26 February 2014, 11:11
I’m perpetually impatient: it is one of my worst qualities. I want it now, if not sooner. It’s all very Veruca Salt. This natural predilection for restlessness becomes even more pronounced at the end of February. I’m so anxious for the weather to warm up that I want to jump out of my skin. I rarely make it to the end of winter before busting out the self-tanner (a weirdly optimistic activity, since I’m going to be seriously swaddled until at least April)!
This is definitely not a feeling that is unique to me. Cabin fever is real, people. So when your apartment feels too small, and you’re beyond bored, you need to bust on out of there and make some changes!
You could get out of the house and go on a staycation, for example, or you could change up your appearance… Or you could combine the two in a fun way!
That’s why, on Monday, I headed to Smyth, a Thompson Hotel to get ready for a romantic evening with my husband. I couldn’t resist surprising him by switching up my look, too!
1. Leave a note for your lover. Keep it simple and relatively mysterious…
2. Arrive at your home for the night. If a hotel is out of the question, peruse Airbnb for some excellent (and inexpensive) options. Once you get there, remove the box of Vidal Sassoon Pro Series from your overnight bag.
My hair was so damaged from being white and pink for such a long time that these days, I’m very wary of lightening it. It took me a year to grow my hair back strong and healthy! The London Luxe series is perfect, because it’s a rinse that can go over your natural colour, and lasts up to 8 weeks. Ideal for a fun short-term change!
I chose Vidal Sassoon Pro Series London Luxe Midnight Muse Blue, which gives brunettes a glorious splash of sapphire.
3. Change into a slip, or simply throw a towel around your shoulders, and get busy dying your hair! Don’t be intimidated, with Vidal Sassoon Pro Series London Luxe it couldn’t be easier!
There are only four steps: just mix the contents, then apply the colour evenly. Let it sit for a while: 30 minutes is recommended, though I left mine on for 45. Once the time is up, rinse it out in the shower. Simple!
BOOM! I was beyond thrilled with the result from this colour. It packs a mighty wallop! I love the way it shimmers blue when the light hits it: it’s subtle but very sexy. I will definitely be using this colour again. I can’t resist the navy blue shine!
4. Grin at yourself in the mirror, and tear yourself away from it long enough to get changed into something cute for your paramour! This dress is Orla Kiely and I bought it at Cloak And Dagger. Swoon-o-rama!
5. Wait for a knock on the door, and enjoy the look of surprise on your lover’s face. Then kiss ‘em!
6. Enjoy your staycation! Do whatever you want: that’s the whole point. (I suggest conspicuous use of the Do Not Disturb door tag!)
Tempted to do something new to your ‘do? Vidal Sassoon Pro Series wants to reward you for taking a risk, by giving away a $4000 London shopping spree to one lucky babe! All you have to do is share a bold hair transformation by using the tag #ColorMeBold. Check out this link for details!
They always say that a woman who changes her hair is about to change her life. When’s the last time you did something different with your hair? Maybe the time is nigh!
17 February 2014, 11:11
Oils, ointments and potions, packaged in plastic and placed into boxes with gold embossed type. They glint at you from an immaculate shelf, winking with promise and potential.
“Yes!” They whisper. “You, too, could have the complexion of an 11 year old girl!”
...And out come the credit cards. It’s no wonder we’re all hooked on beauty products.
I’ve been experimenting with my skincare recently, which is one of my favourite things to do. The products I’m currently using are a combination of suggestions from Caroline Hirons (bow down) and my own research. I fielded so many questions about it from Kat and Shauna over the last couple of weeks, that I thought you might be interested, too.
Of course, these products may not work for you. You have to know your skin-type and your goals. For the record, my skin is combination and prone to break-outs (especially when I’m not eating well, or stressed out). One would hope that phase would be long past at age thirty, but alas, this is not the case. My skincare goals are to even out my complexion, zap spots, stay hydrated and fade any hyper-pigmentation.
My best skincare tips are to drink your greens, stay hydrated, eat plenty of salmon, and avoid sugar. But I do love a good beauty product, too!
Turns out, it’s tricky to write a routine rundown without sounding like Patrick “Oh my God, it even has a watermark” Bateman at the beginning of American Psycho. Still, I did my best! (“I can do a thousand now.”)
Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel
I use the Enzyme Cleansing Gel every morning. I apply it to my face directly — you shouldn’t wet your face before you cleanse — and then use my Clarisonic to massage it in. Afterwards, I use lukewarm water to splash off any excess product.
Now, a note about the Clarisonic: I love it endlessly. However (!), it is not without flaws. Some babes are guilty of using it a little too overzealously, and when I had a facial with Susan Ciminelli a couple of months ago, she told me she was seeing a lot of women who use the Clarisonic but have extremely stubborn blackheads. The reason? She said that the Clarisonic buffs the top layer of skin but doesn’t necessarily get all the way down to loosen a blackhead. This makes them even more difficult to remove during a facial or, uh, a late-night mirror-fest. If this is a problem you have, I suggest lightening up on use of your Clarisonic. Start using a hot washcloth to remove your makeup at night. (See below!)
Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm
After reading Caroline’s blog in which she properly scolded a reader for using make-up remover wipes (they’re full of alcohol which dry you out and do nothin’ good for you!), I decided to scrap the wipes and start removing my make-up in a more respectable fashion. Enter: Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm. I had to send Kat to pick this up for me from Space.NK in the UK, because it doesn’t seem to be sold in the USA. It was not inexpensive (about £30), but it was worth the money. The balm is soft and thick, and it smells light and citrussy. It melts beautifully on the skin, dissolving even the most stubborn eye makeup in an instant (and I would know, since when I started using it, I was being airbrushed to within an inch of my life by Queen of Blending). I use the balm to give myself a face massage most nights. Then I grab a clean washcloth, rinse it with hot water, and remove any trace of the balm. It’s a fab product: I’m obsessed.
They only sell this in France. CURSES. CRUEL CURSES! Of course, if you’re not within spitting distance of Le Tour Eiffel, you can always take a gamble and buy it on eBay, which is what I did. (Alternatively, try the link above.) This is a marvellous toner which sprays from an aerosol can (fun!), coating your face in a fine mist of zinc sulfate. Translation? It kills bacteria, cools down any angry redness or spots that you might be nursing, and preps your skin. I use this one morning and night (and if I use the P50 — see below — I use Serozinc afterwards).
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970
Again, this is a tricky product to purchase — I ordered my bottle from the link above — and again, it is not cheap. But just look at the reviews, or read Caroline Hirons’ post, if you have any doubts. This is practically a magical elixir: an exfoliating toner which (allegedly) gives you skin like baby’s butt. I’ve been using it twice a week, because you have to work up to it. (If you don’t, your skin will purge — beauty editor speak for “break out” — in a massive way.) If you’re a newbie, to use, dampen a cotton pad with water, put two or three drops of P50 on it, then swipe it over your face. I haven’t been using it very long, but I swear I can already see the effects… And I love its weird smell!
Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment
Eye creams. Sometimes I wonder at their efficacy, since I have dark under-eye circles that must be genetic. I get ample sleep, lots of water, and I eat a healthy diet, so it must just be my lineage. Bummer. Most eye creams don’t seem to make much of a difference to how I look, but this one is an exception. I SWEAR that this eye cream lightens the appearance of my dark circles, and for that I am happy to be a repeat customer. After all, use a good eye cream and you’ll save on concealer!
Hydraluron Moisture Booster
Yet again, Kat went out and picked this one up for me (from Boots this time). Bless her cotton socks. However, I just realised that they sell it at Walgreens: a win for the Americans! I use Hydraluron after my eye cream and before my moisturiser in the morning. Hydraluron contains hyaluronic acid, which encourages your skin to hold onto water. This makes your face look fresh and plump. I didn’t see any results with this for a while, but now that I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks, I do! This is one you have to use consistently, so don’t give up!
Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30
This is an oldie but a goodie, at least within my repertoire. I love Mario Badescu products and recommend them very highly. They never make me break out, they’re gentle but effective, and they have something for everything. Heart! This is an excellent moisturiser if you’re prone to getting shiny or oily (comme moi), and I love that it has SPF in it. Of course, SPF in your moisturiser or your foundation or your whatever doesn’t really mean much, and you should still be using an additional SPF over your moisturiser. Sorry. Yes, I know most foundations have SPF in them, but that’s not enough to protect your skin! I love Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch — it’s non-comedogenic, it’s inexpensive and it’s available pretty much everywhere (supermarkets and drugstores included). No excuses! Slap it on!
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream
Sure, I could stick to Mario Badesu’s moisturiser, and for years, I have. But it’s nice to try a little something new every now and again, and Kate Somerville’s Goat Milk Cream gets such damn good reviews that it was first on my list to try. Bonus: you can buy this one at Sephora. Yes, it is really made of goat milk, so it’s not exactly vegan-approved. It has some weird aspects, such as the push-down dispenser, and the (very very mild!) goat milk scent. Whatever. I love it. It’s fantastic for acne or combination skin, while also being rich and nourishing enough for those of us who fear turning into the California Raisin. (Don’t forget your sunscreen over the top. Please.)
Lancôme DreamTone Ultimate Dark Spot Corrector
The good news: you can buy this one at Sephora, too! The bad news? I’ve been using this one for several months but I haven’t seen any significant changes or benefits. At first I thought it might be fading a little bit of scarring, but if it is, it is moving at a snail’s pace, and I’m not really satisfied. I am mostly using it until it’s finished, because it was expensive and I don’t want to waste it. Plus, I’ll take all the lightening I can get. But it is not a miracle product, by any stretch of the imagination. There you go: brutal honesty. My next trial will be Pepta-Bright (made by the same people who do Hydraluron), but if you have any personal recommendations for lightening serums or treatments, I’m all ears!
Sodashi Rejuvenating Face and Neck Moisturiser
I snapped this one up in Melbourne after a blissful experience at Made Beauty Space, but you can purchase Sodashi products online. I cannot say a bad word about Sodashi products; the range is known as “the purest skincare line in the world”. Good enough for me! I adore this serum, and I truly feel it working when I lay my head down to rest! Sublime.
So, that’s what I’m using right now… What’s your latest life-changing beauty product?
X to the o,
27 January 2014, 11:11
The cold days just drag on and on, don’t they? Spring feels like it is a very long way away, and if you’re anything like me, you’re hankering for anything that could lift your spirits!
One very easy and fun way to perk you up is to get a silly and fabulous manicure… So today, I have a nail art tutorial that is gorgeous, unique, and — best of all — simple to do. I think it looks fantastic!
Total truth time: I’m not good with a brush. My idea of a great homemade manicure is one where I didn’t get nail-polish all over myself, and my clothes, and the table.
That’s why I go to Oh My Nails in the East Village. My nail artist, Momo, also does Beyonce’s claws — squeeeeeeeeee! — and, if you ask me, regularly makes my hands look just as fly as Queen Bey’s.
Okay! Let’s get cracking. The best way to do this look is to pick a pop colour, a neutral, and a foil which coordinates. In our case, we went for Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Back To The Fuchsia (pop colour), Chanel Frenzy (neutral), and silver nail tape.
After you’ve filed and shaped your nails, use nail-polish remover to clean your nails, then apply two coats of your neutral colour all over.
Take your pop colour and apply to the top half of your nail. Momo’s tip was to wipe your brush so that all the polish is on the underside of the brush — that way, there will be no unexpected blobs or lumps.
If you’re nervous about getting an even-looking line, you can stick a piece of tape across your nail and use that as a guide. Do two coats of your pop colour, too.
Then, grab your nail tape and cut off a few short sections, about 3cm long. Using a pair of tweezers, first stick down one edge, then gently press it along the line until it reaches the outer corner of your nail. Use a pair of scissors to carefully cut it to fit.
Add a clear top coat, and you’re ready to party! Just don’t be surprised if your friends are jealous!
And best of all? You get a FREE Sally Hansen Salon Manicure nail polish when you buy 3 U by Kotex products at Target. Pretty good, no?
Flexin’ them fingers,
Outfit details: Vintage leopard-print coat (from Salt Lake City), striped turtleneck sweater from Uniqlo, rings from Moxie, my own collection!
This post was made possible with the help of Style Coalition and U by Kotex. Offer available in all Target stores 12/29/13-2/22/14.
22 November 2013, 10:11
When I travel, my style is much less landmarks and sight-seeing, and much more about a couple of really special experiences. While we were in Melbourne for eight days in total, we taught on four of them, and travelled on the other four. When we finally did have a day available, I scheduled Kat and me in for a facial at Made Beauty Space.
Even though the torrential rain made us want to stay inside, we ventured outside to hail a cab, and 15 minutes later, we were in Hawthorn, walking into Made. Made’s signature treatment, the Thermal Infusing Facial, had come highly recommended by Zoë Foster Blake, a babe whose beauty advice I trust implicitly.
I was so ready.
We were delighted to enter the spa and immediately feel comfortable and relaxed. There’s no frou-frou bullshit here: Made is a thoroughly modern day spa, for the kind of woman who appreciates good design and will probably die if she sees a tissue-box covered in frilly apricot satin.
Before long, I was being beckoned into a treatment room, all white and black, very modern-yet-rustic chic. I undressed and slithered beneath the covers, ready for some thermal infusing.
Coined nature’s face-lift, the Sodashi 90 minute Thermal Infusing facial provides an intensive boost of vitamins and minerals to the skin. Tailored to your skin’s needs, this indulgent facial will provide intensive nourishment, leaving your skin hydrated, toned and supple.
An intensive boost of vitamins and minerals was exactly what I needed after almost four weeks of non-stop travel.
I have to say, if you go to Made, I cannot recommend the Thermal Infusing Facial enough. The treatment began with hot washcloths on my feet. Words cannot describe how good this was. The whole thing was an exquisite experience from top to bottom, and I was never just left alone, lying there, wondering what was going to happen next.
Stacey, my aesthetician — who also happens to be the owner — was in constant contact with my body. There was always something going on: facial massage, foot massage, or some kind of pressure-point work. I am practically dribbling just thinking about it!
After cleansing, plenty of massage and a light fruit peel, I was treated to the thermal mask for which they’re known. My face was covered with strips of fabric, then coated with the thermal mask. It started off cool, then slowly heated up to 37 degrees… All while having my tootsies rubbed. Gosh, it was lovely. She finished up by daubing my face with eye cream, moisturiser, and an SPF sunscreen that smelled like marshmallow!
It was one of the most sublime skincare experiences of my life… And the next day, my skin was beautifully plumped-up and glowing.
Après-spa, Stacey and I got talking. It turns out that she’s from New Zealand too (adding credence to my theory that Kiwis crop up in all the best places!), and after training beauty therapists for years, was horrified at the general lack of enthusiasm or passion.
“Going to beauty school is often recommended for girls who don’t do well academically,” she told me. “And you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude or passion. I trained students for five years and I could count on one hand the number I would actually employ. My business partner and I didn’t know of a great place in Melbourne to go for a facial, so we decided to create one.”
And what a good job they’ve done. Made is stocked with fantastic products, like fabulous Australian skincare line Sodashi. (I snapped up a bottle of their Rejuvenating Serum so I can continue to get a dose of the magic in New York City!)
If you do go to Made, tell them I sent you. And leave yourself a bit of time to explore and fossick next door at The Woodsfolk. They have some of the cutest homegoods ever. You will not be disappointed!
I cannot wait to go back when we return to Melbourne next year!
30 October 2013, 11:11
I’m no stranger to a complete hair makeover. In fact, there are few things I love more. But I have to say, ever since I went back to black last January — wow, has it almost been two whole years?! — my hair has undergone a major transformation. And honestly, the reason I stopped experimenting with rainbow-tinted tresses and reverted to my natural brunette status was out of necessity.
After years (like, 10) of peroxide, dye and abuse, my hair would no longer grow past my chin; it would simply snap off. Extensions became an essential part of my beauty routine, and because I couldn’t stand to have them looking ratty, I’d be in the chair every two months for five or six hours, forking over exorbitant amounts of cash for oh-so-much maintenance and upkeep.
I wore extensions for another year, as my poor, mistreated hair slowly grew out. And then, this January, I went to see Alison at Fox And Jane, who snipped my locks into a beautiful bob, worthy of any modern flapper.
As my hair has gotten healthier, stronger and shinier, I started to notice things. Like, man, is my undamaged hair oily. Like, washing-it-every-day oily. And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t full of static as soon as I dried it. Hair that is greasy and hair that does cling, these are a few of my (least) favourite things!
In my travels around the internet, I had heard whispers of the “No-Poo” method… But I was thoroughly deterred by the name. (I mean, honestly, “No Poo”?!) But at our very first Blogcademy class, when I complimented one of our students on her fabulous head of thick, lustrous hair, she smiled and said, “Thanks… I don’t wash it!”
That was the nudge I needed to give it a try for myself. I haven’t washed my hair since May, and it has honestly never looked better.
Curious? Here’s how to do it yourself…
When I first started researching this method, I tried to use someone else’s tactic, which was to combine a tablespoon of baking soda with 8oz of water in a spray bottle, spray into the hair, comb through and let it set for 5 minutes. This sounds easy enough, but when the bottle’s tube starts to get clogged up, it becomes immediately frustrating.
The easiest way to do it is to keep a jar of baking soda in your shower. When you step in, wet your hair, then take a scoop (about a tablespoon’s worth) of baking soda, mix it with a bit of water in your hand, then apply to your hair. Scrub it into your scalp and all over. Be thorough! You can comb it through if you want, and then let it sit for a few minutes.
Rinse the baking soda out with warm water, and then take your spray bottle which is filled with half filtered water and half apple cider vinegar. Spray it into your hair with gusto, making sure to get underneath the top layers and onto the roots. Work it through with your hands (or a comb), and then rinse it out.
Your head might smell a bit salad-y, but don’t sweat it: it only lasts for a couple of minutes before evaporating.
Then, step out of the shower, and dry your hair off as usual. Now, wasn’t that easy?
If you find that your hair is quite dry — which is not a problem I have — coconut oil works as a brilliant treatment. Just apply it, let it sit for a while, and then wash out using the method above.
What can you expect?
I was really worried when I decided to make the switch, because I had heard terrible internet rumours about “the adjustment period” during which… Well, I don’t even remember. Suffice to say, people made it sound like THE DEVIL would be on your head for a couple of weeks.
Thankfully, that never happened! I went through a period of about a week where I needed to wash (aka, baking soda and vinegar) my hair every day, but that wasn’t any different to my then-normal routine. And within a week, I suppose my hair had “adjusted”.
The result? My hair looks awesome. It never has static and it lasts several days between washes, which is exactly what I wanted.
These days, I wash my hair about once or twice a week, and it is BLISS, I tell you. Pure, unadulterated bliss. When my hair is looking a little scraggly, or to be more specific, limp at the roots, I use Batiste Dry Shampoo (which I love, especially in the Tropical scent, and they now have a Cherry scent which sounds amazing!) and Batiste XXL Plumping Powder. This stuff is genius, a fortuitous find in Boots. So much love for it!
So: would you ever stop washing your hair?
Flicking my hair like a Pantene commercial,
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