Sunday, 18 December 2016

PRODUCT REVIEW: Al Din Halal Skincare

I was recently sent some beautiful skin care products from a new brand - Al Din - which is has a line of skincare aimed at those looking for halal, vegan and vegetarian products, with the company itself being created by Muslim entrepreneur Suraiya Uddin, who has stated she was looking for this type of skincare but noticed the gap in the market.

These are the products I was sent, don't they look lovely? The strapline for this brand is also 'A Touch of Faith' - which I thought was a great way of harnessing the idea that the brand was going for - following personal ideals combined with good quality products.

I also liked the rich purple and gold packing of this - my first impression of this was similar to a lot of the ouds and perfumes you may see in the shopping malls (or in Dubai!), which gives a luxurious, solid look.

I had a quick look at the mission statement (you can see the rest here) of the brand - it definitely goes with a lot of things I'm interested in when looking for skincare:
"Al Din Skin Care is a luxury British skincare collection made with rich, plant ingredients to give softer looking, beautiful skin, naturally. Our high quality and effective range is Halal, Vegan and Vegetarian approved and we are against all testing on animals. We are passionate about beauty and feel that you shouldn’t need to compromise on quality and luxury when choosing products containing kinder, more natural ingredients."

What does it mean for a skin care brand to be halal? In my opinion, it is when there are only 'halal' ingredients used (that is, does not use non-permissible ingredients like pork-based gelatine or alcohol), and is also made in a way which aligns with halal methods. I do like that Al Din takes the time to explain what halal beauty and skin is here, which basically explains what ingredients are used and why - which is great for those who want to know more about what they're buying.

In all honesty, a lot of the women I know don't necessarily focus on looking for halal skin care - I have seen a lot of beauty brands (such as Kat von D and Jeffreestar) emphasise their vegan products, but I haven't seen much out there in terms of halal products. I think partly this is because a lot of consumers don't prioritise this, and also because some of them don't know this is an option either. Personally, as I am in my late twenties (and nearly thirties!) I have began to focus more on natural skin care and gentle products which are good for my skin, and I love the idea of the products not only benefiting my skin but also being halal, which makes me see them as more ethical as well.

These are the products sent to me - Sumptuous Touch Daily Moisturiser for Women (50ml), Men's Finest Touch Daily Moisturiser (50ml) and Pure Luxury Body Lotion (250ml). I thought it was a really good idea to have a men's product as well, as this is definitely a market which is often neglected, and it's great that there are halal options out there for men as well as women. I have often encouraged my husband to use creams to look after his skin, so it's good to know that this is something which skincare brands care about too.

All three products were in black, purple and gold bottles which looked very luxurious, and which were pretty easy to hold. Both the men's and the women's facial creams were quite lightweight and easy to grip, which is great for quick applications, and the body lotion was a solid bottle which would sit well on any dresser. I thought it was pretty interesting that all the bottles had a pump to dispense the creams, which I know a lot of people like because it helps to control how much product comes out.

So that's my initial impressions of the Al Din skin care brand, let's get on with the actual product reviews itself:

Sumptuous Touch Daily Moisturiser for Women 50ml
I really liked the bottle for this, which had a hidden pump in the lid which you twisted to make it appear, which I thought was very unique and great for avoiding contamination. The product is dispensed pretty cleanly through this slim bottle and then can be put away again pretty easily.

This is the cream in my hand, which was white (all of the creams in this range are white!) and the first thing I thought about this was how wonderful it smelled. There is a mix of jojoba sunflower and coconut in this which gives a really pleasant, non-overpowering smell that lasts for a while.

I applied this on my face and loved how absorbent this is - non-greasy, light yet felt quite moisturising. I have slightly oily-to-combo skin so avoid heavy creams which just sit on my face, so I loved that this felt really pleasant on my face. I can genuinely imagine using this as a daily moisturiser to apply before going to work, especially as my skin felt pretty soft for a few hours and well-moisturised.

Key Ingredients:
  • Hyaluronic acid – naturally found in the body, helps to keep skin, plump and hydrated for a smooth, youthful appearance.
  • Sunflower oil - an emollient with incredibly hydrating properties, helps to keep the skin nourished.
  • Coconut Oil - hailed as a superfood, the ultra-nourishing & hydrating ingredient has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and hydrating properties that make it truly unique. Not only will it hydrate beautifully but it can also help to repair and regenerate the skin.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – rich in Vitamin E monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium and zinc, plus a number of other minerals and vitamins, it is nourishing and super nutritious for the skin.
  • Glycerin Oat Protein - oats are known for their humectant and emollient properties, which are key for keeping skin moisturised all year round.

Men's Finest Touch Daily Moisturiser 50ml
This was a short bottle which also had a pump, fairly easy to dispense the cream and came with a cap to avoid germs. I like that this doesn't take up too much space on the shelf either, and is a decent size for a men's daily cream.

I did try this on my hand (and was about to try on my face) when I thought I'd try it on the target audience instead, and got my husband to wear this on his face. The smell of this one was also pretty yummy, although noticeably more masculine, but again without being too strong or overpowering. This product has aloe vera, argan oil and olive, all of which are great products for the skin.

My husband applied this all over his face and said he liked the smell, and found it moisturising but found it slightly greasy for his face. Personally I found it pretty absorbent on my hand and didn't find it greasy myself, but husband noted that while it's not heavy at all, and smelled great, he prefers lighter, thinner creams for his face.

Key Ingredients:
  • Vitamin E – one of the most well-known and researched antioxidants, vitamin E occurs natu-rally in human skin and can help to prevent signs of premature ageing. It works to block free radicals from the body, which play a large part in the ageing process. It is a fabulous moistur-ising agent to keep skin smooth and supple and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Argan Oil - for generations, natives of the Argan Forest in Morocco have collected and pressed the nut to extract this precious oil. It absorbs easily and is non-greasy and non-irritating, which makes it a great natural moisturiser. With its high Vitamin E and fatty acid content, it helps to give skin a natural glow.
  • Wheat Protein - recognised for its great hydrating properties, it is also shown to be one of the most effective pore minimisers and will help to smooth fine lines.
  • Aloe Vera – used since ancient times it is a well-known soothing ingredient. This rich hydra-tor helps to moisturise without leaving a greasy feel and has great healing properties, perfect for post-shaving.

Pure Luxury Body Lotion 250ml
This was the biggest bottle of the three, and came with a pump that locks and opens when you twist it, which I liked. Again, this is a fairly luxurious looking bottle for a body lotion, which I can imagine looking good on my dresser.

This cream was a tiny bit thicker than the face cream which is ideal for the body, especially as I have drier skin on my body than face, and prefer something heavier for my body. This also smelled great, and had a mix of Vitamin E, rice protein, olive, argan and jojoba oils, all of which are a good mix of moisturising ingredients. I used this mainly on my arms and legs and found it pretty absorbent, and again thought it moisturised my skin well, I usually use body butters which last me the whole day so was pleased to see that this works the same way - moisturising my skin the whole day.

Key ingredients:
  • Jojoba Oil - moisturising and nourishing, it closely resembles the sebum in our own skin meaning it is very easily absorbed.
  • Hyaluronic Acid - naturally found in the body, this helps to keep skin, plump and hydrated for a smooth, youthful appearance.
  • Olive Oil Extract - naturally packed with anti-ageing antioxidants and hydrating squalene, it is a superb moisturising ingredient for skin.
  • Rice Protein - helps to improve the skin's moisture barrier for true hydration and dry skin relief and protection from environmental aggressors.

Overall, I think this is an excellent range which has been well thought out and takes more into consideration than just being a halal skincare brand - it actually tries to address good skincare issues by looking at good ingredients and the fact that the creams do what they're supposed to do.
I'm not an expert when it comes to skincare (and usually have to look online for reviews or ask a few friends of mine for more information) but I did also like that this is not just targeted for Muslims - it is for anyone looking for a decent skincare brand and also for those looking for cruelty-free and vegan or vegetarian products, who expect a good quality brand.

I also think this is very reasonably priced for what it costs - one of my biggest problems when looking for suitable skincare has always been value for money (we can't all afford Creme de la Mer creams!) and I think that while some of the better skincare products are expensive for a reason, they don't always have to be - and this is certainly a reflection of that.

You can find out more about Al Din in these links below - let me know what you think!
YouTube commercial

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Pakistan Fashion Week 10 London 2016 (PFW10)

I didn't get to attend Pakistan Fashion Week in London this year, but but I did follow the event online and loved some of the outfits - there was a wide range of colours and styles, not to mention beautiful fabrics (loving the velvet I saw!)

I won't post all of the pictures of all the designers, but here's a few I liked below - you can see more pictures from the catwalk here and here.

Agha Noor - I loved the red and off-white colour co-ordination of this collection and the pretty baroque-style prints with the red velvets.

Aisha Imran - These were a lot of colourful, traditional bridals which I thought were lovely - some of the colour accents of these were really pretty.

Ayesha Aejaz - I liked some of these (the first outfit was a pretty mint that I liked) but I didn't love all of them - some of the pieces felt a little bulky or mismatched.

Bombay Wala - these were very colourful, ideal for summer, especially some of the casual pieces. I can definitely imagine wearing the last two pieces!

Braathii by Huma Nassr - Another designer which had random outfits I wasn't sure about - some felt a bit mis-matched, and even a little dated. I did like the skirt at the end which reminded me of this outfit.

Deepak Perwani - I like this designer's outfits, and wasn't disappointed by this fresh, feminine collection, which I thought was done pretty tastefully.

Fashion Factory by Amna Farhan - a black and gold collection which was a nice mix of Western and Eastern fusion - I can see some of these being worn for a night out or a Christmas party.

Hamna Amir - this was a view of  the designer's jewellery collection, some of which were very pretty with a mix of beading and pearls. I loved the combination of chokers with long necklaces too.

Komal Nasir - this designer showcased her collection of shawls, which looks beautiful - my favourite is the rich blue one below.

Maheen Khan - this designer had a very funky mix of outfits, with rich fabrics and layered dresses and kimonos. Not sure about a lot of these, mostly because I can't see them on a wedding or party scene, but the use of different fabrics was definitely an eyecatching one.

Moazzam Abbasi - I liked some of these, semi-formal outfits which looked easy to wear, and weren' too fussy. Again I can see these in a Western or Eastern setting, which will look great either way (I can certainly seeing myself wearing the first outfit on holiday!)

Nainiqa Farah London - Another gold and black collection, but I quite liked this one - the rich brocade and velvet made the gowns look eleborate yet beautiful.

Nickishey by Moonam Amir - this was a cape collection galore, but I liked how the designer explored different colours, styles and materials (can you see that fur collar on the black cape?)

NIKH by Iram Noman - a more classical looking bridal collection I can see some of these being worn for weddings and receptions.

Noman & Bhaiya - this very colourful collection would look for mehndis (I'm sure I have already seen some of these being worn) and are very playful and girly.

Pehnavni by Nazis Kidwai - I really liked some of these lenghas, they're colourful with a lot of spring-pink-and-mint tones which look lovely. I also liked the layering, such as the jacket below on top of the shirt and lengha skirt.

Rana Noman - Another collection which I thought was lovely, I liked some of the details on these outfits, which balance out the rich fabrics used as the underskirts.

Rizwan Ahmed - this was a lovely pastel and nude collection, which I can imagine a lot of brides-to-be would love. I also liked how the designer played with the hem-length of the tops, which a mix of cut-out details and split-front dresses.

Sadaf Amir - For some reason this collection didn't stand out much to me, perhaps because it looked too similar to a lot of the high-stree stuff I've seen, and also because the colours didn't necessarily appeal to me. I did like the blue and mustard outfit though, which was pretty stylish.

Sahar Atif - This was an interesting collection, with a mix of lengha-cholis, shararas, capes and jackets, which were quite pretty. I can imagine some of these being worn to a lot of weddings this winter, especially the formals.

Sanori - I loved the floral details on these outfits, and the mix of pastels with dusky shades, wich gave a pretty but almost vintage look to some of these.

Shamaeel Ansari - This was a gorgeous Mughal-style collection with a big mix of rich fabrics and prints, which looked lovely. I'm not sure these are to everyone's tastes but I thought some of the jacket pieces looked very stylish.

Zeshan Bariwala - This was a bridal collection which mixed pastels and nudes alongside richer colours. I wasn't a fan of the red bridals but thought the lighter pastels and nude outfits were really pretty.

Event Produced by: Riwayat Ltd @riwayatuk
Choreography: Hajira Ahmad @ EBH @eventsbyhajira
Official Photography: Shahid Malik @iamshahidmalik
Head Stylist: Nabila @nabila_salon
Hair and Make-up supported by Saima Kiran @saimakiran
PR by Enigme Internationale @enigme_internationale

Sunday, 4 December 2016

DESIGNER DUPLICATES: Sabyasachi vs Ayesha Aejaz

I know we've all done it - copied a designer to make an affordable replica (I'm just as guilty, you can see a few of my copies here!) It's understandable for us customers - we can't always afford the price tage of a designer so compromise to the design we want. There's a huge industry of fashion vendors and shops who will willingly copy designs for us, whether on the high street or all over Facebook and Instagram.

Don't get me wrong - I am not in any way trying to discourage or disparage anyone who chooses to do this. But it seems a little cheeky when designer labels do the same thing, especially when it tries to take the credit for a design which isn't theirs (at least when I copy an outfit, I admit it!)

Here's something that struck my eye recently - a white and gold lengha design from Sabysachi's summer wedding collection, and Ayesha Aejaz's design showcased at Pakistan Fashion Week London last weekend. Both outfits seem pretty similar, although Sabyasachi's version seems a bit more superior.

While the top is pretty different, the border on the lengha skirt is pretty much the same - although I think I prefer the Sabyasachi version.even the dupatta scarves seem similar - both with a scattering of gold sequins and mukesh all over with a border around the edges. The colours of white and gold isn't a big deal - there's plenty of bridals in these colours but its hard to ignore how similar these are!

I'll be keeping an eye out for more obvious copies like these - let me know what you think of these!