Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Winner: Target Secret Sculpt Dress Gift Voucher

Thank you to those who entered the Target Secret Sculpt dress gift voucher giveaway. It seems like we all love the idea of having a sculpt silhouette and having a dress that could help us achieve that is more than welcomed in our lives. 

So without further ado, the winner of the $50 Target gift voucher, selected by a random number generator is none other than

Congratulations lovely. I hope you'll enjoy picking up your own classic black secret sculpt dress. Could you please get in touch with me via email ( and provide me your mailing address so I can have your gift voucher sent out to you? Please get in touch by 22nd September or I will have to redraw a new winner. 

For you other lovely readers, I'll have a couple more competitions coming up over the coming weeks so stay tuned. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eyelash Extensions - Are They Worth it?

We all want thick luscious lashes and many of us spend a lot of time and money curling, combing and swiping copious coats of mascara to achieve that fluttery look.

Some of us may be genetically blessed enough that not much work is needed to achieve eyes framed by fluttery lashes. For the less fortunate like yours truly, we relegate to using false lashes for those special occasion but they can be so fiddly to apply at the best of times and looks, well, just too fake.

In recent years, the use of false lashes has created an industry of false lash extensions using either individual acrylic or silk lashes. This is where individual lashes are semi-permanently glued to the base of your natural lashes, blending in so that your lashes are instantly thickened and depending on the length you use, lengthen slightly or dramatically.

Eye lash extensions can lasts for up to 3 weeks depending on the care you take with your lashes (ie. no rubbing of eyes, and not using oil-phase makeup removers to clean your eye makeup, not taking hot showers or gong to saunas)
I recently gave lash extension a try at a local lash bar in North Melbourne, hoping to get a natural but fuller, longer lashes that would shorten my morning makeup routine. The process to fill my lashes with acrylic lashes took about 30 minutes as it was my first time but I’m told when getting refills where you are reapply on areas where the false lashes has fallen off, the time is shorter.

I opted for the classic or natural look which I thought would be more suitable for daily wear, especially in the corporate environment.

Your eyes are closed (they are actually taped) the whole time your lashes are applied and there is no discomfort at all, you feel a bare wispy touch on your eye lid when the technician is apply them onto the base you’re your lash.

When done, I can see a subtle but noticeable difference to my lashes but it was not dramatic enough that you could pin point that I had extension to my lashes, which was exactly what I wanted. My lashes were now longer, more defined and fuller but very natural looking and there was no tell-tale sign of the thick lash band that one gets with strip lashes.  I looked like I was naturally blessed with fluttery eyes.
Lash extension 2 weeks later - longer and fuller than my original lashes
For me the Pros of lash extensions were clear

  • No need for mascara for full lashes, which is a blessing for someone like me with Asian heritage and short stumpy lashes. Just curl the lashes with an eyelash curler and away you go
  • No more panda-eye due to smudge mascara as you don’t need to use one. Oily eye girls will understand this and rejoice at this benefit.
  • Much better and realistic looking than strip false lashes (I find that they can look very tacky and reserve them for use during big night outs only)
  • Last a few weeks (up to 3 weeks) before refills are required. 

Classic eyelash extension - fuller and longer lashes compared to my natural lashes

The negatives of lash extensions were becoming apparent after the first day as well.  The lashes need to be dry for the first day for the glue to set, so don’t go into the salon with heavy eye makeup and definitely gon’t go splashing water all over your face when washing, which felt very weird for me.

Further, my eyes, initially not used to the extra weight of the lashes, felt heavy and it felt like I had to lift my eye lids consciously just to keep my eyes open and even though it’s most likely my imagination, it took a day to get used to.

I stopped using my favourite go to eye products (namely eye-liner) as that requires the use of oil-base makeup remover to take off the product and that would risk dissolving the eyelash extension glue pre-maturely.  My eye shadow makeup also took longer to remove used water based makeup, meaning that the time I saved in the mornings are now going toward the time taken at night to take makeup off. In fact, after a week, I ditched all forms of eye makeup all-together when just going to work as it was more trouble than it’s worth during removal (the very reason I has lashes done in the first place was to save time!).

I also experience some digging of the lashes into my eyes when I blinked which caused some irritation but that was resolved by curling my lashes again so the angle is greater and less likely to irritate my eye. (I’m thinking then that I should have gone for silk lashes which would be softer  but also more delicate and fragile).

As the days went, I started to notice some small issues. Within 3 days, my first lash extension fell off. Actually, it snapped off along with my natural lashed as it was permanently glued to it. Within the first week I think I counted about 4 more lashes falling out. All this happened despite the extra care taken to avoid weakening the lash glue. My own lashes always snapped off with each breakage as well, meaning that when the extensions fall out, my eyes had fewer lashes than I started off with.

To sum up, the cons were:

  • Temporary heavy feeling of eye lids. This would be especially the case when getting longer and more dramatic extension so bear that in mind if you are just going for an everyday look. 
  • Extra care required for makeup removal and inability to use oil-based makeup remover. Extra care is also required when facial cleansing around the eye area. 
  • Cotton pad fibres getting caught in the lashes during eye makeup removal. Extra care is require otherwise you’ll need to spend extra time tweezing out these fibres.
  • Occasional digging of lashes causing irritation to the eyes, resolved by re-curling lashes. 
  •  Weakening of own natural lash due to weight. I suspect long term extension would unduly stress out natural lashes so it would be a good idea to give extensions a rest for a few months to let the nature lashes recover and strengthen itself again. 
  • Expensive. A full set  of extension can set you back about A$99 (I paid half that as I had a voucher) and refill are less but given that you need to top up every month, it can become very expensive habit very quickly. 

For me, the biggest negative is the inability to use smudge proof liquid liners (a must for me as I have very oily eye lids). Unless I got more dramatic lashes, I feel that eyeliners can dramatise and play up the eyes more effectively than my “classic” full lashes could.

Not all is lost though. I enjoyed my experience of eye lashes and enjoyed the smudge free eyes for the past 3 weeks but I won’t be going back any time soon as I see lash extensions as more of a special occasion treat, given the cost and the cons above.

I’d highly recommend them for important photographic event such as weddings, engagement etc (much better than applying false strip lashes and you don’t want your wedding photos marred by those garish spines of those lashes). For everyday use, I’d stick with my trusty eyeliner and mascara to widen and dramatise my eyes.

Have you tried lash extensions? what are your experience with them?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marc Jacobs Honey EDP

Marc Jacob's latest fragrance offering launched just in time for the Southern hemisphere Spring this year and has an equally cheerful personality.

Fruity and floral, the energetic juice is held in a light honey tinted round bottle, covered with white dots and adorned with black and gold embellishments reminiscent of bumble bees on the bottle an another on its topper. 

This cute packaging accurately captures the fun loving nature of the scent with crisp pear and citrus notes of mandarin orange balanced with the sweetness of honeysuckle and delicate orange blossom. This blend remind me of a light honeydew scent which is further enhanced by a light touch of honey in a warm woodsy vanilla base, creating a light but well bodied scent.

On me, Honey has with a fairly soft sillage (that's perfume speak for how far away you are before you detect the scent on someone, a scent's projection or trail if you will) which is perfect for daytime wear when you just want hint of warm fruity sweetness surrounding you as you go about your day. 

It doesn't last too long though, so keep that in mind if you want something that is more lasting. Highly recommended for those lunch dates or casual weekend outings when you want a dose of fruity cheerfulness.

Marc Jacobs Honey EDP 30ml/50ml/100ml for A$75/A$120/A$160 available at Myer and David Jones now.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Breakfast and Interview with Rebecca Gibney

Last month, I had the pleasure of catching up with Rebecca Gibney over a bloggers breakfast event at the beautiful surrounds of the Botanical in South Yarra.
The gorgeous Rebecca Gibney

Now I’ve been a long time fan of Ms Gibney during her acting days at Halifax f.p and even more so with her as Julie Rafter in Packed to the Rafters. So you can imagine my excitement when I got to meet her in the flesh and not only that but, enjoy a meal together as well as part of an Olay Regenerist bloggers event. It was truly a star struck moment.

In person, Rebecca is as beautiful as she is on set. Not only that, she is unbelievably affable, warm and friendly - it felt like we were speaking with a girlfriend on the morning, sharing stories about kids, chatting about our favourite makeup products and giving each other skin care tips over a delicious spread of croissants, fruits, smoked salmon and eggs Benedict.
Chatting away during breakfast
During the event, Rebecca spoke of her long time love of Olay products (especially the new cleansing system facial brush reviewed here) and why it was a natural fit for her to be their ambassador since she has been using their moisturisers since her early 20s. If it is good enough for Rebecca Gibney, it’s good enough for me as I’ve just embarked on the 4 week challenge with the new Olay Regenerist Moisturising cream and will be giving a review one the 4 weeks is up.

Having had such a great time at the breakfast event, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions via correspondence afterwards to learn more about her secret to beautiful skin and what her upcoming media projects and here is what she has to say:

TIL: Now that you’re finished with Packed to the Rafter, what’s your next project?
Rebecca: I’m currently developing a couple of shows but hopefully I will be shooting one in the next few months to be on air early next year. And of course I’m loving being the Olay Regenerist Ambassador. It’s fantastic to be able to talk about a product that you are passionate about and it’s a brand I have used on and off for over thirty years.

I’m currently working on some projects with Channel 7 which I can’t reveal right now and I’ve also just shot a factual show in New Zealand which will be on in 2014. I’ve also been developing some projects with my husband for our company R&R Productions.

Being a beauty blogger, I’m interested in finding out about your beauty rituals. Can you tell us what your morning and night time skincare routines are? 
In the morning:
  1. I start off with my favourite new product the Olay Regenerist Advanced Cleansing System – it’s seriously amazing. I’m obsessed. It’s like a daily mini facial.
  2. After that I apply the Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum
  3. For SPF protection throughout the day I use the Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream SPF 30
  4. I don’t like to wear a lot of make up in the day so I keep it light – a sheer foundation, a touch of mascara and a subtle lip.
At night:
  1. Cleanse with Olay Regenerist Advanced Cleansing System- did I mention I’m obsessed? 
  2. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum 
  3. Finishing the day off with my Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. 
  4. Sometimes an Olay Regenerist Face Mask if my skin is in need of a bit of extra care
TIL:Do you carry a makeup bag with you whenever you’re out? Can you share with us what’s in your bag? 
  • Eyelash curlers
  • Light translucent press powder from Chantecaille
  • A light nude lipstick from Chantecaille
  • A hand cream from L’Occitane
  • Olay Regenerist Superstructure SPF 30+ Cream
  • Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
TIL: What’s the most your favourite makeup product and skincare product and why? 
Rebecca: I would have to say the Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream SPF30. I wear it daily and can’t stress enough the importance of an SPF product (especially on a desert island). That and a good lip balm!

TIL: Do you have any advice or tips do you have on how to achieve/maintain youthful and radiance skin for older skin? (my mum is hanging out for your words as she said you look so young in our photo together during the Olay breakfast event). 
Rebecca: Doing it joyfully. DO it with optimism and you will always look better with a smile on your face. I’m a big believer that beauty comes from within. If you look after yourself on the inside then the outside should fall into place. I try and take care of myself with a fairly healthy diet  (although I still like a glass of wine and dark chocolate) Moderation is the key. Moderate exercise as well – I’m no gym junkie. And a genuine smile. I’m a very optimistic person. Things will always get better - even your skin if you look after it! -  Great skincare also helps.

Of course, I couldn't have breakfast without having a photo taken with my idol on the day and I would like to thank Rebecca for taking the time to respond to my question. My brief interaction with her has just further cemented my idolisation of her and yes, I'm still gushing and semi-star struck a month later. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Win Your own Secret Sculpt Dress!

Now that winter's finally passed and we are heading to the warmer month, we are shedding our layers of clothes, and putting on dresses and light jackets.

This is the time that I love wearing dresses to work as I find it looks professional and feminine all at once. Alas, too much indulgence in the food and drinks department over the winter period have me developing a little belly and feeling rather unfit.

So whilst I work on getting a consistent exercise regime and eating more healthier meals, I now have another secret weapon to achieve instant results (even if it's only momentarily).

You might be surprise to hear the secret come from Target as they have just launched a line of stylish body sculpting dresses that flatters any body shape, a claim sounding too good to be true. They've used the latest stretch knit fabrics that gives a svelte outline that is comfortable all day and an elastine based lining to create a toned body look by helping to support and tuck all the the problem areas of our body like the stomach, hips and thighs. When wore the secret sculpt dress, I looked like I have washboard abs again - just look at how flat that stomach is!

I'm sure that's something a lot of new mothers would love to see when they put on a dress as well. The dress was very comfortable and didn't ride up or bunch up underneath during the day of wear - something that's very important for me

These Secret sculpt dresses come in a variety of other styles, a polka-dot one, a classic black one and a black &  a peplum version and a white with a ruched or twisted waist to further hide the problem areas.

The dress can be transformed from day to night wear with some snazzy pairing up of cute or elegant accessory accents and pair of heels.

These gorgeous dresses are available now at Target stores or online for an affordable price of A$59 each in sizes 8 to 20 so everyone can find the perfect fit.

Win Your Own Secret Sculpt Dress

And I have some great news - Target is sponsoring the giveaway of a $50 gift voucher for Things I Love readers to pick up one of these dresses to try them self ( although you will have to part with a small change of A$9 to buy the dress)! Here are 2 ways you can enter.

  1. Like the TIL of Facebook and comment below with your Facebook name and which Secret Sculpt dress you would like to get. If you already liked TIL, then just comment away below. OR
  2. No Facebook? Then you if subscribe to TIL via email or Bloglovin and comment below with your Facebook name and which Secret Sculpt dress you would like to get, you'll also be able to enter. 
Terms & Conditions: 
One person per entry. The giveaway will close till midnight 15th September and I'll be drawing out the winner via a random number generator from the valid entries. Of course, the competition is for Australian residents given they will need to go to Target Australia to spend the gift voucher.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lift & Sculpt your face with Guinot's Hydra Lift Facial

About  a month ago, I had a pleasure of having a Guinot Signature facial. Now I don’t do in-salon facials often as I usually can’t spare the time during the day so prefer the at-home varieties in the evenings (which helps the hip pocket too) but whenever I can, I do like salon facial for a deep cleanse to clear congested skin, get my glow back and try to undo some of the toils that daily stress takes on.

I was lucky to have the Guinot Facial experience in the heart of Melbourne CBD at The Australian College of Hair Design & Beauty, which meant that all I needed was a 1.5 hour lunch time break to fit it in.

On the day, I chose to have the Hydra Lift facial as it is designed to stimulate facial muscles and firm skin and let’s be honest, who doesn't want bouncy firm skin? The Hydra Lift helps to achieve a sculpt and lift in the face with the aid of electrodes used during the facial that run micro-currents across skin to drain the lymphatic system and cause the muscles to contract thereby helping to tone and firm the skin.

Before any treatment was performed, my facialist Laura - Guniot’s in-house beauty expert proceeded to remove my makeup with the one step cleansing water and then with a cleanser to remove any remaining impurities.

The treatment then began with a conducting anti-aging serum gel applied to my neck and face before the electrodes were placed against my skin across my face, under the eye area and along my neck to help drain my lymphatic system. I definitely felt the effects of the lymphatic drain which helped to clear up my sinuses, a remnant of the flu I had at the time and afterwards, I was able to breathe clearly for a few hours again - it was a godsend I tell you!

The next step of the treatment was the stimulation of the muscles. Again the electrodes were rolled down my face, but this time set with different power settings to cause muscles contraction. The muscle twitching feeling was very strange initially as I’m not used to my muscles moving outside my control but I quickly got used to it and it was never uncomfortable or painful.

After this, the serum gel was removed from my face and neck and my skin was cleansed again before skincare was targeted applied to my eyes and face. Laura then proceeded to give me a relaxing facial, neck and shoulder massage. She gave me one of the best facial massages I've ever received and I almost drifted into sleep as it was so relaxing and comfortable (which usually never happens).

In fact I was so relaxed and comfortable, I forgot to ask Laura to take a photo of me during the treatment to include in this post so I’m unfortunately having to rely on stock photos instead.

Immediately Afterwards, I had glowing skin that looked plumped, smoother and firmer. My radiant glow actually stayed with me for 4 days and my skin felt sculpt and firm for a whole.  I was told if you take a series of three-four Hydra Lift treatments, the results are even more lasting in between each treatment.

The skincare products used during the treatment will be tailored specific skin concerns so each individual will get specialised skincare. For my treatment the following products were used.

  • Cleansers: One step cleansing water &  Demaquillant exfoliant – cleansing exfoliating lotion
  • Eye care: Longue  Vie Yeux
  • Face care:  Anti rides gel – anti wrinkle gel during treatment,  Hydra cellular serum – day serum, Long Vie Cellulaire – day cream

Facials are a pampering experience that I’d love to include on a regular basis into my skincare regimes as I move through my thirties when time and budget permits. If you are interested in getting a Guinot Hydra lift facial, they cost about $125 from Guinot Salons for 1 hour treatment or if you're short on time, a 30 minute treatment will cost about $80.

Thank you to Guinot and the College for such a pampering time out on a busy work week.

And if you happen to be in Melbourne, you can receive a Guinot facial at greatly discounted prices at the The Australian College of Hair Design & Beauty which will be performed by graduating students and  I suggest you book ahead for it. Check out their current pricing here but the current discounted rate is $85 for an hour facial.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Complete Cleanse with Olay Regenerist Advanced Cleansing System

I recently have the opportunity to try to newly released Olay Regenerist Advance cleansing system and will share with you my experience today. If you’ve been hankering for a Clarisonic but can’t justify the high price for it, then this might is the right product for you to try and see if brush cleansing system is right for your skin.

Olay Regenerist Advanced Cleansing System

Whilst it’s name is a mouthful, the product is essentially a waterproof handheld device with a rotating soft brush head used to cleanse your skin.

It's battery operated, taking two AA sized batteries which adds some sturdy weight to the light plastic casing of the cleansing brush.

For first use, you place the batteries into the detachable base and then  clips it back up into the body of the unit and the click in the brush head. On the body, there are two buttons: the larger on top toggles to power the unit on and off and the smaller bottom one controls its speed - low or high.

I usually use it on the high setting that produces gentle circular rotation at up to 350 revolutions per minute but is gentle enough that I don’t feel it it's overly exfoliating my skin.

In terms of cleansing, I always remove makeup first before using the brush as I find the idea for makeup remnants rotating across my face not doing much in terms of achieving a good cleanse.
I wet the brush head, apply cleanser to skin and then turn on the device and slowly move the brush across the face for about a minute.

Performance wise, it provides a deeper cleanse than manual cleansing by being able to dislodge dirt and oil out of pores better due to the fast rotating brush bristles that help to gently exfoliate (as opposed to using a cleansing cloth that can drag roughly across skin). Using it with the included Olay Regenerist Skin Renewal cleanser which has silica micro polishing beads to buff skin, I thought it might be too harsh but surprisingly  it left my face was soft, supple and clean afterwards without any hint of rawness at all. My skin texture has improved over the past two weeks with a even skintone that is smoother and more refined.

I find the brush also great for reaching crevices around the nose and like to use it without a cleanser over the dry lips to help scrub off  any chapped skin.

I’ve used the unit for two weeks not and the batteries show no sign of running out of juice yet so cannot give you an indication of how long a set of batteries will last but it doesn’t hurt to have a spare set handy in case you run out mid way through a cleanse.

How does it compare with Clarisonic?

Lookwise, they are different in design and weight wise, being battery operated and smaller, the Olay Advanced Cleansing System is slighter lighter than the Clarisonic Mia.

From a usage point of view, I find that Clarisonic vibrations are very strong across the Mia and Plus/Pro versions and I can’t use the devices on daily basis before it makes my skin too sensitive.
The Olay Advanced Cleansing System is a lot more gentle on my skin compared to the Clarisonic (especially the Pro version) and I actually prefer it for daily cleansing as it doesn’t aggravate my skin as much.

With the Olay Advanced Cleansing system, once daily use (at night) has so far not been a problem as it isn’t as highly powered.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think the Clarisonic is great (my previous reviews on them are here), but I can’t use it daily without it being too much for my skin. For less than a quarter of the price, I think the Olay device is far better value and delivers equally effective pore cleansing results at a more gentle pace.

Olay Advanced Cleansing System available at Priceline, Chemist Warehouse and selected pharmacies RRP A$32.49. Two-pack replacement brush heads are available for A$9.99

This featured product was provided for editorial consideration.