before they arrived here, and there are still entire product categories that are yet to penetrate the Western market (softening lotions, essences, washing powders, moisture foams…). And it shows. Japanese girls have skin so luminous it’s as though they have their own candlelit glow. In short, for a product to perform in the crowded Japanese beauty market, it must be good.

So on my last trip to Tokyo, I performed my usual tradition of heading for the beauty hall of Isetan (my favourite Japanese department store) and collecting as many old favourites and entirely new and novel products as I could carry. (Handily, the Clever Boyfriend has ‘fluent in Japanese’ amongst his many talents, so I wheeled him around to every counter to translate the strange new descriptions for me in exchange for sushi afterwards).

Here are the hero brands that I can’t leave Japan without (though all are now available in most countries):

SKII: The ultimate Japanese cult brand, promising unrivalled brightening and luminosity. Favourite products: Treatment Essence, Cleansing Oil, Cloth Masks.

RMK: I am very enthusiastic about this brand. Great skincare and adorable makeup (theirs is the most perfect pink blush). Favourite products: Cleansers (balm, oil or mousse), Brightening Skintuner, Rose herbal face mist, blush, eyeshadows.

Shu Uemura (pronounced ‘shoe oo-eh-moora’): The Japanese are masters of eyelashes, and Shu Uemura are the best (when something works this well on naturally straight Asian lashes, you know it’s good). Favourite products: Eyelash curler (the best in the world), false lashes, Cleansing Oil, UV Under Base primer mousse.
Suqqu: As with lashes, the Japanese really care about eyebrows. Though Suqqu do a whole range of beauty products, their brow products are the best there is. Favourite products: Felt tip eyebrow pen (a teeny tiny tip to fill in any gaps), eyebrow powder palette, cloth face treatment masks.
Astalift: A relative newcomer, but already a bestseller in Japan for it’s innovative antioxidant properties. Favourite products: Jelly Aquarysta is the hero product, but the whitening cream is also good for lightening sun damage and pigmentation.
Shiseido: The bestselling beauty brand in Japan; great for brightening/whitening treatments and makeup suited to pale skins. Favourite products: White Lucency brightening serum, felt tip eyeliner, SPF.
Pharmacy buys: for fun bargains when in Japan, head to a pharmacy and stock up on individual sachets of bath salts in just about every scent you can imagine (I love the milk and sakura blossom varieties), little packets of nail art crystals to make your manicure twinkly, exfoliating powders, rose chewing gum and Hello Kitty lipgloss.
I’d love to know of any beauty products you love that might not be mainstream where you live!
Love, Miss B xx

June Loves

Just a few of my favourite things this month:

1. Play: Living out my own Great Gatsby fantasies and going to an opulent Cambridge May Ball (in typical Oxbridge eccentric style, May Week actually takes place over two weeks in June). Fireworks, champagne, a live band, dancing until dawn, and everyone dressed in their sparkliest refinery.
2. Sparkle: I have been in love with this Lei Van Kash rose ring for about two years, so it’s probably about time I actually buy it.
3. Buying: It feels like every item of clothing I’m buying this month is either floral print or white lace. I especially love this dress by Whistles that is just made for a garden party.
4. Wearing: I’ve rediscovered my beloved collection of Marc Jacobs Stam bags (I have three!) and have been slinging my putty-coloured version over almost everything. Casual and chic all at once!
5. Beauty note: Annick Goutal Petite Cherie perfume, which smells of juicy pears and vanilla and freshly mown grass in the morning (I like to pretend I’m lying in a sun-drenched orchard in the south of France when I spritz it on)
6. On my wish list: Charlotte Olympia Pomeline sandals (blush pink + pom poms!)
7: Listening to: Vampire Weekend (the preppy soundtrack to so many Cambridge May Week parties)
8. Watching: Tennis at Wimbledon (accompanied by champagne, strawberries and cream and a spot of people-watching).
9. Gourmand pleasures: Elderflower cordial is the flavour of summer in a bottle.
10. Small luxuries: Fresh garden roses and pink peonies from the farmer’s market.

Which pleasures are currently making you smile this month?

Love, Miss B xx


Kitties and Cats

Regular readers will know that despite my very serious day job, I never like to take my wardrobe too seriously. While my daily outfits are mostly a steady rotation of breton stripes, silk blouses and pretty dresses, I love and injection of wit and whimsy that serves only to make me smile when practicality just won’t do. (Yes England, I am talking about you and your seemingly perpetually rainy skies this month…)So when this package of goodies from Paul and Joe’s absurdly cute anniversary cat collection arrived on my doorstep the other day (thank you!), I practically squealed with glee! While they’re all the most wearable and pretty colours in their own right, the adorable packaging (the cutest I have ever seen) makes me smile the whole time I’m using it. I mean, blush sticks shaped like gentemanly cats in hats and paw print lipsticks? In my opinion, makeup should more commonly be shaped like small furry creatures…!

And while it wasn’t strictly necessary to team it with my favourite Charlotte Olympia Kitty heels and golden cat ring from Whistles, I couldn’t resist throwing all semblence of restraint out the window and embracing Cat Lady-chic with wild abandon. I’d love to know how you’re currently injecting a little fun into your wardrobe? All this rain surely calls for something to make our wardrobe smile!

Love, Miss B xx


Beauty Wednesday: The Sugared Almond Manicure

 I don’t know why, but much like brooches and expensive shoes and scented candles, I collect nail polish like an crazy woman. So given I own enough pastel polishes to wear a different colour each day of the week, obviously the only thing for it was to embrace my crazy woman tendencies and put them all on at once.

This is the easiest manicure there is, and it earns bonus points in my book for making me feeling like a kid in art class (in a good way). Here’s how to do it:

1) Choose your pastel rainbow. Although all the colours should contrast, you want them to be of the same whiteness/brightness (mine are all milky, sugared almond tones) so that one doesn’t stand out more than the others. You can use anywhere from 3 to 10 colours (I used 5 with the same order repeated on each hand). 2) Prep your nails. Buff, smooth and file nails so that they are all short and neat. Apply a base coat so the colours go on smoothly.

3) Paint in a graduated rainbow so the most similar colours are beside each other. Because pastels tend to be quite streaky and opaque, paint between 2 or 3 coats of each colour so that they look even and flawless. The key to pulling off girlish trends is to ensure everything looks perfect, so finish with a clear topcoat and clean up any edges with a polish correction pen. (L-R: Orly Lemonade, Essie Fiji, Nails Inc. Cambridge, Nails Inc. Oxford, Essie Mint Candy Apple)

Et voila! The perfect sugared almond nails. Best paired with bicycle rides, picnics and a big scoop of strawberry ice cream in the sunshine.

What is your favourite nail polish colour at the moment?

Love, Miss B xx