Category: I spy

Qui Nails

Discovered this japanese nail salon and had to share – Qui Eyelash & Nail Salon – love their subtle use of pastels/nudes/neons/rhinestones.


We have loved the flick since Amy Winehouse reinvented it in the early noughties. This season sees a return to the banana style eye liner in the crease of the eye lids. This sixties inspired look goes especially well with bambi lashes and nude lips. The AW13 shows also featured this look so let’s get shopping for eye liner. Especially gel liner does the trick nicely. MAC, Bobbi Brown and Topshop have great long lasting highly pigmented gel eye liners.

Smells like whiskey & gin


Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 11.27.43 images Commodity_for_Him_fragrances_small


A fragrance brand which is anti beauty hall. I like! The thought of beauty halls fills me with fear and loathing. I visit them frequently to check on new products, launches, fixturing, lay out, promotions etc. But I find that browsing and trying products with aggressive sales focused staff  can turn into a highly stressful experience. An almost panic attack at Bloomingdales in New York comes to mind when the sales girl pushed me in the Bobbi Brown chair and I was not allowed out until she had turned me into a Russian Hooker  Full On Make Up Face  – and I thought Bobbi Brown was about no make up look? How wrong could I be?!

Hence I prefer to shop at Liberties where the staff are lovely or specialised stores like Nose in Paris (see previous post). Another brand obviously thinks the same way. Commoditygoods focuses on the fact that you cannot actually understand a fragrance when it it squirted on a piece of paper and wafted in front of you under the glaring hot lights of a busy beauty department. Fragrance needs to be tested on your own skin to see if it actually works for you. So they have come up with a test of your favourite 10 fragrances of which are sent to you to try. From these you can test which one works best for you. Same principle as Nose in Paris. Not only have they worked with one of the best fragrance houses in France to create their fragrances with names like Whiskey, Gin, Paper, Tea and Gold. They have also worked with a great design agency as the packaging is beautiful and simple. I especially like the use of white and rose gold for the ‘for her’ fragrances. Check their video out:

Bio Beauty in Brooklyn

A movement in brooklyn can be detected – organic skincare made by beauty lovers themselves with the least amount of ingredients possible.  Counteracting the synthetic, science driven skincare are mavericks who are going back to basics and discovering essential ingredients and techniques which deliver high quality organic skincare.

SWBasics of Brooklyn (formerly known as Sprout)

Small batches are produced in a communical space on the Greenpoint waterfront by Adine Grigore and her fiancee. Originally, the  products were just for herself as she has sensitive skin. Other people soon loved them and bigger batches were produced. Her vision is that if you want great skin you should not want to hurt yourself or the planet to get it. All the products are made from scratch using only whole, high-potency ingredients. Less isn’t just more; less is everything. Using fewer ingredients means more potent skincare. No cheap synthetics or exotic fillers are used which makes the product more likely to be safe on senstive skin. That’s why everything we sell only has 5 ingredients or less. And they still make you look amazing and smell pretty. SW Basics support sustainable agriculture by buying only from organic, Fair Trade, or small-farm sources. The victorian style black and white packaging makes for a beautiful bathroom staple.

Jiva Apoha

Inspired by holistic healing Angela Shore studied at Kerala Ayurveda Academy and the School of Ayurveda & Panchakarma in Kerala, India. This together with Ayurvedic principles and Native American shamanism she createred Jiva Apoha, her line of all-natural face and body oils that she blends and ships out of her Brooklyn Heights apartment. All products ar made with herbs, flowers and essential oils. The packaging is stunning too and reminds me of Navaho indians rummaging around in the wild.


Soapwalla creator Rachel Winard is super passionate about natural skin care. “If I can’t create a product that’s safe and effective with only natural ingredients, I won’t release the product,” she says. She crafts her line of soaps, body oils, and more—including an ingenius cream deodorant —at Gowanus’ Old American Can Factory, a communal building filled with artists and artisans. “I adore Brooklyn. It’s home,” she says. “I love walking to work; I love running into neighbours every time I’m out and about.” Their fragrances are really fresh and invigorating.


Skinnyskinny started from a strong belief that organic and eco friendly bath & body products should work as well (if not better) than conventional products. The philosphy is to keep the products simple where they need to be simple (no synthetics, no sulfates, no artificial preservatives) and not skimping on certified organic ingredients. Packaging is recycled, reclaimed, and sustainable. And with very few exceptions every single product is made by them in their Brooklyn, NY workshop. Skinnskinny’s facility and products have been registered with the FDA are members of the Organic Trade Association. Most of the products are vegan, and all of our products are cruelty-free. I am a big fan of their dry shampoo.

Phoenix herbal skincare

Phoenix herbal skincare is formulated from the healing energy of plants, their fragrance, and beneficial properties. Handmade with fresh local plants of the northeast and organically grown herbs. All ingredients are organic and locally sourced when possible. Irina Adam is the founder and creator. She started Phoenix Botanicals in 2005, after apprenticing several years with local herbalists Robin Rose Bennett and Lata Kennedy and working at NYC’s Flower Power Herbs & Roots. Irina also worked for much of a decade in ethnobotany research and indigenous culture preservation, which exposed her to many cultural and therapeutic uses of plants. I especially like their lip balms which you squeeze up out of a carton tube.

MCMC Fragrances

A boutique fragrance brand and studio based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, created by Anne McClain, a graduate of the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in southern France. They specialise in perfumes, oil roll-ons and candles. Their products are composed of the highest quality natural and synthetic ingredients in bases of organic carrier oils, pure alcohol, and distilled water. All of their products are carefully crafted in small batches and bottled by hand by our in-house production team.


Graves is a beauty product formulator, a star facialist, a herbalist and a natural beauty entrepreneur. She works with the Triangulator diagnostic method. Her website reads: “Other skin-care lines that are holistic or organic don’t necessarily follow herbalist principles. And not every herbalist sees skin as their primary focus, so that’s where I come in,” she says. She is known in New York as the “Pimple Whisperer.”


Get your liploss fix with this organic brand set up by rocker/model and new mommy Theo Kogan. As the singer for bands including the legendary all-female Lunachicks and Theo And The Skyscrapers, Theo is known for her over-the-top makeup styles. She has modeled for Calvin Klein, Burberry and Kenneth Cole (to name a few) and has acted in film, television and continues to perform in avant-garde theater all over the world. Armour’s moisturising formula is long wearing, cruelty free and environmentally friendly, with a beautiful range of colors. Formulated to stay on and moisturise with a base of: Shea Butter, Avocado, Mango and Olive  butters and oils, Grape seed oil, Vitamin E and is paraben free.

If you find yourself in NYC good shops to visi are Miomia in Williamsburg, Homebody Boutique and Diana Kane in Park Sope, and Shen Beauty in Carroll Gardens.

The Art of the Illustrated Nail

Need some nail inspiration? Check out:

1-  This London based nail art walhalla do loads of shoots and upload their faves on their tumblr and instagram.

2 – Wahnails – Another nail art inspiration staple is of course the reknowned Dalston based nail art salon. They also have a shop in the basement of Topshop and seem to be flying all over the world displaying their nail art talents in various pop up stores. Check them on instagram too.

3 – Sophy Robson – Luxury nail artist as her title currently reads. Sophy has worked with all the big titles Vogue (UK, French, Russian and Japanese), Vanity Fair, Glamour, Grazia, Elle etc. Her nails are always impressive and push boundaries.

Especially loving these nail art themes: holographic – studs – tie die – ombre – dots – tribal – monochrome – galaxy.

All images from theillustratednail.tumblr,, instragram, and pinterest.

Apothecary Goodness

One of my favourite beauty stores in New York is Bigelow Chemists in Greenwich Village. It specialises in natural remedies, bath & body product. It’s really old school (established 1838) and makes you relive the times when as a child you were mesmerized by the choice, smells and packaging of products at the local chemist. I was anyway! I would go to the local drugstore around the corner and spend hours analysing, sniffing and admiring the beauty products. I would usually buy a soap as that was all I could afford when I was 8 years old. When I discovered the Body Shop I would spend my whole Saturday browsing their shelves and buying all the banana conditioner and carrot face cream (do you remember these products?!) I could afford. So when I visit a good old chemist now I cannot resist a good ‘smooch about’. Bigelow is not only situated in a very old building and it also has it’s own beauty range which is now for sale in the UK at Liberties (hooray!).

Another amazing chemist on the upper east side in New York is Zitomer – if you are looking for niche little brand they are sure to have it. I browse their new in section often just to see what they are listing.

bigelow menta lip shine bigelow lemon body cream bigelow derma remedy intense dry skin therapy body wash bigelow lavender salve rosemary mint body cleanser

Seoul Fashion Week released some pics from Seoul Fashion week. These kids are really into their baseball and cap style. Check out the rest of the pics here.

Chalkboard Nails

chalkboard manicure

Ciate is releasing chalkboard nails on April 23 in the U.K. The set will retail for £18 ($27) and contain the chalkboard polish, a topcoat, and four liquid chalk pens in white, pink, blue, and green. Exciting!

Japanese Blossom & Lady Gaga Nail Art

Would spring finally be in the air? I saw some shots on instagram of Japanese cherry blossom and immediately got inspired to do soft pink nails. I think the whiter the better – to get that super soft chalky pink look. Topshop Milkshake & Essie Petal Pink are my favourite, together with a Repossi ring would be nice if I ever win the lottery…

In Tokyo they love their nail art and spend huge amounts and time decorating these little treasures. Salons offer the most complicated designs you can think of and even office workers have bejewelled talons. Last year I visited an amazing nail shop in where Lady Gaga has her nails made in Daikayama The designs were very detailed, super stiletto shapes with chains and lots of embellisment for example. Prices matched the intricate designs and were sky high. But in Japan not only pop stars but even office workers have nail art done. Check out ‘every day’ salon