luxury · beauty

Review: Roja Parfums Gulf Collection Perfumes

One of my friends – a stylish globetrotter with impeccable taste – encouraged me to try some luxurious perfumes that she adores. As a self-professed perfume fanatic, and a lover of all things luxury, I was up to the challenge. I was excited to try something new!

The perfumer she recommended, Roja Parfums, has sumptuous scents that are highly concentrated and intoxicating. I purchased a sample set from Lucky Scent, featuring a collection of fragrances inspired by the aromas of the Gulf region. The Gulf Collection has six scents, each named after a different Middle Eastern/Gulf-area country: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, and United Arab Emirates. The scents all contain oud and are described as orientals due to their spicy aroma.


My samples from Lucky Scent

You can feel free to click on the country names above to get the scent profiles for each of the fragrances, because listing out all of notes would take FOREVER! My personal favorite was the Kingdom of Bahrain: it has citrusy top notes (including lemon and lime) but a vanilla and leather base note that are warm, sensual and erotic. I have to apply carefully during the daytime, since the scent is sexy and tends to be better suited for the evening.


Photo of The Kingdom of Bahrain, from the Roja Parfums website

These are among some of the priciest perfumes on the market, costing more than $500 for a 50mL bottle. But the smaller atomizers are more affordable, at approximately $80 each. The fragrances are concentrated enough that even a small amount should last for quite some time. You definitely get value for your money!

Any other perfume addicts out there? Let me know about some of your favorite brands in the comments below!

beauty · luxury

Glass Skin Challenge – Updates

So I’m 15 days into my Glass Skin challenge, and yes, I have updates.


(from Pinterest, courtesy of Getty Images)

For starters, keeping up with the routine is MUCH easier than I anticipated. I did, however, make a few modifications.

For Step 6: Serum/Booster/Ampoule, I added a benzoyl peroxide cream along with my serums. I’m currently bouncing between Oxy Maximum Action Spot Treatment and Mary Kay’s Clearproof Acne Treatment Gel. I apply both in a thin layer all over my face, right after I apply my Niacinamide but before I apply the Buffet serum. I apply the benzoyl peroxide cream every time I cleanse (morning and night).

I’ve done the mask consistently two times per week, and I’ve noticed that my skin really enjoys the extra moisture. Also, I decided to forgo the Mary Kay Firming Eye Cream. Instead, I’ve been using Mary Kay Indulge Soothing Eye Gel, with a layer of The Body Shop’s Smoothing Night Cream on top on the eye area only.

I’m saving the photos for the end of the month, but let me just say, I’ve been LOVING the results so far! I’m looking radiant and even, and I’ve been skipping foundation on most days. When I do decide to use foundation, I need so little of it. I’m delighted with how things are going!




Review: Life of a Bombshell Mini-Haul

I bought some Life of a Bombshell products several months ago but never got around to doing this review. Between work, travel and the bazillion other reviews I did, I missed reviewing these items.

But now I’m back, and I’m ready to talk about them!

I’ve reviewed Life of a Bombshell before in this post. The gorgeous rose gold brushes are still holding up well (though I broke the handle on one of them – clearly *my* issue, and not anything wrong with the brand itself). I’m a fan of the brand because it’s a small, woman-owned company.

I purchased three of the liquid matte lipsticks, in Passion, Purpose and Master Plan, as well as the High Maintenance eyeshadow palette. I also order the creme sheen lipstick in Barbz, but I haven’t worn that one yet, so I won’t be reviewing it in this post (I’ll probably review it on Instagram in the next couple of days).

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So, let’s talk about the liquid lipsticks first. These did have a matte finish but they were non-drying and applied smoothly. The colors were GORGEOUS, vibrant and long-lasting. Passion is an intense fuschia, Purpose is a lovely purple shade – not as dark as plum but not as light as orchid – and Master Plan is a rich, gingerbread hue. I often combined Passion and Purpose for a bright and eye-catching lip shade. At work, I reach for Master Plan when I want an easy neutral shade to wear.

Swatches (top to bottom: Master Plan, Passion, Purpose) without and with flash

Wearing a combination of Passion and Purpose

Now about the palette. I. LOVE. IT! The colors are beautiful and applied easily. The pigments are smooth and can be easily intensified for dramatic looks. I like that the palette combines shimmers and mattes, and, instead of having a strictly “rose hued” palette, the company wisely included a green shade for variety. Genius!


The only two things I wish is that the company named the shades and included a mirror in the lid. It would be a lot easier to describe the combination I used for my eyes if the shades were labeled (for easy reference). However, absent of shade names, I’ll do my best to describe what I’ve been rocking recently. I love using the matte tawny (top row, 2nd shade) as a transition color, oat (bottom row, 1st shade) on my brow bone, shimmery cerise (top row, 3rd shade) on my lid and the deepest shade – the soft raisin one (bottom row, 3rd shade)- in my crease for depth. It’s a soft, easy look that’s both polished and pretty.

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Swatches of the eyeshadow shades: the first 4 are the top row; the remaining shades are from the bottom row

The products are reasonably priced and perform well. I’ve been complimented on several of the looks I’ve created with the lip and eye shades. I highly recommend that you try them for yourself!


Can Deciem Turn Things Around?

During the month of February, one of my favorite skincare companies, Deciem (the company that offers The Ordinary products) experienced a lot of turmoil. The firing of the co-CEO, the subsequent resignation of the CFO, accusations of racism, as well as social media “meltdowns” from the founder, Brandon Truaxe, have loyal fans of the company wondering, “Will Deciem survive?”

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I’ll admit, I was confused over what was happening within the brand. Generally, major changes in leadership – when there was no indication that there were any existing problems – is ominous. It appears that the company is going through some sort of growing pains: astronomical success and growth seems to be testing the professional relationships of the executive leadership within the company. I hope that Deciem can overcome these challenges: they offer wonderful products at superb prices. They are truly democratizing high-quality skincare, , and the last thing I want to see is a company like this crumble under the pressure.

You can read more about Deciem’s trials here. Fingers crossed for them: I hope that they can work through this!


beauty · luxury

March Beauty Challenge: Glass Skin

I don’t spend a lot of time talking about my skin care routine on this blog because, well, there’s a lot more to life than beauty stuff. But I recently saw a post about a woman that had “glass skin”: skin so flawless that it looked shiny and smooth like glass. And, I was intrigued by what could create such a perfect, poreless complexion. After reading the post and comparing the “glass skin” routine to the Korean 10 step product routine, I decided that I would do a “glass skin” challenge during the month of March.

My skin is combination and can be sensitive at times. This routine will (hopefully!) help nourish my post-winter complexion and give me the kind of skin that looks perfect without makeup.


The goal is to look as gorgeous as Kezia by the end of the month (photo courtesy of D’Journae)

The ten steps as outlined by Self magazine are as follows, and the products I’ll be using for each step are also listed:

  • Oil cleanser (to remove makeup): food grade coconut oil
  • Foam cleanser: Mary Kay 3-in-1 Cleanser (for combination/oily skin)
  • Exfoliant (advised for 1 – 3 times week use): Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel for Sensitive Skin (I’ll use this one daily, as it’s gentle)
  • Toner: Caudalie Grape Water
  • Essence: SCINIC First Treatment Essence
  • Serum/booster/ampoule: The Ordinary Niacinamide and “Buffet” serums, Mary Kay Timewise Night Solution
  • Mask (1 – 2 times per week): Mary Kay Moisture Renewing Gel Mask
  • Eye cream: Mary Kay Firming Eye Cream
  • Face cream: Mary Kay Age Fighting Moisturizer (for combination/oily skin)
  • SPF: Mary Kay Timewise Day Solution

Whew, so many products! I currently use anywhere from 4-7 products per cleansing session, but adding these additional products will be new for me. To be fair, some of these will only be used once or twice a week, or only once a day, so, while the list looks long, not every product will be used twice a day.




Review: Beauty Benefits Haul

It took me longer than I anticipated to write this review, for two reasons:

1) I bought a bunch of products, so it took time to try them all; and

2) I was underwhelmed each time I tried a product, so I didn’t know if I needed to even bother writing about them.

But, since I bought the products, and I know that some of you may enjoy reading about inexpensive beauty hauls, I figured, why not write about it?

Initial excitement about the products soon turned to apathy LOL

I enjoy using super-luxurious products that deliver BIG on their promises. But I’m also intrigued by bargain brands. I know, for a fact, that many exclusive brands use the same manufacturers as the companies that can be found in a local drugstore. So well-made products can be had at any price point.

However, Beauty Benefits is not a maker of those products. I overwhelmingly disliked the brand but there were a few items that I enjoyed and will use until they are used up.

Here’s what you need to know about Beauty Benefits:

  • The products are CHEAP.  Each product cost $1 at a local Dollar Tree store.
  • The cost correlates to the quality. That isn’t the case for all cheap makeup, but for this brand, it applies. Overall, they don’t apply that well and the textures are subpar.
  • The powder products that should be matte actually have quite a bit of reflective ingredients in them, so you get a little unintended shimmer. That may be find for eyeshadow or blush, but foundation powders shouldn’t sparkle on your face.

Let’s talk for a moment, beloveds. I don’t expect miracles from cheap makeup. Low investment = low expectations. But note that these were the deepest “foundation powders” offered by Beauty Benefits. The lighter shade, Tawny, isn’t so bad: it’s neutral and could work as a setting powder on my complexion. But the deeper shade, Carob? #trash I’ve not seen such a gray foundation shade in years. It makes a good contour color, since it wouldn’t match any living person’s complexion. And WHY do these companies insist on adding sparkles to pressed powders for the face? It doesn’t look dewy: it looks cheesy. Oh well: it was $1 per powder #yougetwhatyoupayfor #cheapmakeup #bargainbeauty #thebronzebutterfly #thebronzedbutterfly #bronzebutterfli

A post shared by Missy Delano (@bronzebutterfli) on

That moment when your pressed powder is shimmery and you have to speak up about it

  • The shades aren’t labeled on the products, so once you throw away the packaging, you won’t have any way to recall the name of the shade. I used some stickers to keep them straight, but that’s a bit much for such an inexpensive product: would it really have hurt the manufacturer to put the shade names on the actual product, instead of just on the exterior package?

The blushes before I opened the packages

Blush swatches (with color details in the caption)


  • The eye products are surprisingly good. I really enjoyed the eyeliner (the applicator brush isn’t very thin, but the product applies smoothly, albeit with a touch of shimmer. I also liked the lengthening mascara, though it doesn’t “length”. It did a good job of defining the lashes without clumping. Avoid the volumizing mascara: it doesn’t have an interior “rim” to wipe excess product off of the wand before applying to your lashes. You’ll end up with a ton of mascara on your wand EVERY. TIME.
  • I also liked the lip liner. It applied smoothly and is VERY pigmented. I’d purchase it again.
  • I also enjoyed the lip glosses. Shiny, not too sticky, easy to remove (which also means they need frequent reapplications, but that is normal for lip gloss), and doesn’t stain the skin.

With and without flash. (Top to bottom) Lip liner in Red, lip gloss in Terra, Rouge (yes, rouge is basically clear), Geranium, Berry and Ballet

  • While I disliked the brand overall, these actually make really good “intro to makeup” products for young girls. These are great to gift to your daughter, niece or goddaughter, when they want to play in makeup but aren’t responsible enough for the more luxurious stuff.

So, while I disliked the powder products from Beauty Benefits, the liquid liner, mascara, lip liner and lip gloss were okay. And since each product was only $1, I’m not mad at this minimal investment!

Do you all enjoy any bargain beauty brands? Let me know all about them in the comments below!

beauty · luxury

Review: The Ordinary’s Niacinamide + Zinc Formula

A few months ago, I reviewed some other products by The Ordinary, such as the squalane oil and the argireline solution. I was overwhelmingly satisfied with these products so I wanted to post my thoughts on another one of The Ordinary’s offerings.

The Niacinamide + Zinc solution is designed to treat and prevent skin blemishes, especially those associated with acne. According to the Deciem website,  “Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is indicated to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. A high 10% concentration of this vitamin is supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance visible aspects of sebum activity. ”

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As an acne-prone girl with combination skin, any product designed to treat blemishes and redude the apperaance of oiliness is worth a try, in my opinion. So I started using the solution. The directions for use are as follows:

“Apply to entire face morning and evening before heavier creams.”

I followed the directions to the letter, using the solution before my heavier products. It’s lightweight and dries down without any sticky residue, but you must carefully rub it in, otherwise you will have traces of white product on your skin. Overall, the absorption is moderately good – it doesn’t soak in rapidly but retains moisture on the skin’s surface long enough for you to ensure that you’ve rubbed in the product before it dries completely.  The product has no odor and caused no reaction with any of my other products.

I noticed that my skin looks GREAT with this product included in my routine! It seems to really assist my benzoyl peroxide (BP) in preventing acne breakouts. Sometimes, I skip my BP completely and just use the solution as my acne fighter. I love the results!

As a full disclaimer, Deciem recommends that this product NOT be layered with vitamin C products (the niacinamide affects the integrity of vitamin C). But otherwise, this can be used with most other products.

After using this for months, I can confidently say that the Niacinamide + Zinc Solution is a permanent fixture in my routine! It’s available at both Sephora as well as Deciem. The product is extremely affordable, at less than $6 per bottle. If you get a chance to try it, let me know how it works for you!