16 April 2015
French pharmacy fans will already be familiar with the brand Avène, a drugstore skincare range designed specifically for sensitive and intolerant skin. We were so excited to get the call telling us they were finally launching in SA and we went along to the launch to find out more.
As the name would suggest, Eau Thermale Avène is a dermo-cosmetic brand built around the skin-soothing properties of the water that flows out of the Sainte-Odile d’Avène spring in France. The water is scientifically proven* (and constantly tested) to be remarkably anti-irritating and is contained in every product in the range, 41 of which are now available in SA. Avène is an extremely high quality brand with a strong focus on efficacy and certainly everything we’ve tried so far as been brilliant. Here’s the low-down:
Bottled at the source (in fact all the products are manufactured at the source), this cooling facial spritz is not only lovely to use but helps to soothe redness, sunburn, inflammation and skin irritation. I use it every morning straight after I cleanse, before I apply my serum, and it definitely helped to get a recent dehydration flare-up under control. If you’re not sure what the point is of just spraying “water” on your face, read this.
The Tolerance range is designed for dry, hypersensitive skin, with zero parabens, preservatives or fragrance. The texture is relatively light but still rich (too rich for my combo skin but Camilla loves it) so it keeps the skin supple and hydrated all day long. There is a complementary Cleansing Lotion in the Tolérance range, which is also created with no potentially irritating additives.
Hallelujah! A high SPF face cream that doesn’t feel or look greasy! You wouldn’t BELIEVE how hard it is to find a good sunscreen for combination/oily skin that you can actually wear under makeup. This lightweight formula dries down completely and leaves no residue or white streaks behind, plus it contains a powerful antioxidant. It’s also fragrance-, silicone- and paraben-free, and water-resistant, so perfect for daily use or a long afternoon on the beach.
If you’ve always wanted to try the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, then give this a whirl instead. This moisture mask is particularly indicated for sunburns, flushes, tight, irritated, dehydrated, dull or sensitive skin but I use it whenever my skin is feeling a little bit parched. You can smooth it on like a moisturiser or slather on a thick layer overnight for an intensive treatment – either way, it will leave your skin feeling seriously soft and plumped-up. It does contain mineral oil though so if that’s not your thing, steer clear (although it personally doesn’t bother me).
Going into winter, my hands seem to start cracking almost overnight. And even though I put hand cream on multiple times a day and overnight, I can never seem to lose that “wrinkly” feeling on my palms. The Avène Cold Cream Hand Cream does the trick though! It’ss formulated to restore the hydrolipidic film (i.e. skin’s natural barrier) in super dry skin, and leaves hands feeling instantly more comfortable. It’s very nourishing and non-greasy so my fingers don’t go sliding all over the keyboard after I use it.
Eau Thermale Avène is available exclusively in selected Clicks stores nationwide.
*I was slightly skeptical about the scientific element (I mean, it’s just water!) but having learned more about the research and seen the results of Avène’s hydrotherapy treatment on children with extreme eczema, I am now a believer. Essentially, the unique mineral composition of the water is what makes it so soothing – you can read more about the Hydrotherapy Center here if you’re interested.
13 April 2015
Full credit for inspiring this post must go to Luzanne from Pink Peonies who published a haul on her blog this morning that had me salivating! BIOVEA is an online store that stocks a number of hard-to-find-in-SA international brands. The real clincher is that they have a local warehouse so delivery is fast, cheap and the package doesn’t have to cross borders so NO CUSTOMS! Every order comes via courier and they currently have a side-wide sale running so you can get 14% off for the next couple of days.
I’m trying to save up for my trip to the US so I decided to do some window shopping on the site instead of placing an order. Here’s what I would consider buying if I wasn’t trying to be well behaved (don’t worry, it won’t last long!):
You guys know how I feel about sweet almond oil, right? So when I read that this multipurpose product contained my favourite ingredient PLUS lemon and vitamin E, I was sold! Described by the brand as “sunshine in a bottle”, it’s made from a handful of 100% natural ingredients and I would imagine that it smells absolutely heavenly. Gimme.
This is one of those random products that has become a cult classic all over the world. I’ve seen it in Liberty before (they have an amazing beauty hall with all sorts of interesting items) and was always intrigued. It’s an all-natural nourishing moisturiser made with only six ingredients: olive oil, bees wax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and bee propolis. It claims to be anti-ageing (although I can’t really see how) but I think where it would really come in handy is as one of those do-it-all balms that can moisturise the skin, soothe inflammation and help to heal skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis.
There’s nothing better than a good conditioning mask to soften and hydrate frazzled hair and this one has been on my radar for years. It’s known as being a nourishing but weightless “hair reconstructor” that improves the health, shine and elasticity of dry, damaged or colour-treated hair. I’ve also heard great things about the Flawless Cleansing Conditioner, although I suspect it’s better for thicker/coarser hair than mine.
Just look at the swatches and you’ll know why I want one (or five) of these “liquified lipsticks”. But which one to choose?! Melted Berry is rich and wintery, while Melted Violet is vibrant and zingy, and Melted Fuschia is just Barbie pink on crack. They’ve also brought out a shimmery update to the range called Melted Metal which makes me equally light-headed (not available on Biovea yet). I can see a major Sephora swatch-fest in my future.
A bit less exciting but very practical is this makeup remover from Neutrogena that is apparently just as good (if not better) than the famous Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover. I never really liked it anyway (review here) so I’d be interested to see if this (much cheaper) “dupe” does the job. Bi-phase removers are particularly effective at dissolving stubborn mascara and eyeliner so it would be an interesting one to put to the test.
I can’t remember how this made it’s way onto my list of “beauty products I want to try” but it’s probably because I love the idea of using such a gentle, natural product to break down product build-up in my hair. This one in particular uses plant-derived cleansers enriched but lemon (obvs), chamomile extract, aloe, vitamin E and wheat protein to clarify, brighten and remove excess oils and dulling build-up. I use a LOT of hair products (check out my “How to Style Fine, Thin Hair” video) so a clarifying shampoo is an essential part of my weekly haircare routine. Until now I’ve been using LUSH I Love Juicy but I think I’ll be giving this one a try in the future.
Read Luzanne’s post to see what she bought and for all the details on shipping, returns, etc.
10 April 2015
I feel like I am living out of Country Road tog bag at the moment – between my flat, my boyfriend’s house and weekends away, I feel like I am constantly packing and unpacking. Thankfully, putting together my makeup/hair/toiletry bags for the next morning/weekend are often the easiest part because the basics are always the same. These basics are my Holy Grail items – the ones I never leave behind and the ones I always repurchase. It was actually surprisingly difficult to narrow it down to 10, so I have included 5 honourary mentions too – although not the loves of my life, they almost always come along for the ride.
9 April 2015
Guys, I’m SO excited. I’m off to the States in a few weeks and while I’m really looking forward to visiting Sephora, I’m apoplectic at the thought of the big US drugstores filled with bargainous treats!
I’ll be trying to find products in one of three categories: things I need, things that are stupidly cheap or things that I’m guaranteed to get lots of use out of. What I’m hoping to avoid is buying things that are basically dupes for existing products in my stash although a certain amount of that is inevitable as I always get overexcited when I’m standing in the aisle. We’ll see how it goes but for now, these are the items on my radar – let me know if you have any other suggestions!
This concealer is available in the UK but for some reason not in the “Brightener” shade which is the one I want. The texture seems creamy and blendable with a good amount of coverage, and the pink tones are great for counteracting under-eye darkness. I use a combination of corrector (Benefit Erase Paste) and light-reflecting concealer (Clinique Airbrush or Rimmel Wake Me Up) under my eyes so it will be interesting to see if this product does the job of both.
I love makeup setting sprays but they tend to be really expensive and until now haven’t been available at the drugstore. The last one I bought (Urban Decay Deslick) was $30 for 118ml and this new one from L’Oréal is $17 for 100ml, so much cheaper. Setting sprays not only help your makeup to last longer but they also pull double duty as primers if you use them under foundation. Tati raves about this version so I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs. And, in true Tati style, I plan to go coupon crazy and save some bucks on this and my other drugstore purchases!
I’ve wanted this eyeshadow for YEARS. It’s another L’Oréal range that is available here and in the UK but not in this shade, which is a gorgeous metallic rose gold. These pressed pigments are super shiny and high-impact, and go full on liquid metal when used wet. The formula is so smooth it feels like a cream (but it’s not) plus it’s waterproof, crease resistant and fade free. See Temptalia’s review and swatches here.
This looks like the cleanser version of my Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask which is incredible at calming inflammation and drawing impurities from my pores. This purifying, foaming cleanser (sorry Caroline) is oil free and super gentle, and the added menthol leaves skin feeling tingly and fresh although probably not so good for sensitive skin. I’ve enjoyed clay cleansers in the past (REN ClearCalm 3 and Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser) so I’d be interested to see if this is as effective.
The last (and only) time I had my teeth whitened was about 18 months ago when my braces came off. It worked brilliantly but the process is extremely expensive so I’m keen to give these whitening strips a go. They aren’t cheap either (around $55) but still half the price of the professional route, and by all accounts, just as effective. Supposedly they work by using “the same enamel-safe teeth whitening ingredients dentists use” and results last up to a year.
Another Tati-inspired item, this “skin perfecting cream” is like a tinted moisturiser for your body. It sounds a bit strange but essentially it smooths, firms and hydrates the skin while blurring imperfections and evening out skin tone. As someone who’s skin plummets from Jennifer Lopez to Nicole Kidman in winter, I thought this would be a great product to get me through those bare-legged cold weather moments.
Stuffing a bag of these in my face will make me insanely happy and, as we all know, happiness makes you beautiful. These are therefore a beauty purchase.
Let me know if you guys want to see a Sephora wishlist and don’t forget to leave me your recommendations!
2 April 2015
I’m trying to make a concerted effort to use up more of the products I have rather than constantly buying new things. I don’t always (hardly ever) succeed but it’s the thought that counts, right?! Recently I’ve dug out a few gems though so I thought I’d share them with you:
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Every time I pick this up and start using it again, I wonder what ever made me stop. It’s often touted as a cheaper alternative to the BeautyBlender and while I’ve never tried the latter, I can’t see how it could possibly work more than twice as well, since that’s what it costs. Using the RTMCS produces an absolutely flawless finish – foundation is perfectly blended and totally invisible, pores disappear and skin feels plump and hydrated. The rounded shape is ideal for applying foundation, while the pointed tip works concealer into the eye socket and the flattened edge blends out highlighter like a dream. It’s also really easy to clean; I just soak it in soapy water for about 5 minutes and then squeeze it a few times and rinse under a running tap. I’ll definitely be repurchasing a few new ones the next time I’m in the UK.
Bioderma Sébium Pore Refiner
You can add this to the enormous pile of things I’ve bought because of Lisa Eldridge. This particular product has been featured in a few of her videos and appealed to me because of the lightweight, oil-absorbing formula that specifically helps to tighten pores and refine skin texture. It feels very similar to the Smashbox primers and sinks in completely so there’s no residue or sticky feeling on the skin. It definitely prolongs the wear of my foundation and while there’s nothing in the world that will stop my T-zone from turning into a disco ball by lunchtime, this primer at least helps to limit the damage.
Stockists: Dischem and Clicks
Alpha-H Liquid Gold
I was inspired to drag this 5% glycolic acid treatment out from the back of my cupboard after seeing Caroline Hirons’ recent interview with Alpha-H founder Tom Ogden. Liquid Gold has something of a cult status among beauty lovers for being an amazing resurfacing treatment that has been proven to effectively diminish wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage. I don’t particular suffer from any of those problems (yet!) but I’ve seen the before and afters, and they’re amazing. My skin doesn’t enjoy being exfoliated too much so I packed this away when I stopped chemical exfoliation about a year ago but I gave it another try recently and loved it! It doesn’t perform miracles on my skin (but to be fair, it’s not very problematic) but I do find that a weekly sweep of this at night before bed (no moisturiser on top) leaves my skin very smooth and soft the next day. Great for mature, sun damaged, prematurely ageing and/or acne-scarred skin.
MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush
Until last week, I think I had used this brush about three times my entire life (I have a problem with dirtying white makeup brushes. It’s a thing) but then Camilla whipped it out while we were filming a forthcoming tutorial and I was mesmerised. The duo fibre bristles (a combo of goat hair and synthetic fibres) allow you to apply cream and powder products in sheer layers which results in an incredibly light, luminous effect on the skin. I’ve been using it to apply bronzer which looks really soft and natural. It’s also really handy for going over the complexion to make sure everything is blended perfectly when you’re finished your face make-up as it doesn’t move the product underneath it. It can even be used wet to amp up highlighter on cheekbones which looks particularly pretty on end-of-summer skin.
1 April 2015
I first heard about the new Rouge Coco lipsticks during one of Lily’s recent weekly vlogs, where she and Anna were flown to Paris to visit Coco Chanel’s apartment (where did it all go wrong for me, I ask you) and to learn more about the lippies. The range comes in 24 shades and each colour is named after those who knew Coco Chanel best – her friends, lovers and muses. I was immediately drawn to the shade ‘Adrienne’, an apricot nude, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to function properly until it was in my possession. Luckily, we get the new releases at pretty much at the same time as the UK and US, so I skipped down to the V&A Waterfront Edgars Red Square and handed over my card.
The formulation is really hydrating, so it glides on beautifully and gives the lips a lovely sheen. Of course, hand-in-hand with a hydrating formula comes the fact that it isn’t long-wearing, but I for one am not averse to whipping this out of my bag for touch-ups. The colour is perfect – I far prefer an apricot nude to a pink nude, so this is right up my alley. It’s elegant and sophisticated and polished – all the things I strive to be (and fail at on a regular basis, mind).
To see this lipstick in action, have a watch of Lily’s Monthly Makeup Routine tutorial:
At an eye-watering R510.00 it’s definitely a payday treat, but you deserve it!
30 March 2015
We’ve all been there. You wake up with a mouth like the underside of Ghandi’s flip-flop after one too many
bottles glasses of champagne the night before, and one look in the mirror is enough to send you into a spiralling depression. But never fear, the right combination of skincare and make-up essentials can take you from Miss Havisham to Heidi Klum in a matter of minutes – here’s how:
After a thorough cleanse, I like to give my skin a refreshing kick-start with a brightening or exfoliating mask. The REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial is perfect because not only does it give your skin back its glow with a shot of Vitamin C but it only takes 60 seconds to work.
Hydrating face mist
Hungover skin is dehydrated at best, sensitive and aggravated at worst, so a soothing hydrating mist is a pleasant and effective way to tackle these two problems. Mineral-rich and pH-balanced, Avène Eau Thermale is wonderfully cooling and calms inflammation caused by a night’s worth of skin stress.
Hyaluronic acid serum
Layering a hyaluronic acid serum under your moisturiser is a great way of maximising water levels in the skin to help plump out dehydration lines and make your complexion look fresh and healthy once again. Hydraluron is excellent, while REN’s new Instant Firming Beauty Shot takes things to the next level by giving you a mini facelift at the same time. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm has a similar effect.
Now that you’ve brought your skin back to life, the best way to fake a natural glow is with a dewy, fresh-looking base. I’m currently loving the L.A. Girl Pro BB Cream which comes in loads of different shades and is a total bargain at only R60. It blends beautifully for an invisible skin-like effect with medium coverage, and is neither glowy nor matte. To amp up the illumination, you can either mix in a liquid highlighter like Revlon Skinlights or dab it onto the high points of you face over the foundation.
The right concealer can absolutely transform a tired, dehydrated face. A foolproof combination that I use every day involves layering a peach-toned corrector, like the one from Bobbi Brown or Benefit Erase Paste, with a lightweight highlighter, like my favourite Clinique Airbursh Concealer. The corrector cancels out under-eye bags that can otherwise give the game away, while the illuminating concealer reflects light from the area, lifting the face so you look wide awake even if you’re anything but.
The rest of your make-up is up to you but I would keep it simple – a brightening blush and lip colour always helps, as does a good lash curl followed by an eye-opening mascara. Less is generally more in my experience so keep it simple and your brunch date will be none the wiser.
27 March 2015
Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise! I wrote about this in my recent ‘Currently Loving: Drugstore Edition’ post and have used it every single day since I bought it. I have been playing around with it a bit and have tried mixing it with a few of my foundations to see which one gives me the glowiest finish. Although the MAC Mineralise Moisture Foundation + Skinlights does create a beautiful effect, I have to say that the real winning combination is Clarins True Radiance Foundation + Skinlights. Wow. This foundation imparts a youthful glow all on its own, but with a drop of Skinlights added to it, it really does make the skin look utterly radiant. Look into this.
Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer
I very rarely wear primers…in fact, I can’t remember the last time I wore one. So when Jules told me recently that not only does she always wear a primer, but sometimes more than one at a time, I decided to investigate (in case you were wondering, she’s my biggest beauty enabler too, so we’re in the same boat). She highly recommended the Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer, which she spoke about in her February Favourites so I decided to follow her advice and treat. my. self. I cannot believe what a huge difference it has made to my make-up application and how much it prolongs the wear of my foundation and concealer – I put my face on at 6:30am and everything still looks peachy keen when I take it off at night (sometimes as late at 10pm/11pm *winces*). If that isn’t something to write home about, then I don’t know what is.
Dry brushing. Do you do it? I didn’t until very recently and I’m here to tell you that if you aren’t doing it, you should (PEER PRESSURE). It basically involves circulating a natural fibre brush all over your dry limbs for a couple of minutes pre-shower to stimulate circulation and slough away dead skin cells. You can either work the brush in long strokes, or in circular motions, but the most important thing is to work the brush in the direction of your heart in order to keep your lymphatic system moving. It feels a little bit weird and scratchy at first, but the results are so worth it, I promise! After I’ve dry-brushed and showered, I apply a body oil (currently loving the Nivea Q10 Plus Firming Body Oil) onto my skin while it’s still wet and dab myself dry with a towel. I like to do the whole process at night because body oil during the day is too slippy and uncomfortable, and also, I’m too sleepy in the mornings to be bothered with dry brushing. I pop on my PJ’s, let the oil sink in, and in the morning my skin is baby soft. I can say without question that the dry brushing has improved the texture of my skin and has almost eliminated my keratosis pilaris.
I searched high and low for a body brush that didn’t have an annoying handle (if a handle doesn’t bother you, then head to the Body Shop – they do a good one) and I eventually found one with a removable handle from Dishcem and it was dirt cheap – I think R36.00. However, apparently Mama Mio are releasing stock of their Body Brush in the next couple of weeks, so I think I might upgrade.
Get on it, ladies. And if not for yourself, then do it for a person who touches your body on the regular. You/they are welcome!
REN ClearCalm 3 Clarity Restoring Mask
I have been ploughing through my charcoal/clay-based masks recently. I somehow managed to finish the Aesop Parsley Seed Mask, Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask AND the Glamglow SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment all within a few weeks of each other. Although I loved them all and would definitely repurchase (although maybe not the Glamglow one as it costs R880 *insert screaming face emoji here*), I’m always on the lookout for different products to try, so I decided to give the REN ClearCalm 3 Clarity Restoring Mask a go. If you’ve used traditional charcoal/clay masks before, you’ll know that removing them can be a real pain, literally. Luckily this one doesn’t actually dry/set, so it’s a total breeze to remove – one swipe with a warm washcloth and everything is gone. Lovely. It definitely helped zap a blemish I could feel brewing under my skin, and it calmed the redness around my nose and on my cheeks. Can’t ask for much more than that, can you?
Avène Tolérance Extrême*
This rich, soothing moisturiser is formulated to hydrate the skin, restore its barrier and reduce reactivity. It’s 100% sterile and contains no preservatives or fragrances so it’s safe for even the most allergic of skin types. My skin is by no means allergic, but it sometimes needs a break from all the lotions and potions I slap onto it daily and requires a little extra TLC. This cream is that TLC. It is simple, comforting, calming and hydrating – all the things my skin needs when it’s fed up with all the active ingredients I try and force on it. The equivalent of cloaking your face in a soft, snuggly blanket – very pleasing.
Natural Lab Rose Lavender Hand Wash*
Natural Lab is a South African company which has created a small line of personal care products which are formulated without parabens, petroleum or sulphates, and contain no artificial colourants, fragrances or preservatives (and, most importantly, they don’t test on animals). We were sent a few goodies to try recently and this hand wash has become a firm favourite of mine and will always be a staple in my bathroom from now on. My biggest gripe with hand washes is that they can be quite drying, and if I don’t apply hand cream afterwards, my hands feel uncomfortable. However, this offering from Natural Lab isn’t drying in the slightest and my hands feel, and smell, great after I’ve washed them.
This 500ml bottle retails for only R99.95 – so affordable and it will last you ages. If you want to learn more about the brand and where to find their products, you can visit their website here.
24 March 2015
I only really discovered nude lipsticks last year; they’ve always been Camilla’s thing but I tended to gravitate towards bright colours. I was even a bit naive about how much one nude can differ from another – there are pink nudes and neutral nudes and brown nudes and peachy nudes and caramel nudes and… Luckily, I feel that I have now educated myself on the value of these subtle but chic lip options and started to amass something of a collection. Here are my favourite five within the “rosy nude” category, let me know if you want more posts like this!
Almay Smart Shade Butter Kiss in “Nude – Light/Medium”*
I love this range of super-hydrating semi-sheer lipsticks which has been designed in a variety of very wearable shades to suit different skin tones. Each skin tone (Light, Light/Medium and Medium) has four colours; berry, pink, nude and red, which makes it really easy to choose the colour most likely to suit you. This particular colour is kind of the lipstick equivalent of my beloved Benefit Dallas blusher and I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it in winter, as it’s slightly darker than my other nude lippies. The formula is so smooth and moisturising which makes it very easy to apply and comfortable to wear.
Rimmel Colour Rush in “Drive Me Nude”
It’s amazing to see how the “Chubby Stick” craze has hit the drugstore in the past year or so; I can hardly think of a single affordable brand that doesn’t do some kind of lip crayon now. Rimmel’s range is particularly good, with a small but gorgeous selection of twist-up shades that gives lips a glossy wash of sheer colour. “Drive Me Nude” is quite light which makes it more versatile and would look beautiful with a smoky eye or bronzy, sunkissed skin.
Wet ‘n Wild Mega Last Lip Color in “Rose-bud”
Along with Essence, Wet ‘n Wild produce some of the best and most affordable lipsticks at the drugstore. The Mega Last lipsticks come in a wide colour range and are completely matte, yet creamy and easy to wear. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re moisturising but then again, what matte lipsticks are?! It’s nothing that a bit of lip balm can’t sort out plus it makes the colour super long-lasting so it’s a great one if you can’t be bothered with touch-ups. This colour is lovely and rosy so it really livens up the face (although now, looking at the swatches, I realise that it isn’t really a nude at all – although you could pat it in for a less full-on effect) and “Just Peachy” is also lovely; a lighter, creamy, coral-toned nude.
Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in “Rose”*
I’ve been dying to try this new range from Revlon so I was thrilled when some landed on our desk. They are extremely smooth and creamy and deliver solid colour in one swipe. The shade selection is extensive, with everything from rich berries and bright reds to bold pinks and more subtle nudes. “Rose” is a lovely, neutral pinky nude but “Magnolia” and “Peony” are also very pretty rose-toned nudes. The range includes Ultra HD Lip Lacquers which are super shiny and pigmented glosses – not my cup of tea personally but beautiful if that’s your thing.
Essence Longlasting Lipstick in “Natural Beauty”
This made it’s way into my shopping basket at Dischem the other day (at R42, how could it NOT?!) and I’ve been swooning over it ever since. It’s surprisingly creamy and pigmented and incredibly moisturising – I wore it without lip balm underneath for about three hours and it wasn’t drying at all. The packaging is sleek and robust and the bullet is even embossed with the Essence logo, like a fancy luxury lipstick! All in all, a much better product than I would expect at that price point. Added bonus? It’s a straight-up dupe for MAC Syrup, one of my all time faves.