Friday, 12 June 2015

Lolita Blog Carnival: Favourite Taobao Shops and Pieces

It's been so long since I've done a Lolita Blog Carnival topic so I decided to kick my butt into action and get this week's done! This week's topic is 'Favourite Taobao Shops and Pieces'! A topic I am well versed in and passionate about.


HMHM has been one of my favourite Taobao brands since I first discovered Taobao, yet I own nothing by them yet! That would've been a good entry for last week's topic, 'Favourite Brand You Own Nothing From'! Their items look so high quality and as such, their prices are a little more expensive than the cheaper Taobao Lolita brands (although still not as expensive as brand obviously!) but I am 110% sure you get what you pay for with HMHM.

I have wanted this blouse for a while now. It'd be so good for sneaking in gold elements into any darker outfit! It also comes in white, I'd actually love to own both colours haha!

Again, I've wanted this velvet bolero for a while now! The bolero comes in a multitude of colours.

This skirt is absolutely gorgeous as well! HMHM is very detail and construction orientated, rather than being print-orientated. I think that is what always pulls me to these brands, it's the same with Atelier Pierrot and Atelier Boz. There's just something about a beautifully constructed skirt or JSK that makes it timeless and better than a print in my opinion.

Surface Spell

I own a blouse from Surface Spell and it is lovely. Surface Spell are again, very high quality and detail/construction orientated.

This dress is just absolutely beautiful. The pattern on the bodice is embroidered and it is the perfect combination of Lolita and Dolly Kei for me. I love the medieval inspiration and tassel belt! Just to die for *0*

This dress reminds me very much of Antique Beast, Excentrique and general Old School Gothic Lolita vibes. It's great to see a slightly Ero-inspired Gothic Lolita dress nowadays, I love the belt!

Classical Puppets

Classical Puppets is well known for their petticoats, and indeed I have owned two bell-shaped CP pettis since I started getting into Lolita fashion. I knew they were some of the best quality and inexpensive petticoats around at the time so I wouldn't settle for anything less to start me out. Nowadays they have some gorgeous ranges in Lolita dresses and skirts, as well as gorgeous blouses and a lovely collection of unique shoes.

They do a gorgeous bustle back petticoat for Victorian and Steampunk inspired outfits! I think that's a very unique and lucrative idea, as they are accessible to buy from (either using a shopping service or a reseller like Qutieland) and inexpensive compared to speciality shops like period and Steampunk stores.

This bustier is to die for and reminds me of the street snaps of Gothic Lolita and Japanese Goth girls coming home from events like Tokyo Dark Castle and Tokyo Decadance.

I think I'm really into the old school Goth vibe at the moment! It has just been awakened through this post~

This skirt has the old school Gothic Lolita vibe to it but it's also very Dolly Kei-style. I think a all-over brocade or damask pattern is timeless in Gothic Lolita and Dolly Kei fashion!

Mu Fish

I've bought from Mu Fish before and they have an awesome selection of printed tights, socks and general accessories and jewellery for Lolita (as well as cosplay) outfits. I don't condone their Grimoire replicas but they do have original printed tights as well, which I hope is the direction they're going in! I have a pair of their original printed tights and always get compliments on them! They've also started doing embroidered handbags for Gothic Lolita which look absolutely gorgeous (see below). I'd love to get my hands on one after my trip to Japan.

This is the gorgeous Rose Cross bag they have made recently. It looks really roomy, a much better alternative to all these cutely shaped yet impossibly impractical bags you see in Lolita.

They also do a matching beret, so cute! *0*

Mu Fish also do the cheapest ball-jointed doll tights I've seen. I have a pair and they're thick, high quality and very cute. I prefer the white BJD tights to flesh coloured ones personally, but they do sell both colours!

Cici Work

Cici Work have some of the best Lolita accessories I've seen for amazing prices. They're all handmade and whenever I've bought from them, they've sent me free gifts and in terms of the deer headdress I bought from them, they sent me extra spare sprigs of moss and glue just in case. Their items are gorgeous quality and quite unique so prepare for a spam of beautiful headwear!

This rose corsage headband is very beautiful. It's a classic Gothic Lolita staple! The roses Cici uses are always beautiful quality, thick, soft velvet and in an array of colours too!

This rose veil headdress would be beautiful for a bridal inspired or Shiro Lolita coordinate! I love the chequered ribbon Cici uses in their items!

Sweet Jesus I need this ram horn headdress so badly *0* I don't even know what I'd wear it with, or what theme I'd go for, or even if it'd suit me but I don't care! This is a new item since I last browsed! It also comes in white too!

It's hard to find a good witch hat for Lolita coordinates without it being tacky or costumey looking. This hat is absolutely gorgeous and you can pick from black, red or blue ribbon lacing.

I saw these rose crown hair clips around a while before I bought one - off the top of my head (derp), I saw Hello Batty wearing one. You can actually change the rose inside the crown - I thought the silver crown had broke but the top part actually pops on and off. I'm sure last time I checked you could just purchase the roses separately from Cici so you can change the rose, rather than having the crown 10 times with different roses. The crown has two hair clips on it but Cici also includes a high quality double faced satin ribbon if you like the headdress look. I own these in black and red.

This Classic Lolita headdress is absolutely gorgeous! The colours are so soft and muted. The lace Cici uses is very high quality. I also love the organza ribbon used! Okay, this post is sounding like it's sponsored by Cici Works haha, but I swear it's not! I just love her stuff, it's inexpensive, unique, beautifully handmade and it's always nice to support handmade artists.

So there you have my favourite Taobao brands and pieces! I haven't bought clothes or accessories from Taobao for such a long time as I'm saving for my Japan trip, but I swear once I have lots more pretty Lolita clothes from Japan, I will do a shopping spree of cute and unique accessories to take my outfits to the next level.

Lolita Blog Carnival is a group where you vote on and write about a Lolita topic once a week! Here's the other bloggers who participated this week!

Alice in Lolitaland

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Review: Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum

Today I thought I'd do a review on Clinique's Smart Custom Repair Serum, or just 'Smart Serum' for short. When this was first launched there was a lot of advertising and promotion for it to cause lots of hype. Let's see if it was justified, shall we?

Brand: Clinique
Name: Smart Custom Repair Serum
Price: £48 for 30ml, £68 for 50ml or £110 for 100ml
Where to buy: Clinique online, Boots and Debenhams counters worldwide.

The tagline for this product is 'A serum that is smart enough to understand your skin's past, and changes its future.' Urgh, it's sooo cheesy and American. It has a decade of research and patented technology in it. How it works is it responds to your skin's specific needs - it targets uneven skin tone and pigmentation, lines and wrinkles, firming and radiance. Whichever of these benefits that your skin needs, it responds to and helps repair. It has this technology in it that reads your skin's distress signals and concentrates the ingredients and effects on the areas of your skin that needs help. Once the problems have been dealt with, it just continues to keep the problems at bay and moisturises. I know, I know, it sounds, and probably is a lot of psuedo-science. The only thing I know enough to talk about is responding to your skin's distress signals - for example, your skin cells can get damaged and form free radicals, which cause a chain reaction in breaking down your skin cells and causes visible signs of ageing. What helps fight free radicals is antioxidants, so if you apply antioxidants to your skin, it can stop free radicals in their tracks.

So I can understand that the serum responds to your skin's distress signals if it is sagging (collagen and elasticity breaking down), radiance (dull and possibly flaky skin, and the serum contains salicylic acid so it gently exfoliates daily to expose new, fresh skin), lines and wrinkles (fills in the lines and helps stop free radicals) and uneven skin tone and pigmentation marks (breaks down the excess melanin to lighten marks). It contains part of the complex that Clinique's Even Better Serum has in it, which breaks down the excess melanin and dissipates it like dust, so it basically has lots of active ingredients to fight skin problems. However, the serum is very pricey to me. Clinique argues that it does the work of multiple serums and works out cheaper than if you were to buy individual serums for each problem (from Clinique, might I add) so the price is justified, but not to me.
I first got a sample of Clinique's Smart Serum, then I got a full sized one (30ml) as a gift.

Both packagings are similar. They are metallic silver with black writing, the Clinique logo and product name. The full sized product has a cap and pump. I guess it looks scientific and clinical, Clinique's brand image but it just looks 'meh' to me.
The serum is a light pinkish colour and slightly viscous like a regular serum. It spreads easily and absorbs quickly, and it does feel nice on the skin when absorbed; kind of powdery soft and hydrating.

30ml is supposed to last four weeks - you use two full pumps for your whole face and neck, twice a day morning and night. I didn't really keep tabs on how long it lasted me but I would definitely not pay £48 every four weeks. 50ml lasts six weeks apparently. Again, I would not pay £68 every six weeks! That works out at £612 every 54 weeks (a year and two weeks), or £550 if you buy the 100ml (would last a year and 8 weeks if 100ml lasts twelve weeks)! 

As far as the benefits of the serum goes, I don't have any lines and wrinkles just yet, so I can assume the serum didn't 'activate' for that problem. Again, I don't really have issues with uneven skin tone or pigmentation so I can't comment there. The only thing I can think of that I'd have liked to see some improvement on is radiance, but I honestly can't say I felt my skin was more radiant after using the product for four weeks. It felt a little softer but not much extra radiance. I wanted to blind people with my radiance, goddamnit! I can't believe that my skin is as radiant as it could be, but I do have a good skincare regime that keeps my skin exfoliated and hydrated. Perhaps all the good reviews this serum has been given is because if you don't do much with your skin to begin with, you notice the effects more.

Clinique is fragrance free so I didn't notice any fragrance coming from the serum.
I didn't see much improvement with my skin after using this serum for four weeks. It was a little softer but meh. I'm kind of disappointed, I definitely wouldn't pay full price to keep using this serum as I didn't see any long lasting effects and it's very expensive to me. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Belfast MCM Comic Con

Hello everyone! I'm so sorry I haven't blogged in a while! Today will be an update on what I've been doing these past few months. I haven't blogged so much because I've been pretty busy recently. I've done a lot more events and conventions than previous years so as soon as one is finished, I have only a couple of weeks to prepare until the next one! I've also been spending time selling clothes and having a clearout to help me save up for Japan, and spending more time learning Japanese too! So between my store and general obsessing over Japan, I forgot to blog! But I'll try to blog more now!

At the beginning of May, I went to Belfast MCM in Northern Ireland. This was the furthest event I've been to with my shop, and I'm very pleased to say it went great. I flew to Ireland as it was quicker and surprisingly cheaper than taking a coach. I had to take all my stock and personal belongings on the plane which was a little worrying! But it all turned out alright in the end. I considered it a kind of test run to Japan as that'll be the next time I'm on a plane, although it should be more relaxing as my suitcase will be pretty much empty (in anticipation for all the stuff I'll buy!) and I won't have to worry about my stock.

Actually that reminds me - I booked my flights to Japan the other week! I am there from 29th December to 13th January. I'll write a blog post on how to try and get the best deals on airfare as there is quite a bit to cover. I managed to time my bookings just right, as the prices dropped £1 the day after, then two weeks later they have rose by £100!

Here is my table at Belfast MCM. MCM always gives you a backing table, and my fabric was too short so it looks a little strange! It's also hard to fill a 4ft long table with the kind of items I sell, as it can be too long to reach sometimes.

I have added new items into my stock - leather pentagram garters! They're quite popular. I sell black ones as well as pink and white; black are the most popular. All my garters are elasticated at the back, and are adjustable in length too so many people of all sizes can wear them.

I also sell heart ring garters now to compliment my heart ring chokers! I sell these in black, white, pink and lilac. Again, black is most popular!

A selection of brooches on my stall.

Rings on my stall.

More bracelets and wristbands.

I had a great time at Belfast MCM and met some lovely new people. I got invited out for a meal and cocktails by two lovely girls and a guy, Rachel, Hayley and James, all from Scotland. They were so kind to invite me as I was on my own, and it can get a little lonely. It's also hard to pick where to eat as you sometimes feel that a restaurant is a bit 'fancy' for just yourself.

On the 22nd May I went to London for The Great British Tattoo Show at Alexandra's Palace. I stayed with my aunt in Wood Green, very close to Alexandra Palace. The event was over two days, 23rd-2th May. I had a great time and met some awesome people with awesome tattoos.
Here is my table at The Great British Tattoo Show. I sold t-shirts for my boyfriend. They're a collaboration between his brand, Cryptid Clothing, and the renowned tattoo artist and illustrator Adam Starfish Dutton.

Now I am debating whether to go to The York International Tattoo Convention in June, or just stick to my next planned event, Hyper Japan in July. It seems a lot of the hostels are booked up for York already!

I hope you enjoyed this little update and I promise you I will blog again soon! I'm ill at the moment (con flu D:) so I don't have much else to do.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion

Today I'll review the last step in Clinique's 3 Step Skincare System, their ultra-famous Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion. This is a light, basic moisturiser that is suitable for very dry to dry combination skin. There is also an oil-free gel version available, Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel, for oily combination to very oily skin, or if you require oil-free skincare for any reason.

Brand: Clinique
Name: Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion (DDML)
Price: £17.50 for a 50ml tube or bottle, £29 for a 125ml bottle with a cap or £30 for a 125ml bottle with a pump.
Where to buy: Clinique counters worldwide, Clinique online (UK and US site), Boots

This light moisturiser is very basic in benefits, but not ingredients. It contains purified water and sesame oil to mimic the oil and water balance of the skin. It doubles the amount of moisture your skin can hold immediately after applying and after 8 weeks of using it twice daily it strengthens the skin's moisture barrier by 54%.
All of Clinique's 3 Step Skincare System products have clear packaging so you can see the product inside the bottle. DDML comes in either 50ml or 125ml, in a squeezy tube or plastic bottle. I prefer the squeezy tube packagings because you can control the amount of product you squeeze out and once the product starts to run out, you can cut the tube open to get the rest out with a spatula or cotton bud.
The moisturiser is a light yellow in colour, light in texture and feel, and absorbs quickly, easily and with no greasy residue or film. It has no scent or sun protection, it is very basic.

Clinique recommends you use this moisturiser after cleansing with the Liquid Facial Soap and exfoliating with the Clarifying Lotion. Once your skin has been thoroughly cleansed and exfoliated, there are no dead skin cells or dirt stopping the moisturiser (or any moisturiser) from absorbing and doing its job to the fullest. You then apply any eye creams, serums or 'treatment' moisturisers, which are moisturisers with other benefits/ingredients other than basic hydration, such as anti-ageing, anti-redness, brightening, etc.

Clinique like to show a demonstration where they cleanse and exfoliate one hand with the aforementioned products, then apply DDML. Then on the next hand, they apply DDML on its own. As you rub the hand that has nothing but DDML on, they will comment on the fact it turns a bit whitish as it's being rubbed in, and feels like it's just sitting on top of your skin. They say it is because the dirt and dead skin cells have not been removed, preventing the moisturiser from absorbing properly; however, they also insinuate that this happens if you don't use the Liquid Facial Soap and Clarifying Lotion with DDML, because obviously you should buy the whole set for maximum effectiveness and profit. The same way shampoo and bottles say 'For best results, follow with [same brand] conditioner'.

However, I have used this product with the other 3 Step products, with other facial cleansers and BHA toners, and even with just a facial cleanser before, then the rest of my skincare (no BHA toner). The moisturiser still absorbs fully and doesn't feel like it's sitting on top of the skin and it doesn't usually turn white as it's been rubbed in unless I've waited a little after cleansing and exfoliating. My skin actually sucks this up very quickly, and after applying, my face feels almost matte, like I haven't applied any moisturiser. According to Clinique consultants, this is apparently a good thing because this preps your skin to better absorb the rest of your skincare products.
Just to recap the rather bulky application text above - Clinique would obviously like you to use DDML with the other 3 Step products but the moisturiser works just as effectively and absorbs like normal after using other branded facial cleansers and BHA toners. It's a fine basic moisturiser and considered a cult classic by many; I think one is sold every 7 seconds or something like that, and the factories never stop producing DDML all day and night. However, for me, it's just a basic moisturiser and I would not pay that price for a moisturiser that doesn't brighten skin, ward off ageing or contain any ingredients beneficial to my personal skin type and goal. I would rather spend the money on a proper moisturiser that both hydrates and does the above mentioned, so this product gets 3 out of 5 stars from me.