Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gillette Venus Breeze: my experience

There are two parts to this really interesting story I am going to tell you. In Part Un, we talk about the launch of Gillette Venus Breeze, how revolutionary it is as a hair removal product and my favourite bit: myths it claims to bust about shaving. Of course, this is done in style with celebrated names that will definitely make you sit up and take notice.
In Part Deux, I actually take you through my experience and review of using Gillette Venus Breeze and how it fairs on all the bones that the masses have been picking with shaving and the multitude of razors available in the market.

A glitzy yet warm affair, the launch of the Gillette Venus Breeze was nothing short of perfect. Actress Kalki Koechlin, Celebrity Makeup artist Namrata Soni and Celebrity dermatologist Dr. Rashmi Shetty hosted a very interactive session with the audience on what they believed were the myths about shaving and how in their experience with shaving, that has not been the case. Dr Shetty brought in a lot of technical know-how about skin and it's reactions to shaving, Namrata Soni obviously dealt with beauty and healthy skin and Kalki's anecdotes about shaving and how it had eased sticky situations as a filmstar were as informative as they were hilarious. 

I will take a moment to rehash all the myths that we discussed over the session with the trio and debunk them over my experience with Gillette Venus Breeze.
1. Shaving darkens the skin or causes pigmentation: While I have heard that one too, turns out it is completely untrue. If anything, I have come to realise that shaving helps exfoliate the skin by removing the top dead layer which automatically means that your skin looks brighter and clearer. As someone who is on the go almost every day of the month, shaving has definitely made my life and travel easier.

2. Shaving causes the skin to become flaky and dry: This could not have been more untrue especially since the foray of Breeze into the market. Breeze comes with in-built moisture bars and body butters that include Olive, Avocado, Kokum along with glycerin to ensure that exactly that is avoided. I used the razor after a patch of moisturization on my skin and my skin felt soft and hairless immediately after. 

3. Shaving causes a lot of cuts and bruises: This myth while partially true at some point of time does not hold true for the Gillette Venus Breeze at all. The Gillette Venus Breeze has a special grip for your forefinger and the body of the blade and the strips is rounded so as to be able to reach all the curves of the female form without causing any cuts. Honestly, I've received my fair share of shaving cuts in the past but Breeze actually did not give me any. 

Another interesting fact about the Breeze that got me really excited was that as soon as the moisture bars are over, you know it's time to change the blade. As simple as that. And at a price of Rs. 299 (INR) with the two-blade pack at Rs. 350 (INR), I would not be thinking too much before replenishing my shaving stock.

I would be happy to answer any question you may have about the Gillette Venus Breeze that I possibly can, in my experience with the product, right here. So get going. 


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Travelogue: Taking on Ubud and Uluwatu

If you have been around on this blog for a reasonable amount of time, you would definitely know and understand my affinity towards Bali and the yearly bouts of affection that come in the form of trips. This time, however, I decided to get out of my haven and explore the much talked about (and photographed) Ubud and Uluwatu. A little introduction to the two for the uninitiated; Ubud is a few hours from Bali and about 35 kms from the Bali International Airport. It is surrounded by rice paddy fields on all sides and is about 250 mts above sea level. Or easier still, I am sure you recognise it from the popular book by Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat Pray Love' and the movie adaptation of the same. Liz met Felippe in the little town of Ubud when she turns to Indonesia for her eat, pray, love experience. Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, you guys. Uluwatu is a tip on the south western peninsula of Bali, as I gather from the internet and is best known for its beautiful sights and sounds.
As I always do, let me share some of my travel gems from my little tete-a-tete with the beautiful towns of Ubud and Uluwatu. We took a day trip to Ubud and another to Uluwatu. I do, however, wish I had stayed longer in Ubud since the idea of a getaway to Ubud is staying in one of the home stays and having an authentic Ubud experience that is serene and fun in equal parts. Let's talk about some of the things that I did do in both the towns and you definitely should not miss:

  • Cliffs of Uluwatu: The winding steps leading up to the cliffs down which you see the beautiful Indian Ocean lashing against the cliffs from the peninsula, is totally worth the pain. Remember to cover yourself appropriately though, since situated atop the cliffs is the Uluwatu Temple and like all hindu temples, they maintain a strict dress code in so far as the visitors are concerned. Definitely one of the best sights I have ever laid my eyes on.

  • Padang Padang beach: If you have gone all the way, make sure you make that extra effort of clambering down a few hundred steps, all carved out from a rock entrance to the Padang Padang beach. Crystal blue waters here form one of the most popular surfing spots for tourists from all over the world. We decided to skip the surfing adrenaline and just bum around listening to some aboriginal Australian drumming (some fun tourists that were parked right next to us under a large rock) and pig out at the local Warungs and sip some beer. It's a relatively crowded beach but the touristy value is quite high. It helps that the final scene from Eat Pray Love was shot here.

  • El Kabron: I almost feel like I should be rewarded for disclosing the name of this absolute treasure trove of party + scenic experiences. Perched on the cliffs of Uluwatu (you have to drive up a spiralling road for quite a while with fields on the either side till you get to this club), El Kabron is a spanish club. With it's stark white decor and a sparkling blue Infinity Pool that overlooks the Indian ocean, El Kabron is really what holiday dreams are made of. Sip endless glasses of Moet and Chandon while swimming in the pool and wait for the most beautiful sunset of your life. The upbeat music and the options of these exotic looking sheeshas kind of made the experience more surreal. Warning: This place is kind of on the expensive side. Do it for the views and for that rich ass, bad ass life.

  • Rice Fields, Ubud: When you get to Ubud, your first priority (if you are not averse to a little trekking downhill) should be to visit the Tegallaland rice fields of Bali that are located in the centre of Ubud and are beautiful and lush green. You can climb downwards to the inner most point of the fields and the place is dotted with the cutest cafes with the most scenic views and also the most adorable photo ops. A lot of tourism companies (and probably hotels and Air B n Bs) offer a guided tour of the rice fields but we just did it all by ourselves.

  • Coffee plantations and Luwak coffee tasting: If you did not know, a cute little animal (much like a possum) found in Indonesia called a Luwak is responsible (ahem) for this distinctly tasteful coffee that is especially made in Ubud. The Luwak is fed the coffee beans which it umm..for the lack of a better word excretes and that, my friends is cleaned (thank god for that), treated and roasted to make one of the best coffees I've had (honestly!). They take you through the entire plantation with a detailed one-on-one tour with the planters and through all the steps of the coffee processing. You also have the option of tasting a whole diverse range of flavourful coffees the flavours of which are all grown on the plantation itself. Everything, ranging from vanilla to dark chocolate to ginger. 

  • Saraswati Temple, Ubud: One of the most beautiful temples and also one of the most sought after tourist attractions in Ubud is this beautiful temple of the goddess Saraswati and even though Indonesia is known for it's Hindu temples, this really is one of its kind. The beautiful inlay stone work at the entrance and the lotus ponds on the either side make the walk to the temple inside quite enchanting. The main temple requires a permit to enter and you also require  one for the Balinese dance performance that happens at night (warning: Appropriate dress code, again). 

  • Shopping and the Monkey Forest: When they say that the furniture and homeware shopping in Ubud is everything you can dream of, they are definitely not exaggerating. While I did not end up shopping at that street or anything at all in Ubud, I honestly had my eyes peeled out of the car the entire time we were on that stretch of road that led to the rice fields because everything you can imagine to make your house a better, more intimate space can be found right there. From mirrors to artisanal furniture to wicker accessories and everything wooden and handmade and even funky signage and art pieces for your home, everything can be found there. It is the stretch of the Tegallalang highway. The Monkey forest is a great experience too but it requires a great amount of resilience to walk around in the wilderness with monkeys covering every inch of the space around you and the comfort level to enjoy the experience of the interaction with the monkeys who come and perch on you at any given point of time. Not one of my favourite things but I understand why it holds such a high touristy value.
That's all for this one. Now excuse me while I go pack my bags again.

Keep your comments and questions coming in. I would be happy to answer.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Top 5 beauty and skincare products

It is not a well kept secret that I am unbelievably lazy when it comes to skincare and haircare. Till about a year back, my idea of skin care was a good face wash and a moisturiser. Over time (and age, UGH), I have begun to realise how crucial it is for everybody to start early when it comes to taking care of their skin. This does not by any stretch mean that you have to fixate on every line, every blemish and poke it till it leads to a mental breakdown. It just means that a few products and a few easy peezy remedies can go such a long way in actually preventing a breakdown of your skin.
Over the last few months I have devised a serious regimen for my skin which I have been attempting to follow without any exceptions. Over the years, I have received so many queries and emails from my readers asking me to talk about hair and beauty and I'm finally getting around to (after having cleaned up my act of course). I'm doing videos on instagram and now this dedicated blog post about 5 skincare and beauty products that have changed my life in the last few months. Take some time, see the images but most importantly read up and learn from my experience with these products. I have kept it as real as possible and I hope to help as many of you as I can in making an informed choice about these. Please leave your questions, comments, suggestions, anything else that you would like to see in the FTLOFAOT Beauty segment, right here.

  • Bio Oil (60 ml and 125 ml): Many many moons ago, someone had told me about the unbelievable powers of Bio Oil to fix stretch marks and scars. I was young and nonchalant (also super careless) and did not really think about beginning any serious remedy for little spots and marks that all of us have on different parts of our body. Around the age of 24, I started developing this weird allergy every summer on my arms and legs. Routine, as the doctors say. It's basically a lot of itchiness (not because of dryness) and it leads to these red bumps all across your skin. Sometimes the bumps disappear but the scars remain. Over the last two-three months of having used Bio Oil for my fore-arms and legs, I can safely say that it actually works like magic. It has something they call the Purecellin oil and it is recommended that you use it twice daily, religiously. The marks lighten and I do not plan to stop the use anytime soon. I also want to use it for the face and see if it has the same results. But for now, I'm enjoying the cleaning up process for my limbs. Price: Rs. 450/- (INR) for the 60 ml.

  • Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate (30 ml): I remember putting this decision to vote on my instagram stories as what nighttime recovery cream should I invest in. I was using Forest Essentials at the time and while it works well to moisturise, I realised that I needed something to work as a light moisturising agent and a serum to work on my face while I sleep, simultaneously. It's pure essential oils and distilled botanicals work like a charm for me as a midnight serum. There is a great deal of moisturising for a normal skin like mine and it definitely leaves you with a visibly healthier skin the next day. The idea is to remove your make up (however little) everyday, cleanse, tone, apply the night serum (I skip the moisturising for night) and follow it up with a night cream if you so wish (and if your skin needs more than the basic moisturising that the serum offers). It gets used very little and the dropper mechanism is so convenient. For this 30 ml dropper bottle, the price in the Indian market is Rs. 2250/- (INR).

  • Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot solution (30 ml): Let's face it. There are tons of beauty products in the market that claim to address the most common skin problem of them all; the pesky dark spots. In my understanding owing to my skin's experiences and endless discussions with many skin doctors and dermatologists the reasons for random dark spots are aplenty. Ranging from repeated and harsh sun exposure to genetics. In between lie the myriad of reasons like not enough nutritious food, hormonal changes, reactions to something, acne marks etc. This product comes in handy for people who do not have extreme dark spots or anything that appears more than a regular sign of ageing/sun exposure. I have used it for a month and more now and I can definitely see a visible degree of reduction in the appearance of the dark spots. Again, let me reiterate, this is not magic. This is certainly not the holy grail of skincare but it does a fairly decent job of reducing the darkness over time. I use it on my face on the random spots, twice a day, right after toning. It is slightly sticky so don't lather too much of it in a go. Again, the dropper mechanism is convenient but make sure you use it judiciously over the spots. Price: Rs. 4450/- (INR)

  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner (250 ml): Since this is not a sponsored post and just me being awesome and finally doing this post to answer a few of your queries at least, I can be brutally honest. (Not that I'm not brutally honest otherwise, you know!) I am not a fan of The Body Shop's skincare products and have had some horrible experiences with a few. The bath accessories, love them but skincare I've usually steered clear of after buying some really bad products. How this, then worked for me so well is beyond me. This toner is perfect. It cleans nicely, does not sting or feel too strong, has a faint nice fragrance and just leaves you refreshed without any sticky feeling or unclean skin. The fact that it has moisturising wheat germ oil might have something to do with it. Either way, this is the only Body Shop product that I vouch for (not saying I have tried them all, just that a few that I have tried before this have been ummm, kind of sort of disastrous). Price: Rs. 895/- (INR)

  • Eau Thermale Avene Micellar Lotion cleanser and make up remover (200 ml): I had heard so much about this French brand of beauty and skincare and like most french pharmacy brands, I had only heard good things. Started my journey with Avene with this make up remover for sensitive skin and it has been the best kind that I have used so far. I love make up wipes for when I'm lazy but I would never use make up remover wipes on a daily basis since I feel that they do not clean the face adequately. Maybe it is just a mental block but the satisfaction of a make up remover on a cotton pad is unmatched for me. It has more of the removing concentrate than the wipe and I just find it a lot more thorough. Again, mild fragrance, not sticky, not heavy on my skin and most importantly not oil based. I'm also currently using the Avene Sunscreen for extreme protection but I am going to save that review for another day. For now, I'm swearing by this make up remover. Price: Rs. 1200/- (INR) 

Shot these beautiful images at Dyo Resort, Mukteshwar where I was for a workcation and I hope you saw my travel story here.

Leaving this post with a disclaimer that every beauty product or skincare product does not work the same way for all skin types. Even between the same skin types, albeit little, the likelihood of a different result still exists. I find it very hard to trust most beauty products and hence it took me a while to decide on my top five skincare beauty products, at the moment. Hope this helps and I would be more than happy to take questions here, on Facebook and on instagram.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Travelling with Dyo Organic Village Resort

I have mentioned this before when I went exploring Anant Rasa in Sitalkhet which you read about here, that as I grew up I realised that I enjoyed the reverie of the hills almost as much as the beach. I live for the cool breeze, the empowering yet intimidating Himalayas, the serene landscapes and the sincere sounds of only the birds chirping all around you. It doesn't hurt to go at an ideal time like this which is April to a property as stunning as Dyo Organic Resort in Muktehwar, Uttarakhand (a few hours away from Ranikhet) since it is warm in the day and cold in the night and you get to enjoy almost both the seasons at once. You also witness the entire land lush and green in all its glory what with every possible patch of green dotted with flowers, wild and otherwise and the trees dotted with red rhododendrons for as far as the eye can see. 

Our little getaway to Dyo was nothing short of perfect. Not only was I enamoured by the hospitality of the lovely sisters who run this little boutique resort, I was also taken in immensely by the design and decor of the property. This deserved such a special mention simply because a property of this scale and style gets its modern chic, minimalist design value from the effort and thought that goes into it. From the logo design to the signages that have been firmly planted across the entire property (including deep in the jungle where we went for a jungle walk accompanied by the quintessential hill dog Loorie) that carry the most considerate and almost adorable messages for the guests and passerby, I was very impressed with it all. The furniture and design of the five rooms have been done up in the theme of the five elements of Earth. While that holds the possibility of going over board, they manage to keep it stylishly restrained. 

The USP however of Dyo, located in Mukteshwar, remains the fresh produce and the unbelievably delicious food that is made available at Dyo Cafe (also open for non-guests of the property). We tasted a variety of cuisines and it has never been that hard for me to pick a favourite. If I had to, I would go with the experience of the authentic Kumaoni lunch especially for the authenticity and delight of its flavours. It helps that you can sit in the cafe and enjoy the views of the hills and blooms and your food at the same time. 

The origin of the delightful food experience stems from the poly house located a few feet below the property where we trekked down to pluck our own fruits and behead our own vegetables to make for our next meal. The lush green cabbage patch, the cauliflower ready to pluck, the thin sweet radishes that we plucked from the ground under and the peas that glistened like pearls in the pods (and were sweet enough to pass off as dessert) are all memories that make for a brilliant and literal Farm to Table experience.

Would I go back? I most certainly will. I slept like a baby at our cushy suite and I chased butterflies and lady birds and drank chai by the sunset point in the day. Life is great, at Dyo Organic Resort.

For any kind of questions, queries, comments et al, don't forget to drop in a line below or email me and I would be happy to answer your questions about Dyo or direct you to the concerned person.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The importance of being earnest

Anyone who knows me half as well as my readers, knows that my largest inspiration in life comes from books, movies and music. So much, so that I'm always thinking in book titles, music covers and possibly film adaptations. When it comes to fashion, I'm no different. More often than not, you will see me borrowing titles from books and poems for my pieces because I find it a lot of fun to lend an absolutely new and different meaning to an iconic literary work. Incidentally, I also acted in a production of the same. But that really is not the point on the table today. Finally talking about something that I have been thinking about for a while.
How important is it for a fashion blogger to talk about, shoot in and share outfit ideas from one's own closet? To lend a little sanity to this haphazard thought: Think back to your favourite fashion blogger and their blog or instagram feed. Of course, expensive one-of-its-kind couture pieces lend their feed the much required aspirational value which millions of girls across the world are always vying to achieve. How important is it then, to intersperse that with clothing that a blogger genuinely buys with their own money and wears more than just once for a shoot? Why is it important for a blogger to talk about a product that they were not paid to review or sing praises of?
From the inception of FTLOFAOT, my core ideology has remained to mix business with pleasure. The one rule that they ask you not to break. Jokes apart, the idea is to create a mix of what is commercially viable with what appeases your sensibilities the most. Strangely, most artists across the board will agree with that sentiment. Is there anything wrong with promoting a brand? Hell no. That's what fosters our business. But there is an inherent relatibility and value to be gained out of talking about and shooting real buys that you make. That remains the sole reason I continue to do unsponsored content with a mix of the sponsored. From personal travelogues to personal luxury buys and other personal shopping that finds itself on the blog and instagram because I earnestly believe in and work towards helping my readers make informed choices. What are your thoughts? Do you believe it is completely alright to only post sponsored content? Where does the realness and authenticity of opinions come in, in that scenario?

Shirt: Zara
Powder blue tiered dress: Mango
Champagne pink metallic pants: Topshop
Blue clutch: Armani Exchange
Sunglasses: Chloe
Shoes with metallic toecaps: c/o Adidas Originals
Socks: Monki
Photography by: Aditya Saxena



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