Givenchy Foundation Balm review

givenchy balm sephora givenchy foundation balm

I Tried the Givenchy Teint couture foundation balm which is being hailed as a category shifter.

As you know hybrid products are all the rage as we want stuff that does two or three things all at once like tinted lip balms or CC creams.

I expected it to have a more gel like texture but it is a lightweight foundation.

It feels lighter than my CC cream and goes on super smoothly. The nice thing is that it is neither runny like some very light foundations, nor does it dry out as soon as it is on. There is time to blend with your fingers and brush.

It has blur technology that a lot of brands were using in their products a couple of years ago so this gives you an overall soft look.

However the coverage is very light so you will have to build up but it will still be light.

I personally like the natural look and am happy to let my pigmentation show through as long as the overall look is fresh and dewey so I am fine with this.

I opted for number 5 though number 4 is a good shade too for Indian tones.

I wore it without setting powder and it almost felt like tinted mosituriser with more coverage. The good news is it doesn’t get oily.

I also wore it with setting powder and it lasts much longer than I thought.

Longevity is the big thing as I have worn this from morning to night and it still keeps the fresh look.

I find this is good substitute for my current CC cream, ideal for day and night use with an illuminating moisturizer for that added glow but I may not replace my Lancôme Air De Teint foundation for formal occasions.

Givenchy Foundation Balm with SPF 15 .
Price Rs. 3499
At Sephora, Mumbai


So Sephora is finally in Mumbai and I had a peek last night .

The space is nice and large though when the crowds come in it is likely to get jammed.  It is well located on what is now known as the Palladium Beauty floor anchored by MAC at one end and Lancome at the other end of the loop.

If you are a Sephora Beauty Insider then you may find a lot of favourites missing – Urban decay, Smash box, Aptiva, Burt’s Bees, Living proof, Denis Gross, Murad, Philip Thomas Roth, Amore Pacific, Toly Moly… ok basically these are some of my favourites 🙂

(you can read some of my past blogs on their products)

You may also find it strange that they  have chosen a Bollywood brand ambassador even though Kangana Ranaut is a style icon and quirky and individualistic.

Sephora does not really need an endorsement ,

If you are a Sephora first timer or twice timer or some timer then this is the place to check out some cult favourites (yes Benefit and Soap &Glory are here ) and stock up on Sephora’s own very accessible and affordable in house line of make up. Grab that nude shimmer eye shadow-it is a keeper and a best seller, so is the pink sweetheart lip balm.

The folks at Sephora India have curated the offerings keeping Indian skin tones in mind so there is huge selection of make up and foundation and there is a fun fragrance wall with all the Marc Daisy versions and Prada Candy and the rest.

There isn’t as much on hair as one would expect (Bumble and Bumble, did I miss you?) but the focus is on make up and skin care as that’s what we loooove and can’t get enough of. They have also thoughtfully marked the best sellers in case you are confused.

Have fun shopping !

sephora brow bar

Why does the Benefit brow bar feature on my top picks when we are Threading Nation No 1 ?  Well it is convenient , a Sephora signature and as a little bird told me they won’t be charging for the service just yet so you can get your brows waxed for free as you browse ( bad pun ).

sephora masks better

I have written about these super hydrating masks before but these are great for a twenty minute skin soak anytime – while watching TV, on a flight, before a party, after a rather long night of partying, your choice. Priced very reasonably though these are one time masks and be warned you are apt to look like a space alien when you put it on !


Their products  pop up in some luxury spas but Hungarian brand Omorovicza is worth checking out for its mineral rich pure luxe products to use at home. The reason I specified it is Hungarian is because Hungary has a very rich and old spa and beauty tradition.   Estee Lauder was Hungarian too !

givenchy blurring foundation

I have reached the age where a little optical blurring is welcome and Givenchy’s foundation combines this with a balm like lightness which is doubly welcome .

pore minimizer benefit

Benefit has a lot of cult favourites and die hard fans swear by  Benentint and Chacha tint and Moon beam but the Pore Minimiser gets my vote for being hardworking and doubling as a primer as well.

sephora check out

Never leave Sephora without checking out the little sample sizes and quirky but must have products at the check out line. Its the only time I have been happy for long slow moving queues !


TSIBYM1 perfume library

image credit : Sachin Soni

Well-known Indian contemporary Artist Hema Upadhyaya died recently in tragic circumstances but her collaboration with Jahnvi Dameron Nandan of the Perfume Library is a poignant reminder of her work and the spirit of the artist herself.

To be Launched at the India Art Fair in Delhi today This Space Between You and Me is a fragrance inspired by a 2002 artwork of the same name .

The artwork was recreated in situ in Paris in 2012, as a seed bank that would sprout into a seed garden and become a living letter to the artist’s parents, a letter that she would never send.

In a sense, this is the base note over which are layered three years of shared memories and notes between the artist and the perfumer’s own memories and stories. Do check their Facebook page for some of the memory snippets .

What is poignant, is that the launch at India art fair may have been planned to coincide with the artist herself being there in the presence of the art world and her art fraternity.

Jahnavi Dameron Nandan of The Perfume Library ( Delhi/Paris) creates luxury one of kind fragrances using multiple inspirations. She has spoken in an interview with about working with a central idea and abstractions . Her recent fragrance Aphtoori was inspired by a Ladakhi proverb which talks of “three colds and three warmths”

For this fragrance she creates a base note of grass, khus, tulsi, sandalwood and then takes it away from traditional and earthy territory by infusing marine notes to lend it a modern edge but also to suggest space, travel and distances.

Rather than trying to explain my own understanding of the fragrance notes I am replicating the fragrance notes sent to me by the Perfume library as they tell the story far better than I could.

‘For the perfumer, the allusion places This Space In Between You and Me firmly within the tradition of Indian perfumery, in which fragrant gardens form a central motif.

For Hema, her garden represented the distance between herself and her loved ones and the complex issue of
migrations, whether by choice or forced. It was a letter that would never reach, but would change with time, the way relationships do.

This Space In Between You and Me, the artwork, and its olfactory twin, stress a belief in life, earth and continuity’

Price Rs 9800
at Ogaan Hauz Khaas, 11.1 DELHI

Healthy Eating 2016

black bean pasta
Black bean pasta

So we know eggs are back in fashion including the yolk ( gasp) and suddenly cholesterol is not as much an indicator of ill health as was earlier supposed .

While we wait for the next bastion to crumble there are a couple of diet swaps and substitutions that you can make  to stay healthy  without being obsessive.

Add rather than delete in 2016.

Include mung bean noodles and black bean pasta, kimchi and other fermented foods, almond milk, amaranth (rajgira) and the wonderful range of traditional Indian greens  and leaves that are fast disappearing.

Look for bathua ( lambswool?), khatta bhaji ( sorrel) , mustard greens, indian spinach, radish leaves, fresh methi leaves,amaranth purple,red and green, and just use in stir fries and as a side dish to all cuisines. Bathua got Chef Floyd Cardoz’s (Bombay Canteen) approval at a recent talk I attended where he made an impassioned plea to preserve traditional food knowledge.

Here are some healthy eating food memories from 2015 -enjoy.

water with lime and fennel
Elevate everyday drinking water with fennel and lime . ps Boil water and skip the bottled and RO stuff .
Morning eggs with greens
Swap the buttered toast for a bed of salad greens and you have a great morning breakfast .
kale parmesan salad
Kale,parmesan and tree nut salad at a farm to table restaurant in Portland ,Oregon- the taste still lingers
healthy food salad
Anti oxidant fix for a great morning blast . Miles better than a breakfast smoothie because this has all the fibre . Mahableshwar strawberries, persimmon, heirloom tomatoes, simla apples,walnuts, toasted almonds, plums with salad greens.
broccoli and bamboo shoot stir fry
chinese broccoli and fresh bamboo shoot make a deliciously quick stir fry -under five minutes.
moon salad
Mid morning snack or lunch – this has protien and good fats. combine sprouted green moong, apple, grated coconut, almonds ,cucumber, onions ,tomato. You can build it up but the green moong base makes it power packed.
black bean pasta
Black bean pasta is a good pasta substitute though its taste takes a little getting used to . cooks al dente and holds up well. gluten free, organic and ticks off all the good boxes:)
quinoa cake
I had this quinoa cake at a friends birthday from Healthy Eats in Bandra. good thought to use quinoa though not sure if the chef had to add some flour to it.. dense and drenched with orange marmalade and rich dark chocolate chunks. sinfully delightful.
wilted baby spincah
When in doubt wilt down some baby spinach with garlic and onion in an oil of your choice. Wilting is the key not overcooking. Goes well with everything or have as a lunch bowl with some red rice.
sweet potato dosa bombay canteen, mumbai
I had this sweet potato dosa at Bombay Canteen and loved it. Sweet potato has a lower GI than potato so it is a good sub .this was made with curry leaves, onions and i think some red cabbage . I don’t remember what the dosa batter had but you could try this as a moong daal chila or crepe.

The Selfie straightener

photo (10)

I know straightening irons are totally 2008 but bear with me.

The THING  about straightening irons is that they create great curls.

Beach waves, surfer girl, loose curls – the repertoire is vast .

It is something consumers discovered on their own as smart girls decided to experiment and post videos up on You Tube in how easy it was.

I think  brands are trying hard to get us to buy more and more pro equipment with more and more attachments that will complicate our lives . Then there are the beauty mavericks who show us how to do more and more with less and less 🙂

I  ordered this one very late in the day admittedly when the straightening iron buzz is over. (When you have straight flat hair a straightener is not on your wish list – a volumiser is ).

I was actually researching the Air dryer which is like a giant brush with a dryer function and looks like it can create a great paddle dry look for home use . It didn’t have great reviews

I had also been meaning to get a heated roller set ( yes, rollers are all the rage ) but they are bulky and need less clumsy fingers to pin all those rollers on .

I stumbled upon this little selfie straightener by chance and thought I should try it to see if i could create some curls. .

This is the Philips Selfie straightener which I use to create flicks and mussed up curls in my  fairly straight hair .

It also creates a bit of volume if you use it on upside down hair. And gives a neat finished look to straight hair. (By the way  curls don’t really suit me but it is always nice to try a new look. )

I really like the size- when you have fine hair you need a narrower ceramic strip and it is easy to hold.  It has only one heat setting ( again just right for fine hair ) and it heats up fast (60secs) . Great for travelling.

It cost rs 1140 inc same day shipping ( rs 100)  on Amazon.

If you want a more expensive hair safe iron look for a touramaline one . Otherwise buy a ceramic plate. Babyliss, Conair and Philips all have a wide range to choose from

Whatever you do don’t buy one without  an ionising plate as that will fry your hair .


#Diwali picks at an Ayurveda Beauty store

I have been meaning to drop in at the Kama store at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi ever since it opened and I finally got there in time for some Diwali stocking up.

Kama  works in association with the Arya Vaidya sala at Coimbatore and their products are genuinely ayurveda based. I like the fact that they tell you which is 100 percent natural, which is 100 percent organic ( two different things) and has a USDA and Ecocert label. These days the terms ayurveda, organic, pure, natural are used by everyone as labels, but many would not stand up to scrutiny.

My picks :

Kama’s Indigo hair colour and Henna powders are 100 percent natural, organic and certified by USDA and Ecocert. Seems a boon as so many women ask me to recomend a natural hair colour. You have to use both powders together as henna makes your hair soft and shiny and indigo adds the black. I haven’t tried it but I like the  fact there are no chemicals to damage hair .
hair color kit at kama

Turmeric and myrrh skin brightening soap  While the soaps are made with organic virgin coconut oil and natural beeswax I think they may have added stabilisers so they  make a 90 percent natural claim. The soap feels great and without the tight dry  feeling left by ‘not so natural’ soaps. I don’t like gels as I think they can rarely make the natural claim even if they are claiming it so it is good to have a soap i can use on my face as well. .Also available in a sugar & tamarind and red sandalwood variants.   I also liked the Lavanya plant based mask which has blood purifiers and Mridul soap free cleanser made from daals,herbs and cereal to exfoliate and cleanse naturally. But I have left both for another day 🙂 turmeric & skin brightening soap

Jwalini skin re texturising oil  smoothens and softens rough and chapped winter skin .For best results apply and leave in for thirty minutes before washing off. Also see their Muscle tone oil which firms breasts and abdominal muscles. kumkumadi tailam oil

Kumkumadi Tailam is one of ayurveda’s famous facial oils made from sixteen herbs, cow’s milk, ghee and all sorts of secret ingredients. Its star ingredient is saffron and it works wonders in reducing pigmentation, brightening dull skin and rejuvenating  skin. Best used at night though I find it works as a serum under make up in winter. Use sparingly -one to two drops are enough . Check my earlier blog Kumkumadi oil :  ayurveda’s magic potion

 jwalini kama fluidThe store has some pretty cool packs for Diwali  gifting. But what I really liked is that you get a ‘seed bomb’ with your purchase to start your own natural herb garden this Diwali . Mine was tulsi so will be drinking a lot of tulsi tea later this year !

Sensitive skin. Dry skin. Winter skin .

Its that time of the year when your skin tells you the season has changed and that it’s time for your beauty routine to change. Here are three products that will give you some winter cheer.

clinique smart night moisturizer

Clinique’s Smart Night Moisturiser Custom Repair Night is tailored to target different areas of the face ‘smartly’.  It has variants for different skin types including a dry to very dry variant.This anti ageing cream works on dry, sagging and damaged skin at night. Combine with Custom Repair facial oil for an overall regime.

lipikar baume relipidant

Roche Posay’s Lipikar cream  is designed for extremely dry, sensitive skin prone to allergies and redness in winters. If your skin gets easily irritated, starts itching because it is dry or flaking then this one might be for you. It is safe enough to be used on children.

breathe solo - coconut milk oilBreathe  is a brand that supplies oils to many well known spas and their range of pure, organic oils is available easily in stores. Add a few drops of coconut milk oil to your Bath water throughout winter and see the difference it makes to your skin. Or once a week have a traditional oil bath with this oil. Slather yourself from top to toe with oil, wait an hour then wash off.

#HermesHorseExhibition, #Mumbai

Spent a lovely hour at the Hermes Horse exhibition which celebrates the brand’s long connection with horses as original saddle makers to the french king. You can visit the Hermes museum at Rue Fabourg in Paris but if not a peek into their collection curated by Phillip Dumas is on view at the Mumbai store until 30th Nov.  Entry free .

Equestrian Inspired Couture
Stencil for a scarf design. When Ladies rode side saddle -seems impossible now .
Equestrian inspired couture
Equestrian inspired couture
Wooden Marwari horse
Walk through the exhibition with a wooden Marwari horse as centre piece. The Marwari horse was world famous and bred only in India.  Then along came the  British and discouraged their breeding preferring their own thoroughbreds .Good news – now the horse is being bred again in Jodhpur.
Marwari horse
Legend has it that the Marwari horse was trained never to leave the battlefield unless it had to carry its wounded master to safety. Remember the story of Maharana Pratap and his horse Chetak from history ?
Window at the Hermes store in Mumbai’s iconic Heritage precinct at Horniman circle
Birkin Saddlebag
The saddlebag that started it all and inspired the design of the Birkin.
Horse’s Heads from Paris
Specially commissioned horse’s heads from Paris. Reminded me of a famous play ‘Eqqus ‘by Peter Shaffer
Marwrai Bag
The 2008 Marwrai bag pays tribute to Jodhpur/Marwar’s rich equestrian tradition. Infinitely lighter than the Birkin! The picture does no justice to its beautiful cplour and detailing. Great day bag to own.
Caleche art wall
The art wall with Images of the Caleche that is now the Hermes logo and Philip Dumas’s black and sketch for a scarf design . By the way his sketch couldn’t be made into a scarf as he left the edges uneven .
Store Window
View of Horniman CIrcle Garden from the store window.

Scalp facials, French ‘Boroline’, Studio West & Kanauj roses

nioxin experential


Nioxin offers a whole range of rituals, in salon shampoo and conditioner and leave in tonic for thinning hair and receding hairlines, to create the illusion of thick hair. But unlike hair thickening spray and and shampoos, Nioxin stimulates hair growth.

I tried the scalp facial, which begins with a peppermint- fresh cooling cream that is worked into your scalp and massaged to remove dead cells, clarify and purify it to make way for hair regrowth. All those blocked sebaceous cells get unblocked. Relaxing and soothing followed by a Nioxin shampoo and conditioner. Featured here is the leave in hair tonic that keeps those follicles energised post wash. There is a leave in night cream that you can take home too, to continue the good work .

Nioxin comes from the Wella stable and you can try the scalp faciial and buy the range at all Jean Claude Biguine salons

eau Thermale


I can’t think of a better way to describe Avene’s Cicalfate, which takes care of all irritated skin needs. It’s a repair cream but like our own traditional Boroline, the French turn to it for cracked heels, chapped lips, sunburn, insect bites,post aesthetic procedure irritation  and all the usual skin irritants for which you need an- all -in -one. I tried it recently on badly sunburnt skin and it did provide some instant relief.

Great for sensitive skin.

studiowest lipstick


This is a surprisingly good collection at a very accessible price from Westside. I would have expected no less – it is backed by the same team that created India’s iconic brand Lakme which was everyone’s go to brand at one time.

Studio West sent me a hamper to try out and I have done this faithfully for a month. Here’s my take;

the intense kaajal is very good for those who want a thin kaaajal line that can be used in the waterline without a problem. I use it a lot now. It does not smudge or leave you with panda eyes but still gives the kaajal look.

I liked the blush –the texture compared well with other powder blushes. And it does not fade – it has a nice peachy tone, which will work on all Indian skin tones.

The intense liner is a bit like Bobbi Brown’s gel liner. The chubby stick, which looks luscious, didn’t work for me. I prefer a more matte texture and didn’t think it lasted very long.

The packaging could have been better –  black packs are very smart but everyone has them so it is confusing.

This is quite a large range –lipsticks, eye shadow, Fragrances, foundation and compact included but I have just mentioned the ones I have tried.

Overall wonderfully accessible prices and good quality. Definitely worth having on the shelf.

Forest Essential Bandra Store


If you want to stockpile some luxury ayurveda goodies for Diwali then Mumbai‘s new Bandra store is worth a visit just for it s opulence. It looks like a cross between walking into a Ravi Verma gallery, a zenana and a store. See all the FE favorites on display .

forest ess kannauj - body polisher

Their Sea Salt and Rose body polisher made of roses from Kanauj strikes me as a timely offering –it isn’t a new product but Kanauj has been in the news recently as the UP government has signed an agreement with Grasse in France the place where zillions of flowers are distilled into exquisite French fragrances. Kanauj, known for its world famous rose attar is India’s great perfumery town so it is fitting that the two cities will now be sister cities.

Ruby Woo vs Red Carpet

Super Red Lipstick Shades

In the land of reds these are two super reds for Indian skin.

Bobbi Brown’s Red Carpet scores on texture – it glides on effortlessly with a satin matte finish and lasts for at least four hours without needing a touch up.

MAC’S Ruby Woo is the more iconic red but it has such a matte texture that it gets difficult to actually complete the lips in one glide. All you can do is let it go on patchy and then smudge it with your fingers for that hot lip look.

Yet it is a true red and does last once you have wrestled it into place and it does give you that instant diva-fication .

I have always liked MAC’s Russian Red for Indian skin as well as Viva Glam 1 which has a hint of brick/brown but the red is dominant and the look is still contemporary.

I haven’t tried Riri Woo, Ruby Woo’s little sister – the red created by Rihanna which is a less retro red.

There are other reds but pure reds and true reds need a little searching and experimentation. Tip- don’t buy red before trying it on.

Last night I met an editor from Elle magazine who rocked her ox blood lipstick. Not a pure red at all but it looked great.

It was L’Oreal’s Star Red pure series ‘Sonam Kapoor’ i.e.Garnet .

Because my skin has a lot of yellow Garnet I felt would look a little purple- brown on me.

But I really liked Freida Pinto – Pure rouge in the L’Oreal collection, a nice deep red and one that is likely to work on all skin tones.

You can also try Lancôme’s Velour 197 which is a gloss stick but dries off to a full matte texture.

It is difficult to explain what makes the perfect red for Indian skin – there are technical explanations but the best way is to try the lipstick on.

A real pure red will instantly glam you up – you will know it. And thanks to our Indian skin tone it will instantly brighten up your face.

A good red will make your lips look fuller not thinner
Wear it with a clean, gently illuminated face and no other makeup.

A blogger said red lipstick is best worn out of context to create a stunning impression. So True. Skip the black dress and wear you red lipstick with a pink or peach dress next time 🙂

PS The new reds don’t bleed but it doesn’t harm to blot and blot again to seal the colour and prevent ugly fading.

An ex Vogue Beauty Editor blogs on beauty, tracks art and luxury events