I’m trying something new. I hope you’ll approve. For many years now, I’ve resisted doing beauty reviews. I thought that they wouldn’t be my forte, and that you (dear reader) don’t visit Ruby Assembly for our opinions on beauty. Inspired by a motherlode of super wonderful beauty bits-and-bobs I’ve been gifted recently, I thought about creating a way to share my discoveries with you in a way that is true to Ruby Assembly. So here it is: Beauty and the Book. One beauty or luxury item paired with one excellent book – something for your body, and something for your brain. I do hope you’ll approve!

Beauty: I am quite a fan of Bourjois products, finding their quality at beauty-counter level but not-too-exxy. I had run out of a BB Cream when this 123 Perfect CC Cream serendipitously made its way to my door. I prefer light and easy-to-wear coverage for everyday, only applying a heavier foundation when going to events or out at night. This CC Cream boasts the color correction of a foundation (with apricot, green and white pigments to even out imperfections) with the hydration of skincare. The first day I wore it to the studio, Ellana noted how well and flawless my skin looked – so it is a product that is obviously doing something right! I apply it with a brush directly after my moisturiser to ensure a dewy finish. I find I do have to use more of this product for even coverage than I’d normally consider – but that given, it doesn’t go particularly oily during the way. Nice one.
Book: I hadn’t heard of Sophia Amoruso or her wunder-project before looking up #girlboss on Pinterest for some cute Instagram content. I followed the hastag bunny down the rabbit hole and soon discovered #girlboss is the name of Sophia’s inspo-biography, charting her development from thief to chief. I’m not hugely into selfhelp books (finding they often leave one feeling more inadequate than jolly), and am suspicious of biography (as a ghostwriter myself, I often think many of these quick-turnaround tomes are penned by other than their subject). #girlboss, however, is refreshing, frank and funny. It’s not exactly a ‘how to’ guide to money or success – it’s more of a rollicking story of hard work, following one’s intuition and kicking ass. All these things appeal to me. Plus, look at the cover! It’s worth buying just to put that sucker on your nightstand. A+!
Beauty: Boudoirs need mood lighting and olfactory luxury, amirite? None better than in the form of a bespoke candle from zeitgeist Australian brand Bombardier Designs. Matching design smarts (the labels just smack of Sloaney-Pony Hermes-filled loungerooms and walk-in-wardrobes) with  deliciously scented soy candles, Kayla Bombardier has hit the nail on its sartorial head. An Instagram hit curating gorgeous dream-images (find them @kaylabombardier), Bombardier Designs can personalise candles for your event, client gift or gift-to-self. I must admit, I cackled with glee and clicked my heels together at these Ruby Assembly personalised candles in french pear and champagne.
Book: Robert Hughes – art critic, writer, documentarian. Whaddaguy. He wrote prodigiously, famous for his tomes including The Shock Of The New : Art and the Century of Chang and his history-fiction The Fatal Shore. My mother gave me The Fatal Shore as a 12-year old (maybe a little young, but I applaud her faith in me!) and I remember being well-engaged by it then – something often surprising for Australian history. This book sits on my dresser still and I return to it routinely as a touchstone to Australian culture . I recently finished Hughes’ final work Rome: A Cultural, Visual and Personal History – a doorstopper of a book which was a pleasure to read. Don’t think about this book as history (even though it is, and I have found myself deeply educated by it). It is a richly colorful, deeply personal vision of the eternal city. Hughes fleshes out the key characters of Rome’s development in bright, brilliant language – never patronising, yet never alienating either. A fine balance and a wonderful place to start your reading of Robert Hughes.
Beauty: What’s better than a box of goodies directly from Lush? Little. Maybe a box of diamonds. Lush products are more useful in the short-term however. I suffer from psoriasis quite badly around my hairline, forehead and elbows. I’m choosing not to use steroidal creams on it at the moment – I figure those who know and love me won’t mind about the psoriasis and I don’t want to constantly be applying medications to my body. This is where natural, beautiful products like those from Lush come in. Their Dream Cream worked as it said on the label – it had a slightly medicinal scent and thin texture, but it actually improved the dryness of the skin on my elbows and neck. I will definitely be buying more of this – their best-selling product. Enriched with oat milk, chamomile, lavender and other soothing goodies – a terrifically soothing pot of goodness. I also tried out their Mary-Poppins-perfect face cream British Nanny which is super emollient and heavy in texture, delicately scented with jasmine. This product is DIVINE. You only need a smidgen to cover your face and neck – I intersperse my use of this product with jojoba oil at night. It is a little too heavy for me during the day, but if you are seeking something naturally luxe with a heavenly scent, you’re onto a good thing here.
Book: Tales of the uncanny and the familiar revealed as strange: I love me some gothic mystery. By that, I don’t mean anything Twilight-related that deserves an Evanescence soundtrack – emo I am not. Rather, I prefer tales that unravel archetypes delicately – among my favorite authors are Margaret Atwood and Chloe Hooper both known for their revelation of the mundane as mysterious. Author Donna Tartt could well be added to this list as I am intrigued by her first book, The Secret History. A kind of maudlin Ivy-League tale which curiously floats in-and-out of time, it is peopled by obsessive and mildly mythic Classics students in a picture perfect, snowy and pinetreed Vermont College. A sense of foreboding hangs over the text, and a kind of Gatsby-feeling of doom matched with lusciously-formed characters and ideas. Just my cup of tea.
Book: Late last month I was treated to seeing Rossini’s The Turk in Italy by Opera Australia. So this isn’t a book per se – it’s more a theatre programme by which to remember the beautifully-rendered, funny and lascivious light operetta. It is paired with a favorite necklace of mine which feels profoundly Ottoman – a wonderful Bvlgari-inspired piece by Collette Hayman.
Beauty: It’s Turkish Delight – a shower smoothie by Lush. A heady, moisturising and cleansing paste with the scent of rose and jasmine, it is a ‘delight’ to rub into the skin (it melts in almost immediately) before lathering into suds with and rinsing off. Very nourishing for my dry skin and frangranced enough to make Mr Ruby Assembly ask ‘ooh, what’s that lovely smell?’.
Beauty: Sometimes you don’t want to think. You just want to float. At times like this, find yourself a bath, pop a bathbomb in (this one is a beauty by Lush), smell the good smells, hear the good fizzes and slide into the heat. Maybe put on a facemask too (in for a penny, in for a pound). I’ve been using some rather fancy facemasks from Lonvitalite of late, which come as a material mask enriched with fancy skin treats. A 24-K Active Gold Yulan Oil Facial Mask, if you please. I won’t lie – when I have it on I look scary, like a soap-ey Hannibal Lecter. Fright factor aside, these babies are THE BOMB. I pop them in the freezer to cool quickly, them apply them to my face for maximum tingle. And tingle they do, for a full 15-20 minutes. Being a worry-wart, I was concerned that the tingle would be a sign of the mask’s active ingredients making my face fall off. It didn’t of course – rather, it revealed luminous, super-plump and fresh skin with a very smooth surface. I’m using these once a week – along with their collagen eye-masks which are refreshing before an event or if you’re a little tired in the morning.
Book: Pah, masks and baths need magazines, not books. Here’s the new Elle. That is all. <3