Elle Files

{A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog}

Even If I’m running late, I never step out of the house without a touch of concealer and a dab of rouge. Blushers are undeniably my favourite makeup products, as I believe a sweep of colour deftly applied to cheeks is all it takes to mimic a healthy looking complexion. I mostly use cream formulas on a day-to-day basis and the powder ones are reserved for when I have a bit more time on my hands. I’m starting my ode with the RMS Lip2Cheek blusher in the shade Demure. It’s a perky pink hue that adds life to even the weariest complexions. Infused with coconut, castor and jojoba oil, this cream blusher blends in beautifully and looks deceptively natural on the skin. 

The Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk is such a game-changer because it’s sheer, yet incredibly long-lasting. It has a lovely lighter-than-air texture that adds a gentle, radiant flush to the cheeks. What I particularly like about this one is that it blends in seamlessly without looking too ‘done’. The creamiest of the bunch is the MAC Cream Colour Base in Vintage Rose – a dusty pink shade that’s bright yet barely there. The formula is light and velvety, meaning it’s easy to blend and has a very skin-like finish. It’s perfect for creating an ‘I ran along a wind-swept beach’ flush. 

When my skin is looking a bit sallow and dull, I always reach for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blusher in the shade Mood Exposure. It’s a luminous nude-mauve colour that instantly perks up the complexion and defies all tiredness. I like to apply this with the Zoeva Luxe Sheer Cheek Blush as it picks up just the right amount of product and delivers a really natural looking flush. Finally, I’ve saved the best for the last - Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed enjoys a cult status in the beauty stratosphere and for good reason because it’s the perfect blush for when you want that ‘pinched cheeks’ effect. Admittedly, the formula is a bit chalky but the pale nude-pink shade is what makes this blusher so covetable. It’s sheer and delicate, but can easily be built up to something more opaque.

Brand Ethos:* Their products are formulated using 99% natural ingredients, without parabens, polyethylene glycol, petrochemicals, silicones, sodium laureth sulfate, synthetic colours or fragrances.

I’ve tried a few products from Omorovicza but nothing has stood out to me quite like their Thermal Cleansing Balm. It’s undoubtedly the star of their range and rightfully so, because it’s the most luxuriously indulgent cleanser I’ve ever tried. It has a very strong scent but once you get past that, you’ll thoroughly enjoy massaging it into your face. Rich in Hungarian moor mud, this cleansing balm melts into a silky oil-like consistency and removes any impurities without stripping the skin. I typically reach for this on days when my skin needs a pick-me-up and it always delivers.

Brand Ethos: They use naturally-derived, clean ingredients that are kind to the skin & environment and their products are devoid of harmful synthetic ingredients.//Cruelty-free

If there’s one cleanser that I’ll always repurchase it’s the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel. It’s undoubtedly my Holy Grail (barf) cleanser – it’s soft, pillowy and feels utterly luxurious on the skin. It has a nice gel-to-oil formula that thoroughly cleanses while still being very moisturising on the skin. I typically use it as a second cleanser in the evenings as it’s immensely satisfying to massage it into my face. The only slight qualm I have is that it doesn’t wash off as easily as some cleansers do.

Tata Harper
Brand Ethos: Their products are 100% natural and nontoxic. They don’t use synthetic chemicals and everything they make is formulated and manufactured at their farm in Vermont.//Cruelty-free

Everything about Tata Harper spells luxury, right from the packaging to the beautifully formulated products. I’ve already talked about the Regenerating Cleanser here, so all I’m going to say is it’s an absolute sensorial delight to use at the end of a long, tiring work day. Another standout product from their range is the Resurfacing Mask. It’s a mild exfoliating mask that gently resurfaces the skin without causing any irritation or redness. Post-use, it always leaves my skin looking polished and glowing.

Sunday Riley
Brand Ethos: Their products are crafted from botanicals, minerals and other natural ingredients and free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates.//Cruelty-free

The only product I’ve tried from Sunday Riley is their Blue Moon Cleansing Balm and it’s a staple in my nighttime skincare routine. It’s a thick, unctuous balm with exfoliating beads that remove makeup and impurities without leaving the skin feeling tight or dry. It's deeply moisturising and I usually leave it on as a mask to reap the benefits of its skin-nourishing ingredients. My only gripe with this cleansing balm is that the beads really irritate my eyes. 

Brand Ethos: Their products are free from parabens, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, petrochemicals, detergents (sls/sles) and artificial fragrance.//Cruelty-free

I’ve tried everything from cleansers to eye creams from Pai and they are all exceptional but the one product that continues to ‘wow’ me is their Rosehip BioRegenerate OilThe consistency of this oil is ever so slightly thick but, once applied, it sinks in very quickly and delivers a big dollop of hydration.

Brand Ethos: They are a natural, organic brand that uses BioOrganic, ethically sourced, cruelty-free ingredients. Their products are devoid of sulphates, parabens, mineral oils and MI to name only a few.

I’ve already raved about their Revitalise & Glow serum here and here. It’s everything it’s cracked up to be and more. I’ve also tried their cleanser (I’ve sure tried a lot of cleansers) in the past and I think it’s a really lovely formula. A more recent addition to my line-up is the Firm & Replenish Body Serum – a super fancy body lotion that smells and feels gorgeous on the skin, but it’s so eye-wateringly expensive that I only use it as a ‘treat’ once a week.

Brand Ethos: All their products are made with organic, wildcrafted, and sustainably procured ingredients.//Cruelty-free

I’ve talked loads about Kypris here. Their products are on the expensive end of the spectrum but they are so well made that I think they are definitely worth the price tag. I’ve gone through two bottles of their Antioxidant Dew serum and it’s incredibly lightweight and envelops the skin in a blanket of hydration. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I must mention that I had a reaction to the serum recently. I don’t know if I received a bad batch or if it was because of some ingredient in it. Sadly, I’ve stopped using it now.

RMS Beauty
Brand Ethos: All their products are natural and made with organic ingredients.//Cruelty-free

RMS is the only ‘green’ colour cosmetic range in my beauty stash. Their Lip2Cheek blushers come in frosted glass pots and they are so beautifully pigmented. Also their Living Luminizer is possibly the best natural-looking highlighter ever - it’s incredibly sheer and gives off a very ‘your-skin-but-better’ glow.

MV Organics
Brand Ethos: They are a natural, organic brand with a focus on formulations that harness the very best of what nature has to offer.//Cruelty-free

I love everything about MV Organics, their clinical yet minimalist packaging and their focus on using organic ingredients in their skincare products. The formulas are all rich and luxurious (see a pattern here?) and they do a great job of protecting the skin from the environmental aggressors. I’ve talked about a few of my favourites in my skincare post here. I also love their Rose Hydrating Mist - it’s light, refreshing and soothes sunburnt skin instantly.

Forrest Essentials
Brand Ethos: Their products are made from organically grown, raw and unprocessed ingredients. Everything is made in the traditionally old fashioned way, according to Ayurvedic tenets, and wherever possible, by hand.//Cruelty-free

I’m very excited to talk about this brand, as there aren’t many Indian brands that do high-end natural skincare. I bought the Pure Rosewater Facial Toner on my recent trip to India and I’ve already worked my way through it. It’s the most beautifully fragrant toner/facial spray I’ve ever used- it smells exactly like freshly cut roses. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the packaging? I think it looks absolutely stately on my dresser. 

Brand Ethos: Their products are free from petroleum-derived ingredients, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances and GMOs//Cruelty-free

The only thing I’ve tried from Weleda is their Skin Food, and I’d say it’s a great introduction to the brand. It’s a thick medicinal smelling balm that can be used pretty much anywhere. It does a brilliant job of soothing and hydrating dry, winter-stricken skin.  

Brand Ethos: Their products don’t contain colourants, mineral oils, silicones, parabens or pearlising agents. Also, no animal-derived ingredients (such as beeswax, honey or lanolin) are used in their formulations.

Chic packaging and great formulations sum up Aesop. I was initially drawn to this brand because of their packaging, but they offer so much more than that. Their much-hyped Parsley Seed Mask is the one I reach for when I’m all spotty and congested and their Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm is seriously the best smelling hand cream ever! I have exceptionally dry hands, and I always feel a bit antsy if I don’t have this one to hand.

Brand Ethos: They use traceable, natural ingredients and a quarter of them are organic certified. They also source from local and sustainable agricultural sectors, from Provence and the Mediterranean.

My introduction to L’Occitane was through their wonderful Almond Shower Oil and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s still a staple in my winter beauty armoury as it’s deeply moisturising and keeps my skin from looking like a shrivelled prune. However, the star of their range, for me, is their brilliant selection of shampoos - the formulas are gentle and full of essential oils to nourish and strengthen the hair. I’ve tried a sample size of their Aromachologie Repairing Shampoo in the past and it’s a lovely silicone-free formula that smells exactly like a walk through a heady field of lavender. It did a great job of gently cleansing the hair while leaving it looking soft, bouncy and devoid of frizz. Once I run out of my current shampoo, I'm going try their Citrus Verbena Shampoo, as I love using citrus-scented body and hair care products during the hot summer months. Check out their shampoo L´Occitane range here.

*All the brand information is sourced from their websites. ** Thanks to L'Occitane for partnering with me. 

PS: It took me over a week to write this post, hope you like it. 
My skincare routine is relatively minimal, as I've discovered that the key to keeping my skin happy is in using few effective products rather than piling on everything that’s on my bathroom shelf. In the mornings, I usually start by cleansing my face with the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, which is incredibly gentle and non-stripping. It’s quite possibly my favourite cleanser of all time as it completely rinses off with water, unlike the Oskia Renaissance Cleaning Gel, which needs to be taken off with a flannel. Since this bottle is on its last legs, I alternate it with the MV Organics Gentle Cream Cleanser. It’s a beautiful creamy concoction that feels like silk on the skin and if you have sensitive skin, I can’t recommend this cleanser enough. I have yet to try a product of theirs that isn't brilliant.

Also, since I have milia, I need to exfoliate my face quite regularly and I’m not very comfortable with using a chemical exfoliant during the day, so twice a week I use the Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser. I know it might seem a bit excessive to use three different cleansers but this one is more of a physical exfoliator than a cleanser. It’s quite unlike anything I've tried before: the gritty particles are suspended in a cream base, so it’s extremely gentle and doesn’t strip the skin of its moisture. Though it’s eye-wateringly expensive, I’m obsessed with the scent and I’ll buy it for that alone.

After cleansing, I do a few spritzes of the lush-smelling Mario Badescu Rose Water Spray. Though it’s heavily fragranced, I find that it doesn’t irritate my skin and it really wakes me up in the mornings. On days when my skin is feeling a bit dry, I mist my face with this after every step of the routine, as it does a great job of locking in the moisture. For serums, I vacillate between Vichy and Aurelia depending on how my skin is feeling that day. If I want something that’s deeply nourishing, I opt for the Aurelia Revitalise & Glow Serum, and the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum is great for when I want intense hydration.

I typically swap creamy moisturisers for something that’s lighter in texture during summer but the MV Organics Rose Soothing Protective Moisturiser is just too good to resist. It's rich, creamy and provides of blanket of hydration. It does take a while to sink in, so I usually spritz some mist and massage it into my face. Then, I layer on Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 - I'm a complete Neutrogena devotee, as it’s the only product that’s been a constant in my ever-changing skincare routine. It’s hard to get hold of this one here, so I stock up on it every time I visit India. It’s everything I want in a sunscreen - it’s not greasy, doesn’t leave behind a white cast, and wears well under makeup.

If I have a bit more time in the mornings, I’ll slather on a generous layer of the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask and let it work its magic while I brush my teeth and shower. I only do this if my skin is looking a bit lacklustre and dull – which is usually the case around that time of the month. This mask is simply exceptional; it soothes, softens and hydrates the skin in less than ten minutes. I had a bad reaction to one of the serums I was using and this is the only mask that took down the redness and calmed my skin immediately. It’s seriously a godsend! 
I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in a bit of a makeup rut recently, so I decided to do the ever-alluring wet-eye look, inspired by the queen of glossy eyelids, Katie Jane Hughes. There’s something so inherently chic about glossy eyelids and I paired it with a fun orange-red lip to make it more summer-appropriate.

Terrifying, as this may seem, it’s surprisingly easy to recreate. Here’s a breakdown of my look:
As always, I skipped using a base and prepped my skin with the Becca Backlight Priming Filter. It’s a pearlescent light-reflecting primer that goes on beautifully and looks glorious on the skin. What I particularly love about this primer is that it can mixed into a foundation to dial up the dewiness or can be worn on its own for a glimmer-free glow. I wanted the skin to look quite bare and luminous, so I used the concealer very sparingly. The Charlotte Tilbury Retoucher (4) is one of my hero products – it’s lightweight and counteracts any discolouration without caking or settling into the lines. The click-pen applicator makes it easy to apply and the formula is densely pigmented, so you only need a tiny bit.
I wanted to add a faint hint of colour to my face, so I squeezed a little Glossier Cloud Paint (haze) on the back on my hand and applied it to the apples of my cheeks. Despite its sheer finish, I find that it lasts exceptionally well and the berry hue diffuses into a flattering flush. The idea was for the eyes to have a smokey lived-in look, so I applied a liquid eye shadow all over my lids and blended it with a fluffy brush. The Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Shadow in Mocha is a standard bronze colour that’s perfect for creating a sultry smokey eye look a la Carine Roitfeld. It’s incredibly long-lasting and I find that it wears well under the gloss.
Next, I dabbed a tiny dot of the Mac Lip Glass (clear) onto the lids and patted it in with my fingers. Applying gloss on the eyelids does take a bit of getting used to, but the key to making it work is to apply the tiniest bit. It does crease and smudge but you can always smooth it out with your fingers. Also, the lip glass is slightly sticky, and you can feel it on your eyelids. I think a more wearable option would be the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream (KJH-approved) as it’s non-sticky but delivers the same amount of shine. Initially, the focus of this look was the just the eyes, but I decided to be a little more adventurous and do a bold orange-red lip. The Nars Lip Pencil in Red Square is an old favourite that sadly doesn’t get much use. I like to pair bold lip colours with minimal makeup as it looks like I’ve made a bit of effort, even if I’ve just hurriedly drawn it on in an overcrowded train. 

I know the Internet is full of pancake recipes and you don’t need another one, but my reason for writing this is purely because I found a way to turn my favourite breakfast porridge (oat bran bircher with berries) into something more indulgent and filling. So here’s presenting the protein-packed buckwheat & oat bran pancakes with berries and coconut chia jam. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Also, it’s refined sugar free, so you can happily eat these with gusto.

Buckwheat & Oat Bran Pancakes

Initially I made the pancakes with just the oat bran and they turned out quite soggy, so I added a cup of buckwheat flour to get the fluffy texture. You can easily substitute it with plain or wholemeal flour. I really like the nuttiness of buckwheat and it amps up the flavour of the pancakes.

Makes about 4 - 6 pancakes // ½ cup of oat bran, 1 cup of buckwheat flour, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ cup of soymilk, a pinch of salt and two tbsp of stevia (sugar substitute).

Mix all the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately and combine them together. Heat a pan with a dollop of butter or an oil spray, and scoop out a ladle of batter onto the pan. Cook until browned evenly. 

Berries & Coconut Chia Jam

I stumbled upon this recipe while trawling Ohsheglows’ website for healthy dessert options. I’ve put my own twist to it by including desiccated coconut and stevia to make it slightly more healthy. It’s not cloyingly sweet and has the same consistency of a jam. It stores well and is super delish.

100g of mixed berries (I used blueberries & raspberries), 3 tbsp of desiccated coconut, 4 tbsp of chia seeds and stevia

Place all the berries in a saucepan with the stevia and allow them to cook for about ten minutes until they are nice and soft. Then add in desiccated coconut and chia seeds and cook for another five minutes until all the water is absorbed. 
If I'm running out the door and have five minutes for makeup, the first thing I do is to even out my complexion before adding a touch of colour via a blush or a lipstick. Also, I stick to using cream products when I’m in a hurry, as I believe they are considerably more forgiving than powdery textures.

Concealer: The Mac Select Moisturecover Concealer is a re-discovery for me and I can clearly see why I used to be obsessed with it. It’s a combination of my two favourite concealers; it has the coverage of the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer and the dewy finish of the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer. Also, the shade NC35 is slightly lighter than my skin tone, so it has a nice brightening effect.

Eye Shadow: Surprisingly, I’m really into wearing eye shadows at the moment. It takes me less than a minute to do my eyes, I swipe some Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerise in the shade Mona Lisa across the eyelids and blend it out with my fingers. This bronzey-gold shade is a touch darker than my eyelids so it looks really natural during the day. Another great option for summer is the By Terry Ombré Blackstar in the shade Brown Perfection. This rich, taupe-y bronze shade is the eye shadow equivalent of my very beloved MAC Teddy Eye Kohl. Also, it’s easily the most pigmented and smudge-resistant eye shadow I've ever tried.

Blusher/Bronzer: The Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Formentera is sun-kissed summer skin in a handy, twist-up stick. It’s sheer, blends in beautifully and makes me look like a bronzed goddess. It’s hard to pin down the texture of this one; it’s velvety but has a slightly dewy (not sticky) finish. Another great multi-tasking product is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Light. This blusher-highlighter hybrid perks up sallow skin and imparts a healthy glow in one sweep.

Highlighter: It’s definitely an unnecessary step but ever since I got my hands on the Glossier Haloscope(Quartz), I can’t stop using it. It’s everything I want in a highlighter - it’s dewy with being tacky; imparts a subtle glow without leaving behind any sparkly, shimmery bits and most importantly, it looks almost skin-like. Swipe, blend and *poof* healthy-looking skin unlocked.

Lipstick:  You know me, I like to stick to neutrals when it comes to a lip colour. I either wear Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Walk of Shame or Nars Lip Pencil in Walkyrie, however I’m trying to switch things up for summer. A red lip is by no means a fail-safe option when you’re short on time, but it’s definitely the quickest (and chicest) way to look put-together. I wear it like a stain as opposed to applying it straight from the bullet. The Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lipstick in 58 is a bright pinky-red that lasts right from my morning tea to after-work drinks.

PS: If you fancy seeing me put on makeup, click on the video below.

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