Monday, March 25, 2013

Smart Sampling with Clinique - Get 4 weeks worth of serum free!

Want a free full-size equivalent bottle of Clinique skincare product?
Of course you do and with Clinique's smart sampling you can from next week.

Clinique has set up a smart sampling initiative to give you 4 week's worth of their Repairwear Laser Focus serum. Here's how it works.

  1. Visit any Clinique counter in Myer from Sunday 31st March to Sunday 14th April for a skin consult and you will receive a 15ml bottle of their hugely popular Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle and UV Damage Corrector serum.  This is equivalent to a 2-week supply for morning and night use. 
  2. Come back for a follow-up consult 2 weeks later with your empty bottle and you'll receive another 15ml, 2-week supply bottle, bringing it to 4 weeks worth of product all up - all for free - that's equivalent to the A$72 full-size 30ml bottle!

Plus, during your consult, you will receive tip cards and and advice, targeted to your specific needs.

So why not head to a Clinique counter at Myer soon to see the results of this serum yourself - you don't have anything to lose, except for the potential of a few fine lines, dehydrated and uneven skin.

Better yet, spread the words and tell your, mum, sister and girfriends (or skin-savy males friends) so they can experience this skin improvement themselves - all for free thanks to Clinique Smart Sampling.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

De-stressing With Scent

Work has recently been very intense, political and downright stressful so I've been burning the midnight oil more than usual this month. Add in a relationship break-up, on-going estate work bogging me down it's little wonder my stress and anxiety levels are hitting the roof and causing me to break out in hives on a daily basis!

Whenever I'm feeling stressed or low in spirits, I try to surround myself with the people I love. I find solace in their warmth and comforting hugs.

I also turn to scented products to help lift my spirits as I find that scent often has a positive influence and effect on my mood.

Glasshouse Triple Scented Candle - Monet's Garden*  - RRP A$39.95

Nothing soothes as well as calming aromas. To have the room filled with callming and aromatic scent for hours on end definitley improves my mood. My current favourite scented candle is Monet's Garden from Glasshouse. A heady bouquet of tuberose, lavendar and ylang ylang, its a perfect mixed of warm and sensual - it's like spending an uplifting afternoon in a garden full of Spring blooms. 

Available at David Jones, Peter Alexander and selected specialties stores. For more including international stocklists, check here.

Natio  Mediatate Shower Gel 240ml - RRP A$12.95
I love the spiced woodiness of the narcssus attar that awakens and relieves. Even though this is a shower gel, it is also capable of giving amazing ubbles for soothing warm baths. It's versatility has seen me finish up the bottle in less than 4 weeks - a record for a shower product for me.

Available in Myer, David Jones and selected pharmacies.

The Body Shop Deep Sleep Pillow & Body Mist 100ml - RRP A$29.95
Lavender is said to be calming, stress-relieving and helps with insomnia - pretty much all the things I need right now. Who knew lemon and lavendar combined with camomile can make such a soothing scent like this bottle of goodness? I can't say that this has solved my sleep issues but I do feel calmer after spraying it into the air and onto my pillow before going to bed. It also helps to clear my airways and helps me breath better.

Avaliable instores or online at The Body Shop.

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist 50ml* - RRP A$35
This rose mist is my all time favourite scented face mist. It gives the right amount of skin refreshment, especially on a hot day and acts as a wonderful toner morning and night. It calms irritated skin and even though don't relieve my hives symptoms, soothes and cools down my skin temporarily. Given Rose is my all time favourite floral scent, every spritz transports me to a mid-summer's rose garden where I temporarily forget my worries.

Available at Myer, David Jones and online

How do you de-stress when there is too much going on in your life? I'd love to hear your tips. 

Products marked * were provided for consideration. Others were purchased by me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Disco Nails with BYS Glitter Dust

I've seen many fun and innovative nail products come into the market in recent times (cue those press-on patterned nail strips, caviar nails, nail art pens etc), but nothing has gotten me as excited as the recent BYS glitter dust nail polish sets.

Not only is it give impressive results, it is very easy to apply as well – I watched this video below and knew I had to give it a go myself.

Now with your typical glitter nail polish, the glitter is already mixed into the nail enamel formula and can be hard to build a consistently glittery finish.

BYS Glitter Dust for Nails 
Shades: Star Crossed Lovers (pink) and Feeling the Sparkles (purple)
With BYS Glitter Dust, it’s actually two separate products: a normal opaque nail polish and a matching tub of micro glitter and gives you perfect results every time – I guarantee it.

How to get glamorous glittery nails in 4 easy steps
Disco nails in 4 easy steps with BYS
  1. Apply the nail polish as you would normally. 
  2. While nail is still wet, dip the nail into the tub of glitter so it sticks onto the finger nail. Don’t worry about the glitter going over the edge, as you have no product for it to stick on, it won’t stay. 
  3. Use the included a brush tool to brush off excess glitter around the edge of nails. 
  4. Slick on a top coat to seal the glitter onto nail and prevent fall outs.
  5. Viola! You are done. 
How easy was that?

Just be careful of the glitter fallout during application/dusting off so make sure you spread a newspaper under your working area to keep your table/floor clean afterwards.

The results are stunning and sparkles are like a disco ball on your digits. Available in 11 shades, there’s one to wear for every glamorous occasion when you need to bring some bling to your nails.

What do you think of these glitter nails? Are you into nail art? Share with me your thoughts.

RRP A$.795 per glitter pack at K-mart, Gloss Accessories, Cosmetics Plus, selected pharmacies and Online at Fashion Addict.

This featured product was provided for consideration.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Face Off: Clarisonic Mia v PRO

Working in the IT field professionally, I’m quite a gadget geek. So when it comes to beauty gadgets, I’m pretty much all over them!

Before the Clarisonic cleansing brush officially made its way onto our southern shores, I had one imported (thank you online shopping) because I read so many rave reviews on it from overseas (predominately US) sites and forums. I was convinced all my skin break out problems could be solved by it. You can read about my original review of the Clarisonic PRO here.
3 years on, the Clarisonic craze has arrived into Australian shores and many out there are coveting this lush tool and deciding whether to make the investment and buy one.

So when I was recently sent a Mia for review, I thought I need to do an updated post. This time, a comparison between the Clarisonic PRO/PLUS and the Mia! I want to be able to provide some guidance to those out there deciding on which to get as I don’t see many comparison reviews available.

What is a Clarisonic? 
What? You haven’t heard about it… tsk tsk. Well OK, let me give you brief summary.
Basically it’s a rechargeable and waterproof hand held tool with a brush head attachment that you use to cleanse your face.

Its selling point is that the brush bristles don’t rotate but instead vibrate 300 times per second to dislodge impurities from the pores and remove dead skin cells.
There are various brush attachments of different softness to suit different skin sensitivity levels and even a body brush if you buy the appropriate version of the Clarisonic tool.

In the Australian retail market, you can purchase the Clarisonic Mia or the Clarisonic Plus. I don’t own the Plus, but I have the PRO and they both look and functions the same except that the PRO has one more speed setting than the PLUS. So I will review the PRO as if it's the PLUS.

Physical Differences
Side by side, you can see the Mia is the baby sister of the PRO/PLUS. It’s smaller, cuter and in my case, a limited edition pink version compared to the classic white of the PRO.
Front and back of the Clarisonics - without brush attachments
The Mia is also 50g lighter (195g v 245g without brush attachments). Both fits ergonomically on the hand but on my smal palm ,the Mia feels more comfortable and slightly easier to grab.

There are fewer buttons on the mia and the light (charge) indicator is embedded inside the case of the device and can only be seen when charging.

The charging mechanism is also different. The PRO sits in a cradle to be charged whilst the Mia is attached to the base with a magnetic charger. I prefer the PRO as the cradle acts as a home for it after use.

Functional differences

The PRO is the Rolls Royce of the Clarisonic range – with 4 different speed settings (the PLUS has 3) and capable of taking on a (optional) larger body brush attachment to be used in the shower. It has a default 1 minute running cycle for use but can be changed to 2 minutes with facial brush attachments. It also beeps at set time intervals to help you with time allocations on each part of the face you use it on.
Body brush and different face brushes
The Mia has one button – On or OFF with one speed setting (which is comparable to the lowest setting on the PRO – what I call the gentle mode). It doesn’t have any fancy beeping timer and automatically turns itself off after 1 minute of use. You can’t adjust any of these preset settings. It's one of the simplest tool to use and follows the motto of KISS - you just cannot stuff up during use.

Both products also came with sample (30ml) size facial cleansers to start you off your clarisonic cleansing journey.

Differences in Action
I use the PRO in the shower and to cleanse the face and then change to a body brush and give my back a good squeaky scrub as well. With the body brush, the device runs for 3 minutes before it switches itself off (you can turn it back on) and there are 2 different speed setting. I don’t really care much between the 2 setting and use either interchangeably.

I get the best cleanse on my body when using it and it helps keep my bacne breakout in check. You’d think I would do this more often since it’s so good. But in reality, I only do this once or twice a week. Why? Because it’s time consuming slowing using the device to scrub such a large surface area on your body. But the main killer is that it depletes the battery of the PRO significantly. On one charge I can only get 2 showers worth of face and body cleansing (about 15 minutes use all up) before having to charge the device for 24hr before its next use – very annoying!

Mia with face brush and PRO with body brush
On the Mia, I use it once every night for 2 whole weeks and the battery is still going strong (about 14 minutes use)! Clearly it’s a winner when you are taking it with you for travels. So although they both run for about the same time, but because of differences in use, the PRO battery capacity is clearly inadequate.

Mia v PLUS/PRO - which one should I buy?
It’s up to you but here are my observations and thoughts that might help you decide.
  • You really don’t need 3 or 4 speed settings to cleanse your face. Really! One option is more than enough. If you want to use different intensity or to suit different skin types, then get different brush head attachment that cater for normal, sensitive, or delicate skin. I like the delicate brush attachment best as it’s the most gentle and prefer to use the brush for a 2 minute cleanse instead of 1 minute. - Do you need a fancy brush to cleanse your body? Probably not. A good body brush can do an equally good job. And you don’t have to worry about the battery dying in the middle of a body scrub as well. 
  • Having the luxury of both, I now use the mia to cleanse my face and the PRO soley to cleanse my body weekly. But if I was to start from scratch, I’d stick with the MIA. The constant 24 hr charge required by the PRO is a turn off for me. 
  • Cost of product. The mia is the entry level product and priced more than $100 cheaper than the PLUS/PRO. Cheaper doesn’t mean bad. Here, it just means fewer functions. So, if you don’t need the additional functions, you shouldn’t need to pay for it. 
The Mia is $139 (US $119) whilst the PLUS is $265 (US$225). Face and body brush attachments are priced at $29 (US$25). Available at David Jones, Myer, and cheaper online at The Facial Company.

So as you can see, the Mia is clearer my preferred Clarisonic, it’s cuter, more fit for purpose and more value for money – all the things that make a gadget great!

Whilst the Clarisonic Mia was provided for consideration, the PRO was purchased by me.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fuzz-free forever with Philips Lumea Precision Plus

True story: when it comes to hair, we all want more of it on our heads and less on our bodies.

We spend countless hours and use various ways to make ourselves smooth and fuzz-free - from shaving, to waxing, to depilating, it’s become an obsession in our society. Even men are getting in on the act these days - suffice to say most of us wouldn’t mind at all to be fuzz-free for life – especially on our legs and underarms.

Once upon a time, we would try electrolysis, but that is slow, sometimes painful and definitely a time-consuming process. Thankfully, technology has improved and increased our options to bring us permanent hair removal via lasers and IPLs.

Until recently, these new options are only available at salons so you would need to book an appointment get permanent hair reduction and your hair removed. Well, now there is a new option – At home IPL hair removal with Philips Lumea IPL Hair removal system.

Philips Lumea Precision Plus - IPL Removal system (model SC2003/11)
  • Uses IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) technology to destroy hair at follicles and prevents regrowth. Over time the follicle will die and hair will stop growing.
  • Is suitable for a large range of skin types from very fair to dark brown skin (but not deep drown/African skin), and a variety of hair colours 
  • Variable energy intensity means its suitable for all areas of the skin from the legs to the face to the under arm and bikini.
  • Features a flash and slide function to allow faster treatment time.
  • Built in safety measure where IPL will flash only when correctly applied across the body.
  • Last up to 5 years with the lamp able to generate over 10,000 flashes ((after which it's implied that it the lamps may start to fail and as it doesn’t have replaceable parts, it probably means you will have to dispose of it). 
Table showing suitability use for different skintone and hair types
The contents of the box 
  • Philips Lumea IPL device - shaped like a space-aged nerf gun, it is very ergonomically and comfortable in the hand, with the operating button in a convenient location and the power and settings options well positioned so that there are no accidental changes of settings during use.
  • 2 lamp window attachments for the device, one that covers a wider surface area (4cm)and another for another smaller one (2cm) with an integrated light filter for more precise hair removal at lower intensity (so is better for sensitive area such as bikini lines and facial areas).
  • A/C Power adaptor – the unit takes over an hour to fully charge up and gives about over 200 flashes before running low on juice again and needs to be recharged. You cannot use the device whilst it’s charging but it’s is cordless and portable when fully charged!
  • Instruction guides, a quick start one and a more comprehensive manual
How it works
In a nutshell, it the IPL device on, position the the lamp window over the area of the skin you want to remove hair from evenly across until the ready green indicator light on the back turns on and then press the trigger to activate the IPL flash. Too easy right?

There are 5 power settings on the device to customise the intensity of the light pulse for different types of skin as well as different part of the body (eg. lower setting on the facial and bikini region compared to the legs or underarms).
On level 5 intensity setting
This is very handy because it allows you to adjust for how well you can tolerate the discomfort during treatment and also means that almost every skin type can be treated with this device.

I’m fairly tolerant to pain and having epilated most of my life and having had previous laser hair removal treatments at salons, I knew I could handle the discomfort and so I started out with the highest (level 5) setting but I’d advise other beginner users to start with a low setting if you are unsure of your skin’s tolerance and crank up the settings the next treatment. For sensitive areas like my upper lips and bikini area, I use the level 2 or 3 setting.
I have fine short hair on my body, and didn’t feel the need to shave before treatment except for the bikini region where I have longer and thicker hair. I don’t shave mainly because it allows me to better see which area of skin I’ve flashed vs the area I haven’t because the hair does get singed once it’s been flashed.
Hair before IPL flash; after - see the singed dots of hair?
However, if you prefer not to smell the singe of hair or have long hair, shaving a day or 2 before treatment the preferred/better option. I trim my hair on my underarms and bikini because these grow longer and there is too much singeing otherwise during treatment.

Once the area of skin is pressed evenly down against the attachment window, the green indicator light comes on and you can press the trigger to flash the skin. The device then takes about 3 seconds to recharge itself before you can flash again.

How to ensure you cover all areas?
On legs and large areas you can use white (make sure it’s white so it doesn't absorb the light energy) chalk to draw 3cm gridlines (so there is a slight overlap from the 4cm lamp attachment) to help you guide through the areas you will be flashing. I have tried doing this the first time but found it too time consuming and troublesome so after I got used to the product, I started treatment without drawing on my skin. Either way, you would flashed on a straight line from top to bottom (especially on legs) before moving horizontally to the adjacent area.

You can use the glide feature of the the device to slide the unit along to the next area to be flashed, but because of the delay in re-flashing, I prefer to lift the unit off my skin and move it along to the next area to be flashed. This is obviously a personal preference and others will operate the unit in a way that is most comfortable to them.

How much did it hurt?
I didn’t find the flash on skin painful at all, it was more like an elastic band flicking against my skin and quickly dissipates afterwards although on my face and bikini area, the flicking pain was slightly more intense. I just adjust the power setting down until I’m comfortable with the discomfort before continuing the rest of the area again.

How often do you use this IPL device?
I follow the recommended usage frequency and operate the device in treatment mode, using it every 2 weeks. Over time, you will find that you will have fewer re-growth and can go for longer without treatment. This is when you enter maintenance mode. In this period you only need to flash every 6-8 weeks depending on the speed of your regrowth.

What are the results like?
Let me make no bones about this – this at-home device is never going to be as powerful as the machines used in salons. Therefore the results should never be compared vis-a-vis, on treatment-for-treatment, hair-for-hair loss basis - it just wouldn't stack up and and neither would it be fair.

What you can expect though from my experience, is that hair will begins to shed from the body 5-6 days after treatment. Coarser hair (which absorbs more of the light’s output) seems to shed more than the fine hair (which contains less melanin and therefore absorbs less light). As hair grows in different cycle during each treatment, not all hair would shed after each treatment and you can be left with patchy areas of hair after a week’s time. Shaving (required very infrequently) in between treatments ensures even fuzz-freeness during the interim treatment periods.

For my hair type, it seems to take between 4-6 treatments (about 2 to 3 months), before the hair dies and stops growing back. The hairs that do grow back are softer and finer (even in the bikini region) and also the hair regrowth is slowed down significantly after 3 treatments. Obviously this depends on the hair cycle and how strong the hair follicle is so the hair regrowth time frame vary on different parts of the body.

Using this device definitely take longer to remove hair than going to salons where the machines are more powerful and so takes fewer treatment to get the same results. But this also a lot less painful/uncomfortable given its lower power output and is effortless to use.

Final words
This IPL device has an advertised life span of 5 years so you will get plenty of time to continually use the product until all your unwanted hair is removed from your body. It is easier and more convenient since you can do it any time you have a free moment to treat yourself (or get someone to treat you for the hard to reach areas such as your back).

It will also allow you to use it as a maintenance product (every 6-8 weeks) once you’ve remove most of your hair since you will always have it at home to remove any stubborn regrowth that crops up over time.

If you are contemplating permanent hair removal, this beauty gadget must be in your consideration when evaluating all your options and I wish I had this device from day one so I didn’t have to endure those embarrassing salon visits to get my brazillians done (yikes!)

Overall I’m extremely pleased with the results and I feel this investment device (it's damn expensive with a  suggested retail price of A$1299) pays for itself in the long run. I’ve honestly paid a lot more over the last 2 years to have my body treated of unwanted hair in salons and I’m still nowhere near hair-free. I’m just glad to have this device to finish off the job that was started off in the salons.

RRP A$1299.95 at all Shaver Shop nationally. If you can’t afford this new model, I'd wait for it to go on sale or pick up its predecessor - model SC2001 (which is less flashy literally with fewer flashes per charge and covers a smaller area per flash) which is currently on sale at the Shaver Shop stores for A$599.

This featured product was provided for consideration.