Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Going Gaga over Revlon Colorstay Whipped Creme Makeup

When it comes to the one makeup item that I’m very fussy about, it would be foundation. It is after all a base makeup that goes across my whole face and need to sit well for the entire day on my skin so texture and wearability is important. Add to that the complexity of finding the perfect colour match, it’s like traversing a jungle to find the perfect product for foundation.

So when I recently tried a new foundation that meets all these criteria, I just couldn’t wait to share it all with you.

Revlon Colorstay Whipped Creme Makeup SPF 20
First up, the whipped creamy texture is thicker than liquid foundation, but lighter than traditional cream based makeup. In fact is has a gel like consistency and is similar in texture to some of the thicker Asian BB creams (which is not to be confused with the western BB creams which are thinner in consistency and generally more like tinted moisturisers).

The gel consistency allows it to glide easily over skin and make it a dream to blend and buff with the use of a synthetic buffer brush (I use the Signma F82 brush but any dense synthetic buffing brush would do, just don't use the flat paddle varieties which will leave streaks and need more blending effort). Even fingers will give an amazingly even and flawless finish with this makeup.

#320 Warm Gold(en) depending if you are in the US or Australia
You can easily build up the medium coverage formula to full coverage and achieve this without your skin looking like it’s being caked-on with product. It will easily help hide small blemishes, pigmentation and dark circles in a cinch. It imparts a soft natural finish, not glowy but not completely matte either so your skin don’t look flat after base application.

It’s also a very hydrating formula and my face doesn’t feel dry nor does it accentuate dry patches when used along my usual mositurising regime (serum then moisturise) despite the fact that that I usually suffer from dry skin the side of my face. The sun protection factor is also great even though I already use a separate sunscreen.

on NC30 skin, no flash in fluorescent light. See how well it blends and matches my skin it is almost invisible
As for colour match, I found my perfect match in #320 warm gold(en), which is a warm medium shade with a slight yellow undertone and is slightly darker than the same shade name in the ColorStay liquid foundation that’s been in my makeup rotation for the past 4 years. The other thing I like about this foundation is that it doesn’t oxidise and change its colour during its life on my face, ensuring that I don’t turn an weird orangey colour

I honestly cannot find any fault in this foundation. It boasts a time release formula to keep it looking fresh for up to 24hrs but in honestly my longest single period of wearing it was 15 hours and by the end of it, I’d say that 50% of it has faded but because it wears so well, there are fewer makeup crease marks around my nose and laugh lines thanks to the flexible technology, it still looked good on my skin. After 12 hours, the makeup is still farily intact so that if you do a quick oil blot and powder touch up, you can still look quite fresh at the end of a long day if you are heading out into the evening.
Yes, I’m gushing about this makeup as I didn’t think a whipped product would work for me because I’ve previously tried a few mousse foundation varieties (remember Maybelline dream smooth mouse foundation?) and didn’t like them. Revlon has really blown its competition out of the water and beats many high end products this time to come out with such an amazing foundation.

I cannot ask for more from a soft natural finish foundation that is so comfortable and long-wearing. I think it this is my 2012 holy grail status foundation. It's a big call I know, but I can't see many other foundations beating it. If you can find one in your colour (there are 7 shades available in Australia compare to 10 in the US), then you’d be silly to not try it.

RRP A$34.95 for 23.7ml at selected Priceline, department stores, Target, Kmart, Big-W and pharmacies.
This featured product was provided for consideration.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Father's Day Gifting Guide 2012

Time sure is flying and it’s coming up to father’s day again. This year in Australia, the special day is this Sunday September 2nd and if you ask what my dad wants, there’s a couple of standard answers which involves food and more food or electronics (boys and their toys)!

Forget ties, shirts and socks. Here is selection that are my personal favourites for that special dad, no matter their age, who deserves something wonderful on a day dedicated to all them.

For the dad who secretly dips into mum’s skincare stash:
Get him his own with Clinique’s Skin Supplies For Men (SSFM) Great Skin For Him - A$52 This facial TCL gift set contain an Anti-Fatigue Cooling Eye Gel 15 ml, Face Scrub 30 ml and the M Lotion 30 ml, all the essential item.

And whilst we are at it, Dad will also love the SSFM Clinical Dark Spot Corrector - 30ml A$92 will gauranteed that redness, shaving irritations are a thing of the past. It will also help with fading those shaving cuts or dark marks from inflamed skin on their face! I have got my dad using this and he loves how his skin is smoother and less prone to ingrown from saving afterwards.

These products are available at all Clinique counters now.

For the tired and stressed dad:

Aromatherapy Associates De-stress Muscle Gel -  150ml $27.04 (20% off their RRP as a fathers day promotion) Give dad this non-sticky gel formulation that is infused with pure essential oils of rosemary, black pepper and ginger, and aromatic waters and he will feel all better after massaging it into his achy muscles. Perfect for soothing sores and strains after a big day of golf, footy, or even just an very long day of staying in the office. 

Aromatherapy Associates are available online so get your order in quick to make this weekend's delivery deadline!

For the dad who wants his grooming needs covered:

The Dermalogica Shave System - A$68 will ensure a smooth comfortable shave everytime and has every a man grooming needs covered from shave to beard. Dad will feel pampered after a shave with moisturisers Daily Clean Scrub (44ml), Pre-Shave Guard (22 ml), Soothing Shave Cream (74ml), Post-Shave Balm (10ml), Daily Defense Block SPF15 (22ml).

Available at Dermalogica counters in selected salons or currently on sale (25% off) at Adorebeauty online.

For the dad who loves to cook:

Spring is here this weekend so theres no better way to get well prepared for dad than giving him a new BBQ set - A$59 from BBQ Galore. He'll be able to cook like an expert and impress the crowd during the upcoming bbq season.
Available instores or online.

For the handyman dad: 
This Bunnings Gift Voucher is ideal for him to finish his latest project around the home. He'll love you for it because you read his mind and got him exactly what he wants!
Bunnings gift cards are available instores or online

For the techy dad: 
If dad has his ipad, ipods, iEverything, then he needs a power pack that will charge it all. Try this Belkin Power charger 400 - A$79 (and on clearance at the GoodGuys for only $23 whilst stock lasts), it will charge smart phones and boost the power of tablets while on the go so dad will never be disconnected again.

For the high-flying corporate dad:
He can never had too many cufflinks. Try some at Benjamin Cufflinks like these footy/ruby inspired ones (A$49.95) or for something more refined, try the modern blue stoned ones (A$55). With over 1600 designs  and with free shipping Australia wide, you don't even have to leave your seat to get dad a beautiful gift.

And finally for the dad who likes to smell good:

Z Zegna by Ermenegildo Zegna EDT (A$80 50ml | A$110 100ml) is cool and edgy. This scent picks up the sharpness of white peppers, the freshness of bergamot and rosemary and mixes it with a woody heat of nutmeg, patchouli and cashmere wood. it’s also got a bit aquatic quality to it but its essence is its warm woody base – just like dad's big bear hug & warm embrace.

Z Zegna is available at all Myer and David Jones stores. 

Another great new scent is Giorgio Armani Essenza EDP (75ml A$125 | 40ml A$95), a modern twist to a traditional scent, this juice contains a perfect blend of notes from bergamot and grapefruit that is muted by persimmon and freshened up by Morrocan cedar. It is the ultimate modern masculine scent that is sophisticated, complex and inspiring. In fact I like it so much, I wouldn't mind spritzing it on my wrist when I want to feel assertive!

Essenza is available at Myer, David Jones and selected pharmacies. 

Are there any gifts in here you think your dad would like? What would you get for your dad? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Time out with Marie Drago – Soap & Glory

If you haven’t heard of Soap & Glory before, you could be taken for hiding under a rock when it comes to the beauty scene. Soap & Glory (S&G) is a British cult brand that prides itself in making skincare fun and accessible to the every-day consumer, ditching beauty marketing speak and jargon to give results based products (go read my review on their heel genius here.
Last month I had the opportunity to interview the marketing brains behind the Soap & Glory, Marie Drago. The French woman has for the past 5 Years made London her home whilest she helps to build the Soap & Glory as a fun, girly and accessible beauty brand.

The first thing you will notice when you meet the beautiful Marie is the warmth she exudes and her mesmerising accent. Being French really played to her favour. I hit it off well with Marie and in between discussing holiday plans, nail colours then food and places to visit, I managed to ask her a few question about the brand.

Marie and I
Q: How did Soap & Glory get started? 
A: It was created by Marcia Kilgore who was the founder of Bliss Spa founder back in 2006, while she was on a maternity break. She wanted to create something that was results-based and easily accessible to the consumer so it had to be fun and affordable. She has an aesthetician background and after playing around with making body products, came to create Soap & Glory.

Q:What attracts you to S&G?
A: I love the fun nature of the brand which is a break away from the traditional skincare brands I’ve worked with in France – they are very much into their scientific based. Soap and glory is different – we are honest and open and have a more informal approach. Our philosophy is that any average person can relate to the brand because it is solution based. We will clearly state what problems your products solve.

Q: What are the plans for the company’s growth?
A: We are a small company with 25 staff in the UK and approximately a team of 5 in the US. We are going to concentrate on our existing market base and make sure we do well in these areas before considering expansions to newer markets. So that means UK, US, Australia will continue to be our main focus for the foreseeable future.

What are your favourite products? 
A: Well, I have a secret love for heel genius is the only product in the range that is made in my home country France. I love the Breakfast Scrub from the new range because it smells beautiful with maple syrup, banana and almond for a beautiful scrub to use.
I also enjoy Sit Tight which has micro sponge caffeine to helps to tighten and slimming effects – has a warming sensation when you use it as well.

Q: Are the differences in what sells better in Australia than in the UK? 
A: Well there is a smaller range of products in Australia than in the UK – Australia stocks only the best selling skin and body care products.

In the UK, we have a cosmetics range on top of skincare which was launched last year, and it is doing very well. Also we have things that sell better in Australia than back at home such as the glow lotion as you have a better climate than ours

Marie’s tip: apply along the side of calves below the knees to get an extra inch of leg height instantly.

Q: So are there any plans to bring the cosmetic range to Australia or any other products?
A: Not at this stage, we are concentrating on consolidating on the products we have launched here so far. We don’t spend on marketing or advertising and rely soley on word of mouth and testimonials. In Australia, the brand has just grown so much with Kit Cosmetics’ support.

Q: So will you bring out new products to Australia? 
A: We’ve just brought a few new items like the grapefruit oil hand sanitiser which smells amazing, the breakfast scrub that leaves no residue on the body, the butter yourself body cream which is not as sweetly scented as the Righteous Butter.

And for the holiday season, we will see some cute Christmas packs coming out with mini versions of the some fabulous products.

Q: What’s an unconventional way you’ve use any S&G products? 
A: Well I’m told that the righteous butter is very good for stretchmarks and people with eczema use it as a treatment because it is rich in aloe and shea butter. It’s also another of my favourite product.

Marie and I then proceeded to discuss food and the best eateries in Melbourne as before wrapping up. It was an immense pleasure to meet and chat with her. I’m grateful she took time out of her busy schedule to meet give me some time for this interview and I hope you learned something new about the Soap & Glory Brand.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Join the Fight for a Fair Price in Beauty

When you go online shopping, are you tired of seeing all the prices of big brands on international sites for half the price of what you pay back at home in Australia? Case in point: a Chanel Coco Shine lipcolour is $50 a pop in Australia while in the US it's $32.50 and the UK it's £24 or OPI nail colours (A$19.95, US$8.50 and UK £11).

And even though this pricing disparity is rife across all types of product ranges, it is most obvious in the fashion and beauty industry. I want to support local retailers but it can be hard when my pay packet needs to be stretched out as much as possible to cover ever-increasing expenses.

With the Australian dollar being so strong against all major currencies for the past 2-3 years, online shopping makes it possible to purchase products at international prices but at the end of the day, I'm a touch-and-feel sort of person and prefer to buy products after I've tested it out so if the local distrubitors and retailers can bring parity pricing into the Australian market, I'd happily spend my money here. 

That's why it is fantastic to see brands lowering their prices in light of changes in market dynamics (NARS, Kiehl's, Biotherm, Stila, Declor on all or some of their product ranges over the past 15 months). But we want more, there are many global brands that can afford to lower their rich margins in the Australian market and we'd love to see them jump on this band wagon and treat savvy Australian consumers with respect, rather than as helpless cash cows. 

To this end, a iconic brand is getting behind the cause to bring fairer pricing for the Australian market. Illamasqua has recently set up an online petition to fight for the Australian beauty consumer cause. They've indicated that Aussie consumers can pay up to 61% more for their beauty products than their UK counterparts (and dare I say over 100% than US prices on some products). They have set up an online petition to fight for fair pricing of products in the Australian beauty market.

So people, even if you don't love beauty as much as I do, I'm sure you don't want to see your mum, sister or girlfriend continue to be fleeced of their hard earned money. We'll all thank you if you join me in spending a minute to sign this petition. While you are at it, tell all your friends about this and get them to sign up too!

And to Illamasqua, thank you so much for taking this stance and fighting for us!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How to: Keep Skin in tip-top Shape During Winter

The extreme winter weather currently experienced by many parts of the Australia can be very harsh – your health starts to falter with the gripping flu, your energy sapped with the weather and you just feel like hibernating till Spring comes around. Worse yet, your skin suffers from a lack of vitamin D, dry and scaly skin and chapped lips.

And hydration is key to combat these conditions in these cold and chilly season so make sure to drink up on water and for your skin, keep them hydrated these products. They will be a saviour for the remainder of this winter.

Khiel’s Rosa Arctica Youth Regeneration Cream - 50ml 
A rich moisturiser that creates a thin veil of protection on the skin to lock in the moisture – it has a faint chocolate scent thanks to the cocoa butter and contain plant based squalene (olive source) to moisturise, vitamin E for anti-oxidising properties and the extract of rosa arctica the resurrection flower Haberlea Rhodopensis to help increase cell vitality for skin renewal. I had a small sample that I used for a week and it helped to keep my skin bouncy, moist and looking fresh. I personally love this in extra the mornings before the applying the SPF for its smooth matte texture or on top of a treatment serum at night.

RRP A$84 online or at Kiehl's counters at selected department stores

Clinique Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturise - 50ml 
For skin that need an extra helping hand, this is the one of the champion of night creams – slap this non-greasy but easily absorbed moisturising treatment all over the face before going to bed and this to help increase cell turnover and brighten dull winter skin. While is a great hydrating moisturiser, it’s name to fame is the time release salicylic acid that gently exfoliates to re-texturises skin, help fade blemish marks and smooth unevenness so your skin feel brand new in the morning again. With a week of use, you get velvetly soft skin with a healthy radiance that keeps your looking fresh. It seriously is that good that I’d say it’s made its way into my HG list of treatment products! 

50ml RRP A$90 online or at Clinique counters in department stores.

Uriage Thermal Water for Sensitive Skin 
Sourced from the thermal spring capital of France in Uriage-les-Basin, the name-sake water spray has highest percentage of trace mineral in any thermal water spray on the market. This thermal water not only hydrates and refreshes but has therapeutic properties and in France, patients with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis go in droves to the French Thermal Centre to soak and bath in its mineral rich water.

Uriage thermal water is so soothing on irritated skin, even the most sensitive skin type will benefit from its calming and healing effects and the fine mist is just perfect to set your makeup – what a multi tasker! 

RRP A$10.95 / A$26.95  for 50ml / 300ml. Available at selected Melbourne or Sydney Stocklists or contact the company to order online.

Now lets not forget the body during the winter months, even if you cover it up under layers of clothing

L'Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream - 200ml

This lightly fresh scented whipped texture body cream with 25% shea butter is a dry and dehydrated skin sufferer’s dream come true as the emollient cream is readily absorb by the body without leaving a greasy residue and keeps skin moist all day long. Along with linseed, marshmallow extract and apricot oil, you get all day hydration and within 3 days, any scaly parts of skin is transformed into the soft smooth skin, without any dry patches in sight. 

RRP $59.95 at  L'Occitane counters in selected departments, L'Occitane concept stores or online.                                                                              

Soap and Glory: The Breakfast Scrub - 300ml 

Exfoliation is another key factor to banish dull dry skin so this Soap and Body salt body scrub is the perfect aide for the job. This is my favourite because it smells like crème caramel thanks to its sugar and cupuacu scrubs particles to polish and buff while the almond and milk extract softens and nourish skin. Best of all, there is no hint of film or residue on skin after washing off unlike other salt body scrubs I’ve used before (I’m looking at you Body Shop body scrubs!)

RRP A$18.95 at Kit Cosmetics counters and online.

Uriage Bariederm Soothing Repair Barrier Lip Balm - 15ml 
Chapped lips are a common occurrence in winter and there is no better way to sooth and repair it than with an intensive lip balm. Bariederm barrier lip balm is a paraffin based product that forms a film over lips to lock moisture in and cold air out and prevent further dryness whilst provide relief from any cracked lips or chapness. The best thing is that an application last through light eating and drinking so meaning that you don’t have to re-apply frequently to the appearance of flakies at bay.

RRP A$19.95. Available at selected Melbourne or Sydney Stocklists or contact the company to order directly with them online.  

Refresh PLUS Everyday Dry Eye Drops - 30x0.4ml applicators
And finally, if you suffer from dry eyes because you are a frequent flyer, have been staring at a computer screen for way too long like I have or have foreign matter get stuck into your eyes, you will welcome this refreshing eye drops to relieve irritated or dry eyes. The innovative packaging resolves the problem with normal eye drops bottles where they can become contaminated very quickly and need to be thrown out after 6 weeks. You’ll appreciate these Refresh PLUS eye drops which come in single applicator so that you always have a fresh and sterile dose of eye drops every time. 

RRP A$15.70 at selected pharmacies and optometrists.

How have you been keeping your skin hydrated this winter?

Products features in this post were provided for consideration.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Ultimate Skincare: Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Re-Creation Face Serum & Cream

Whenever I think of expensive high-end skincare, my mind normally conjures up jars from La Mer, La Prairie Sisley, and Naturra Bisse.

But this year, another brand has entered into the league of the thousand dollar cream market. This time, its maker is none other than Estee Lauder with its own top of the range skincare line. 

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Re-creation Face Serum and Cream Set
Launched earlier this year (March) in the American market and making its way over to our shores in mid-April, this has got to be one of the most expensive cream of the year. The range consist of a Face cream and Night Serum duo (A$1350 for the set) and an eye balm and night serum for eyes duo(A$550).

What it Claims (edited for conciseness): 
A 24-hour anti-ageing skin care system capable of unleashing your skin's natural power to reveal skin that appears firmer, more luminous and younger thanks to a winning combination of scientific excellence, ancient wisdom and the ocean." An elixir of nourishing extract and cushion and comfort skin. It includes a selection of highly refined precious oils and lips from plants and naturally derived ingredients to infuse skin with the extra rich, vital hydration at night and precious oils provide skin with incomparable smoothness, radiance and silky comfort for a sensuous pampering experience. Skin feels more supple replenished and luxuriously comforted and receives the most exceptional care and looks more youthful than ever.

Breaking it down, it sounds like this cream and serum set delivers exceptional smoothing properties and helps with delaying the signs of ageing whilst giving you a pleasant experience at the same time. Fortunately, I got to find out first hand what exactly it can do for my skin as I was given the opportunity the try this duo over the past couple of months.

As you would expect of a high-end product, the packaging is instantaneously captivating - elegant, luxurious, extravagent and in all honesty, looked like it has a glowing halo with its dark clear acrylic casing within a gold bottle and jar, and gold trim and lids.

Let’s look at the key ingredients that it contains (as this was a sample and not the retail product, I unfortunately don't have the full ingredients listing to share with you).

The Face Serum
The night serum is a wonderful blend of light oil that skin readily drinks up. It contains

  • Karanja or Honge Oil (which is cold pressed from the seed of a native tree of India), used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its healing antiseptic, anti-inflammatory properties, high in essential fatty acids that provides excellent anti-aging benefits.
  • Evening primrose oil which is again a fabulous oil that sinks into skin quickly to nourish and hydrate with its high concentration of gamma linolenic acids to renew skin. 
  • Padina, an extract from the brown algae from the Mediterranean which purports to help the calcium in skin protect cells to help with prevent the premature ageing and death of cells. 
The Face Cream
The velvety luxe and light emollient face cream that can be used day or night contains
  • An in-house patented protein known as Glacial BioExtract (phormidium persicinum) is extracted in the pristine Antatctic ocean that has properties to help boost skin elastin production as well as provide perfect hydration. 
  • Algae extract provides skin repair properties to renew and protect. 
  • Amino acid EGT and laminaria digitata extract (aka silketare) derived from a sea plant help to provide energy to skin cells to support its healthy function.
How did it perform
I’m not going to lie, I love this face cream and serum duo. It glides on like a dream and I only use the tiniest amount (trying to make my precious set last as long as possible).

At night I dispense about 3 drops to use on my entire face (one of each cheek and third on the forehead)and follow up with 3 tiny smears of the cream onto the same area.

It provides the perfect amount of hydration and despite the serum being oil based, gives my face a matte finish without that shine you normally associate with using oil based products. It's like a soft focus lens has been cast on the skin to give it that silky smooth texture.

The cream is light, silky and absorbs into skin quickly without any residue or feeling of greasiness.

Scent wise, both products has a beautiful and delicate creamy green floral blend that is made up of lotus, hyacinth, cyclamen and orchids blended with tiger lilies and warm woody sandalwood to create to sensual experience. I normally don’t like too much scent in my face products but this cream and serum is not overpowering and doesn't irritate skin (even on broken skin) so I make an exception to this.

I actually love the scent so much that I would probably buy the bottle of the fragrance if they made it available.

The next morning after using, skin is amazingly smooth – it literally gets transformed to the realms baby’s bum smoothness. And no matter how bad the texture my skin was the day before, the transformation the next day is incredible with more refine and smoother texture. To get this sort of change with a single use is incredible as it normally takes at least a week or more for other products to achieve.

Continued use of the serum and cream set leaves my skin feeling very balanced, with the right amount of hydration and is plump and firm, fine lines are softened around the eyes. All the dullness, dryness and pesky dry patches on the side of the face that seems to never go away in the winter month have all disappeared. (hello my new glowy winter skin!)

Note: make sure you use a water-based primer with the face cream during the day as it causes the product to ball up with dimethicone based primers.

I also noticed that it also helps with healing – I applied the serum on a bad blister burn on my arm and it accelerated the healing process and helped to minimised the scarring which is slowly fading after 2 months. 

With this skincare set, I had to unlearn my years of needing to layer products as my skin is happy with the serum or face cream on its own and estatic when they are used together. And there is literally no need for any other creams or serums at all (other than sunscreen during the day) as it just delivers all the right properties we all look for in the pursuit for youthful skin – hydration, plumping, smoothness, firmness and improved clarity.

I really want to say my experience was psychological and imaginary else because I was secretly hoping the product won't deliver and I don’t develop a need for it. Alas, it has surpassed my expectations and works astonishingly well - too well in fact that I'm very attached to it and think my skin now depends on it to look its best. But with its price, I’m very torn - it is hideously expensive and costs what most would have to pay for a month’s worth of mortgage interest and will last only 4-5 months (6 if you are stretching out its use like me). Sigh, if only I have won last week's lottery.

If you can afford the splurge and indulgence (lets be honest, not many of us can), you skin will never look any better. Otherwise just live in ignorant bliss and look for multiple products that could give similar effects for a less and without the guilt.

RRP A$1,350 | US$950 for the Face cream and serum set at selected Estee Lauder counters and online. If you are travelling to the US, definitely look it up there.
This featured product was provided for consideration.