Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall Beauty Essentials {and a happy acne update!}

As the weather gets colder and dryer, it is necessary for me to adapt my beauty routine to the fall. This year, I am looking forward to make more daring choices when it comes to make-up. As to skincare, my priority is to hydrate, nourish and maintain the healthy look of my skin. 

Because, dears, my skin has never looked better! Remember those pesky acne problems I always talked about? They're gone!

I've always envied women who wake up and do not need to spend thirty minutes in front of the mirror applying make-up in order to look presentable. Unfortunately, since my early teens, this was not a possibility for me, given my problematic, dry, acne-prone skin. Being a very feminine woman, I always felt bittersweet towards make-up and beauty, as I loved taking part in these rituals, but part of me wished they weren't so essential. Part of me wished I could go to the gym or the pool or even the supermarket without having to wear foundation, concealer, and powder or look scary. 

This summer, all of this changed. By some miracle, ten days into my trip to Lebanon, my skin became completely blemish-free, allowing me to not wear any make-up. And to think that two days before, I had consulted a dermatologist who prescribed me another round of Accutane. Luckily, I didn't have to think about how I would be allowed to take a six-month supply of the treatment through US Customs, as going through the treatment became completely unnecessary. 

I wish I knew what exactly caused that, if only to advise people who are struggling with acne, but I cannot say that I did something particularly healthy. I ate delicious Lebanese cuisine, hardly fat-free but probably organic and GMO-free, drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes much more than I do here. I cannot say it was the absence of pollution, but perhaps proximity to the sea? Iodine-filled air? Or... simply being happy and away from the stress of my daily life here? 

In any case, I am beyond happy to have this "new" blemish-free canvas, as it allows me to take even more pleasure in those delightful, quintessentially feminine beauty rituals. And at the risk of sounding superficial, I just love it when people tell me how much better my skin is, and how radiant I look! 

Here are the products that I have incorporated in my beauty routine for this fall.

1. MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Invisible Cover Foundation: As I said, I very rarely wear foundation now, but I use this long-time favourite to unify my complexion when needed. 

2. Rimmel London Glam Eyes Mascara: I change my mascara every three months, and the packaging on this one just seduced me completely. I'm a sucker for pink! 

3. ROUGE COCO HYDRATING CREME Lip Color Limited Edition: My lips get extremely dry in the fall, so I make sure to wear a hydrating lipstick close to my natural colour. 

4. Guerlain Khol for Eyes: This fall, I am determined to play up my eyes and make a tribute to my Lebanese roots by wearing black kohl, for that Oriental temptress look. 

5. Aura Cacia 100% Pure Essential Oil Calming Lavender: I've spoken many times about using lavender essential oil on my skin to treat acne and calm redness. I avoid using it undiluted during the warmer months on a daily basis, but in the fall I apply it at night to wake up with a calmed, brightened and unified complexion. I also use it in bubble baths, on burns and scrapes, and my oil diffuser.

6. Boots Botanics Organic Super Balm: This was a recent discovery from Target, and I love that it is not only very affordable, but makes my skin extremely soft (and not oily). I apply it at night, usually, but sometimes in the morning, when I feel that my skin is in need of a little more hydration. 

7. essie® Nail Color - After School Boy Blazer (0.46 oz): I know, I've been raving for ages about how I only wear red nail polish, and my Fifty Shades of Red, but this dark navy blue is the colour that you'll always see on my nails this fall. 

8. Burt's Bees Beeswax Hand Creme Almond: My hands get terribly dry in cold weather, and it doesn't help that I'm terribly OCD with dishwashing and need to wash everything meticulously in boiling water (I wish there were good dishwashers in this country, that wouldn't leave white residues on half-cleaned utensils... And faster trains. And the metric system while we're at it. Yeah, keep dreaming). So I use a thick hand cream that contains beeswax and slip on cotton glove.

9. L'Occitane 'Aromachologie' Repairing Mask: This summer, in Lebanon, I got a keratin treatment that took my hair from dry and damaged to healthy and shiny. It was extremely practical as I did not have the time to blow-dry my hair after spending the day at the beach all the time for it to look acceptable. In order to maintain this healthy appearance, I keep using sulfate-free shampoo and regularly apply a repairing mask. 

10. Spa WisdomTM Africa Shea Butter & Sesame Body Balm: Again, to avoid the problem of dry, flaky skin, that also bleeds profusely - I'm almost exaggerating - when I shave, I use the thickest, most hydrating balm available. Shea butter also helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks, which is good since I am also shedding off the pounds! 

11. Tresemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo: I have noticed that my hair is more oily now that, after the keratin treatment, it is no longer wavy. I try however to shampoo it every other day so not to fade my colour. This dry shampoo allows me to add volume at the roots. 

12. Dr. Bronner's Hemp Pure-Castile Soap Peppermint: I've used this soap for two years now, and in its many different scents (lavender, rose...). However, I find the tingling feel of a peppermint shower very invigorating on these cold mornings when you don't want to get out of your warm bed...



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Monday, September 15, 2014

Dessus-Dessous: Sultry Lingerie For A Small Price


When I lived in France, I loved going to Monoprix to hunt down stylish finds at small prices, which is in fact the favourite activity of the quintessentially chic Parisienne-on-a-budget. While I wait for a Monoprix to open on this side of the Atlantic, I enjoy shopping for inexpensive stylish clothes at Target. 
I like the idea of wearing sexy lingerie at all times (except for those ghastly five-days-a-month that every woman has to go through... #OurBurden #SoHardToBeUs #INeedAGlassOfRosé), so the affordability is a rather important factor. 
A few days ago, I had an utterly harrowing moment where I was stuck in rush-hour traffic on Connecticut Avenue (is it just me, or people don't know how to drive here? Every single expat' I know seems to agree). So after that, as a reward for not figuratively murdering anybody with a hail of French curse words, I treated myself to some chic, sexy and inexpensive lingerie at Target. Here are a few of my purchases: 



Of course, no matter how much I got my lingerie for, I take particular care for it by washing it by hand with warm water and mild soap, and letting it air-dry. 

Where do you get your lingerie from? What are your favourite colours and styles? Tell me in the comments below! 


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Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Week

 A few months back, my very good friend Kitty read me the tarot. This particular drawing was about my love life. Turns out, he is quite the expert, since the happy things he predicted would happen are currently happening! 

Lately, things have been far more tranquil since I returned from my hectic trip to Lebanon. However, I am now happy to be back home, refreshed and energetic, reunited with friends and with happy prospects to look forward to. I am taking things slowly, taking care of myself, rekindling with old habits and welcoming the new.

I've lost quite some weight while I was in Lebanon this summer, and to keep going, I am making sure I eat healthy yet delicious home-cooked meals. I baked frozen salmon fillets "en papillotte", a healthy and tasty method. 


Typical of me: instead of writing, I end up browsing real-estate (the latter is a gorgeous Dupont Circle town home) that I cannot afford... For now. Hey, it's good motivation, no?


There's nothing like a hot, fragrant bubble bath when the weather is cold. I love Lush bath bombs; the smell may be overpowering but I can get used to that.


A fall tradition for me is to pick up all the crochet projects I set aside for the warmer months. This is a throw blanket made out of a multitude of small squares that I create while watching Netflix. I have used this pattern many times in the past (as seen here, and here).  




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Monday, September 8, 2014

Reflections on love, chaos and dignity.

abusive relationship, gaslighting, abusive love, toxic love


Like every love story, this one starts with joy. This surprising, unexpected flutter of happiness at the thought and the oh-so-blessed sight of the loved one. You see life with rose-coloured glasses, no matter how chaotic it is. In spite of the warning signs, in spite of the fact that nothing, in this relationship, is normal, or remotely healthy. So what if we can’t be out in the open? you tell yourself. We don’t need to be public in order for our love to exist. The long-distance factor begins to insert itself in every phrase, every excuse. 

And little by little, you give up thing after thing, and you’re expected to keep your mouth shut like a nice little girl. When you don’t, everything becomes your fault. You’re the one who pushed her away because of your temper tantrums when, after a tantalisingly long wait, you realise she’s not coming to see you over the vacation. You’re the one who are making her fall out of love with you, because you’re this petulant, childish, despicable excuse for a human being. You’re the reason her mental health issues are worsening. You’re the reason why she’s no longer into women. 

And you don’t even have the courage to ask yourself what the fuck you are doing in this relationship that is non-existent except by name and is killing you little by little. You sink so deeply into depression that the only thing you look forward to is the daily rendezvous on GChat that she no longer wants, that, she says, are holding her hostage, are preventing her from sleeping, and that become shorter and shorter. You die a little each time you end the conversation with “I love you <3” and she responds, “Goodnight."

You lose your taste for life, yet still proclaim to your friends, who urge you to get out of this unhealthy situation, that true love is your raison d’être, and that they don’t know how it feels. That love means sacrifice, commitment. For the sake of which, you grow a pair and come out as a lesbian to your Middle-Eastern Catholic family. And when you tell her how, miraculously, it went well, she hints that it’s putting pressure on her to do the same, and she's not ready. She claims her Muslim parents are not homophobic (the good old “we have loooots of gay friends” excuse never gets old), which makes you wonder that the reason she’s not coming out to them may be because you’re not the one worthy of it. And the thought itself kills you. 

You live on a cocktail alcohol and sleeping pills that can barely afford you short hours of sleep where all is well like the first days, until you wake up to the grim, unappealing reality that everything’s a fucking mess. Your hair is falling out by the handful, your skin’s a fucking mess. And yet you fool yourself into believing that being in a relationship is better than being alone. Never mind the fact that you're lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely... 

When friends tell you the relationship is abusive, you storm off furiously. How can it be abusive? Abusive means a boyfriend who beats me. She’s my Love. I’m the bad seed who doesn’t deserve her. I’m the one who gets angry all the time. I’m the drama queen who can’t control her emotions. When she’s angry, you deserve the verbal lashing, and when she’s not, well, it is called constructive criticism and you should learn to take it… Why are you so sensitive? Jesus Christ, one really can't have a conversation with you! 

And then the blow happens. The break-up that, of course, you brought upon yourself by pushing her to her limits. It was not her fault, after all. You have too many insecurities that can be triggered, it’s not her job to avoid them. Even if you begged her not to do this one thing that is so dehumanising. Especially when other domains of your life are crumbling apart. You’re so complicated and dramatic. She’s always walking on eggs with you, for God’s sake. 
You beg. You send emails and emails and she responds with excuses citing her friends, whom you don’t know, whom she only told about you when problems appeared in the relationship. They all told her to end it. You overanalyse every word, every nuance. You wonder if this thread of hope that she gave you, saying she judged you harshly, means you have a slight, faint chance of getting her back. And part of you wonders if she’s loving this, seeing you making a spectacle of yourself, abandoning every shred of dignity to beg her not to leave you. 


And after many episodes of alternating joy and trauma, you pull the plug. Completely. It’s time to LIVE your own fucking life. 
Some time later, while you’re still trying to make sense of a life that feels amputated, you meet someone. Unexpectedly. And without even considering falling in love with this woman as deeply as you did before, you realise how, even as a friend, she treats you differently. Humanely, almost. And you realise that you should have never, ever settled for anything less than that. Because, as your very good, wise friend who supported you faultlessly through this hell puts it, the notion that love means suffering and sacrifice is BULLSHIT. 

And this is how you realise that you are slowly falling for this new woman whose life could have never crossed yours, this woman whose existence you were unaware of when you were at the bottom of the well. You feel younger, which, at twenty-two, is a funny thing to say, but you feel like you’re no longer a hundred-year-old ruin. You live life fully in the moment, you regain taste for the things you love, you laugh without faking it. Your heart skips a beat at every text message, your phone rings and you start jumping up and down, by this act terrorizing the aforementioned friend's kitten. 

 Because you realise at last that there may be no such thing as only one "Love Of Your Life”. Love stories end, new ones begin. But the core value that always must remain, the thing that is in fact quintessential to love, is dignity. And that is something that cannot be negotiated. Love cannot exist without it; otherwise it is not love. That is the pure and harsh truth. But I also think it is beautiful. 


Note: the above text was written several months ago, but I only found the strength to post it now. Certain changes have taken place since, but despite that I have still chosen to post it, if only as a way for people who lived something similar to relate to, and maybe find hope and peace in knowing that they are not as lonely as they feel. 


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fall-Winter 2014 Picks



At the risk of sounding like the stereotypical fashion blogger, my favourite season has always been the fall. Colder weather is always a relief after long, hot and humid summers, and the fall has always felt to me like a period of renewal and rebirth. This particular year, my personal style has been inspired by many different things and people, and I've also read Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange for a tune-up. I now go for darker colours and simpler shapes, and feel less likely to risk committing a fashion faux-pas doing so, but I don't think that I am sacrificing my individuality. I don't have to be begged to wear black from head-to-toe (as seen here and here), but I like to add some red here and there, gold and silver accents, and pay a tribute to Alexander McQueen with tartan prints and a skull necklace (Halloween is in a mere two months!).
As I look forward to updating my wardrobe, here are a few of my seasonal picks: 





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