Monday, August 31, 2009

Daily delight: Rationale Preparatory Cleanser

Today I have fallen in love with Rationale’s Preparatory Cleanser, which uses a gentle, non-irritant solvent formula to soothe and calm the skin whilst it cleanses and moisturises. We all know that detergent-based (foaming) cleansers can strip the skin of intercellular lipids and natural moistursing factors, but often the alternative won’t get rid of most make up. Well this puppy does, and even has the the luxurious feel of a creamy cleanser but is actually oil-free. For dry skin apply to a wet face and leave on for a few minutes to soften and moisturise, before using a tissue or sponge to remove (this leaves a moisturising layer on the surface). For normal to oily skin do all of the above but rinse off with lukewarm water. Genius.

East Day Spa & Forest Essentials

One of my favourite places to go for a massage – no excuse needed – is East Day Spa at the Sky City Grand Hotel in Central Auckland. When I was last in I actually took the time to ask about the massage oils they use, which I had become steadily more obsessesed by. I love to use oils on my face and body as much as I can and have tried more than my fair share, so it was with great excitement that I discovered you could actually buy the ones used by East to take home, and that they go by the name of Forest Essentials. I did a little research on the India-based company, who create these massage oils that are blended for optimal luxury with cold pressed sesame oil herbs and pure essential oils. They produce a raft of gorgeous products as well as my favourite oils, which come as Bitter Orange and Bergamot, Eucalyptus and Black Pepper, Indian Rose and Geranium, Lime and Ginger, Madurai Jasmine and Mogra and my take home favourite, Mysore Sandalwood. Apparently Estee Lauder just bought a 15 per cent share in the company so get in quick and try them before the secret is out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yet another use for M.A.C pigment!

In a recent issue of the truly wonderful V magazine, photographer Sebastien Faena shot pop's hottest mess, Lady GaGa at various locales sporting a range of different looks. In the opening shot, Kiwi-born make up artist Joanne Gair used a shade from M.A.C's pigments range called violet to great effect, and then the same product was used to create the feature header. Love it!
You can see all of the shots and read the interview with Ms. GaGa here

Friday, August 28, 2009

Daily delight: Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise

Last week I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of the latest Jo Malone fragrance, Vanilla & Anise. Well today I finally cracked it open. I'm a huge vanilla fan and apparently I'm not alone, with an overwhelming majority of the world's fragrance lovers purported to be in love with soft, feelgood scent. The use of vanilla is a first for Jo Malone though, and the result is a winner. A little spicy and completely modern, this is definitely the scent you want to really feel like Spring is on its way.

On the road to ANZFW: Amber D. & M.A.C

Less than a month away now, Air New Zealand Fashion Week is one of the best places to see future make up trends up close and personal. One of the artists I spoke to in advance of the event was M.A.C’s charming Amber D., one of the most clever and likeable ladies in the business.

Amber D is undoubtedly the country's most experienced fashion week veteran, with time spent in the backstage trenches at ANZFW, RAFW in Sydney and Milan Fashion Week, to name but a few. She has also worked with some of the world's top designers, prepping models like Jessica Stam and Freja Beha Erichsen for their runway calls and mixing it with the likes of sassy M.A.C ambassadors Dita Von Teese and Eve.

She returned once again from Milan in March of this year, having worked backstage creating runways looks for designers that included Pucci, Marni, Salvatore Ferragamo, John Richmond and DSquared, the Canadian design duo who are releasing a collaborative make up range with M.A.C any time now. “The whole week is mad and out of control but you just keep going,” she says with a smile, “mainly because it's just so much fun.”

In contrast with what was happening on the runways of the world last year, she says that make up was refreshingly light for 2009, especially considering that the collections she saw being presented were Autumn/Winter and usually associated with a dark and brooding, heavier style of slap. “There were only two shows where we actually had to do a dark eye,” she explains, “and they both had a worn in, faded feel to them as opposed to the precision, angular look that is filtering down to the street now.” She also says that the crazy popping colours of the eighties' retro revival in make up didn't make its way to Milan, “which always seems to do its own, sexy Italian thing rather than follow the other capitols”. Amazingly, the highly respected artist only used mascara once during the frenzied week of high fashion - for the DSquared show - which she says was “outrageous, things had become that pared back!” She used M.A.C's mind blowingly good Studio Sculpt foundation on models' skin for every show however, “creating just the most beautiful base as it looks just like great skin - only better”. When asked if a week of shows played havoc on the girls' skin that had to be repaired as the days wore on she laughs and says “amazingly, no - it was sickening! They are all only around sixteen years old so definitely have age on their side, as well as being so fussy about their skincare and taking their own eye make up off so no one comes in and drags their skin or irritates it.”

She says it also helps that the make up teams spend a lot of time preparing the girls' skin for the application of make up, using the raft of products that the company has developed purely for that purpose. She always begins with a liberal spray of their Studio Fix + spray - traditionally used after application to 'set' make up - followed by a rich moisturiser which she massages well into the skin to lock in the goodness and create a soft, clear base. “It is almost like a mini facial,” she says, “and the moisture attracts more moisture, so the skin is ultra hydrated - add foundation and it just glows.” She also got to trial a new M.A.C Pro cleansing lotion to use as a gentler alternative to the brand's make up wipes, “because when skin is being cleansed so many times a day it can start to feel really raw and freak out a bit. The new lotion is in development at the moment and was just amazing to see in action”.

After years working internationally on weeks as chaotic as Milan Fashion Week, the veteran admits that she does look on ANZFW as a bit of a breeze these days, “as it's familiar ground and on such a small scale, which is fun in itself”. She adds that “the joy here is that the New Zealand team of M.A.C artists are just so well trained and so incredibly talented, and they deal with pressure like nothing I've ever seen. You just don't find that level of artistry everywhere”. She says that New Zealanders are recognised all over the world as true talents with a buffer brush, and that makes backstage at ANZFW such a great place to be.

She began a few preliminary meetings with designers showing at this year's ANZFW a couple of months out from the event, but says that “the real madness kicks in a couple of weeks out when I check in to see where they are at and go straight into designing a definite look for their show”. She adds that some designers have a very strong idea of what make up look they want to enhance their collections on the catwalk, whilst others are more likely to step back and leave things to her and her team to work out - and that the same situation applies when working in fashion capitols like Milan. “Some people are easier to work with than others,” she explains, “but it's like that in any job.” She says that working at ANZFW is also a joy because the M.A.C brand has so many long standing relationships within the industry, “and we work with so many people that we trust, and that trust us to create something really special for them. I've personally worked with Zambesi for as long as I can remember and they let me really have my say and work as a group to achieve the final result”.

She says that she doesn't find the experience of working with big, international labels that intimidating, adding with a laugh that “it's pretty much the same as dealing with shows in New Zealand but the models are taller, thinner and younger! It's the same quiet and then madness backstage, and there are still photographers tripping over everyone and stylists screaming and yelling!”

Lastly, she says that the products she just can't live without backstage are two: M.A.C's Studio Fix + Spray and Lip Erase “which is a combination of a lip conditioner and a concealer. I use it in every show…”

Some of my favourite beauty people I: Lucy Vincent-Marr

Tiny blonde powerhouse Lucy Vincent-Marr is a well known face in the New Zealand fashion and hair industries, co-owner of Ponsonby's Stephen Marr salon and passionate supporter of all-natural beauty. Names from the media, music scene and fashion come to have their tresses tended, toned or tortured at the salon according to their whim, and the veteran on 21 years in the industry is always in high demand.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son Wolf she was one of the first to know, and soon presented me with a range of options for my hair care that would have zero effect on my system, and my growing baby's. These included organic, chemical free colour, new techniques with my old colour to minimise its effects on my system, an organic take home hair care range that is actually the real thing (there are many pretenders to the throne out there, none of which are exactly as pure as they claim) and general, all round great advice. This was clearly a woman who knew her stuff.

She says that the process of turning her salon into an environmentally aware business has been a “slow, progressive journey that first started at a very basic level about six years ago”. The inspiration was her good friend Sue, an architect with Ponsonby's Hillery Priest who is passionate about sustainable living and responsible business practices. “I'd always been very environmentally aware in my personal life but Sue inspired me to apply those principles in my workplace too,” she says, “and the challenge was to get the fifty people working for me to be passionate about it as well.” She says this was a challenge as so many of her employees are in the 16- 25 year old age bracket, but it wasn't long before the whole team were backing her initiatives. These include having the salon's discarded tint tubes, foils and developer bottles taken away by a specialist company to render inert and recycle, using paper stock from sustainable sources and vegetable based printer inks, and offering only Fair Trade coffee and hot chocolate to their more than agreeable clients.

She says that sourcing ethically created, non toxic products for use in the salon was also a long process as she edited down the brands on offer in New Zealand and researched what was available internationally. “We are at a level in the industry where we can't compromise on performance,” she explains, “and personally, brand integrity along with quality is paramount.” She says that she has chosen brands to work with that are always evolving in their efforts to meet environmentally aware business practices, “be that changing to completely recyclable bottles or working on the purity of their ingredients and ensuring that they are sustainable and not ravaging any natural habitats”. She says that the organic Original & Mineral colour the salon offers (alongside hair super brand Wella) is “so non-toxic that you could sprinkle it on your toast”, and the soya-based, ammonia free tints are available in 84 shades. “The technology is just amazing,” she enthuses, “and has moved way behind the henna movement into some incredible formulations that are really sophisticated.” The salon also stocks the high integrity, all organic Australian brand's range of shampoos and conditioners which are “also incredibly high performance and look beautiful too - it's definitely not a 'natural' brand of the seaweed sandal variety!” She says she's aiming to take the eco-conscious initiative a level higher again by introducing a refill bar, but that is still some way off yet.

The salon's Newmarket branch is also home to Lucy & the Powder Room, Stephen Marr's beauty arm, which uses products from the Ilcsi range of organic Hungarian skincare. As passionate about skin as she is about hair, Vincent-Marr has also been researching and developing her own, completely pure collection of candles and bodycare products which is set to launch very soon. Called SANS, it is as pure as well as simply gorgeous if the samples I’ve tried are to believed. “It used to be that everything that was natural was believed to be better for you,” she explains, “but now we're realising that some ingredients from nature can be just as irritating and toxic as those that are synthetic. My range is as pure as it can be as well as non-irritating or comedogenic, and all the ingredients I've used are sustainably harvested from communities that are fully supported.” She has also sourced completely recyclable packaging and is once again exploring the idea of a refill bar for all of the products. “I'm so aware that every time you purchase something there is a huge energy cost, and I'd like my customers to have the choice of not making that environmental impact.”