Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wedding Skincare - Babor Express Relief Fluid

Today's I'm really excited to share with you a post from reader Ling who has decided to impart with us her wisdom on how to achieve glowing clear skin that all brides (and the rest of us) covet for their big day.

"I recently got married and every girl knows how important and hard it is to look flawless with radiant skin on the big day. The task is made more difficult with all the pre-wedding last minute stress and lack of sleep on the night before the big day. I have seen a few brides who have a sudden breakout of spots and walk down the aisle caked in concealer…but thank God for them, there is always Photoshop!

I was, however, determined to avoid the caked-in-concealer look and avoid the obviously Photoshopped-skin wedding photos. I asked my friend who is a professional beautician for advice and she recommended using Babor Express Relief Fluid

About the Brand
Originating from Germany over 50 years ago, Babor has established itself as one of the most trusted professional skincare brands in the world today with cosmetic institutes and exclusive day spas in over 60 countries worldwide including Norway, Dubai, New York and all the Golden Door day spas throughout Australia. Babor defines exclusive cosmetics and wellness products, and epitomises outstanding product quality, highly effective ingredients and professional treatments.

Babor Express Relief Fluid
“Express Relief Fluid provides immediate relief in the event of skin irritations. Extracts of cardiospermum boost the skin’s resistant and instantly soothe irritations. In a complex biotechnological procedure, processed extracts of echium, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, strengthen the “cement” that holds the skin cells together and protect against moisture loss, leaving the skin looking calmer, more relaxed and less reddened.”

A box of this contains 7 glass ampoules with 2ml of single use beauty fluid.

7 days before the wedding, I started applying this every evening after my normal cleansing routine. To break the glass ampoule, just wrap tissue around the neck and gently snap it open at the lower coloured ring. I used my hands to apply the fluid all over my face, neck and decolletage. 

The lightly-scented fluid has a slightly oily texture and my skin was like a sponge and soaked up the beauty fluid effortlessly, but best of all, it did not leave an oily film. The instructions say that cream can be applied afterwards, but I didn’t feel like my skin needed it so I didn’t bother.
When I woke up in the morning, my skin felt soft and supple and any red blemishes I had miraculously disappeared. I truly believe that because I applied the Express Relief fluid every day for 7 days, I had flawless and radiant skin for my wedding day, considering I was super-stressed and suffered from sleep deprivation. 

Because of the smooth texture of my skin, it made it so much easier for my wedding make-up artist because make-up would just glide on and stay put. My make-up looked fresh and natural and I did not touch up my make-up at all for the whole day!

Here is some photographic evidence (no Photoshop retouching performed, honest!):
Glowing Ling
And my husband, who usually has glowing skin and no spots whatsoever, unfortunately suffered from a zit breakout on the wedding day. He should have used Babor Express Relief Fluid - lol!
Spotty forehead hubby on the day

Verdict: Babor Express Fluid - I don’t just like it, I LOVE it!"
Thanks for sharing Ling. 

RRP A$75.  This was purchased directly from Ling's beautician, but it is available online or at your nearest Babor institute salons.

In her late 20s, Ling is a Scottish-born Chinese dentist who recently relocated to Melbourne after meeting and marrying “The One” while she was travelling in Australia last year. She has always spent way too much money on skincare and beauty products (in fact, her first salary was spent on - not one, not two, but - three La Mer products!)
Ling also pens her thoughts at her own personal blog and newly hatched beauty blog (this is one super-busy woman here). She is currently providing free smile analysis so go check her sites out and find out how you can get your own pearly whites diagnosed :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maybelline Expert EyeStudio - Give Me Gold

Don't we all love a bargain and with Christmas and the holiday season coming up, we need all the help available in finding great quality products that not only won't break the budget but will make fabulous gifts for some lucky ducks (or a sweet treat for yourself).

Maybelline Expert EyeStudio Quad - Give Me Gold

Ingredients listing
  • 4 thoughtfully co-ordinated colours in a slimline plastic compact that can easily be thrown into the travel makeup bag for on-the-go applications and touch ups. 
  • Shades include a champagne beige, golden yellow, copper-bronze and a mid earthy brown. All shades except the copper-bronze contain fine irridecent shimmer which gives it the sparkly look while the copper-bronze is more a metallic frost finish. The palette may not be for you if you don't like shimmer but who doesn't like a bit of shimmer?
  • These colours work so well together and definitely neutral enough to wear to work during the day but can be intensified with using a wet brush/applicator for bolder looks at night. The copper-bronze is my favourite for all over lid colour with the brown for the crease work. 
  • The texture is smooth and buttery soft, it really was a dream to apply and blend with. 
  • Pigmenation was rich and quite long lasting even without primer. This silk infused formula would definitely give the higher end products out there a run for their money. What's best is that they are available in 12 different shades so there's almost endless possibilities with creating different looks. 
Give Me Gold in natural light, no primer

Rating: 9/10. RRP A$16.95 at Priceline and leading pharmacies. Even more a bargain when they are on sale.

Do you like this cheap and cheerful post? Let me know and if interest is there, I'll do a series of them for holiday gifting ideas.

This product was received at the MBBE event.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: MOR Marshmallow Body Oil

You all know by now how much I love my body oils and moisturisers. Like a parched desert, my skin just laps up all the moisture and sometimes needs top ups during the day so I'm always on the look out for new oils and lotions to try.

This is my latest addiction.

MOR Marshallow Body Oil
Ingredients listing
  • Part of their signature Marshmallow range of products, this light oil contains the deliciously sweet scent of White Carnation and marshmallow for top notes while notes of Jasmine, Rose and Althaea flower peek through as mid way and finally finishes up with an earthy white musk and sweet vanilla base. This almost feels like you are spraying on a perfume with the changing scents and thankfully the scent is light enough so you can spray all over the body and it not be too overpowering.
  • The spray bottle gives the light mist of oil over skin which when gently massaged was quickly absorbed and did not leave skin feeling greasy or sticky at all.
  • Full of nourishing macadamia oil, wheat germ oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil and sunflower oil to keep skin soft and supple and marshmallow, peach and mango extract to delicately scent the skin, I found it kept my skin hydrated for the entire day.
  • As always, the packaging from MOR is just too cute with the box adorned with pretty pink English roses and the bottle is simple yet elegantly shaped to be full of style and class.

Rating: 10/10. The perfect indulging body oil that not only keeps skin from becoming reptilian but also keeps you smelling as sweet as roses and marshmallows :)
RRP A$44.95 at MOR Online and selected Myer, David Jones stores.

BONUS OFFER: Buy this Marshallow oil at MOR online and receive a free Little Luxuries Body butter (valued at A$16.95) free with coupon code "MOR15" for all Australian and New Zealand purchases. Offer expires 30th October.

I won this from a recent BeautyHeaven competition.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How To: Curl Hair with VS Sassoon's Magic Curl

My natural hair is thick and unruly, with kinks and just plain hard to deal with in mornings. I decided to end the pain and make life easier with less styling hassles by permanently straightening it with the Shiseido Straightening system a few months back.

Lately though, the grass seems to be greener on the other side and I've been wanting to have some soft pretty curls, especially after seeing friends getting Japanese perms on their hair and looking super Kawaii.

So to curb my hair envy, I thought I'd try to recreate those soft loose curls for a temporary basis.

VS Sasson Magic Curl Styling Wand

  • The newest addition to VS Sasoon's Premiere Collection, the wand-like barrel curler with no clamps in sight promises to deliver curls full of definition and shine with no crimps or kinks to hair.
  • The styling wand tapers from 25mm in diameter at one end down to13mm at the other meaning you can create soft loose curls on top of hair that narrows to tighter ringlets at the other end.
  • Features a SolTEC™ Ceramic barrel that provides a smoother surface to wrap hair with and make its easier to glide hair off when finished with setting the curls.
  • Variable temperature control with 4 different heat settings to suit all hair types so you don't fry your hair to bits when using it.
  • Comes with a heat-resistant glove to help your handle the hot wand whist styling your hair.

Magic Curl showing temperature control w On/Off button
How to use:
  • Turn on the Magic curl and set it to desired heat setting to preheat it by pressing the +/- button.  The temperature light indicator will remain constant once the right heat level is achieved. I set mine at 170 degrees and found it hot enough to curl my hairs.
  • Put on the protective glove on side of the hand you will be using to wrap your hair around the styler with.
  • Start by working on hair at the base of your neck and work your way up to the hair at the crown. Take up all the hair and clip the top layers of hair out of the way, leaving the bottom layer free to work with.
  • Curl hair from the back first and move your way towards the front.
  • Section hair into 2-4cm widths (depending on whether you want loose curls or more defined ones- the smaller the section of hair, the more defined your curls will be) and starting at the thicker end of the wand, wrap hair around the barrel down towards the narrow end until your hair is fully curled around the wand. Hold the hair for 5 seconds to let the heat set it before gliding the wand out of your curled hair.
  • You can also half-twist the wand during the style-setting stage to get tighter curls.
  • Once the bottom layer of hair is curled, you can let out more hair from the middle layer and repeat the same steps and finally curling the the top layers of your hair until you're all finished.
  • After curling hair, spray plenty of hair spray to fix the style and ensure long lasting curls.
Before and after Magic Curl - I went for the loose curls look

How it performed:
  • Quick to heat up, I loved the adjustable temperature setting. It gives me peace of mind that I'm not going over-board in the heat styling department. 
  • Easy to use - without reading any instruction manual, I found the Magic Curl wand very intuitive to use - it was as simple as taking hair and wrapping it around the wand. 
  • The provided glove helped saved me from burning my fingers. Too bad there weren't ear hoods to save my ears which I burnt whilst curling the hair too close to the ear. Hopefully my better techniques after more practice will prevent future burns.
  • The on/off button is awkwardly positioned during use. I would accidentally press it while twisting the wand to curl my hair and switch it off, resulting in having to re-switch it back on and reset the temperature again. Next time, I'll use some some tape to tape over the button area once I turn it on to prevent myself from accidental switch offs. Maybe a cover over the botton or a on/off sliding lever design in future models would be more suitable.
  • The wand did indeed give soft pretty kink-free curls full of shine, body and bounce and it held its shape well. This did a better job than my GHD for curls (I've given up trying to master curling with that styler).

Styling Tips 
  • To practise your curling techniques, try using the magic curl without turning the power on to get used to styling at the back of hair and familiarise the angle you will need to hold the magic curl
  • Remember to spritz on some heat protectant before using the styler to prevent hair from being over-exposed and damaged by heat - try John Frieda's Heat Defeat Protective styling spray.

VS Sassoon's Magic Curl wand certainly delivered curls that would rival those created by the professionals at any hair salon.
Rating: 9/10. It would have received full marks if the button designs were fixed to prevent accidental switch offs.
RRP A$69.95 at all leading department and electrical stores.

This product was received at the MBBE event.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pink Ribbon Breakfast Day

I was heading into work this morning and saw at the train station entrance and the foyer of my work building, stalls being set up to sell teddy bears, pens and pink ribbons pins. It was a timely reminder for me that October is the time to think all things pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month and next Tuesday 26th October being Pink Ribbon Day.

Cancer research has always been dear to my heart and even more so since the loss of a young family member not so long ago. I immediately bought a pink ribbon pin to add to my collection and to help fund clinical trial clinical breast cancer research and the care of cancer patients..
Another cool way to support the cause is to attend the cancer foundation's Pink Ribbon's Womens breakfast held at various locations throughout the country in the next week.

If you are in Melbourne, why not head down to Doncaster next Saturday morning and join the Doncaster Salvation Army and one of the major sponsors, the lovely people at Absolutely Gorgeous hosting the Melbourne's breakfast day this year.

For only $15, your ticket to Doncaster’s Salvation Army Pink Ribbon Breakfast will include a delicious continental breakfast, entertainment, guest speaker, beautiful stalls with products for sale, a fabulous silent auction and goodie bag (packed with goodies from the sponsors). There will also be prizes and Pink Ribbon merchandise for sale. All monies raised will go towards essential breast cancer research.
Date: 30th October 2010
Time: 9 am – 11:30am
Place: The Salvation Army
          37 Taunton St
          Doncaster East
          MEL REF 34 B10
Costs: A$15
RSVP: 25th October

For bookings, phone (03) 9842 4744 or contact Cristina at /  0402 243 393.

So what are you waiting for? hop on to it and book yourself a seat (or a whole table of 6 for only A$60) and have some fun while helping a good cause on the day.

What will you be doing to on Pink Ribbon day to help the cause?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Lux Shea Exfoliating Scrub & Tropical Sunset Body Wash

These scrummy smelling bottles were in my MBBE bag and I took them out to try last week.

These body washes are the latest addition to Lux's body wash range and are soap free and pH balanced. Usually I provide ingredients listings of the prorducts but these shower washes come in clear bottles and I can't photograph the ingredients writing clearly without the product inside obscuring it. If I find a way, I'll come back later and update this post. 

Lux Shea Exfoliating Scrub Body Wash
  • Smells delicious, almost like chocolate caramel syrup. I was worried that it would smell like washing myself with candy syrup but surprisingly the scent is more watered down with a nutty hint during use - I actually really liked it :) 
  • Contains micro-beads to gently exfoliate and reveal more poslished skin while shea butter and sunflower oil sooth and hydrates to keep skin soft. 
  • Gave a good creamy lather like any good shower gel would. 
  • I left the shower feeling refreshed, clean and well moisturised. This is fast becoming my new favourite shower wash.
Lux Tropical Sunset Body wash
  • Pina colada anyone? Definitely sent me into tropical island fantasy overdrive. The scent is very refreshing during use with the citrus overtones coming through. 
  • Contains mango and grapefruit oils to moisturise skin and condition
  • Mr. Yoyo loves this to wake him up in morning showers with its fruity scent and rich lathering formula that left his skin nice and smooth.
Rating: 9/10. Affordable everyday luxuries that gives a 'scentual' experience during shower times. 
RRP A$5.99 for 400ml. Available in supermarkets, pharmacies and Priceline now.

These products were sent for review.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Eats: Seoulia Korean BBQ Buffet

Since attending a BBQ gathering 3 weeks ago, I've been craving for more meat of the barbequed variety. Sorry vegetarians - you can skip reading this post before its gets messy for you.

Given that I live in an apartment, it is pretty hard to have a BBQ at my place so I scoured around for a decent BBQ place that I can satisfy my hunger with.

Mr. Yoyo and I have settled on an old favourite locale of ours (actually Mr. piggy of the day has already visited this place more than half a dozen times over the past 4 years) so we knew that we were in for a feast and starved ourselves for the day (joking, but we did run around a fair bit that day so was quite hungry when it came to dinner time).

Korean BBQ is where you sit at a table with a BBQ plate in the middle for you to cook your own meats. I love the concept because it means you cook the food when you feel like it and it's always piping hot whenever you eat it. It also means you are at control of your meals as you can BBQ the food as quickly or slowly as you like.

As with all buffets, you settle the bill upfront and are then allowed free reign to go pick on the food to your hearts content.

There is a small but fresh and thoughtful selection of marinated and plain meats (beef, chicken, slices and diced pieces, pork belly, chicken ribs, giblets, calamari and baby octopuses) and a good variety of vegetables (cucumber, freshly sliced mushrooms, hot green chillis, Kimchi, onions, garlic and lettuce to wrap you meats in). There were also rice and miso and pumpkin soup on the night. Food was fresh and plentiful and the meat trays were always promptly refilled when it rang out.

The whole cooking and eating experience was immensely rewarding and pleasurable. With meat sizzling on the piggy shaped gas hot plate, I enjoyed dipping my perfectly cooked meats meats in their hot chilli and bean paste sauces and the hot teas and then cooling down with chilled water. You can also order decently priced bottled drinks and sake at addition charge.
Calamari, sliced marinated beef, baby octopus,  marinated chicken breast pieces all sizzling away
What I love most was the ice cream freezer, they only offered vanilla or chocolate flavours but when they are so creamy and flavoursome, I don't think I would ask for anything else. Their sweet orange slices as a final palate cleanser after all the binge-eating is very refreshing too.

Needless to say, our bellies were very full after the whole 2 hour affair (there is a time limit on your BBQ session to try and save you from the whole buffet abomination) and I'm very satiated. My meaty cravings have been quelled for the next few weeks at least.

As with any BBQ, the smoke will get into your hair and clothes so make sure you dress with this in mind and dont' wear anything you don't want to be washed anytime too soon.

The surprising thing about this place is that it is not listed on Urbanspoon. Gasp! This has got to be Melbourne's best kept buffet secret and it sure beats the newer Gogi's overpriced offerings.

980 Whitehorse Road Boxhill 3128 VIC
(03)9899 2696
A$28.50 per person. This is a very popular eat-out with locals and bookings are essential via their online website. Look out for their too cute piggy BBQ plates that you will be cooking in when you arrive.

Review: Natio Lip Treatment w UV Filters

Do you have lips that are in a constant state of dry, cracked mess crying for some TLC? We know the solution to that is to hydrate them with lip balms, glosses and regular exfoliation, but what's the best products to deliver these results and give you soft supple pouts?

I'm always in search for better products to rescue my super-duper dry lips, which are exposed to the crazy Melbourne weather and the daily air conditioning at work.  I have to exfoliate my poor pouts every day while showering because of the dry flaky skin but this makes them slightly raw afterwards and I need rich nourishing products to nurse them back to suppleness and not so bee-stung looking (sorry - overly fat lips do not look good on anyone other than Angelina Jolie, and lets leave it at that).

I find lip balms do an okay job but wanted to amp up the treatment factor and looked around and found this local Aussie goody.

Natio Lip Treatment with UV filters
IngredientsOctyl Methoxycinnamate, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Ethylene/Propylene/ Styrene Copolymer, Butylene/Ethylene/ Styrene Copolymer, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Tocopher yl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Flavour (Aroma) Menthol.

  • Applies like a gloss but nourishes and protects like a balm. Shine and protection. Win-win!
  • Contains vitamin E, aloe vera that gives deep long-lasting conditioning properties - easily gives me over an hour of relieved lips in the office which is almost double of most other lip products I've tried. 
  • Not tacky or sticky on lip - in fact they feel rather slippery and my lips well lubricated - must be that aloe gel at work there. Just my kind of lip products
  • Gives glossy  high shine - I love slicking this over my favourite lip pencil colour to add an new dimension to lip products. 
  • Has UV filters to protect those your pout. You may not realise but your lips can get burnt after prolonged exposure in the sun, giving rise to more flaky lips which could lead to dis-colourations along the edges of lips or worse - abnormal growths that transforms to nasty things cancer on, so sun-protection on lips is a MUST like every other part of your body. 
  • Does have a slight tingling feeling upon initial application from the menthol - I'm not sure I like the sensation but I'm willing to put up with it for all the other goodness it provides me. 
  • Great hygienic squeeze-out tube applicator. No wand applicators that could contaminate products by dipping back into product after on-going use. 
  • Tip: make sure you keep your hydration levels up during the day by drinking plenty of water to keep your puckers smooth. Whenever I don't drink enough, I definitely feel my lips going downhill faster than usual. 
I always reach for this lip treatment when my lips are chapped or cracked and need extra TLC. Believe it or not, I think this stuff is better on my lips than Lucas Papaw ointment and I love that for everything.  I keep one in my handbag, another at home and a third at my desk to make sure I always have access to it.

What lip treatments have you tried for super dry lips that flake every day? I'm keen to try other products that I may not have come across that do just as well and doesn't have the menthol tingling sensation.

Rating: 9.5/10. My can't live without for the past Winter season.
RRP A$9.95 at Natio Online, Myer, David Jones and leading pharmacies.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: MOR Emporium Soap Bar

Hope everyone's weekend went well. Mine flew by too quickly again and now it's the start to another new week. I've got taxes to do, but taking priority over it are product reviews :)

Don't you love it when brands combine great packaging and star ingredients to come up with quality products that indulges one's sensory organs?

Aussie brand MOR pulls off this magical blending to perfection, wrapping their holistic and lovely products with soft romantic designs of the Renaissance era that hints of the luxuries of year gone-by. Their range predominantly covers body products ranging from decadent bar soaps to delectable body butters and lip delights and deliciously scented candles.

Today I'm doing a review of their soaps.

MOR Emporium Soap Bar - Royal Mulberry
Ingredients listing
  • Oh-so pretty packaging with the gold embossed designs wrapped with a ribbon and MOR's logo seal. It was almost too heart-breaking to unwrap it for use and could easily be a feature item in any bathroom if left at the side of the basin unwrapped and for display only. 
  • Has a light heady berry scent that for some reason reminds me of summer afternoons teas with scones and jam, I look forward to getting a whiff of summer sweetness whenever it's shower time :)
  • Triple milled bar soap to give smooth silky lather that is also very long lasting. I've been using it for over a week, and barely made a dent to it.
  • Made dead-skin scrubbing easy-as in showers and left skin hydrated and soft to touch and did not aggravate my scaly legs.

This high-end soap is just divine to use and made the cleansing experience all so much enjoyable. It is definitely is a small little luxury one could pamper themselves with.

Rating: 9/10. RRP A$19.95 at MOR Online and selected Myer, David Jones stores.

This product was sent for review.

Friday, October 15, 2010

NOTD: Inglot Nail Enamel - 316

I am pooped from work this week so here's a lazy post from me today.

Inglot Nail Enamel #316
No names are given for Inglot lacquers. Instead, they come numbered. This one is #316.
Inglot #316 - 2 coats in fluorescent light
Colour: baby pink in the bottle, with iridescent flashes of fiery blue/lavender in the light. One word: Gorgeous! You can't really see the blue flashes in the photo but trust me, it is very evident in real life. This is the perfect jazzed up neutral shade, nude enough for work but glam enough for play as well.

Finish: High gloss iridescent finish - on the sheer side with one coat and true to bottle colour with 2 coats.

Application: Every easy. Non-streaky and quick drying.

Lasting Power: Excellent. The photo above was taken after 3 days of wear without topcoat, you can see slight fading on the edges of the nails but the gloss and colour is still going strong. Being a sheerer shade, the fading is not too noticeable and honesty, I think I can wear this shade for a whole week before it looks ratty.

Rating: 10/10. Love the shade for its multi-dimensional colours in the light. RRP A$15 at Inglot stores. I bought this on their last sale for only A$5 (they rarely do sales but when it's on, most of the colours are on sale and I highly recommend picking some up then).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Rimmel 1-2-3 Looks Mascara

Having finished up my favourite mascara last week and not quite taken by the Lancome Oscillation one, I opted to test the next mascara that I had at my disposal.

Rimmel 1 2 3 Looks Mascara

Supposed breakthrough adjustable volume mascara – a dial to turn for 3 settings to achieve 3 different glam looks in 1 mascara!

How it performed 
  • With the dial base, I found the mascara harder to open up in the mornings (I know I'm still sleepy, but the dial mechanism sure isn't helping).
  • The dial setting is supposed to give adjustable looks with 1 being the most natural looking and 3 being the most full and dramatic look that you can achieve. Obviously I amp it up to the max with setting 3 but found that there was too much formula on the brush with that setting. Instead I do the first coat in setting 1 and once my lashes have built up some thickness, adjust it to 2 and give it a second coat to avoid over clumping. I sometimes still have to use a brush comb to de-clump and remove excess mascara from my lashes - not so good when I'm in a rush. I think I'll stick with setting 1 from now on and just do an extra 3rd coating.
  • Comes with a full bristled but short-sized brush so you can get into corners of eyes and lower lashes with ease. While I'm used to a larger and longer brush with my Max Factor False Lash Effect (my current benchmark when comparing all mascaras out there), it does do an effective job and is quite comparable in terms of results. However because of the smaller brush, it takes me longer to get the same effect.
  • Not prone to smudging but there was slight flaking during the day.
  • Provided a great lift to my straight lashes and wasn't clumpy on setting 1. It does give lashes closest to my favourite mascara in terms of volume and length (after a comb through) but my search will continue for something easier to use.

Overall thoughts
Not a bad mascara, but the dial settings failed to do much for me. Sometimes, simple and easy to use features give the most effective products.

Rating: 7/10 The formula isn't bad whilst the 1 2 3 dial is gimmicky and the brush too small for my personal liking but that's just fussy old me for you. RRP A$18.95 at Priceline, David Jones and all good pharmacies.

Hopefully sometime in the next week, I'll do a post and list the mascaras I'd tried over the years that were underwhelming on my lashes so be sure to watch out for that. Which mascara have you tried that didn't perform as it claimed?

This product was sent to me for review.

How To: Get the Most Out of the Strong AUD

There's a lot of chatter about our strong Aussie dollar against the US dollar in recent weeks. With the AUD hovering above US98c most days, there's no time like now to make online purchases and save a bundle, especially when you can find great US brands retailing their products at half the price of what it costs in Australian retail stores.
There is no clearer example than with the fashion and beauty industry - hello: why is BareEscentuals mineral foundation US$25 but A$70 here or Jag jeans US$50/A$100?. I don't understand why electronics, which are also imported, would fall in price whenever our currency rises but my beloved beauty items won't (market monopolies sheesh). It seems that the beauty industry is recession and currency fluctuation-proof, all to the consumers' detriment unfortunately.

So today I thought I'd share with you my best insider tips to make the most of the strong currency.

1. Get a foreign currency transaction fee-free credit card
Yes - I know it's a mouthful, but if you stay with me for a minute, I promise to make it worth your while.
When you buy items that are not in AUD with a credit card or even Paypal for that matter, your bank or financial institution will hit you with a 'foreign currency transaction fee' (FX for short). This is usually 2.5% of the purchase price after converting at the prevailing exchange rate of the day, so that strong dollar doesn't look that strong after factoring this fee or the Paypal exchange rate and could drop that US98c down to US94c - definitely not as good of a bargain anymore.

But fear not, there are credit cards that actually don't charge this fee so your dollars are converted at the true exchange rate to give as close to US98c as possible for your hard earned Aussie dollar (there is still an unavoidable teeny cut the credit card companies take which they like to call 'the spread' ). The credit card I most recommend is the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard 28 Degrees Mastercard because it comes with no annual fees. I use this card exclusively to buy from overseas sites and always get the best rates without any FX fees. This is also a great card to have when travelling and physically purchasing items overseas for the every same reason. So if you are eligible for a credit card, sign up for this one today.

2. The currency changes every half hour. Hit the Checkout button when the AUD soars to the highest point
Like the share market, there isn't just a single price for the AUD on a given day, it changes throughout the day and night due to overseas market movements and can go up in the morning and then drop down again in the evening with the market forces. When you see it rising high enough, lock it in and check your shopping cart out at that point in time to make the most of it.

3. Do not let Paypal convert USD to AUD for you
Why? because Paypal foreign currency exchange rates sucks. It already factors in the currency transaction fee. Instead, go get that Wizard Mastercard and link it to your Paypal account (see point 1). When you are confirming purchases, choose the credit card as your funding source and select the "Conversion options" link that allows you to change it to let your bank handle the foreign currency conversion process. I've now included screenshots for easy step-by step instructions.
You want to make sure the above selection are chosen. If not, change them
Paypal credit card conversion options. Select to have your card handle this

4. Use parcel forward services to shop at overseas online stores
The online store that sells your favourite brands don't ship international (I'm looking at you Sephora and Nordstrom Ulta). If you have family or friends overseas, beg them to allow you to use their address to buy stuff and get them to forward it to you. If that isn't an option, then just get sign up to a parcel forwarding service and you will be given an address in the USA to use as your shipping address. The service will then forward your packages to Australia. They even consolidate multiple purchases from different sellers and send it as a single package to you. Of course, all this is performed for a fee but with your favourite brands currently at prices at a big discount to that of Australian stores, even after including shipping and the forwarding service fee, you are still ahead of the game. There are many parcel forward services for American stores and is one of the most popular and reputable one. They even consolidate the first 3 purchases for you free of charge.

5. Combine all of the above to get the most of the strong Aussie dollar
This is very self explanatory. Combine points 1 to 4 and the power of compounding will work to maximise all the savings and give you the strongest rate with the greatest shopping options.

So there you have it - my shopping secrets are out. Happy shopping and may you find many good bargains all year round. No need to beat the crowd and wait for sales anymore. Everyday is a sale day from now on :)

What international online stores do you like to shop at? Do share and I'll do a post on the best places to shop online in a later post.

**Update 1**
A lovely reader informed me that Nordstrom does indeed ship to Australia. I remember visiting a while back and they only allow international shipping for very limited products. They've now opened up shipping for more products including that Longchamp tote I've been lusting for recently- yay!

**Update 2**
Travelling overseas? Want to use your own cash and not have to carry foreign currency?
Before leaving home soils, load your Wizard credit card up with your own cash so that your available credit is above your credit limit. When you go to overseas ATM and withdraw cash or make purchases, you will be withdrawing your own cash (as long as you don't dip below your credit limit). It will be converted to the Mastercard currency exchange rate at the time and there are no FX or cash advance fees. Too handy!

**Update 3 Nov 2010**
Finally uploaded screenshots for Paypal funding option changes.

**Update 4 Feb 2011**
The Wizard Clear mastercard has now changePublish Postd its name and is now known as the 28 degree Mastercard. It has the same features and like its predecessor, is supplied by GE Money. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NOTD: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Enamel in Pronto Purple

Hi All,

How's everyone's day going? I'm on training this week and will need to keep my posts short so nails are going to feature prominently as they are quicker to write up. This is the latest nail colour I have on while I'm on Life Cycle Management training this week  (they should have this course on people rather than systems, would be so much more interesting).

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Pronto Purple
Sally's claims
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri dries any nail colour in 30 seconds for no fading or chipping for up to ten days. The non-oily formula dries colour and shields manicure from fading and discolouring with superior shine.
How it performed 
  • In natural light, it is a deep purple-plum colour, but indoors in florescent light, it is more a eggplant purple. It is gorgeous under the sun and looks very edgy accesorised with grey/black clothing. This shade would suit all skintones. 
  • Semi creme, leaning more towards a satin finish. 1 coat yields a rather flat colour while 2 coats gives a more glossier look. I would have preferred the promised superior level of shine,  but the shine level achieved was just average. 
  • Easy to apply formula that resists streaking, is self-levelling and helps hides bad application well (all things I look for in my nail lacquers). It is also non-staining upon removal - another good sign. 
  • The only let down for me is the rather small bottle opening. I often find I'm not getting the flattened brush into the the opening and instead wiping polish onto the side, annoying when excess polish is dripping down from the stick end of the brush and I can't can't wipe it away quickly enough back into the bottle.  
  • Staying power was above average - there was minimal fading on the edges the next day and this was despite not having applied a top coat. 
2 coats in natural light. No topcoat. 
Rating: 7.5/10. Would have preferred the bottle design to be the conventional round or square shape rather than triangular with a small opening. More gloss to the finish would have been great too.
RRP A$13.95/US$4.99 for 9.17ml at all good pharmacies and Priceline in Australia.

This product was sent to me for review

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Modelco One Night Tan

I'm not much of a tanning person as I can get quite dark easily with just a small amount of time in the sun. I know for fairer ladies, they would curse me and wish they had my tanning genes. If I could, I would happily swap places with you fair ladies.

Besides, tanning under the sun or in a tanning salon will just lead to premature aging with the onset of freckles, sunspots, hyper-pigmentation and wrinkles (yikes, and don't get me started on the old skin cancer line either) - all of which are far from pretty. But fear not y'all, I've found a product that will make you look like a natural bronze goddess without all the harm, and the best thing is you can go right back to being the pale porcelain princess I so covet straight after you're done with your bronzed-goddess look.

Modelco One Night Tan - Wash Off Instant Bronze Mousse for the Body
First Impressions
  • Instant gratification faux tanner in a can that gives skin a warm sunkissed look
  • Despite the product packaging saying there is no sparkles, but it does contains micro-fine gold shimmer  particles to impart radiance and glow. It is very natural looking and does not look sparkly at all. 
  • Light-weight velvety mousse formula means that you can't over apply on skin as the mousse will spread easily over the body and give it a thin coat of colour. 
  • Quick-drying and once dried, is smudge-proof so have no fear in wear that pretty white dress out with this. 
Ingredients listings

How it performed
As I mentioned, my skin is naturally medium colour in skintone so I don't normally go looking out for bronzing products (with the exception of a face bronzer for contouring purposes) as I fail to see the point in looking more orange. I didn't have too much of an expectation on this product but boy did it impressed me (and you know how hard that is- just ask Mr. Yoyo).
(L-R) untanned leg, Modelco One Night Tan leg

  • Skin looked more even toned with a subtle golden glow. No orange tones or splotchy legs for me here. See above photo for more evidence. 
  • Skin felt smoother and softer to look at and touch. All this thanks to the shea butter, vitamin E and aloe vera extract in the formula so you are doing your skin some good while applying this faux tan. 
  • I love the very light coconut scent - usually not a fan of this kind of scent but Modelco has just the right amount that it does not over power. I definitely felt like I was floating to a tropical location after putting this stuff on. 
  • A mitt is recommended to apply the mousse for streak-free finishes but I didn't have one handy so just used my hands. It stained abit but nothing that a good washing in warm soapy water didn't take care of. 
  • Because of the mouse texture, it is easy to get a smooth streak free finish. If you do find that there is build up on colour in one area, apply some body lotion over the skin to thin it down and the colour should even out. If this trick doesn't fix it, wet you hands and then start smoothing the area down and the wash-off formula will sort itself out in a jiffy. 
  • Lasted until I was ready to take it off by going to the shower. For such a great looking finish, I wished I could keep if for a few days longer.
  • Obviously being non-waterproof, is not intended for use in the pool or when you hit the beach, but for a bit of bronze glamour on a day out, this is a great solution in a can. Just remember to apply sunscreen over it if using during the day as this doesn't have any sun protection and you want to fake the sun-kissed look, but not actually get the sun burnt skin. 

Rating: 9/10. Easy to use and loved the fragrance. Modelco's latest instant tan gave the most natural and even-looking glow to my medium coloured skin and is something I'm will use when I feel like glamming up my legs. I just wish it could last longer given how natural it looks on me. RRP A$12.95 for 65g at David Jones and selected salons.

This item was sent to me for review.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

NOTD: OPI Melon of Troy

I was feeling very Summery over the weekend and decided I need a bright and warm shade to match the wonderful warm weather.

OPI Melon of Troy
Melon of Troy - 2 coats in natural light
  • Lovely orangey coral-pink shade. Reminiscent of the sun ripen flesh of cantaloupes, hence its namesake of 'Melon of Troy' - just perfect for Spring. 
  • Has a half creme half pearly frost finish, very hard to describe but very pretty :) which is why it is one of OPI's best selling colours. I love the high gloss finish too.
  • As come to be expected of OPI's great 3T-free formula, it was easy to apply without being too streaky and was fast drying. I popped 2 coats of this on my nails and I was in bed 15 minutes later with no smudged nails the next morning. 
  • Great chip-resistance and resisted fading quite well. I did lots of scrubbing and cleaning the next day and the edges only experienced minor fading - quite impressive staying power given I didn't put on a top coat.
This will no doubt become one of my favourite Spring shades. What Spring shades do you like to wear on your nails?

Rating: 10/10. Easy to apply and great formula. An all time classic shade that suits all skintones. RRP A$19.95/US$9 at David Jones and selected salons.

This product was sent to me for review.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: 3 Trees False lashes

My reviews on lashes were temporarily pushed back by other pressing matters (hello MBBE), but as the dust of the event begins to settle, I'm finally catching up and finishing off this series of reviews.

So to wrap things up, I want to showcase the lashes I've tried over the past week. These lashes were purchased from eBay sight unseen.

Each style comes in a set of 10 lashes, plenty for you to play around with until you master the application and ensures you can achieve lashing looks many times over.
This is set B
The lash bands are made from black threads and wax so they are softer and more flexible to attach to eyelids, allowing them to be more natural looking without copious amounts of eyeliner to hide the band. This is a big plus as many other false lash band are usually made of plastic and are harder to achieve a natural looking lash line due to their thickness.

Surprising, they are very good quality and are all handmade pieces. The only negative about them is that they come in paper cardboard box and can easily crush in transit/storage. Also some lash band thread ends ( the part that threads through the holes to hold the lashes in place, not the actual lashes itself) seem to be stuck at the edge to the cardboard at the back so there is a bit of effort to pry them out for use.

I found these lashes to be the right length for my eyes and didn't need any trimming (other than the ends of the lash band thread that extends beyond the false lashes. If you have large doe-like eyes, these lashes may not be long enough for you (but then again, you probably don't need them to begin with you lucky things).

They come in 6 styles, from flirty criss-cross, to lengthy defined styled, to vampy full fluttery lashes and dramatic serrated ones.  There's something for every occasion - naturally enhanced to the full-on dramatic.

All of these lashes are symmetrical in shape at both ends. If you are after lashes where the outer end is more flared out, then these aren't for you.
(T- B): Set E with mascara, Set F no mascara
The shorter varieties (eg. set D) would make good lower lashes if you cut them up individually and apply and apply them to your lower lash line.

Final Thoughts
Quality at an phenomenal price point, I love these lashes. My favourite are the A, C, E sets (you can tell I like them dramatic). If you haven't already, do read my tips on how to master the application of false lashes.

Rating: 9/10. Some lash ends were stuck onto the packaging glue of the cardboard backing and was fiddly to take out, but overall still a great quality product. A pack of 6 sets (so 60 pairs of lashes) with the Colour Soft lash glue thrown in is a mere US$8.78 shipped. I bought them here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Lancôme Ôscillation Mascara

I've run out of my beloved Max Factor False Lash Effects Mascara this week. That has been my staple for the last 2 years and I have not strayed from it because it delivers me what I want in terms of volume and length . It curls and thickens my thin and relatively short lashes like no body's business and yep, honestly gives me the natural looking false lash effect (oxymoron I know, but I swear it's true!).

Normally I would buy a refill, but with the mascara market evolving with better formulas and products over the past few years, I thought it would be time to give something new a try.

Lancôme Ôscillation Infinite Vibrating Mascara
  • claims to infinitely extend, reshape and mulitply lashes. 
  • Comes with a battery powered vibrating mascara wand so it will do all the wiggling around to coat every inch of your lashes. 

Ingredients listing and mascara wand

How it performed:
  • I found the vibrating wand hard to get use to initially, but the trick is to hold it at the base of the lash horizontally and quickly move vertically up to the tips of lashes, letting the vibrating do all the hard work for you. 
  • The formula is quite thick so it can easily create clumpy spidery lashes if you are not careful. Because of this, I could not really build up any substantial length with the wand which is a shame. 
  • Once dried, is smudge-proof which was great as I was rained on the other day and there was no panda-eyes afterwards for me and this isn't even the waterproof formula. The mascara doesn't flake and comes off easily when you are ready to remove it. 
  • The downside - the formula is quite slow-drying so if you look down blink too much while your lashes are still drying, there's bound to be a chance of a smudge that will need cleaning up. 
  • The small short silicone-bristled brush deposited way too much formula on my thin sparse lashes, creating spidery like lashes that required combing out to give them a nicer look, especially if you are not quick moving with the vibrating movements. This would be great for those who have longer lashes so there are more length for the formula to coat. 
Final Thoughts
This mascara is more for those with longer lashes looking for more fullness and definition and not really suited my my thin and short lashes. I'll be trying this out with a different wand as I do like the formula, I just don't think the wand is helping me much. I prefer Lacome's Hynose Drama mascara, which is more than a dream to use.

Since I've decided to experiment with different mascara, do you any recommendations that I can try to create that 'false lash effect'?

Rating: 6/10. Nice enough formula but the small vibrating wand deposited too much formula on my thin sparse lashes. RRP A$65/US$34 in leading departments stores and counters.

This product was sent to me for review.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

MBBE - Photo Updates

We've received photos taken by the talented Jimmy from BlueCraneDesign early this week and I thought I'd share my favourite pictures with you.
The Oxygen Skin Centre reception

The swanky lounge/waiting area @Oxygen
Mug shot
In case you are wondering, the masterpiece above was accomplished using the Neon Doodle app on the iPad. 

Delectable Earl Canteen macaroons
Nom nom - yummy sandwiches
Some subtle product endorsement by Violet & Celina :D

Did you guess the theme of the day was 'pink'? (Image courtesy of Steph)
Our vanity spread

Sandi, Beth, Holly, Cherie & Valerie - It looked like they went shopping crazy with the goody bags

And here's the other bloggers' write up of the events that have come in over the past 2 days:

Check out their posts for more vanity shots. Ok back to real work now.