Elle Files

{A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog}

Why visit: Crystal clear waters, uninhabited virgin islands, fresh seafood and Mediterranean weather.

Where to stay: We stayed at Neptun Hotel in Babin Kuk, which is just 15 minutes away from the Old Port. This upscale hotel has a spa, four swimming pools and three in-house restaurants serving delicious local cuisines. Our room was literally ten feet away from the sea and it seriously doesn't get better than that.

What To Do

City Walls: All the guidebooks tell you that the City Walls is a must-do – and it’s true. If you climb up the serpentine staircases of these historic walls, you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sea, changing in hue from azure to emerald due the shadows cast by the clouds above. There’s nothing quite like the joy that accompanies the sight of the endless horizon.
Hidden Coves: If you want to escape the heaving crowds, then this is the perfect thing to do. We found several secluded coves around the city, but the one near Brsalje is breathtaking to say the least. It’s a beautiful idyll that's a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Old Town. There’s a dizzying flight of stairs with metal railing that leads you all the way up to the vantage point. We spent the day swimming in the crystal-clear waters and basking in the beauty of this hidden gem.
Island Hopping: Though Dubrovnik offers plenty to explore, a day trip to the neighbouring islands is an experience unlike any other. Roughly 15 minutes from the city, Lokrum is ideal for snorkelling or hiking up the vertiginously sloping paths. This uninhabited island is home to pines and cypress trees, which fills the air with a lilting scent. There’s an idyllic salt-rich lake that’s perfect for those of us who are not brave enough to swim in the sea.
Cable Car: While the cable car ride is all too brief, the view is nothing short of sublime. We booked a table at the Panaroma Restaurant and watched the sky turn hues of gold and amber as the sun went down. The food, the ambience and the pavonine sky made it a surreal affair. We could have spent all day here, it was a truly magical experience. Anything I say would be too little, so I'm going to let the pictures do the talking.


Beach Bar: Nestled in the tiny bylanes of the old walled city, Buza Bar provides sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea. Buzzy music, local beer and friendly staff make this place an absolute must-visit. This hole-in-the-wall dive bar is perpetually crowded, so get there early if you want a table with a view. Or grab a drink and sit on the cliff to watch the waves roll in against the sunset.
Boat/Ferry/Yacht Ride: You can opt for a private yacht tour or hop onto a boat cruise to explore the islands. We visited Elaphite Islands, which is a small archipelago consisting of several islands. We made quick pit tops at Šipan, Koločep and Lopud - although they aren't very different from each other, the streets are much less crowded and the entire vibe is more authentic.

What to pack:
 Hiking shoes, summery dresses and a chic pair of sunglasses. You can read about what I packed here.

Where To Take A Great Instagram: 
There are plenty gram-worthy spots, but my top two recommendations are the charming stone alleys of Old Dubrovnik and the rock staircase carved through the cliff near Dodo Beach Bar.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who pack and those who throw everything into a bag and pray for the best. I'm definitely the latter. I used to revel in packing for holidays but now it's an absolute chore. Once I'm done unpacking and ready to change, I never find a single decent thing to wear. I either over-pack or under-pack, there's never a happy medium. I'm travelling to Croatia over the weekend and here's how I'm trying to nail the whole nothing-but-the-necessities packing game.

Clothes

This is the most important tip I learnt from watching countless Youtube videos. Instead of packing X top for Saturday and Y dress for Sunday, build outfits around the pieces that you plan to take. I laid out all the pieces on the bed and put-together multiple outfit options. I'm taking a Breton tee and denim shorts, which I'm going to be wearing with leather lace-up sandals. I'm also going to partner the shorts with a billowy embroidered blouse from French Connection. These casual outfits are great for trotting around the town or just chilling by the beach.

I imagine I’m going to be in a bathing suit for most part of the trip, but when I do need to put on something more fancy, this red dress is what I’ll be wearing. It's a beautiful broderie anglaise piece with cut-out shoulders. Another great option for cocktails or dinner is this bohemian-inspired dress from ASOS. Trimmed with playful pom-poms, this piece is fun and summery. I'm going to pair both these dresses with gold sandals that I bought in Santorini. Oh, I'm also taking a pair of heels – totally unnecessary but I might have a use for them. 

There's a slight chance of rain on one of the days, so some comfortable clothing is absolutely essential. This black jumper and jeans from Topshop are comfortable and provide multiple styling options. This embroidered denim dress from Zara is stylish, versatile and great for both day and night. Can you tell, I have a thing for dresses with cut-out shoulders? Apart from this, I'm packing a loose, wafty floral dress that I'm going to be wearing when we go island-hopping. 

Beauty

I don’t tend to take much by way of make-up, but I'm planning to film a video, so I'm packing a few necessary bits. Concealer is non-negotiable for me and the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger is highly pigmented and offers buildable coverage. You've heard me wax lyrical about the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light before, so I'm not going to go on about it. Glossier's Cloud Paint in Dusk and Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Formentera are my current cheek favourites and they are great for adding a touch of colour to the face. For lips, I'm taking a red and a nude lipstick. The Daniel Sandler Matte Lipstick in Casablanca is by far the best red lipstick I've ever tried. It instantly perks up the complexion and is super moisturising.

For skincare, I'm sticking to the basics. The Caroline Hirons x Pixi Double Cleanse is fuss-free and comes in a handy pot. It's divided into two sections - one is a solid oil cleansing balm that's perfect for removing makeup, and the other is a buttery cream that can be used to cleanse the skin. The Neutrogena Dry Touch Sunscreen is lightweight, grease-free and wears well under makeup. It's a necessary accompaniment to any beach bag. The other thing that always travels with me is the Avéne Eau Thermale Spray, it's soothing, hydrating and the perfect antidote to all skin aggressors.


Books

I'm always looking for a bit of inspiration, so this book by British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman, will be coming with me on this trip. Also, I'm throwing in a copy of the Porter magazine into my beach bag for some breezy poolside reading.



Phew, that was a long, waffly post. Have a great Easter weekend, everyone! 

 Pardon the dramatic title but that's the honest truth. Aurelia's Revitalise & Glow serum changed my skin for good. Last winter, my face was literally peeling off, and no product was working until I discovered this wonderful serum. At first, I thought it wasn’t doing much but I started to see a difference after using it regularly in my nightly regime. My skin wasn’t flaking any more and it looked a lot calmer. 

With continued use, my skin looked brighter, more radiant and less angry. It worked so well for me that I used it up in just three months. And once I ran out of it, I realised how much I missed using it in my routine.  Though the Kypris Antioxidant Dew comes close, it doesn’t quite match up to the brilliance of this one. I’m currently working my way through the third bottle and my skin has never looked more happy!


Enriched with BioOrganic botanicals such as baobab, hibiscus and vitamin E, this lightweight serum tackles all manner of skin problems from dehydration to elasticity and first signs of ageing. It has a beautiful silken texture, which glides onto the face and sinks in instantly. After every use, it leaves my skin feeling very pampered, soft, and hydrated.  It has a lovely fresh scent and is free from nasties like silicones, parabens, and mineral oils. Though it's on the pricey end of the spectrum, I think it's quite possibly the most transformative product I've ever tried.


I’m fixated with the premise that hydrated skin is healthy skin, so I’ve rounded up my favourite hydrators that soothe, nourish and brighten the skin while imparting a dewy (never oily) glow.

I love everything about the Kypris range, from the beautiful packaging to the thoughtfully made products. The Kypris Antioxidant Dew is a great, lightweight serum that leaves the skin feeling cosseted and smooth. I’ve been using it for over four months now and my skin has never looked more even and balanced. This milky serum boosts moisture levels and keeps my skin hydrated throughout the day. Packed with 26 active natural ingredients, this has become a potent layering option in my skincare wardrobe.
Another brilliant offering from Kypris is the Moonlight Catalyst. It’s a mild retinol alternative with pumpkin and peach enzymes to resurface skin. I typically reach for this on days when my skin feels a bit sallow and dull. I’ve used this a little longer than the Antioxidant Dew and I’ve seen a vast improvement in the texture of my skin. I have milia on my cheeks and this has helped to keep those pesky things at bay.

My current favourite moisturiser is the simple and unfussy January Labs Moisture Balancing Lotion. Formulated without preservatives, parabens or fragrances, this moisturiser is designed to hydrate, and restore the skin's natural protective barrier. It’s wonderfully light, leaves the skin soft and I like that it comes in a handy tube. It has a slightly runny consistency but sinks in swiftly without leaving a greasy layer behind. I mix it with the Becca Backlight Priming Filter to add a veil of hydration and glow to the face.
Another hydrator in my current rotation is the Glossier Priming Moisturiser. The texture of this one is almost soft and pillowy, which makes it an absolute delight to use. It’s hydrating without sitting too heavily on the skin. Packed with skin-benefiting ingredients like hyaluronic acid, mushroom extract and vitamins A, C, and E, this one preps and primes skin perfectly for foundation application.

Glossier’s Moisturising Moon Mask has fast become the star of my skincare routine. I crack this one out at least twice a week; I use it as an overnight mask, or layer it over a serum as a night cream if my skin is feeling particularly dry. It has a light, cloudy consistency that feels amazing on skin. I’ve been using it consistently for a few months now, and it always leaves my skin feeling plump and radiant. This is such a good all-around performer.
Glossier products in box shipped to uk
I've been eager to get my hands on Glossier's covetable offering ever since their launch in 2014. So when I got to know a friend from US was visiting India and another friend from India was travelling back to the UK, I jumped at the opportunity and ordered some goodies. There was a lot of correspondence and co-ordinating involved and I received the products after waiting for three months! If only I had discovered MyMallBox any sooner, I wouldn't have gone through all this trouble.

MyMallBox is a mail forwarding service based in the tax-free state of Delaware. Once you sign up to their website, they assign you a US postal address (a suite number that is unique to you), which you can use when shopping from international websites. When they approached me to test their service, I was a little sceptical because I've heard horror stories of lost packages, huge shipping costs and inefficacious customer service. However, in the name of experimentation, I decided to place an order from Glossier.



 HOW TO ORDER FROM GLOSSIER

1) Once you add the products to the basket, enter the address assigned to you by MMB in the shipping details. Don’t forget to include the suite number.
2) For the billing details, I entered my UK address and left the State and Zip Code slots blank.
3) I filled in my UK phone number for the billing address.
4) I used a 20% discount code from Tamira Jarrel, so my order came up to $64. 
5) Glossier only accept credit cards and your order will be declined if you use a debit card.
6) I placed the order on March 9th and the package reached MMB’s warehouse on March 16th.  Glossier provide tracking service, so there’s very little chance of your package getting lost.
7) Once the package reached the warehouse, MMB sent me a mail notifying that it was ready to be shipped. If you have multiple packages, you can ask them to consolidate it or repack it into a smaller box for free. This is a great way to save on shipping costs.
8) The shipping charges are based on the weight and dimensions of the package. My package weighed 1.50 lbs and the dimensions are 8.00 x 3.00 x 10.00
9) There are three shipping options to choose from - USPS ePACKET is the most cost effective one, but there’s no tracking provided. USPS Airmail is still inexpensive but comes with limited tracking. I opted for DHL Express - it's slightly expensive but they deliver in 3-5 working days. I paid 35$ through Paypal. (In total I spent 64 + 35 = $99)
10) I received a confirmation mail with a tracking link. They shipped the package on March 20th and I received it on the 22nd.  Right from placing an order to it being delivered, it took 13 days. 13 DAYS! - That’s incredibly quick considering how long some UK retailers take to dispatch items.
11) I was dreading the custom charges as any goods imported into the UK over the value of £15 are liable to import VAT. Thankfully I didn't have to pay any. 

Glossier products in box shipped to ukGlossier products in box shipped to uk
The whole process is fairly straightforward and hassle free. However, I must mention that not all websites ship to MMB – Sephora didn’t let me check out. Also, there was a glitch when processing my order and I had to wait a whole weekend before getting it sorted. Though I got a prompt reply from the customer care, I felt the response was very curt and didn't fully answer my query. I'm definitely nit-picking here, but apart from these minor gripes, I'm very pleased with their service. They keep you informed every step of the way and the best part is there are no hidden costs.

MMB STORE CREDIT:  If you are looking to place an order from Glossier or any other US retailer, you can use this MMB reference link to sign up for a $5 account credit. 

GLOSSIER STORE CREDIT: I also have a $10 store credit from Glossier, all you have to do is follow my husband's Instagram account and leave your Instagram & Email Id in the comments section below and I'll mail it to you. 

In partnership with MyMallBox. 
Somebody once told me that if you want to achieve something, you have to put it out there into the universe. And I’m doing precisely that with this rather adventurous endeavour. I’ve been thinking about it for years and I’ve only just found the courage to do it. I’m doing this for two reasons - one is because I love talking about beauty and two being that there are very few brown, Asian women in the YouTube space. 

Also, most importantly, I’m doing this in the spirit of acceptance of self. Filming a video barefaced for the whole world to see is disproportionately scary, but also equally liberating. I wanted to keep the video as real as possible, so I’ve done a barely-there makeup look that’s been my go-to for years. I’ve used a mix of old favourites and some new discoveries – all listed in the description box. It’s been a rather cathartic experience and I hope you enjoy the quick three-minute video that’s taken me over 24 hours to film, edit and upload.

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