Thursday, November 27, 2014

Beauty destination: the new Dry & Tea Britomart



I have been known to rave about boutique grooming bar Dry & Tea both here and in my Ponsonby News column, and can honestly say that it consistently appears on my official list of “Happy Places”. That is not a title I bestow on a location lightly, but the company’s serene spots around town all quite literally blew me away from first visit.
As soon as you set foot into each Dry & Tea premises you feel welcome, as well as lulled into a sense of peace by it’s wonderful shades, smells and furnishings (a fur rug gets me EVERY time!). So, I was pretty excited when I got the invite – thanks to the wonderful Kérastase - to try the salon’s newest location, in Auckland’s popular Britomart precinct. The salon space is located on Tyler St and includes access from Atrium on Takutai, with easy parking just over the road at the Britomart carpark or  - if you’re lucky – just outside. Designed by Cheshire Architects, the blow-dry bar is complemented by their now signature bespoke print created by New Zealand artist Paul Hartigan.
 “We are thrilled to be in the very cosmopolitan Britomart precinct and feel Dry & Tea fits perfectly here,” says Dry & Tea owner Amy Sznicer. “The Britomart salon stays true to the DNA of the already much-loved concept; however evolved aspects give our newest space its own identity.”
Naturally, they have a wide selection of Harney & Sons tea and favourites from T2 on offer, as well as top notch coffee. Clients can pick from a variety of services, including the salon’s renowned signature blow waves, dry styles and hair ups, along with cut and colour services. Amy has recruited a talented team of hair specialists who are passionate not only about blow waves and session styling, but also have exceptional experience in the latest colour and cut trends. The expanded services menu includes special event packages, hair and makeup and wedding packages. Too good!
The Britomart salon also boasts a Kerastase spa, offering clients the full Kerastase back basin experience – a definite recommendation if you have the time, your hair will love you for it.
Dry & Tea Britomart is open now, and offers extended hours an amazing seven days per week – Sundays never need be a blow wave free zone ever again! For bookings phone 09 3092128 or email: britomart@dryandtea.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beauty news: Sodashi arrives at Spa at The Pullman, Auckland



I must admit that when I attended the launch of Spa at The Pullman at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel just over a year ago it had been a seriously a long time since I had entered the hotel. Possibly back when it was in a former incarnation, and boy, things have changed. The space had a similar layout but the arrival of a simply delicious spa cuisine menu and a highly innovative treatment menu were evidence that this spa was one to be reckoned with, and the treatment I had there a few weeks later seriously blew me away. So I was rather excited to go back, this time to celebrate the launch of one of my absolute favourite skin care brands, Sodashi to the spa’s stable.
Considered by many to be “the purest skincare brand in the world”, Sodashi is an Australian skincare company that has successfully harnessed the benefits of natural ingredients to produce effective, chemical-free skin care products and spa therapies since 1999. As a lover of those rare moments when all natural-meets-high performance in the world of beauty, I for one was very excited to find out that that their products and treatments have arrived at Spa at the Pullman – one of my fave spots, bonus!
The extensive range of Sodashi products are formulated using a unique combination of biochemistry, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic principles, and are all produced at the company’s own laboratory in Fremantle in Western Australia. A Sanskrit word, Sodashi translates to ‘wholeness, purity and radiance’ – the values on which the company and its products are based. As well as producing beautiful, desirable products, their absolute commitment to working in harmony with nature is reflected across all areas of the business, a factor you can’t help but admire. Not a single synthetic chemical, preservative or fragrance is used in the Sodashi manufacturing process. Products are never tested on animals and Sodashi packaging is recyclable and printed with natural vegetable dyes, and they must be doing something right as the range is available at many of most exclusive resorts and spas worldwide.
The Sodashi treatments on offer are:
Sodashi Thermal Infusing Facial (AKA nature’s facelift) - 90 minutes
An intensive boost of all nature’s vitamins and minerals that I for one cannot wait to try. Sodashi’s exclusive warm infusing mask will maximise penetration of these essential vitamins and minerals into the deeper layers of the skin. This ultimate facial indulgence is tailored to your skins needs to purify, deeply cleanse, and nourish leaving the skin hydrated and toned. This is more than just a facial; it’s nature’s facelift.
Sodashi Marine Mineral Facial (marine based) - 75 minutes
Using the intelligence of marine plants, this facial is rich in marine extracts to bring renewed radiance and glow to your complexion. Tailored to your unique skin type this is the perfect treatment to oxygenate, tone and revitalise skin. Enhanced with the Sodashi facial massage, your facial experience will leave your skin radiant.
Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial (renewal) - 60 minutes
Let us take your skin on a journey of total renewal. Deeply relax as you enjoy Sodashi’s aromatic warm facial compresses that soften and exfoliate, followed by a nurturing face mask rich in herbal extracts, to purify and hydrate the skin. This facial experience is tailored to your skin's needs and is enhanced with the Sodashi facial massage. Luxurious Sodashi plant essence synergies will leave your skin revitalised and fresh.
Sodashi Mankind Facial (for men) - 60 minutes
Begins with a relaxing Sodashi Himalayan salt therapy back massage that will ease stress and reduce tension in the mind and body. Continues with a deep cleansing and exfoliating facial that balances the skins natural oils and assists in preventing ingrown hairs. Sodashi’s soothing mists with woody aromas will de-sensitise your skin and Sodashi's relaxing facial massage will tone and firm the muscles leaving you looking fresh and revitalised.
Sodashi Purity Body Massage - 60 minutes and 90 minutes
This stronger pressure massage uses slow strokes and firm pressure to ease built up stress and muscle tension assisting the release of blockages, knots, and toxins from the body. Perfect for fitness recovery or deep seated tension, your muscles will feel realigned and relaxed with improved movement and circulation.
Sodashi Refining Body Toner - 75 minutes           
This treatment begins with a full body exfoliation with Sodashi’s Jojoba Bead Body Polish. A nurturing full body mask, rich in French Pink Clay and herbal extracts to firm, tone and condition the skin is then applied. The body is cocooned in a comforting body wrap and a scalp massage is performed, completing this process of total relaxation.
Sodashi Purifying Body Boost - 60 minutes
Designed to boost energy levels and re-energise the entire system, this cleansing treatment begins with invigorating dry body brushing. Sodashi’s natural purifying and detoxifying mask is then applied to stimulate the circulatory system, relieve sluggishness and congestion, and help to remove unwanted toxins. To finish, an enlivening Sodashi body moisturiser is massaged into the skin.
Sodashi Vanilla Body Bliss - 60 minutes
A highly fragrant and gentle treatment that soothes and calms the mind and body, whilst revitalising and hydrating the skin. The entire body is gently exfoliated with Sodashi’s vanilla body exfoliant, which contains sandalwood powder to relieve tired aching muscles. A beautifully rich vanilla body Butter is then massaged into the skin. I need this!
If I do not get a gift voucher for one of these babies this Christmas I will seriously be doubting the taste of my friends and family – what an amazing synergy, and what a treat for Auckland.



Daily delight: Lara Bingle for Elle.com



Monday, November 24, 2014

Beauty news: M.A.C Cosmetics X Giambattista Valli



Those marvellous people at M.A.C are known for their splashy design collaborations—for holiday, the brand teamed up with rising star Prabal Gurung for a holiday line—and it looks like next year’s collab is going to be just as big. The company just officially announced that they would be teaming up with designer Giambattista Valli with the aim of giving your everyday lipstick collection a high-fashion makeover.
According to Vogue, MAC and Valli are teaming up to create a lipstick line that will consist of five floral “garden shades” that will be available in the summer of 2015. The Paris-based designer (who in 2015 will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of his fashion house) said of the collaborative affair: “I’m very well known for dresses, no? And I thought it was very nice, the idea of dressing your lips,” added Valli, whose obsession with all things floral has been known to manifest itself in everything from a cascade of sequin-crafted coral poppies to a cherry blossom–strewn day coat. To bring his first makeup collection to life, he turned to the team at M.A.C, who have worked with him backstage from the beginning. “For a creative person, collaborating can be frustrating because you feel that you’re limited or stuck within someone else’s ideas, but with MAC it was 100 percent freedom and 100 percent support just to make my idea become a reality, to pull out my flowers and my sense and my emotion and put it into the colour,” Valli told Vogue, adding that he drew from a range of hues from past collections for a palette that would flatter women on an international scale.
From a pale retro pink to a deep plum, there is a lip colour for everyone - with a matte finish, yay! - and pretty tubes to match. There will also be glosses on hand should the situation require a hint of shine. “The best thing about makeup is that a lipstick can really change your look. If you never wear colour on your lips and then one day you wear red, everyone just goes ‘wow!’” Valli said. “I made these for a woman with personality, a woman who lives her life and isn’t afraid to wear colour and isn’t afraid to kiss!” 


Daily delight: Coco Rocha for Elle Vietnam



Friday, November 21, 2014

All about: Opalescence Go teeth whitening


Years ago now I had my teeth professionally whitened. I already have quite pearly gnashers and it cost a bundle, but I have to say that the results were extraordinary – and I only wish I could do it more!
I have discovered the next best thing however in the form of an at-home whitening system called Opalescence Go, which is also available as a stronger, dentist-only product. It is the perfect option for anyone who is looking for convenient, ready-to-go whitening, and is insanely easy to use. A professional whitening gel delivered in prefilled, disposable trays, Opalescence Go features the brand’s enhanced UltraFit tray and can deliver dramatic results in as a little as 15 minutes per day. The UltraFit tray sets Opalescence Go apart with its unique material that warms with the temperature of the body so that it comfortably molds and adapts to your smile for an even more effective whitening experience and for me, there was zero discomfort or hassle involved. Love that! Think no impressions, models, or lab time required, just an excellent introduction to whitening and a great top up if you’ve already had a whitening treatment in the past. Did it make a difference for me? Most definitely, and I’ve had the positive remarks to prove it.
I tried the six per cent hydrogen peroxide version (with wear times from 30–60 minutes) and had a great result, so I’m hoping to top that up with the 15 per cent hydrogen peroxide (with wear time from 15–20 minutes) in a few months once the silly season is past.
On an ingredient front, Opalescence tooth whitening gel contains PF (potassium nitrate and fluoride). Potassium nitrate has been shown to help reduce sensitivity, whilst fluoride has been shown to help reduce cavities and strengthen enamel. Together they help to improve the overall health of the teeth and yep, you’ll notice the difference pretty quick.
I love that it comes in prefilled, disposable trays, so it's easy to take with you anywhere you go and there is no mess and no fuss – two factors that have put me off at-home whitening treatments in the past. Opalescence Go also gives you a whiter smile in just 5-10 days when worn just 60-90 minutes per day, and the minty flavour is an added bonus. I have sensitive teeth and experienced no increased sensitivity as well – which I definitely didn’t expect.
So in my humble opinion, give this wonder a go. Ask your dentist for a consult and get in there – healthy looking teeth are seriously the best calling card!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Love it: Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultra Radiance Makeup


I’ve been feeling a bit overworked and overtired of late, and it’s definitely showing on my poor old skin. It’s dehydrated up the yin yang, so I’ve been looking for a mutitude of ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff type products to make it look and feel a little better.
The latest and greatest I have discovered is Estée Lauder’s new Re-Nutriv Ultra Radiance Makeup, which hit the counters last month and has already shot to the top of my ‘must wear’ list due to its nourishing properties. The ultra-luxe new collection of shades and formulas “sends pure light streaming through precious micro-fine gems for a beautiful, jewel-like radiance the moment it touches skin”, says the press release, but I say it’s just damn good stuff! Enriched with patented anti-aging ingredients and from around the world, it works perfectly with Re-Nutriv’s skincare line, making it a top pick for ageing or dehydrated skin.
The silky smooth new formulas in the makeup collection include Re-Nutriv Ultra Radiance Liquid Makeup and Ultra Radiance Concealer and Smoothing Base, and I’m in love with the lot. The liquid makeup formula glides on – and feels – like silk, blends really well and seriously lasts, whilst the Smoothing Base conditions and preps skin for a smooth application by smoothing and helping fill in lines and pores. The non-creasing Concealer helps erase imperfections like uneven skintone, dark spots, discolourations, redness, dark circles, blemishes and broken capillaries, and when used together they are a winning combo!
It goes without saying that the Re-Nutriv Ultra Radiance Makeup collection is non-acnegenic, dermatologist-tested, ophthalmologist-tested, and formulated for all skin types, and is at Estée Lauder counters nationwide right now.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beauty news: Designer Brands Cosmetics earns Cruelty Free and Vegan certification



In an amazing piece of news for those that love their products, Designer Brands Cosmetics has officially been granted Choose Cruelty Free certifications as well as Vegan certification from the Vegan Society, acknowledging all ingredients and finished goods are not tested on animals, are free from animal cruelty and are vegan friendly.
Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which actively campaigns for an end to animal testing of cosmetics, toiletries and other household products.
CCF conduct research and testing on every ingredient in Designer Brands products, as well as every supplier of the ingredients, to ensure the cosmetics are completely free from all forms of animal cruelty. 
As a value brand, Designer Brands say they are thrilled to provide a product free from animal testing and animal cruelty, as well as being vegan friendly. The certifications mean consumers can enjoy their faves with the added peace of mind that comes from the knowledge they are purchasing ethical products.
 Designer Brands’ Brand Manager Maz Cugliari said the cruelty free and vegan friendly certifications are both social issues important to the brand and they are pleased to be recognised as an ethically sound brand. “It’s critical for our brand to ensure we are delivering ethical products with socially acceptable practices,” said Ms. Cugliari.
 “When shopping for cosmetics, consumers are looking for a product that ticks all their boxes, and free from animal testing is among the top three considerations, so it was key for us to give consumers peace of mind when purchasing Designer Brands,” said Ms. Cugliari.
Designer Brands is at a variety of pharmacies across All Unichem, Radius, Amcal, Life and Care Chemist pharmacies.

Daily delight: Poppy Delevingne for Solid & Striped



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Beauty and fitness destination: Barrefigure



Barrefigure is a chic, boutique fitness studio located on Richmond Road that also happens to be the first independent barre studio in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Barrefigure technique taught by owner Marysa Dalton (above) is a truly dynamic fusion of ballet barre work, Pilates, yoga and strength conditioning set to music. It targets all muscle groups and  tones, strengthens and lengthens them, creating a leaner, longer looking physique. I’ve tried a few classes since the day the studio opened and can honestly say that the one-hour sessions are most definitely a relentless, full body workout, and no walk in the park! Having said that, while Barrefigure is high intensity, it is very low impact, meaning you’ll get a great workout without putting excessive stress on your joints. You focus on tiny isometric movements and using your own body weight to sculpt your physique.
Marysa was a member of the Royal New Zealand Ballet for seven years, then moved on to guest in the West Australian Ballet in Perth, and as a Principal artist in Neglia Ballet and Dance in Upstate New York.
After hanging up her pointe shoes in 2010 she became the Executive Assistant to the Ambassador at the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and while she “loved having an office job I really missed movement, so I decided to work towards my Pilates Mat Certification and taught at various gyms and studios around Manhattan”. It was at this point that she discovered barre classes when they started popping up around her neighbourhood, and soon got seriously addicted. She says that she immediately loved how they made her body feel, “and that they gave me a similar challenge to what my body had when I was dancing.” This answers my next question before it comes out of my mouth, which was around the subject whether ex-dancers nail barre the minute that they walk through the door. “Oh I don’t find it easy at all,” says Dalton with a smile, “I keep my poker face on the whole time but I feel the uncontrollable shaking in my muscles in some poses just as much as everyone else… if you see me smiling in a class rest assured that I am feeling it just as much as you are!”
Enamoured, she made it her mission to spread the love and become a barre instructor, and soon after moving to London was invited by Niki Rein (a former Tracey Anderson trainer) to join the team at Barrecore, the first barre studio in London. She officially obtained her barre certification in the UK and became a Master Instructor, teaching group and private classes for two years at studios located in Chelsea and Mayfair. 
But after six amazing years away from New Zealand the pull of home was strong, and clearly also the time to launch Barrefigure classes in Auckland. “It was always my goal to open a barre studio in Auckland,” she explains, adding “I’m from Christchurch so it’s all so new to me. I was a little worried that after living in New York and London that I would miss the pace of a really big city but I absolutely love it here.”
She has launched with a signature barre class and a beginner’s option, both of which are a fusion of her first two loves - ballet and pilates - and inspired by both. “If you don’t have a background in either it makes no difference though,” she says, “as I keep classes small so I can demonstrate each and every move and check in if people are doing them correctly.” She caps classes at 17 participants and is the only teacher on board at present, and says that - depending on what type of other movement you include in your life - you can see real results attending around three classes a week. As well as teaching classes she takes private lessons and also welcomes private groups for a super motivating experience, and there are plans for a Barrefigure boot camp and a more dance-focused class too.
I love the classes and highly recommend them for a fun as well as challenging 60 minutes. And as Marysa’s website says: “as long as you can hold on to the ballet barre, you can do Barrefigure! No dancing experience required.”


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beauty destination: the new Spring Spa, Wellington



I am unashamed to admit that I have never met a Spring Spa location that I haven’t fallen in love with at first sight, and the new Spring Wellington is no different. A totally serene and caring environment a little off the beaten track on the corner of Tory and Jessie Streets in Te Aro, it is based on the concept of a social spa like its sisters and a move away from traditional spa formalities. It is especially designed to combine relaxation, pampering and your weekly manicure appointment in one fun, social environment, but even popping in alone like I did it is an absolute treat.
Every time I am lucky enough to find myself in stunning Queenstown – I swear it’s like looking at a chocolate box photo every corner you turn – I make sure I take some time to visit the always-wonderful Spring Spa there, which conveniently opened in Auckland in the last twelve months as well. Both destinations are most definitely of the “happy place” variety, and I recommend them to everyone I meet who is looking for some dedicated “me” time.
Spring is the stroke of genius of the always-charming and ridiculously clever Ina Bajaj, the creator of the world-renowned East Day Spa. So despite the fact that they are quite a different beauty destination to East, they provide the same high standards of treatment and superior levels of service East is famous for, but with what they call “a Spring spin”.
Anyway, when I travelled to Bali a couple of months ago for ten days of island bliss, at the top of my to-do list was a trip to the incredible new Spring location recently opened there. The same was on my mind when I hit Wellington for a whirlwind work trip last week, and when I sat back for the Spring signature Reflexology treatment for an hour I was transported straight back to Seminyak, seriously! Designed to restore balance to the body with perfect pressure point foot massage, reflexology works its magic to improve circulation, reduce stress and rebalance your body from nose to toes. Heven? You bet. If you’re in the ‘hood then I recommend a trip to Spring Spa ASAP.
To book check out their details here.