Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Refine Your Skin: Alpha H Smoothing& Perfecting Mask

I've had a broken blogging week last week with a mini-getaway for the Australia day long weekend (I took the Friday off) up the Victorian alpine ranges and then work just got crazy when I got back this week.

I still have a few articles in the skincare series I want to get through so this will the the second week of the series to wrap it all up.

Today I want to introduce to you a facial mask I've been using over the past 2 months that I'm loving to bits.

Alpha-H Smoothing & Perfecting Mask - 100ml

  • This is a glycolic infused clay mask that helps to not only absorb excess sebum from face, but the 15% buffered glycolic acid adds a little extra oomph to this otherwise fairly ordinary clay mask. 
  • When put onto cleansed damp skin, I feel an initial tingling from it and knows it goes to work straight away. The instructions suggests to leave this on for 10 minutes but often I go over this time because I'm too busy watching TV shows and don't walk back into the bathroom to wash off till the next opportune ad. Never do I feel discomfort from leaving it on longer though and if you do as you may have more sensitised skin, wash it off when it gets too tingly/itchy. 
  • Another reason why I love this mask is because of the amazing lavender scent which is soothing and invigorating to the senses at the same time. 
slapping on the mask after a long day at work
  • Afterwards, skin is not only soft and smooth as expected but my flaky bits are also washed off easily and it helps to keep all those blackheads on my nose under control - hallelujah! 
  • I also noticed that weekly use also refined my pores on my cheeks and they are smaller, texture of skin is more even and I'm less oily during the day, despite it being full summer weather where I'm normally an oil-slick by midday, I now only have a light sheen. This and my daily glycolic cleanser use have really helped to refine my skin and change what was an oily yet dehydrated skin type to more of a normal-combination skin type. This is definitely a great achievement for me. 
  • I would recommend this to all skin types except for those with sensitive skins or on any open wounds (it may sting a bit if applied on popped pimples so avoid using the mask on those areas).

If you love glycolic acid cleansers and want extra skin refining benefits in your masks, then Alpha-H smoothing & Perfecting mask is a great addition to your skincare. In fact, because I don't want to be running out, I've already bought a back up tube after receiving a sample size tube of the product to try last year.

RRP A$63 at selected salons, and cheaper online at AdoreBeauty (A$52.92) or the Facial Company (A$53.55).  I bought mine from AdoreBeauty.

P.S - buffering of AHA products makes it safer to use as there are less free acids particles in the products that could to too aggressive to skin.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beauty In Bloom Winner & Happy Australia Day

Happy Australia Day! For those of you who reside in our beautiful country, today is our national day and the nation gets a public holiday.
What will you be doing to celebrate?  I'll be heading up to the mountains and spending a few days hiking, bike riding and chillaxing. There will of course also be a barbeque since there is nothing more Australian than having a barbeque when bringing a few friends together.

One lucky winner will also be celebrating as they've just won a signed copy of the Beauty in Bloom book.

A big congratulations to Beauty Snippets for her inspring response. Her words echoes how I feel about my mum, who is also my inspiration each and every day (but don't tell her that lest she gets me to be more like her)!

Beauty Snippet, please get in touch with me via email (lilpil.blog@gmail.com) by Sunday 29th Jan with your mailing address and I'll express post your book over to you.

To everyone else, I hope you enjoy your day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aum Organics for Gentle Effective Results

It’s often said that no one beats mother nature at her own game of producing the best products so in today’s skincare series, we go back to nature.

Aum Anti-age Organics
Aum is a brand I’ve only recently been acquainted to but I’m glad I was introduced to it. It is one of the few Australian brands that is entirely organic and nature based and has received certification from EcoCert for its entire product range.

The most exciting release from Aum was its new line of anti-aging product launched last September.
The line comes with 4 products – a daily facial cleanser, a firming eye cream, a  brightening face balm and a line minimising cream, all of which has been scented with a warm earthy ylang ylang and sandalwood oil.

The star ingredient of this new line is marine complex from seaweed which contains an active called Fucoidans. The process of bio-fermenting the marine complex enriches it with antioxidants and vitamins with the resulting brew full of boosted actives that help inhibit and slow down the skin’s degrading process by preventing the break down of elastin and hylaouric acid while promoting the production of collagen.

Gentle Facial Foam Cleanser - 125ml RRP A$19.95
  • Not so foamy, I class this watery gel cleanser in the low foaming category. It is indeed gentle on skin and doesn’t strip off moisture from the wash or leave a tight feeling afterwards. 
  • Contains aloe juice with papaya and pomegranate extract to help keep skin smooth and soft.
  • The only thing I didn’t like about this product was that I found the scent of ylang ylang / sandalwood a bit overbearing (I'm more a floral scent girl), especially in the morning. Thankfully, the scent rinses off straight away.  Other than that, I like the gel texture and see this cleanser being suitable for all skin types, but those with dryer skin benefiting most from the hydrating formula

Firming Eye Cream - 15ml RRP A$26.95
  • This has to be my favourite product from the range. 
  • It is light cream in a dropper bottle that quickly absorbs into the skin on the eye area and you can feel it working away with a tightening effect felt straight afterwards without being too greasy but still emollient enough to moisturise.
  • The scent again was quite strong but surprisingly, after a few days use, I got used to it and hardly notice it unless I’m focusing on it.  The other good news about the overpowering scent is that it does fade off over 20 minutes time.
  • After 2 weeks use, I start to see that skin is firmer and more taut, fine lines are lighter and less pronounced. I can only conclude that the extracts from okra which are meant to act as a natural botox by inhibiting the muscle contraction is really working! The only results that is missing is the brightness factor (which is made up by the brightening face balm below) and the rate of improvement is not as dramatic over a space of 2-3 weeks but if you persist with using the eye cream, you will get results in the longer run.

Brightening Face Balm - 50ml RRP A$24.95
  • Another favourite of mine, this light emollient cream instantly re-hydrates and smooth skin without stickiness or greasiness. 
  • The vitamin c from Acerola cherry is added to brighten skin, fight pigmentation and act as a natural sun protectant (vitamin c gives SPF 2 protection) whilst ginseng is included to help boost blood circulation to give an even complexion.
  • Again it was only after 2 weeks use that I saw some visible results of overall improvement to skintone and new blemish scars fading faster than usual. I think this is a great maintenance product to use (especially if you are trying to stretch out the use of other more expensive treatment products) as you get a glow in skin after 3-4 weeks use and long term use will see the vitamin c help skin slowly repairs any existing pigmentation damage.

Line Minimising Cream - 30ml RRP A$29.95
  • The cream also contain matki, a super lentil full of antioxidants and vitamins to boost skin renewal and has similar effects to retinol without the associated irritations.
  • When applied first on skin without any other product, this non-greasy cream gave me a skin tightening sensation. Others may like that feeling but I found it  uncomfortable and so always layer this on top of the brightening balm to eliminate that tight feeling. 
  • After10 days use, skin is supple, yet firm and I found it really did help in maintaining good skin elasticity over time. Expression lines were minimised as skin’s hydration level increased so that skin appeared plump and younger looking.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the results from Aum. They do take a bit longer to give results but you can be assured that products contain no synthetic chemicals and not only natural based but are of organic origins where possible. If you are making the conscious decision to choose natural and still want visible improvements to skin tones and  texture as well as fine lines, then there is no more affordable choice than Aum.

Available at selected Myer department stores and organic health retailers. For  stockist information visit Aum Beauty online.
This range of products was provided for consideration.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Holy Grail Product: BioEffect EGF Serum

This week I’ve decided to write up a skincare series and dedicate it to all the products that I’ve been using over the last few months and share with you my experiences with them.

I’ll start by introducing you one of the cult product that took Europe, Australia and the rest of the world by storm in 2011.

Bio Effect - EGF Serum 
BioEffect EGF Serum is a revolutionary new skin care product based on the latest developments in molecular biology. Contains EGF, a natural cellular activator enhancing nautural rejuvenation of the skin. Improves complexion and renews youthful glow. For firmer skin, more even skin tone and reduction of visible fine lines and wrinkles.

This innocent clear looking viscous serum hails from Iceland and packs a serious punch. The first thing you will notice when you decide to take one of these bottle home is the price. At an eye-watering A$180 per 15ml, it’s one of the most expensive skincare products I’ve ever come across.

There are only 9 ingredients in this product. The theory is simple. No fillers, additives or perfumes. Just the active ingredients in an aqueous base for maximum efficacy.
The star ingredient in Bio effect is EGF or epidermal growth factors. In layman’s term, this is a cellular activator that stimulates growth and cellular activity of skin cells. What sets it apart from traditional EGF is that this is plant based, extracted using genetic technology from barley plants that are fed with pure spring waters of Iceland as opposed to extraction from animals or bacteria sources (eg. the snail slime EGF products popular in the Korean and Asian markets – ewww!).

A little bit more on EGF –these proteins are already naturally occurring in skin so what you are doing is adding to your body’s own natural source because your skin decreases its production of EGF with age. Bioeffect gives skin a booster dose to help with the renewal and maintenance of healthy skin cells.

There is just 0.1% of the EGF in the serum but it's potent (and deemed by the scientists to be the most efficient concentration)! Scientific studies (Efficacy report 2011 Iceland) have demonstrated that EGF plays an extensive role in skin regeneration and wound healing by signalling epidermal skin cells to produce elastin and collagen to replicate and form at an increased rate

Because the product is as pricey as gold, I only use my little 3ml vial sample on my most troubled areas – my eyes at night very sparingly dispensing one droplet per eye. When using this product, it’s advised to not layer with other products as it might interfere with its efficacy.

The serum is a clear scentless liquid that quickly absorbs into skin using light patting motion without any residue. It hydrated the skin well even though I had to stop myself applying other products on top because of its lightnesss.

I had no reaction to my skin using this product but know of people who have broken out with milia from it's use so I do advise trying to get your hands on a sample vial to try fir yourself first where possible.

After about 4 days of use, I started to notice that my eyes looked fresh in the morning without much puffiness. The fine expression lines are also plumped up and less visible. I had to really crinkle up my face to see them again – Impressive.

After 2 weeks use, I just notice the skin around the eye area brighter, the dark circles are still there but not as dark. In 4 weeks, the pigmentation spots around the eye area which have been a large concern were also lighter in colour. Skin is smooth, plumped and there is that youthful glow around my eyes. I honestly think this product turned the clock back 3-4 years on my eye area and can only imagine what it could do to the rest of my face had I also used it on those areas.

I want to run out and buy the full bottle except the price is quite prohibitive. If used on the entire face, the 15ml won’t last more than 6 weeks for me. I think I’ll invest in this serum in my 40s but for the time being, I’m going to search for a more wallet-friendly alternative and also start buying a lotto ticket so that I can afford to buy this product sooner!

To date, Bioeffect has been one of my most impressive serum tried in 2011. It is a wonderful moisturiser but that's not what impresses me as you can get this with other products. I want to drench my whole face in it because it is very effective and gives me radiant youthful, line diminished skin and really delivered on its claims. If you want to treat those skin concerns effectively without resorting to medical procedures, then I whole-heartedly recommend this 'miracle-like' product.

RRP 15 ml at A$180 | US$210 at BioEffect online in Australia and US and £125.00 in Boots stores in the UK.
*Gasp* for once something is cheaper in Australia!
A sample vial of this product was provided for consideration. I also have another vial from one of the beauty boxes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bobbi Brown Lip Crayon - Wild Rose

Given all the lip pencils I’ve been showcasing this week, I thought I’d wrap the week up with another lip product!

Bobbi Brown Lip Crayon – Wild Rose
This amazing lip formula combines the luxurious feel of a lipstick with the ease and convenience of a jumbo, crayon-inspired pencil. Includes a complimentary custom-sized sharpener.
This is essentially a creamy lip stick in a pencil format. It is very hydrating with a high sheen finish. Although scentless, there is a slight peppermint taste that fades after 15 minutes or so.

In a thick pencil format- it seems to give better precision with application although there is the need to sharpen when the product gets blunt. Luckily, this custom sized pencil comes with a fitting sharpener so there is no hassles of looking for one separately.

It feels ultra luxurious upon application, is very moisturising (thanks to the shea butter) and perfect item for dryer lips as it is very forgiving and don’t highlight flakes.

Wild Rose is a mid warm rose pink. I thought it might look similar with MAC Dervish lip liner but when swatched side-by-side, you can see that dervish is more beige based and cooler in tone than wild rose.
R-R: Bobbi Brown Wild Rose, MAC Dervish
 I really like the shade on my lips and another office friendly hue. This shade will compliment all but the darkest skin complexions to bring shine and colour into lips. This is yet another beautiful colour and product wise from Bobbi Brown.

2.49g RRP A$44 | US$22 at Bobbi Brown counters. Available in 6 shades.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bobbi Brown Lip Liner - Red

Continuing on from yesterday showcase of lip products, today I'll show you a red that Akisa recommended to me for when I want to have pure red lips.

Bobbi Brown Lip liner - Red 
A naturally flattering way to define lips. Lip Liner is long-wearing and non-drying, applies smoothly and evenly, and helps reduce feathering. Each liner includes a sharpener.

This lip pencil comes with a metallic lid that closes tightly so you know its secure in your makeup bag if you carry it around with you. I also like the fact that Bobbi includes a sharpener in the box so you don’t have to go looking too far for one after a few uses and you don't have one at hand
Bobbi Brown - Red on NC30 Skin indoor white light
Against my skin, this is a true brick red that brightens up my face. It is a very pigmented. Goes on easily without tugging althought not as smoothly as the MAC lip liner. It's still quite hydrating as it didn’t dry my lips.

The best thing with this shade and the lip liner is the the colour lasts. And by that I mean for over 2 hours, the colour didn't fade  Even with eating and drinking  where the intensity of the red falls away, there is still plenty of punch left on lips to go that few extra miles.

I do find lining lips a must with red lips as you want to define the cupids bow to create that seductive fullness and prevent any feathering of the bright colour around the edge of your lips. If used for filling in lips as well, be sure to condition them first as any flakes and dryness will be accentuated with this pencil.

RRP AU$43 | US$20 at Bobbi Brown counters and Bobbi Brown online. This is very expensive for a lip pencil but you are getting a sharpener as well. Still, it would be great to see Australian Bobbi Brown products align closer to US pricing. I bought this at the Estee Lauder Staff shop for around A$26.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mac Lip Pencil - Dervish

When I went shopping last month with the lovely lip queen Akisa of Beauty Swatch, I asked for her recommendation on a few lip products for everyday wear. 

Today I’ll share with you one of the lip liners she recommended me.

MAC Lip Pencil Dervish
A pencil designed for shaping, lining or filling in the lip. Lip Pencils have a smooth, creamy texture that is perfect for lining the lips or filling them in. They are long-lasting and available in a wide selection of colours that each work well with many different lipstick shades. The colour of Lip Pencils is protected by Vitamin E, which acts as an anti-oxidant. Lip Pencils can be worn alone, with Lipstick, or Lipglass. 
Dervish on NC30 skin
  • This cool dusty rose colour is an understated pink shade with a brown beige undertone. I detected micro gold shimmers from it when looking closely but this would not visible to others.
  • Dervish is a my-lips-but-better shade, it doesn’t give the distinct line look and enhances lip to give a fuller look without ever looking too obvious.
  • Works well on pigmented lips, even where I have darker edges around my lips, it really evens out the lip tones well. 
  • Dervish works well as a soft base for lip glosses, especially those that don’t have a lot of pigment. It is a very versatile lip liner and can be used with cool pinks , peachy or brown based lip sticks. 
  • The lead is not too hard that it tugs, instead, it glides on easily and last several hours without feeling dry at all.

RRP A$30 | US$14 from MAC counters. I bought this for A$18 at the Estee Lauder staff shop.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Skin Physics Liposculpt: Body Sculpting Gel

Now that I'm well and truly getting into my 30s, I’m noticing quite a few changes to my body; scars are taking longer to heal, bruises take 2 weeks to fade instead of days, and my skin is not as taut or firm as it was in my early and mid 20s.

It seems my cells are just not renewing as quickly as they use to anymore and in a bid to get toner skin, I’ve taken up low impact weight bearing exercise to try and tone the muscles and tighten up the skin. 
But you guys know me, I’m always on the look out for products that can help me get the job done, quicker, easier, better.

So when a product was introduce to me last year that promised to sculpt and lift skin on the body, I naturally jumped at the opportunity to give it a try. At the same time, being a beauty blogger, I ‘ve become hardened to alot of the claims of skin tightening and sculpting products that don't do more than moisturise the skin. So did my latest product trial deliver on its claims?

Skin PhyscisLiposculpt Body Sculpting Gel

Skin Physics Body Sculpting Gel is a potent cosmeceutical that has been specially formulated with natural exfoliating agents, potent fat burning liposomes, ivy extracts to boost circulation, bupleurum falcatun root extract to enhance fat burning process, retinol to contribute to collagen building and cellular repair.

Other than the ingredients mentioned in its description, the gel also contains active ingredients salicylic acid to better exfoliate for a smoother skin and caffeine for its anti-inflammatory properties and vessel constriction to reduced water retention in skin.
The product itself is a lightweight vicious gel that is tinted an orange shade with a faint herbaceous scent . It feels slightly sticky when rubbed into skin but the stickiness disappears when dry.

It is very cooling when massaged into the body and a pleasure to use during the warm summer months. When using, you're meant to massage the body are in upward motions and I think this helps to kick start the blood circulation improvements and help the active ingredients penetrate into the skin more evenly.

Immediate results after using this gel is the feeling of skin tightness and you get the impression it's working straighten away to firm up the skin but that sensation is temporary and disappears within 30 minutes.
    After 1 week, I noticed that the skin on my thighs where I've been slathering the product feels much smoother and  not just softer.The little skin bumps I have around the inner thighs have also diminished.

    After 2 weeks, skin was firmer. After 4 weeks, I continued to experience firmer skin, most noticeable on the inner thigh area than on my upper arms. I know this is from the effects of the product rather than exercise because during the Christmas period, I’ve stopped doing my weights and I still continue to see improvement in firmness of skin as opposed improvements to muscle tone.

    In the 4-week timeframe, I didn't notice any improvements (and didn't expect) any stretchmarks appearances and I'm not sure if it would also improve cellulite appearance either. However, given it does firm skin, I expect it to give some visual improvements from cellulite after a few months' use. Stretchmarks improvements may be pushing it if they are very old ones like the owns I have.

    Overall, I’m mighty impressed by this sculpting gel from Skin Physics because I was sure it wasn't going to work. I'm pleasantly surprised and am delighted by the results it's providing. Now I’m very curious about whether using the sculpting gel with the Skin Physics Liposculpt ultra sonic hand held device (which this gel was made to complement) would give more significant results. If only my beauty budget wasn't so drained and I wasn’t already committed to picking up the POSE device, I'd be pick up the device to try it with the gel all in the name of 'research'!

    But I will definitely be refilling this tube when it runs out because it’s an effective product that is reasonably priced for a 200ml tube and would last a couple of months' worth of daily use on legs and arms (less if your using on more body parts like stomach, butt etc).

    Have you tried any body sculpting products? Are there any that you like?
    200ml  RRP A$69 at selected Myer, Shaver Shop, Harrisons and Terry White Chemist stores or
    This product was provided for consideration.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Storage Ideas: Tiered Jewellery Plates

    I love jewellery. Be they fashion or of the finer varieties because they just add a special touch to the final look of any outfit and accessorising allow you to portry a style that is uniquely you. 

    So throughout the years, I've amassed plenty of earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets - yes, I have an addiction for them as much as I have for beauty.

    Now I don't know how most of you store your jewelery but I like mine easily accessible in the mornings after I've dressed so I can coordinate with my outfits.

    I used to find trinket boxes and the like to store them in but found it hard to pick up a matching pair of earrings amongst the tangle of other earrings or easily take out that necklace without it interwined with other necklaces. I now only store the larger items like chunky necklaces in these boxes and for smaller items like stud earrings and rings, I was looking for a cute plate to store them in.
    tiered jewelery plate and trinket box I store some of my jewellery pieces in

    I found this three-tiered plate jewellery holder the other day when going shopping for clothing during the boxing day sale. Each plate is decorated with pretty polka-dot and tear-drop designs and becomes smaller each tier up. Look how much of my jewellery I've can put on the plate as it's tiered, I can put more things without taking up too much precious vanity space.

    I also loop necklaces and hook dangle earrings on the side of the black handle bars for added storage- bonus!
    mix of fashion and fine jewellery  -silver on top, gold items at the bottom

    I haven't really noticed any great deal of tarnishing on my fashion jewellery and I think this has to do with the fact that my vanity is in a dark dry corner of the room (which means I need lights on every morning to put on my makeup), away from the window, sunlight and draughts. I keep them looking shiny by polishing with a silver cloth and and usually by the time the fashion jewellery starts to discolour, I've already moved on to other pieces and ready to retire the incumbent items.

    How do you store your everyday jewellery items?

    RRP A$19.95 at Sportsgirl but now on sale and with 50% off sale items, you can pick this up for less than A$10. Be quick as it might not be available for much longer.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Face Of Australia Mineral Therapy Illuminators

    What products do you use to make your skin glow -  not in the messy glittery way but with a pretty and dewy radiance?

    My picks are liquid illuminators as they are easy to work with and can be layered onto skin for different levels of intensity. The recent release of a set of new illuminators has won me over and let me tell you they are fast becoming my hottest summer makeup must-have items.

    Face of Australia Mineral Therapy Mineral Illuminators
    Mineral based liquids with light-reflecting colours. Its formula contains Jojoba, Vitamin C & E and is suitable for sensitive skin and all areas of the face and body.

    • These come in massive 50ml tubes, more than enough to last for years if you are only doting small amounts on your face so why not use it on your body as well – highlight those collar bones , shoulders and arms yours during a night out.
    • I have 2 shades from the goodie bag received at last years MBBE event. Angel Mist is a mico-shimmery silver white liquid illuminator while Angel Blush is a micro-shimmery with bronze pigment . I found that Angel mist was more watery/runny than Angle blush but it makes it easier to work and blend with. Angel Blush was just as easy to blend despite being a slightly thicker consistency.
    • The other two shades in the range is Angel flame (a peachy golden sheen) and angel Glow (a deep bronze) which I don’t have yet but I have full intentions to add to my collection and I can see Angel glow would be perfect for creating the sculpt look for cheekbones.
    • I love angel mist above my cheeks and on my brow bones and brigdge of my nose – the glowy dewy look. Angel Blush gives me just the right amount of colour for a healthy sun-kissed look – perfect for faking my healthy glow since I stay away from the sun and don’t have the perfect complexion. 
    • In terms of consistency, I think these are comparable to Benefit’s Moonbeam and Highbeam after running to my mini vials from the Valley of Stars kit to do a quick check. 
    • Colour wise, Benefit illuminators are quite different as both have an iridescent sheen to them. The price difference between the two ($48 for 13ml vs $14.95 for 50ml) makes it easy to choose Face of Australia as an everyday product to use of if you are just trying out using liquid illuminators and save Benefit’s for special occasion only.
    FOA Mineral Therapy Illuminators- R: heavy swatch; L: blended swatch

    Here are somes more ways that you can use these coloured illuminators:
    1. As a highlighter on brow bones, above your cheek bones using Angel Mist and Angel Blush
    2. On the bridge of your nose to lift the nose and above your cupids bow on your lips to accentuate your pouts using Angel Mist
    3. On your collarbones to show off that great bone structure of yours using Angel Mist
    4. As a liquid bronzer for defined sculpt looks using Angel Glow
    5. As a liquid blush using Angle blush and Angle Flame.
    6. As an eye shadow or a base base for shimmery looking eyes. Angel Mist is particularly good for the inner eye corners for that bright eye look.
    Which is your favourite illuminators? Mine is Angel Blush and Angel Flame.

    RRP A$14.95 available now for a limited time at Priceline, Big W, Kmart, Independent Pharmacies and Fashion Addict online.
    This product was provided at the MBBE event.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    December Highlights: Interviewing Natalie Bloom

    With the festivities of Christmas and the holiday season last month, I was grateful for a relatively quiet month on the beauty front.

    I did, however, have the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the amazing Natalie Bloom, entrepreneurial beauty addict and founder of Bloom Cosmetics.

    At 40, Natalie is a mother of 4 (the youngest is just 4 months old!) and racing at 100 kilometres an hour daily to grow her hugely successful Bloom Cosmetic that is currently turning over sales of more than $20 million annually. 
    Natalie Bloom - image courtesy Ben Swinnerton | Herald Sun
    I chatted with Natalie before Christmas about her love for design and beauty and everything else in between.

    How did you take that leap from your passion of arts and graphic design and turn it into a business?
    I studied graphics design in my Arts degree and it started with designing cards while I was a freelance designer. It was the encouragement of my then boyfriend (now husband) that I took the plunge and started my own business printing cards. Nowadays at Bloom, I’m all about artistic and creative direction and collaborating with talented Australian artists like Beci Ophin and David Band to design our packaging.

    How did Bloom Cosmetics start?
    What launched bloom as a cosmetics brand is the lip balms which is the heart of Bloom with only natural based ingredients and they are still a core product in our range today. The DIY kits with candle and potpourri making kits were also popular and developed a big following.
    The success spurred us to develop a lipgloss at a time when lip glosses weren’t as mainstream as they are today and the business just grew from there. From then we launched eye products, then the complexion products and the rest as they say, is history.

    What can we look forward to next with Bloom in the new year?
    Well Bloom Cosmetics will turn 19 in March, which is a fantastic milestone. We will be growing our organics range which will launch new body care products which I’m very excited about. I’m very much into the organics and healthy living at home with my 4 kids. I’m what is termed a dark-green consumer (using only environmentally-friendly products at home).

    What are your favourite products from your lines?
    This is like asking me which on my kids are my favourite! I love them all but I’m fanatical about our lip gloss as that’s what launched the brand. I also love our newly launched candles and we have what I think is the best mascara with the full and flirty mascara which is made in Italy. Then there are the eyeshadows which are just beautiful.  

    How do you maintain a work-life balance with 4 children , especially with such a young son who is only 4 months old?
    It’s a constant juggle; sometimes one takes over another depending on what needs your urgent attention at that point in time and it’s constantly changing.
    I’m very grateful for my supportive husband who has flexible working hours and can help with looking after the kids when at work. My 4 month old son comes to work with me on certain days as I’m still breast feeding and I have a nanny 3 days a week to help me out at home. Without these support, I definitely don’t think I will manage as well as I do.

    Do you think there is a tension between the traditional bricks and mortar stores and online stores? Who do you think would come out on top?
    In today’s climate, I think you need a presence in both and they really enhance the experience of each other. Since the relaunch of Bloom’s website we have seen our sales double but we also don’t see a decline in sales volume in our retail presence.
    I think online is great for doing short and sharp promotions and can cater internationally (we are working on making our online store available to international customers but have to iron out some bumps first) but a retail presence adds the personal touch to the shopping experience and that is why retail will always have a place in the business. It’s about finding the right mix of online and offline and making that connection to get people from looking at the screen to walking into stores.

    Natalie & I

    So there you have it, the online and offline debate is going to fizzle out and the two will end up being complementary channels if Natalie is to have her way with it.

    Thank you Natalie for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me.

    Beauty In Bloom Giveaway
    Natalie is also kind enough to sponsor a giveaway of her book- Beauty in Bloom: A collection of beautiful inspirations.

    Beauty in Bloom is an inspirational, eclectic and stylish compendium of all things beautiful from Natalie Bloom, founder of Bloom Cosmetics. From the love of makeup to inner beauty, nature to notebooks, from perfumes to Paris, Beauty in Bloom is about making us look beautiful, feel beautiful and above all be inspired by beauty. If you want to win this special book.
    To win a signed copy of this book (yes, I've confirmed Natalie will be signing your book!), all you have to do is tell me what inspires you every day?

    The most creative answer will be judged as the winner. Readers can enter mulitples times but each separate entry must be a unique answer.
    This competition ends on midnight AEST 22nd January so don't forget to get your entries in!
    This competition is open to all readers, international or in Australia.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Review: Braun Silk Epil 7 Dual Epilator

    If you want an epilator predominately for your legs and underarms, then this is the latest device for you from Braun's Silk Epil 7 series.

    Braun Silk Epil 7 Dual Epilator
    Silk Epil 7Dual Epilator with protective cover and accessories
    This latest epilator comes with a pivoting smoothing cap for efficient epilating and shaving in one go. Yes, you read right, it is an epilator plus a shaver on one. I’ll go into more details about its use later.

    Compared with the Silk Epil 7 Xpressive 7681
    Left: Silk Epil 7 Xpressive with high frequency massaging cap; right: Silk Epil 7 Dual Epilator with smoothing cap
    Device wise, It has the same body as the previous model, the Xpressive 7681, but this silk epil comes with mini facelift with a removable turquoise accent cover over the body and turquoise dial making it heaps prettier than its sister. It also comes with different and fewer attachments. Let’s take a look at them.

    As mentioned, the main epilating head is the smoothing cap with protective cover that has Gillette Venus razor blades on top. The other accessories it comes with is a regular epilation cap for normal epilating on all parts of the body and a charging stand (which the previous model did not have and is handy not only during charging but putting it away on the vanity when not in use).
    Silk Epil 7 dual epilator with accessories list

    As I’ve reviewed about the functions and features of the Silk Epil 7, I won’t go into too much details again in this post. Instead I’ll concentrate on its unique feature: the dual epilator smoothing cap.

    What you are meant to do is use this epilator with some shaving aid and in one slow stroke, you epilate the hair, then the two razor blades will closely shave off whatever the epilator didn’t manage to grab.

    Results-  faster epilation because the shaver help to speed up the job removing 96% of hair in one stroke with smoother silkier skin.

    I tried it without and without shaving cream. Without any lubrication for dry use, the razor blade irritated my skin and left me with razor bumps. With a shaving aid, you must choose your products carefully as it works best with a non or low lathering gel or cream so the epilator can still grab the hair with ease. I recommend the Trishave 3 in 1 Shave Creme , Gillette Venus Satin Care Avocado Shave gel or using it in the shower where water will help to lubricate the skin

    With this smoothing cap, you won’t be epilating all the hair in one session and will need to epilate during the first 4 weeks once a week to make sure that you actually grab and pull out all the hair. And as your hair actually grow at different cycles in any given time, you will achieve a smoother and more effective with this intial frequent epilation.

    Once you’ve epilated all your hair after it grows back from the shave, follow up maintenance will only be required every 3-4 weeks afterwards, and you can swap to the epilator cap for full epilation to give long lasting fuzz-free results.

    • Smooth silky feel of legs for the first day after using the dual epilation smoothing cap. Wet use with the silk Epil epilator makes it a more comfortable epilating experience.
    • Great if you have a lot of hair, or your hair is very long and it needs trimming before epilating. For me personally, I didn’t find the epilator as effective to use with the razor blade add-on as I now have sparse hair after a few sessions of laser hair removal and I ended shaving half of it instead of epilating all the hair.
    • Gets the job done in 10 minutes on legs and is great for last minute grooming that is better than just shaving alone.
    • You’ve already invested in an expensive gadget so forking out more for replacement dual epilator smoothing caps (the razor blades will get blunt over 6 months' use and the blue lubricating strip will change colour to white to indicate wear of the blades) can become expensive.
    • This model has fewer attachments than the Silk Epil Xpressive. I missed using the high frequency massaging system when just epilating which helped to dull the pain alot more (and if was included in this model, it would be the perfect gadget). 
    If you are new to epilation and just want to use mainly large areas like legs and arms and don’t mind not having a massage head to use for more sensitive areas, then you can’t go wrong with the Silk Epil Dual Epilator.

    RRP A$229. There is currently a A$30 cashback offer until 31st January 2012 from Braun so shop around your local stores (The Shavershop, department stores and other good electrical stores) to get a good deal.

    This featured product was provided for consideration.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Review: Estee Lauder Sea Star Bronzing Blush

    It’s summer in Australia and that means lots of sun and warm days. And even though I stay away from the sun as much as possible (hello premature aging and sunspots?) and go to lengths to hat up and wear longer sleeve linen tops when out in the full sun, I do want a bit of that sun-kissed look.

    And this can made easier with little dusting of bronzers that safely give you that glowing colour. My current favourite has been a compact recently released by Estee Lauder for their Summer 2011 Bronze Soleil collection.

    Estee Lauder Sea Star Bronzing Blush

    This isn't so much a true bronzer as a highlighting blush with a hint of bronze and the very reason why I love it more than the plethora of bronzers out there; the bronzing blushes still give you the sun-kissed look with a more pink natural but isn't too too stark or contrasting against skin, especially if you've been heavy handed.

    This bronze coloured compact is big but isn’t bulky as it’s quite slimline so it's quite easy to slip into the makeup bag for on-the-go use and touch-ups.

    The product inside is as pretty as a picture - a ripple-look of sandy bronze to depict the sandy shores and a pink starfish with a plum-pink overspray highlight off the side of the compact. I had trouble using the product the first time because I hate ruining the overspray from the starfish when you wipe across it.

    Shade-wise, the beige bronze has micronised gold particles and on it’s own is a great illuminator just gives me the highlighted look on temples, across the bridge of nose and along the cheekbones.

    The pink starfish also has micronized gold particles and is a light warm pink that just lights the cheeks up with a healthy glow.

    Mixed together, it looks its best and gives a warm peachy pink with a golden glow under the sun.

    And as to be expected, the pigments is finely milled and colour payoff is outstanding, lasting all day long with a soft and feather-light texture against skin.
    in natural light on NC30 skin, no flash

    Lilpil Says: A go-to summer bronzer blush for a radiant glow that looks good in every light, day or night.

    RRP A$75 online and at Estee Lauder counters now. It is a limited edition so catch it whilst it’s still available this summer.

    This featured product was provided for consideration.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Review: Mirenesse Vibralash Mascara

    I haven’t done a mascara review for a while. That’s because I haven’t been using any other mascara for the past 2 months other than one product. Which one is it that has me utterly in love with it and unwilling to stray to any other product – it’s the Mirenesse Vibralash

    Mirenesse Vibralash 
    Now my last foray into vibrating mascaras didn’t turn out all that well so I was a little hesitant when I first tried this product. But I had nothing to fear with this beautiful formula  This mascara is fom Mirenesse's Boutique M collection which is it’s latest runway inspired range of eye and face makeup. 

    Mirenesse Vibralash with vibration protective cap on; wand brush close up
    • It comes with a push button at the end of the wand (make sure you remove that protective cap at the top end of the wand) that activates the vibrations and comes in 3 speeds that you can toggle through. #1 gives the gentles vibration movements and #3 is the strongest vibrating my hold hand and I actually found it quite uncomfortable to control the wand when it was buzzing around so much. My preferred speed is middle of the road #2
    • I find the best way to use the wand is to start at the base of lashes, and then very slowly move the wand up and outwards, letting the vibrations do all the wiggling work for you to coat and define the lashes.
    • The formula is quite thick and rich and really benefits from use with the vibrating wand as when I tried without it, I ended up with thick deposits on each lash, making my lashes look rather clumpy. On setting 1 or 2 my lashes were perfectly separated, volumised, lengthened and very fluttery. Yes they do give the false lashes look
    • Claims to give 24 hours lasting power and I’ll pay that because once dried, it just doesn’t budge. There is no smudging, no fall out no droopy lashes after half a day - no a single bit of change and still looks fresh 15 hours later (I didnt' test for 24 hours as I took it off before bed that night). I can’t say too many other mascara give me this results. 
    • What I love most is that for such a great formula, removal was very easy with any gentle eye makeup remover. The formula just comes off easily without having to tug and rub and with a final warm water rinse, any residues remaining were washed off easily. 
    Check out the definition, lift and curl of the lashes after using Vibralash on my short sparse lashes!
    After 2 months of almost daily use, my tube is still going strong and it hasn’t dried up or changed consistency, which is very important as I find many mascara start off well but in a month or so time, they just dry up and become unusable. The vibralash has renewed my faith in vibration mascaras and has become one of my top rated mascaras of 2011. I'm definitely looking for refills when I’m finish with the current tube.

    RRP A$49.95 online at Mirenesse.com and 20% off if you are their VIP member (subscription fees applies).

    This product was received during last year's ABBW event.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    The Versatile Blogger Award

    I’m still in holiday mode despite heading back to work today. Thankfully my office is 80% empty this week and I’m able to catch up on administrative things and finish off outstanding project work from last year.

    So you can imagine my pleasant surprise today when I found out that Saumya at the Vanity Bag Diaries has bestowed upon me the Versatile Blogger Award which I want to thank her warmly for.
    I must be out of the blogging loop and hiding under a rock lately because I haven’t heard of this award before so I thought I better look it up. What I found is that the Versatile Award is not so much an award as such, but rather, a tagging game with only 3 simple rules:
    • Thank and acknowledge the person who awarded you this award
    • Share 7 random facts about yourself
    • Pass this award along to 15 blogs you enjoy reading.
    So again, many thanks to Saumya for this tagging me this award.

    Now for the7 random facts about me in the order of randomness:
    1. I’m the eldest of 3 which puts me squarely in Miss Bossy Boots territory. My sister and brother probably didn’t appreciate it when they were younger, but I hope they can now because the responsibility for me was huge – afterall, I was only doing mummy’s calling.
    2. I have a bronze medal in latin dance for Salsa – don’t ask me how but I do from my uni years. I wished I continued and tried for my silver medal because I would love to have some of those groovy moves these days.
    3. I hate mock cream – you know, the whipped butter and icing sugar stuff. Do not even try to make me eat anything with it unless you want me to shoot dagger eyes at you.
    4. I was a tom-boy in my teens and most of my uni life. How could that be when I’m crazy about makeup and beauty I can’t explain. I must have lost my boyish good looks after one too many girly makeup transformations :D
    5. I love musicals and it didn’t start with Glee. The sound of Music, The King and I, My Fair Lady - I could watch those musicals over and over again. Oh, I love going to theatres to watch musical shows too.
    6. I’m very minimalistic when it comes to work makeup even though I own a truckload of it. I spend more time layering on my skincare and sunscreen than I do on eye shadows... a base to even out my skintone, blush for some colour, liquid eyeliner and mascara and a lip gloss and I’m out the door most mornings.
    7. I have read every Christopher Pike novel ever written in high school. Yes, I used to devour a book within a day. These days, I can’t even finish a novel in a year. I guess my taste have changed but if Mr. Pike ever released any new titles, I’ll be picking up a copy on launch day.
    I hope you find some or all these quirky facts about me interesting. Now, I will pass along this Versatile Award tag to the following wonderful Australian bloggers.