25 November, 2015

October's farewelled products

Yes I know it's nearly December but here are October's empties. I must post them before my empties bag overflows with November's additions!

Skin care

After repeatedly using the same products for removing my eye makeup I branched out a little. However...

115) Natio Eye Makeup Remover (75ml/2.5 fl.oz) - As a rule I love Natio products but this wasn't a great performer at all.  This remover isn't for waterproof makeup so I wasn't expecting miracles but it wasn't particularly effective in any case. I used up the bottle in record time because on several occasions I had to take care of panda eyes in the morning after I'd already supposedly removed my eye makeup the night before! 

116) Natio Eye Makeup Remover Wipes (30 wipes) - These pre-moistened wipes are supposed to remove "most" waterproof mascaras but they actually performed worse than the liquid.  The wipes only pushed the makeup around my eyes, leaving me with lovely dark smudges.  There'll be no repurchasing happening here!

117) NIVEA Daily Essentials Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipes (7 Wipes) - I had this pack lying around so finished it off on those lazy, too tired to bother nights. Not holy grail but not bad either and they're impregnated with the classic NIVEA scent.

118) La Clinica Anti Ageing Stem Cell Complex Facial Serum (30ml/1.05 fl.oz)* - I found this serum produced an immediate, quite intense firming effect on my skin.

119) La Clinica Gly C Refine Micro Dermabrasion Facial Scrub (100ml/3.52 fl.oz) - This facial exfoliant is a favourite because it combines acids with exfoliating granules to effectively smooth the skin and not surprisingly this is my second tube.  Read more about my thoughts here.

120) Philosophy Kiss Me Tonight Intense Lip Therapy (9g/0.30 fl.oz) - This stuff is really thick and heavy-duty for moisturizing my lips overnight.  I liked it. A lot.

Hand and body care

121) Italian Garden Honey & Almond Body Cream (145ml/4.9 fl.oz) - This was part of an old Christmas gift set. The scent was more honey than almond which was fine with me and the cream was really a lotion in texture so it did a nice job of rubbing in with too much effort, feeling moisturizing without being greasy.  

122) Paiza Body Lotion (75ml/2.53 fl.oz) - Some hotel toiletries from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore and I think this is an in-house "brand". This body lotion had quite a perfume-y yet still fresh scent and absorbed like a dream. 

123) Paiza Foam & Bath Wash (75ml/2.53 fl.oz) - The body wash had the same unisex type of scent and I enjoyed the indulgent creaminess of it on my skin while showering.

124) Mario Badescu A.H.A. Botanical Body Soap (236ml/8 oz.) - I love this exfoliating body wash because it takes no effort to control my keratosis.  This is a repurchase and I'm seriously considering lifting the bottle out of my son's shower if he doesn't get onto it!

125) L'Occitane Vanilla Bouquet Hand Cream (30ml/1 oz.) - My favourite hand cream formula combined with a richly potent vanilla scent.  I loved it, my husband didn't, but I wouldn't let that dissuade me from more!

126) OPI Expert Touch Lacquer Remover (120ml/4 fl.oz) - Since finishing my umpteenth bottle I've finally bitten the bullet and have bought a huuuuuge bottle from the OPI hand salon so you won't be seeing another OPI remover in my empties for a while!

Hair care

127) OGX Moisture + Vitamin B5 Conditioner (385ml/13 fl.oz)* - This conditioner did the expected job of conditioning without weighing down my fine hair.  To be honest I'm forever rushing and never wait the recommended 3 to 5 minutes for the conditioner to really do its thing but it still did a pretty good job regardless! 


128) Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 HR Powder Foundation (002 Soft Beige)* - I didn't love this as a standalone base because it just didn't last on my skin so I used it as a setting powder.  Read my full review here

129) Rimmel BB Cream Matte (Light)* - I reviewed this some time ago and I think I might have been a little harsh initially (see here) because I ended up quite liking this as it provided excellent full coverage for a BB cream and the colour match with my skin was bang on.  


Right, that's it until December pops up all too soon.  Currently I have 11 new empties ready for the next post and counting...

(Products marked * were provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

16 November, 2015

Introducing Jamberry Nail Wraps...

I believe Jamberry nail wraps have been around for a while in the Northern Hemisphere but now they've made their way down here to Australia and to me for review...

Nail wraps are a D-I-Y method of creating nail art without the need for any artistic inclination whatsoever as you select a wrap design (or several designs if you want to mix them up) to suit your individual taste, then apply the wraps to your nails. Jamberry wraps come in over 300 styles so their selection is vast and with proper application Jamberry claim their wraps can last for "...up to two weeks on fingernails and four weeks on toes."

I'm a D-I-Y manicure person and love painting my nails - of course as you can see in this blog! - but I've only used nail wraps a few times in the past so this post is going to be from pretty much a beginner's perspective and very warts and all as I learned from my mistakes.  I'll share what I learnt as I go through the step by step instructions because I've actually picked up a few tips worth sharing to make it easier for other beginners...

Step by step instructions (and my comments):
  • Clean unpolished nails with alcohol wipe and push back the cuticles. This is self-explanatory and the purpose is to remove any oily residue from the fingernails that will prevent the wraps from adhering. Jamberry do sell their own Nail Prep wipes but I used alcohol wipes I bought from the pharmacy/drugstore to clean my nails. At this point you can add a base coat if you wish and allow it to dry before applying the wraps - I tried with and without and didn't see that it made any difference to how the wraps applied.
  • Match nail (finger or toe) to the nail wrap that best fits.  Don't be afraid to trim the wraps to fit your nails! I have very narrow little fingernails and the majority of wraps were too big for me so I trimmed the nail wraps to fit with nail scissors. I made sure the nail wraps were trimmed a little more narrow than the width of my nails to allow perfect adherence to the nail without the wraps overlapping onto the skin at the sides (apparently one of the causes for wraps lifting away from the nail).
  • Peel off nail wrap and warm with a mini heater or blow-dryer for 3-5 seconds or until soft and flexible.  Be careful not to handle the wraps with your fingers because you'll reduce the effectiveness of the wrap's ability to stick to your nails. I used an orange stick to peel back and hold the wrap up to the hairdryer - Oh yeah, be careful with your hairdryer settings too as I managed to blow everything off the table in my first attempt. Lesson learnt here: high heat, low fan! The wrap will curl slightly with the heat when it is ready to be applied.
  • When warm, press the wrap onto the nail. Apply firm pressure around edges to adhere the wrap to the nail. Use rubber cuticle pusher to seal the wrap around the base of the cuticle. I found this the trickiest step and it requires patience to align the wraps onto the nails and it took a lot of  effort to smooth out the wrap over the nail - I have to admit I still had a few wrinkles so I'm hoping practice makes perfect.  Allow time for the wrap to cool completely on the nail after smoothing it out. The wrap will shrink as it cools so trimming or filing it before it's completely cooled may result in the wrap lifting away from the tips of the nails - this is what I learnt after my first attempt when my impatience resulted in my first set of wraps lifting at the nail tips within hours.
  • Trim the top with scissors and file off remaining wrap using a downward motion to remove excess.  As above don't attempt this until the wraps are completely cooled. Be gentle with the filing too to get a clean finish and avoid tearing at the edges. I found a glass nail file the best bet with this step.
  • Apply heat and pressure to the wrap again until it is bonded to the nail.  At this point I also applied the barest hint of clear polish to the free edges of my nails to really seal the edge of the wrap to the nail. I tried this on my second attempt and found that it helped the wrap tips from catching and lifting away.

And now for the results of my first two attempts:

Jersey Girl

Paper Mache

Wear and removal:

As I mentioned these take a bit of finesse and patience to get onto the nails and need to be applied carefully for lasting wear.  My first attempt looked reasonably fine at first but the wrap tips lifted very quickly.  My second attempt was much more successful in terms of wear - the wraps still didn't look perfectly smooth to my scrutinizing eye but nobody else seemed to notice and they held for the week. I'd suggest a busy design will distract from any imperfections in application until you (or I for that matter) really get the hang of it.

One unexpected bonus was that wearing the wraps was like wearing a coat of armour for my nails and they grew without the usual peeling and breaking.  I did the naughty thing once and peeled off a wrap only to discover it lifted away a layer of nail - don't do that will you! - but removal using the recommended method was actually very easy, using a cotton bud/tip soaked in nail polish remover working from the edge of the wrap to dissolve the "glue" underneath.

Jamberry nail wraps retail for $22 per set for Australian customers. Each set contains a single sheet of 20 wraps.   You can check out and shop their full range here.

(This product was provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

07 November, 2015

Review: Al'chemy Gingko & Jojoba Intensive Moisture Hair Masque

This is the story of my hair. Well, I need to set the scene here a little bit at least...

My hair is generally very tolerant of all the abuse that's been inflicted over the years but occasionally it does let me know when it's a bit fatigued.  You see, my hair is that lovely incongruent combination of oily at the roots, dry at the ends and the situation only gets more aggravated by regular colouring, daily washing and daily heat styling.  The result is some rather fried looking hair ends framing my face so I end up with fluffy, dry looking hair and I'm practically screaming for a trim! 

I use quality shampoos and conditioners, and higher end styling products these days so I'm getting better with my hair but I'll admit I don't take the time out for hair treatments so there's room for improvement. Enter Al'chemy haircare from The Purist Company.

Briefly, Al'chemy is an Australian natural and cruelty free haircare brand. Their products are vegan and free from sulfates, parabens, ethoxylated petrochemical cleansers, propylene glycol, silicones, phthalates, mineral oils, DEA, artificial colours and fragrance. 

Al'chemy Gingko & Jojoba Intensive Moisture Hair Masque

The Gingko & Jojoba Intensive Moisture Hair Masque works to "treat dry, dull and lifeless hair with...a blend of pure botanic actives... such as pure Australian Jojoba and certified organic Avocado oil, Ginkgo and White tea, Vitamins E & B5, Rice Amino acids and Wheat protein, selected to help nourish and intensely moisturize for shiny, healthy looking hair."  

It's suitable for all hair types and Al'chemy say it's ideal for the following hair needs:  

"Helping to intensely hydrate hair
Helping to improve manageability and shine
Helping to protect colour"

My impressions:
Before reading the instructions I thought this would be a weekly treatment but this is a product that can be used every day if needed on either dry or wet hair by applying a small amount to the mid-lengths to ends of the hair.  I have been using it on my towel-dried hair, then blow drying and it only adds a few seconds extra to my morning routine.  I enjoy the natural botanical scent of geranium and patchouli (which isn't as strong as it sounds) and the masque also makes it much easier to detangle my hair before drying.

Once I've dried my hair I've immediately noticed the difference to its appearance as it now looks decidedly less dry and flyaway and more sleek and healthy and it just 'sits' better.  Considering my fragile hair ends have put up with the most prolonged abuse they don't look fragile at all since I've added this step to my daily hair routine. I don't do hair selfies very well but I've included a few so you can get some idea below.

I've definitely noticed an improvement in how my hair behaves and looks since using the Al'chemy Gingko & Jojoba Intensive Moisture Hair Masque so it has become a part of my morning routine.  It has not weighed down my "oily/combination" fine hair so I can see it how it would be suitable for all hair types.  If you're looking for a hydrating daily hair treatment with natural ingredients then I recommend you give this a try.


Aqua (purified Australian water), Cetearyl Alcohol*, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil (cold pressed, Australian grown), Behentrimonium Methosulfate(from GMO free Rapeseed), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein (GMO free), Glycerin*, Lauryl Glucoside*, Sorbitol*, Rice Amino Acids, Glyceryl Laurate*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil(certified organic cold pressed, Australian grown), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate)*, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Gluconate (from GMO free corn), Maltodextrin (GMO free), Citric Acid*, Squalane (from Olives), Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Fusanus Spicatus Wood Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate, Elettaria Cardamomum Seed Oil, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil, Citronellol#, Geraniol#, Linalool#, *derived from botanical sources, # component of the essential oils

(This product was provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

04 November, 2015

A classic Essie red: Fifth Avenue

The one thing I didn't mention in my last post was my manicure.  Dressing up as a 1940's dame for an evening meant that my mani had to be era appropriate too - and that means bright red - so I set about hunting/rummaging/ransacking through my collection and came up with Essie's Fifth Avenue as my perfect choice...

My mini sized bottle was one of a trio of Essie favourites in their Color Icons set that I snapped up a few months ago.  Fifth Avenue was "born in 2003" and has apparently thrived in Essie's lineup since! This polish is a classic orange-red cream with a high shine finish and the application has to be the best I've experienced with an Essie polish - perfectly smooth and not too thick (and goopy) or too thin (and watery) so it was very easy to control.  Though not really needed, I added my habitual quick drying top coat to get me out the door and on the way to the party with no mishaps.

All pictures taken in indirect daylight:

Until next time!

29 October, 2015

Glamming it up 1940's style...

Now for something slightly different!

I recently revisited the past for my husband's milestone birthday party. My man is a big fan of the classic 1940's movie "Casablanca", the one that spawned a thousand take-offs of the line, "Here's looking at you kid..." so it was no surprise that he wanted a Casablanca/1940's themed party. Confession time:  I'd never been to a costume party before - let alone hosted one - so I had to do my research.  I created a 40's fashion and beauty board in Pinterest, bought reference books, and watched movies (we all watched "Casablanca" of course!) all for the sake of authenticity - and because it's pretty exciting to glam up like a 1940's femme fatale too! Those movie heroines from that bygone era had glamour in spades so I had a lot to live up to...


My hairdresser originally had visions of doing those gravity defying 1940's victory rolls on my hair until I showed him photos of something a little softer and more in keeping with the evening look I was after. The result was an equally authentic, but more me, '40's pin curl style which I loved and made me feel very feminine and glamorous.  Pin curls are a first for me too and my hairdresser used a curling iron, then pinning the curls to cool and set before fixing in place with some strategically placed hair pins and lots of hairspray. Somehow it still looked quite touchable and soft and now I wish I was able to replicate it myself.  At least I have some photos from him as a memento.


The makeup look was all about a matte face, defined brow and matte red lip to keep it reasonably accurate for the era.  Sounds simple although it still took 10 products to make it happen - I'm pretty sure that women back in that time got by with a lot less products than me!

My base was pretty simple as I wanted something to last through the evening and look matte so I used Revlon Colorstay Makeup (Natural Beige) set with a good dusting of Revlon Photoready Powder (020 Light/Medium) and this got me through the night with no touch ups.  1940's cheeks were simply rouged to add some life to them so I used the brightest shade from my Visee (RD-2) powder blush quad for that pop of colour - no contouring or highlighting necessary in those days.

 I kept my eye shadow pretty simple too so after an application of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (which I wear every single day to lock my eye shadow in place) I turned to Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette for some subtle matte light and shade:  W.O.S on the lids, Naked 2 in the crease and Foxy on the brow bone. I lined my upper lashes only with a pencil because I still suck at liquid liner (ugh!), and used Estee Lauder Pure Color Intense Kajal Eye Liner (01 Blackened Black) and coated my lashes with several coats of my favourite drugstore mascara Max Factor Masterpiece Glamour Extensions 3-in-1 Volumising Mascara (Black).  I filled in my brows with Ardell Mechanical Brow Pencil (Blonde) - love it because it's so easy to use! - and went over them with a quick brush of ModelCo More Brows (Light/Medium) to keep them in place.

Lastly the matte red lips:  I chose Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick (Beso) and didn't need to reapply all night.

Other bits and pieces...

A final touch of understated glamour was added with some rhinestone stud earrings and a bejewelled hair slide.  A spritz of Chanel's Coco Noir EDP and a final spritz of L'Oreal Elnett Satin hairspray (just to be sure) and I was ready to party!

And the happy couple at the end of the night...

It was so enjoyable getting dressed up - I must think of how I want to celebrate my 50th birthday next year! Yes...it's true...

Until next time!

27 October, 2015

OPI Venice Collection: Purple Palazzo Pants

I'm getting so fussy when it comes to buying nail polish these days and as the never ending stream of new collections roll out I see less and less in them to really interest me.  I find myself doing a mental stocktake of what I already have and then decide that I've already got something the same or similar and I pass on the purchase.

This is why I only bought one shade from OPI's new Venice Collection - and to be honest this shade isn't unique either. It's just my weakness for purple that bit me again! Purple Palazzo Pants is a lavender cream that is absolutely to my taste so that's why I was tempted and of course it sings of spring too.  Application was typically easy and done in two coats, although I very nearly ruined it with a top coat that's starting to thicken and is now prone to bubbling...  

All pictures taken in indirect daylight

Were you tempted by any of the shades in the Venice collection?

24 October, 2015

Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate Nude Collection: Swatches and review

My thoughts on nude lipsticks?  They can look beautifully natural and youthful if you can find the right shade - and therein lies the challenge. It can be so hard to find the right one and I know because I've bought a few over the years that weren't quite right for me because they were too pale and concealer-y, too warm, too cool, too dark, too dead looking and so on. I'm sure you get what I'm saying!

For that reason I was pleased to be sent the full complement of Rimmel's new Lasting Finish By Kate Nude Collection to review because I have a chance of finding at least one that will suit... 

The collection comprises five nudes from the extremely pale through to a very deep warm nude suitable for darker skin tones. The nude packaging has grown on me - I wasn't sure at first but now I quite like it (other brands are doing it too) and it does make it easy to single out the nude lippies in my drawer.

The lipstick formula is what I've come to expect from Rimmel's Lasting Finish range:  richly creamy, very well pigmented and very long lasting on the lips without any drying feeling.  These lipsticks last hours on the lips without any fading or bleeding and one application will easily last me from breakfast through to lunch.  Rimmel say they last "up to 8 hours" and that doesn't seem a stretch at all.  Also, there's none of the unflattering whitish 'fade' happening around the inner lip as can happen with some nude lip products. That these lipsticks perform so well was no surprise to me at all and I continue to hold Rimmel lipsticks up as my favourite from the drugstore because the quality is right up there with higher end brands.

Now onto the swatches.  As it happened I've found three nudes I can wear in this collection:  42, 43 and 45 so I'm personally quite pleased with the colour selection.

Swatched left to right:  40, 42, 43, 45, 48

And here I am wearing the pink nude 42 on my lips

The Rimmel Lasting Finish By Kate Nude Collection is available from the following stores:
Big W, Chemist Warehouse, Coles, My Chemist, Priceline, Woolworths.

RRP:  $12.95AUD

(Products were provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)
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