Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daily delight: OPI's Hong Kong collection

One of the best ever nail colour collections to cross my desk comes from manicure masters OPI, under the moniker The Hong Kong collection. The collection is inspired by the aforementioned beautiful city of contrasts, and has a similar East-meets-West feel as its namesake, with a variety of sassy shades on offer. There is a super lush green and a spicy orange, a royal purple and the Chinese good luck colour red, as well as my personal favourite, which is a serene cobalt blue. Called Suzi Says Feng Shui, it is soft enough for every day but will also prove its mettle well into the night, and will equally good on fingers as toes. Hot.

Avene's redness fighters to the rescue...

A pharmacy brand that often flies a little under the radar, France’s Avene is an absolute godsend for those with sensitive skin, and a steal when it comes to price as well. Their Avene Anti-redness Light Moisturising Cream and Rich Moisturising Cream – both with an SPF10 – are two of their hero products for those amongst us who suffer from high colour, which is usually the result of increased sensitivity. This can often be due to a genetic predisposition, and unfortunately can be exacerbated by repeated aggression. And with time, the blotches become permanent. Cue Avene to the rescue. Both of these are incredibly light formulas have a high content of Avene’s Thermal Spring Water, which is known for its soothing and anti-irritant properties. This unique emulsion will rapidly calm burning and skin discomfort sensations, and through its fine, lightweight and moisturising texture, leaves the skin soft, soothed and much more comfortable. Diffuse redness becomes less visable over time, and brief flushes less frequent. They can be applied after cleansing morning and night, and are best when finished off with a fine mist of soothing Avene Thermale Spring Water (also a saviour after any sort of non-invasive cosmetic procedure).

M.A.C - working hard backstage for you!

I’m an unashamed fan of M.A.C make up, from the wearable to the outrageous and every little bit of glamour in between. One of the things I respect most about the company is their dedication to research and development, and creating and testing products backstage at shoots and runways all around the world. New Zealand’s most respected Senior Artist, Amber D (pictured) is joining the M·A·C PRO Team of makeup artists from around the world any day now to start creating, executing and polishing the makeup looks that will appear on fashion runways in Milan and Paris. For the Fall/Winter 2010 Milan shows, M·A·C will work on over 25 shows including DSquared2, C’N’C Costume National, Max Mara, Marni, Salvatore Ferragamo and Missoni. Amber D has been confirmed to work on Marni, Alviero Martini, Angelo Marani, Blugirl, Albino, C’N’C Costume National, Antonio Marras, John Richmond and Missoni in Milan. Her Paris shows are yet to be confirmed, however M·A·C will work on over 35 shows in this stunning city including Balmain, Chloé, Rick Owens, Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood Gold Label, and the collection from the late Alexander McQueen.
In addition to creating the beauty trends on the runway, artists use this time to test-drive product prototypes sometimes years before they reach consumers. The Artists put these formulas through the paces at shows and then report back their findings to the Product Development team with feedback on texture, colour and ease of application. The end result is a tried and tested formula fitting the needs of the professional makeup artist and the regular customer.
This Fall/Winter 2010 season they will be working hard with a collection of as-yet-unreleased products that includes:
• Prep + Prime Skin Compact (working name) – A creamy primer to fill fine lines and even skin tone while plumping and softening.
• Backstage Balm (working name) – A luxuriously rich moisturizing balm suitable for the driest face and body, serves as a soothing base for pigments, oils, etc.
• PRO Longwear Foundation – A lightweight and comfortable liquid foundation which yields 15 hours of continuous, fresh and natural coverage.
• Studio Moisture Powder (working name) – A cream-like powder, hydrates and nourishes the skin while providing smooth and even coverage.
• Studio Moisture Bronzer (working name) – An extremely silky and cream-like powder that adds a healthy bronze color to the skin, while providing a blend of antioxidants that treat the skin. This bronzer is comfortable to wear, easy to blend, and has great adherence to the skin.
• Mineralize Skinfinish Bronzer (working name) – Bronzer shades that are a natural extension to the Mineralize Skinfinish/Natural. These bronzers add a healthy glow with a natural finish.
• Pro Longwear Lipcreme –The product Artists use to create their statement look. No need for a topcoat, this lipcreme is equip with instant colour release and 12 hour wear.
• Opulash – Their biggest, baddest mascara. The oversized brush and long lasting formula creates voluminous and dramatic lashes with no smudging, clumping, or flaking for up to 15 hours.
Keep an eye out for them over the next year, coming to a M.A.C counter near you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Daily delight: discover Elemental Herbology

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I can’t walk by a Mecca Cosmetica store without going in for a quick squueze and a sniff of all the goodies on offer, and I’m quite excited about one of their newest acquisitions, Elemental Herbology. Combining over one-hundred plant, mineral and marine actives with pure flower oils, Elemental Herbology is a naturally active, results driven skincare and spa range that is really bloody yummy. Designed to cool, clear and calm in the summer, repair, infuse and hydrate in the winter, and boost and nurture over-exposed skin all year round, the main aim of the brand is to help restore equilibrium when environmental, lifestyle and hormonal fluctuations dramatically alter your skin. All products are free of mineral oils, synthetic fragrance and colours, sulphates, PABA sun screens and paraben preservatives too, endearing me even more to the brand.

The founder, Kristy Goodger, is a spa consultant with over ten years of practical, ‘hands-on’ experience in treating clients, developing spa treatments and operating and designing spas, including the incredible Space NK spas in Britain. Combining her incredible knowledge of herbal medicine with Oriental physiology and pathology, she worked long and hard with a leading cosmetic laboratory to develop the range. I’ve started my foray into the brand with Sun Kiss Body hydrator with self-tan, which has watermelon seed oil, aloe and pomegranate as its key ingredients. It contains subtle levels of an eco-certified botanical self-tanning agent with ultra-nourishing oils to create a beautifully hydrated, natural and healthy glow whilst also helping to prolong the life of your tan. It’s also super light in texture so is great for humid days, and is deliciously cool and calming for over-exposed skin. I’m off away for a few days this Thursday, and you can guarantee that this will be top of my list of things to take.

Daily delight: introducing M.A.C artist Fred Vellon’s favourite, Lightful

Fred Vellon is one of the hottest talents on the M.A.C Pro Team, and has been working as a make up artist since 1986. His Puerto Rican heritage is betrayed in the passionate approach he has to each and every job, and you know he’s a man that knows his stuff when it comes to Giving Great Face. When asked recently to name his favourite products, the famous Fred V.’s words of wisdom began thus: “Don’t neglect your skin! It all starts with three products I can’t live without. First, cleanse delicately with Lightful Foaming Crème Cleanser then treat with Care Blend Essential Oils. They leave the skin feeling incredibly supple without any tackiness. And my best secret for gorgeous skin: mix Lightful Charged Essence into your foundation for a mannequin-like finish.” Around the same time that I digested this sage advice I was introduced to M.A.C’s Lightful range, which has been around a few years in Asia but hits New Zealand any day now. It’s a skincare range that focuses heavily on luminescence, and is made up of a collection of products that they call “high-beam brightening skincare formulations”, using their exclusively developed Charged Water technology. The range has been repackaged and boosted beyond breakthrough this season with the new infusion of red tourmaline and silk, to shift skin’s receptivity and shake up its energy level.

All new ingredients include green tea anti-free-radical extract, vitamin C for added brightening prowess, and tuberose as protection from dehydration. Other artists who love Lightful include Au Yin Chan, Regional Director, Artist Training Asia Pacific, who says “a few drops of Lightful Charged Essence mixed into a liquid foundation gives added luminosity to the foundation finish while giving the appearance of firmer skin”. Malaysia’s Bee Bee Ng recommends mixing Lightful Hydro-Charged Moisturizer SPF30 with Mineralize Satinfinish Foundation, to create an instant tinted moisturizer that will create “glowing, flawless skin”, whilst another tip is to fill a spray bottle with the Lightful Active Softening Lotion and spritz away to help to minimise pores and reduce redness.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Majestic manicures at Henry Holland!

Glimpsed by many at Henry Holland’s London Fashion Week show this past weekend was one awesome set of manicures, courtesy of the team at Kinetics, a salon in London that specialises in not-your-average mani-pedi. Their nails for Henry’s show were long, squared off, straight-edged, extremely pale, and embossed with US-style varsity letters that spelled out familiar txt speak acronyms like
IDTS (I don’t think so), IHML (I hate my life), CTFU (Chill the fuck out) and NAGL, as in “not a lot going on". Love it! Photo courtesy of the backstage spies at NYLON.

Friday, February 19, 2010

And the award for Fiercest in Class goes to: Jeremy Scott’s Fall 2010 Fembots

They don’t come much more fierce than the models that took the runway at Jeremy Scott’s Fall 2010 show at New York Fashion Week. The hair was by star stylist Eugene Souleiman, who crafted what has been called a "Blonde Ambition-meets-Thierry Mugler" updo on top of the girls' heads. "The whole show is about fashion,” he told the press, “and if you are going to talk about fashion it has to be about supermodels like Linda, Naomi and Christy." The look took days of prep work for his team, matching hair pieces to models' natural colour, as well as cutting and setting the extensions in advance. The strong makeup was equally unapologetic at the hands of leading M.A.C artist Val Garland. "The inspiration is extreme fashion, so the idea of the makeup is taken from the 1990s supermodel," she said. "The idea of an eyeliner to the max - playing with gel and liquid eyeliner and a carbon powder to make it intensely black-black-black, and a bit of sparkly powder on the inner eye to open up the shape." A dewy fresh finish instantly updated skin, while the lip was a "dead-calm colour that is kind of like the wrong side of beige”. On the face, she contoured with Face and Body Cream and Sculpt and Shape Powders for cheekbones that could cut glass – much like those belonging to the Supers. On eyes, she used Ebony Pencil and Blacktrack Fluidline set with Carbon eye shadow. She created a pencil-thin crease shape that connected in the outer corner of the top winged liner. A half-an-inch below the lashline, she applied the same combination of black eye products, completing a line that followed the shape of the eye and formed a small triangle. Garland then filled in the lid with Vanilla Small Shadow and White Pigment. #1 and #3 lashes were then stacked on top of the lashline to further push the intensity. For the lips she used Stripdown Liner penciled around the mouth for an overdrawn, fuller lip and To Pamper, an as-yet-unavailable new lipstick. Now get down and beg, bitches!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daily delight: Nars and Guido create East Village party girls for Marc Jacobs

One of my favourite looks at New York Fashion Week these past few days was to be found on the catwalk at Marc Jacobs, where an array of unknowns and even a couple of street casting stars were sent out in a seemingly endless parade of hot frocks and coats on even hotter girls. The make up was created by living legend Francois Nars, who told the press that model Jamie Bochert - a pale, willowy lass with elongated features and an air of the Patti Smith about her - was Jacobs's favourite girl of the show as she was such a close match to his desired aesthetic. He asked Nars and super duper hair stylist Guido to base all the other models' hair and makeup on Bochart's “easygoing, East Village-girl look”, and the results were just bloody gorgeous. For Guido, this meant heartily trimming all the girls' hair so that it ended just below the collarbone, then he worked a little Redken Fabricate 03 Texturizer through from root to tip while it was damp and let it air-dry. This is usually a method that makes us mere mortals look like drowned cats, but on these wee things blooming with youth it was carefree and fun.
For the makeup, Nars created a look that he described as "slightly worn off, as if the girl slept in her makeup after a night out and this is what she looks like the next day” – again a look that makes most of us look like tired old hags in need of an espresso, pronto. He used his fingers to apply and then smudge the makeup colours so they looked a little worn in and hastily applied. He used products from his own make up range including D. Gorgeous – a beautiful pale lilac shadow - on the lids, and Black Moon eyeliner worked slightly into the lashes and as a smudged line above and below. Add to that a pretty peachy cream blush and a slick of pale peachy-coral lipstick which - according to Allure magazine spies - was a discontinued Nars shade that Jacobs himself brought to the hair and makeup test. For the finishing touch, the star make up artist used old tubes of mascara that had dried out a little to make the top and bottom lashes look purposefully clumpy for that perfect show-me-a-pillow effect.

In praise of: Juice Beauty's Green Apple Peel

When I was introduced to the all organic, all good for you Juice Beauty brand last year, their Green Apple Peel was hailed as their hero product. Loved by celebs and their make up artists before a big night out, this product came with some heavy endorsements. However, I always take big claims with a hefty dose of the salty stuff, and often come away after trying them feeling a little cheated. Not so with this puppy however, as Green Apple Peel has become an essential in my beauty arsenal and I know rave about it to all in sundry with a level of hysteria that is akin to a religious zeaalot.
A powerful hydroxy-acid complex of certified organic apple, lemon, grape juices, raw cane sugar and white willow bark, it sits on your skin for around 15 minutes and miraculously exfoliates for visibly improved skin tone and texture. Vitamin antioxidants and essential nutrients hydrate and nourish the skin at the same time, so despite the fact that it’s done a pretty heavy duty job, your skin looks completely radiant and without the redness associated with a lot of peels.
The directions say to use it once weekly by applying a generous layer to cleansed face and neck, but during the humid months we’ve had here in New Zealand for a while now my beauty therapist has been encouraging me to use it twice weekly to combat congestion, and it’s worked a treat. A mild, tingling sensation is normal when the peel is first applied, and as with all hydroxy-acid products it increases sun sensitivity, so you should always slap on a decent SPF before leaving the house. I swear by this product, and bet after a dose you will too.
(Green Apple Peel is available in full and half strength too, so even you sensitive wee things out there can have a bash!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Daily delight: Scorsese and Ulliel for Chanel

The powers that be at beauty and fashion legend Chanel just announced that Academy Award winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese will direct the broadcast advertising campaign for their new – as yet unnamed - men’s fragrance. French actor and general hot property around town, Gaspard Ulliel, will be the face of the new line and will be featured in the ads. The new fragrance will be launched worldwide in August.

It's all about the hair: the joy of spending time with Mana Dave

Last week I was extremely lucky to spend some time with Blaze salon’s Creative Director, the charming and ridiculously modest Mana Dave. An award-winning hair stylist, he is also an international platform artist for Redken, their most knowledgable spokesperson and general all round guru when it comes to hair.
The first thing he did was “read my hair” and declare it in dire need of a Redken Chemistry treatment, possibly due to my new fairer hue and the impact of the Summer months. An exclusive, professional in-salon service, these treatments offer intense, customised treats for whatever your hair needs – whether it’s moisture, colour protection, strength, softness, control, or a combination of all of these benefits in one pretty package! He explained that a regular deep conditioning treatment such as Redken Chemistry is great for distressed hair, and the results can last up to five shampoos. There are two key types of hair distress: Chemical Distress which is caused by overuse of chemical services such as haircolour, lightening, perming (quelle horreure!) or straightening, and Mechanical Distress, which is caused by normal wear and tear from blow-drying, curling and flat irons, and every day brushing. I had a combination of both, and protein was to be the key to getting my hair back in tip top shape. Redken offers six “shots” that can be blended for truly personalised solutions and my options were an Extreme Shot Phase for distressed hair and Real Control Shot Phase for dense/dry hair, so Mana cooked up a combination of the two.
He reiterated that a mix of moisture and protein is what my hair needs, but to get the right balance as although I have a lot of hair it’s quite fine in texture, meaning that too much moisture will just weigh it down. “Bump up the protein,” he said, “and a great product for that is Redken’s Extreme Anti-Snap, which will give you heat protection and has a great cosmetic effect so that your hair still feels super soft and silky.” You can’t argue with that! As always I was told to focus on the mid lengths and ends due to my combination locks, and to schedule in a regular trim every two months to stop fluffiness and any split ends travelling up the hair shaft and making a meal of it all over. He added that a great addition would be the use of a volumiser at the roots for a little lift at the scalp, “and then always make sure that you really feed the ends”.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Daily delight: bangs at Erin Featherston

Maybe it's because I just cut a thick fringe back in to my own hair or maybe it's because the designer wears them herself so well, but I am seriously in love with the models' bangs at the Erin Featherston Fall 2010 Ready-to-Wear show at New York Fashion Week. It was slick and straight with a super dose of shine, but still had a generous amount of movement and a little lift at the crown to keep things flattering and without that dated "poker straight" look that can make this style go so very wrong. The make up was created by M.A.C, and the super black eye and peachy coral lips were pretty damn gorgeous too.

Get onto a Japanese Stone Spa - pure, unadulterated BLISS

I’ve always known how good taking time out in a steam room is for you, but I’ve never been a fan. Sure, I’ve tried a variety in my time – from the basic gym changing room version to one with a giant amethyst crystal at the centre – but sadly, the racing heart and general feeling of discomfort are something I’ve never been able to shake. Yesterday however, I discovered a practice with similar benefits but little of the cons – spending 45 minutes relaxing in a Japanese Stone Spa. I was lucky enough to try the only one of its kind in New Zealand, which can be found in the opulent surroundings of BLISS Reflexology in Downtown Auckland. They call it Stone Spa “bathing” but there’s no water involved, just a pre-heated to 45 degrees celsius basalt stone bed which you recline on in a fairly dark room that has a humidity hovering around the 65 degree mark. You’re wearing a Stone Spa uniform of t shirt and shorts and begin on your tummy, which heats you up from your core and evenly spreads heat throughout your body and organs, bringing about an intense feeling of relaxation once you're on your back. Unlike a sauna or a steam room, this is gentle on your body and feels really quite marvellous. Sure you sweat, but its gradual and you sip water throughout. You pop out every so often if you need to cool down, and the alternate heating and cooling gives your circulatory system a real boost, helping you to get rid of metals from your body like lead, cadmium and mercury. Heating your body’s core also helps to boost your immune system, which is a bonus as we head into the cooler months. Oh, and did I mention it’s also great for you skin? Can’t argue with that, huh? After your time in the Spa you get straight into a shower and keep sipping on your H2o and you’re good to go.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Daily delight: Chanel's Hydramax + Active Teinte

There is at least one tinted moisturiser in most beauty brand's collections, but they are often harder to get "right" than many think, and are definitely not all created equal. Some have higher SPF digits than others whilst a few are big on heavy duty moisturisation, and finding the perfect match for your skin can be like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. Well I have finally found my Holy Grail, in the form of Chanel's Hydramax + Active Teinte, or Active Moisture Tinted Lotion for the non-Francophiles amongst us. With an SPF of 15, this hydrating lotion delivers essential moisture to skin and defends it from UVA and UVB rays, while imparting a healthy, super pretty glow. At the heart of the formula is Chanel's CERATONIA PFA, which powerfully stimulates hydration whilst a Hydrabarrier System locks it in to keep things supple, but never greasy. This has withstood one hell of a humid New Zealand Summer without fail, and even stays put during yoga sessions and hikes. The colour that matches my skin is Sand, which is a gorgeously soft beige that hardly needs anything else to keep my skin looked even toned and fresh. Love it, can't be without it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Daily delight: NARS Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Aigle Noir

No matter how hard the alpha make up maestros try and cajole us into trying a brand new look, a hell of a lot of women just love their old pal Smokey Eye. It can get boring when you stick to your greys and blacks all of the time though, and often other shades are a lot more foolproof. I was terribly excited to receive today a NARS Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Aigle Noir, a sultry, smokey dark brownish-black with green-gold shimmer laced through it (see right). NARS says the Soft Touch Shadow Pencils are the “ideal base for layering with powder eyeshadow to increase color intensity”, and it’s also a good option for daytime on its own. A smooth and creamy formula, it doesn’t drag the delicate skin around the eyes when you layer it up, and is essentially a great long-wearing eye colour with super easy application. It can be used for shading the lid, smudging along the lash line, or highlighting the brow bone or inner corner of the eye and can be easily blended, which we like. Use a primer on your eyelids first for an even more seamless application.
NARS is available in New Zealand from Mecca Cosmetica

Something to think about... the beauty of yoga and the modern girl

Okay so it’s not strictly beauty… but it can make you feel beautiful, all over! I’m talking about yoga, which I have dabbled with in the past and have now begun once more in earnest after connecting with my new guru, Vincent, the founder of Yogashala. My practice has really reignited my body and I’m feeling so loved up by yoga that I thought I’d post a story here that I wrote over a year ago about the way Western culture has approached the very ancient practice. You’ll find something about Vincent near the end too.

Yoga - a Western journey
We are told that the key to both slowing the ravages of time and achieving inner harmony is finding the perfect work/life balance – but this is often easier discussed than achieved.
As work and its associated stresses increase as modern life evolves, more and more people are looking for ways to getting a little closer to the above, and improve their minds and bodies while they’re at it. This means the “old school” ways of relaxation such as a stiff whiskey are out of the question, whilst Eastern practices such as yoga are increasing in popularity yet again.
Over the last few years - in the West at least - the practice of yoga has also taken on a competitive edge, which many enjoy as it gives them even more of a sense of achievement alongside the obvious side effects of wellness and a great body. The leader in this area seems to be Bikram Yoga, which has been effectively branded and taken to the world by its creator, Bikram Choudhury. It is practiced in a room heated to approximately 37 degrees celsius with 40 per cent humidity, and works via the “tourniquet effect” - stretching, balancing (using gravity), and creating pressure all at the same time. Growing in popularity throughout the Western world at the rate of knots, it has devotees packing out its classes doing the "30 Day Challenge" (classes attended on thirty consecutive days with no respite) on a regular basis. Bikram himself is still out there spreading the word, and it seems like the modern world wants to listen. The popularity of the Hatha school of yoga - which focuses on breath and relaxation, primarily - is waning, whilst the Ashtanga and Iyengar schools are sitting somewhere in between.
Partner in a retro business and mum Maria Pomirska began her Iyengar “yoga journey” of the past eight years at Auckland's Herne Bay Yoga, where she still attends class. “I'd say that for me, yoga was the quiet, controlled form of exercise that I needed. It builds strength from the outside but nourishes the mind as well as the body, and that has helped in so many areas of my life.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lovely luxurious locks by Mr. Jason Li

One of the most captivating shoots in the latest PILOT magazine is a hair and beauty spread featuring the work of the very talented Jason Li. A stylist at Stephen Marr, Li was recently awarded the title of runner up at the ghd & Harper's Bazaar Session Stylist Awards in Australia and is a master when it comes to luxuriously long locks. I asked him for a quick rundown on how to achieve the look featured in PILOT, and it sounds all too easy:
1. Run Kevin Murphy Anti-Gravity and Kevin Murphy Heated Defence through damp hair.
2. Blow dry until smooth.
3. Wind big sections of hair around large rollers.
4. Spray with hair spray and leave to completely dry.
5. For any flat areas use a curling tong to give a little extra body.
6. Comb hair with a wide-tooth comb from roots to ends.
7. Tip the head up side down and run Kevin Murphy Gritty Business through.

And there you have it! I think having Jason on hand to execute all of the above would help, too!
For those of us in Auckland, Kevin Murphy products are available from all Stephen Marr salons at:
16 Morrow St, Newmarket, Auckland +64 9 524 6702
37 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland +64 9 3600588
The Department Store, 10 Northcroft St, Takapuna, Auckland +64 9 4880505

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Daily delight: Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream

Reportedly the hero product for this iconic, feelgood brand, Dr. Hauschka's Rose Day Cream is one of those products that gets recommended left, right and centre by those that really know their stuff. Fans of this puppy include porcelain beauties like Nicole Kidman, Parker Posey and Rachel McAdams, and the stellar moisturiser is quite possibly a winner for you, too. It protects and soothes, comes in no nonsense packaging that will meld seamlessly into any bathroom decor, and comes with over 40 years of research and accolades. A legend if ever I saw one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Daily delight: how great it is to be falling in love with Kiehl’s all over again

I was lucky enough to recently attend the New Zealand launch of East Village beauty legends Kiehl’s into the local market, which was a great mix of education and titillation, mainly as their stand alone counter in Auckland’s Smith & Caughey department store wasn’t quite ready to be unveiled. We all left feeling pretty damn excited that a brand we’ve known and loved for years is finally available in the damn country, and carrying a goodie bag – made from recycled plastic bottles, very cool – that contained a few of the company’s top picks. One of these was their Ultra Facial Cream, which was inspired by their original, beloved Ultra Facial Moisturiser. A 24-hour, light-textured daily hydrator, it leaves skin comfortable and visibly well-balanced, particularly in harsh weather conditions. The formula contains Antarcticine – a Glycoprotein extracted from microorganisms sourced from sea glaciers and notable for an ability to protect skin from cold temperatures – as well as Imperata Cylindrica, a plant indigenous to the Australian desert which possesses superb water retention properties in dry conditions. The unique combination of ingredients helps reduce moisture loss while drawing and absorbing moisture from the air. With continuous water replenishment throughout the day, skin is reportedly unbelievably smooth, healthy-looking, and "moisture-even." It was even tested by Robert Anderson and his fellow climbers as they scaled the peaks of Greenland on the Kiehl’s sponsored trip known as “Greenland First Ascent” which took place in 2005. All reported that it keep their skin hydrated beyond belief against the elements, so imagine what it can do on your average walk to the bus stop?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Diamonds really ARE a girl's best friend!

If you're in the market for some diamonds but don't think your loved one is up to the task this coming Valentine's Day, then grab a bottle of OPI's Mystery or Glow for a little sparkle dust all of your own. Both are from the legendary nail brand's Designer Series, which they call a "couture range" due to its fashion forward shades. The formula contains real diamond dust to strengthen and protect your nails, but leaves out all of the nasty stuff like DBP, Toluene and Formaldehyde. My pic of the two is Mystery, a dark violet that works beautifully on the toes right now or adds a little drama to your fingers once the Summer months start to fade. Super glamorous stuff, and a steal - especially in comparison to the average rock - at less than NZD$40.00 a bottle.

Daily delight: Clarins goes gorgeously Nude

If you’re a fan of a polished nude look when it comes to make up, you won’t find much better than the latest collection for Autumn/Winter from Clarins. Called Nude Inspiration, it is an array of incredibly flattering shades for every skin type as well as a few very practical kits that will come in handy all year round. The concept – and corresponding shades – are inspired by “a country tale of a very natural girl”, according to Clarins Make-up Artistic Director Thibault Vabre. The palette is soft and subtle, and aims to create a transparent beige complexion, with understated eyes and delicate pink lips. Of course it can be layered up for a more dramatic look if that’s your bag, but “pretty” is definitely the order of the day. A key item in the range is the Face & Blush Duo Collector Compact. This is a two-tier palette comprising a separate face powder and blusher, both decorated with sparkling gold ears of wheat, in line with the country/nature theme. The products are presented in a compact with a silver cover, and make for an essential addition to your handbag if you like to freshen up on the go. Also new is the Eyebrow Kit “Pro” Palette. This is described as a complete eyebrow kit for shaping and shading eyebrows and eyes, and perfect for both beginners and pros. It contains three shades (black, brown and blonde) to shape and unify brows, which can be applied alone or together to achieve a super polished look. The black and brown shades can also be used on eyelids, and to line the eye contour. The palette also includes a beige-pink eye shadow to illuminate eyes and highlight the eyebrow line, a double-ended applicator, mini tweezers, a wax to set eyebrows, and an eyebrow brush. Nude Inspiration also features new single eye shadow shades such as Silver Green and Midnight Blue (perfect for adding drama), new lipstick shades, and a new Nudes harmony eye shadow quad.

Eco beautiful: 10 minutes with Lina Hanson

One of the most inspirational people out there when it comes to both being green and knowledgeable about all things beauty is Swedish celebrity make up artist and author, Lina Hanson. In 1997 Lina moved to London, where she began working in fashion, relocating three years later to New York City to pursue her true passion—a career in the makeup industry. Lina was personally trained by celebrity makeup artist Jeanine Lobell (creator of Stila Cosmetics), and just a few years later has a prestigious client list of her own that includes the likes of Naomi Watts, Natalie Portman, Portia de Rossi, Jewel and Mandy Moore. Her skilled artistry has appeared in publications like Vogue, In Style, W, and Elle as well as on the runways for big name designers like Nicole Miller, Betsey Johnson, Nanette Lepore, Alice Roi, and Lily Pulitzer. The now-resident of Los Angeles has also collaborated with some of the industry’s most well-known photographers such as Ellen Von Unwerth, Nino Munoz, Tom Ford, Art Schreiber, and Doug Inglish. As if all this weren’t impressive enough, she is also the author of “Eco-Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Beauty and Wellness”, a beautiful looking book on the topic of getting eco-beautiful -- something Lina says isn't just a shallow buzzword. "Becoming eco-beautiful is about being good to the environment," she has said, "and being good to yourself." The book covers everything from skin-friendly diets to DIY masks and brings a great Zen approach to getting all dolled up for a night out. I was lucky enough to track the extremely busy woman herself for a chat about being beautiful, and being green.

Is it hard being green in an indutry so devoted to constant renewal, throwing out the old and discovering the new? Fashion and beauty aren’t always related to sustainability!
I think the more women educate themselves on what it is that they’re putting on their skin, the more they will realize all-natural skin care and cosmetics is a better alternative. And, more and more eco-friendly cosmetic companies are coming out so women are starting to have more options now, whereas before the only eco-friendly makeup you could get was in select health food stores. I don’t think green beauty is just a trend, I think it’s a new way of life.

You work with very beautiful women every day, but what is your definition of beauty?
I truly believe that beauty comes from the inside out. If you feel great it will show!

Who is your favourite person to work with?
I don’t think I have a favorite person per se, but I do feel very lucky as I’ve worked with some amazing, interesting people and my experiences have all been very positive.

You’re a fan of DIY when it comes to skincare, which to some people – like me! – has all been a case of trial and error. What are some brands that you’d recommend?
DIY skincare can take a little time and patience but it can also be a lot of fun! But some natural skin care companies I recommend are Suki, Dr Hauschka, Weleda, Intelligent Nutrients, and Jurlique.

Do you get frustrated by the bigger companies out there slapping the word “natural” all over their products to lure people into thinking that they’re organic?
It can be very frustrating since it’s just another marketing ploy. I recommend looking at the ingredients on the product you’re buying. If there are tons of ingredients you’ve never heard of, they’re most likely not natural. Just do your research. You skin will thank you. That being said, I do feel that makeup with natural ingredients is superior to conventional.

What about foods, what are the top things to eat for your skin?
In my book, I have an entire chapter on just foods that are good for your skin. The absolute top things in my opinion are blueberries—they’re very high in antioxidants and low in sugar. Artichoke is very high in Vitamin C and a great antioxidant. I also recommend drinking tons of water and staying away from sugar as much as you can.

You are primarily a make up artist, do you work with any brands in particular, and why?
As a makeup artist I get to try a lot of great makeup brands but my top favorite brands right now are Josie Maran Cosmetics —She has a wide range of beautiful eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks that I love using on myself and my clients. I also love Suki Color—it is an organic makeup and skincare company that offer great cream shadows, cream blushes, and foundation.

You wrote Eco Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Beauty and Wellness. Have you got any more books in the planning?
I’m actually in the early stages of developing my own natural makeup line. Maybe eventually I’ll do another book that will cover my own makeup brand but right now my line is keeping me busy!

What are some everyday tips that are pretty low maintenance, that we can do to make a small difference to our skin and to the world?
Try start incorporating eco-friendly and natural products into your beauty regimen. I’m not telling you switch your entire life right away, but by making small adjustments to your regimen, it will be make a huge difference for not only your skin, but the environment as well.

And lastly, what is your desert island product, the thing that you couldn’t be without?
A good moisturizer with SPF in it. I like to keep my skin moisturized at all times and I’d have to protect my skin from the sun on the desert island as well!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A true bang for your buck that is well worth a bash: Olay Regenerist Mark II

All around the world Olay Regenerist has started to become known as the alternative the more drastic anti-ageing procedures such as laser, Botox and chemical peels, and is a cheaper option brand that has actually proved its worth. So it’s great news for fans of the brand everywhere that the entire range has undergone a complete transformation – including a vital formulation upgrade. It works in a smiliar way to laser anti-ageing treatments, which involve using energy from a light source to remove the top layer of skin to stimulate your skin’s own natural wound-healing ability. When your skin is zapped with a laser beam, it rapidly heats up the skin, creating micro-wounds and hence triggering the wound-healing process of your skin. When skin cells are injured, a slew of amino-peptides are released within the skin, which instructs your skin to repair the damage. These signals cause your skin to produce collagen and elastin, which result in firmer skin and a smoother, more youthful-looking complexion. The new formula Regenerist has a similar mechanism of action to laser and is positioned as a laserless anti-ageing option because you can put the same important amino-peptides to work in your skin, helping to reduce the signs of ageing, without going under the light. The new formula contains an amino-peptide called pal-KTTKS, which is scientifically proven to boost collagen production and help to regenerate skin surface along with another amino-peptide – Carnosine, which protects the skin as a powerful antioxidant and joins the other antioxidants already in Regenerist – Vitamin E and green tea extract. The addition of Carnosine boosts the antioxidant capacity of Regenerist by 30 percent. When the skin is impacted by environmental factors, collagen becomes damaged and takes the full brunt of the damage. A UV cream helps to decrease some of this damage, but the presence of Carnosine reduces collagen damage by half compared to unprotected skin – basically, Carnosine is proven to protect collagen and the end result – younger looking skin. Okay… if you’re feeling a bit blinded by science after all that, focus on an equally great point – the fact that nothing in the range is over $33.00!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Daily delight: Methven's Bliss Hydrating Body Bar

For a cheap n’ cheerful pick me up I highly recommend Bliss Hydrating Body Bar, a delicate little product that has been created by those masters of all things “showery”, Methven. They created my fabulous Maia showerhead so can do no wrong in my book, and when I ripped into this little packet of goodness this morning it was clear that they perhaps never will. Infused with a unique combination of Jasmine and Ylang ylang, it also contains Olive Oil and Coconut oil to cleanse and hydrate, effectively preserving the skin’s natural moisture balance. In addition, it uses native New Zealand botanicals Harekeke, Kowhai and Kawakawa to hydrate, balance and tone you all over. Each Body Bar is handcrafted too, making for one rather special little treat.

My introduction to Phyt's - and their truly blissful Multi Vitamin Facial

One of many delicious things I indulged in during my week at Gwinganna was a Phyt's facial, which was a first for me. The surroundings were spectacular - their 33 room spa is the biggest in Australasia and built around three historic gum trees - and my therapist was a veritable angel named Katie Dawson. For a little background, Phyt's is a beautiful range of certified organic skin care and beauty products developed in France by Phyt's Laboratories, an environmentally and socially conscientious skin care company that specialise in creating effective, natural skincare utilising the actives found in nature, with products designed for use in spa and salon treatments as well as at home for personal use. The award-winning company believes that nature is the origin of effective skin care, and they are amongst the most ethical in the business. The entire range is based on the power of a complex synergy of plants, flowers, leaves, bark, oils, vitamins and trace minerals to 'turn the lights on' in the active layers of the skin, providing the cells everything they need to perfect a healthy, smooth and glowing complexion. It goes without saying that their products contain only 100 per cent natural ingredients - there's no synthetic preservation, no artificial fragrance, no colouring agents, no GMO, no synthetic ingredients and are not tested on animals. They also hold a COSMEBIO certification, and the conditions for holding this label require 95 per cent of the ingredients of natural origin. It authorises 5 per cent of certain products of synthesis, and to date, it's the most demanding label. It speaks volumes that Phyt's refuses to use this 5 per cent of chemical ingredients and is committed to deliver a product range constituted of purely natural origin ingredients. Great stuff! But back to my stupendously delicious treatment, which was called a Multi Vitamin facial and lasted a blissful 8- minutes. The king of all treatments, this facial utilises ingredients to suit all mature skin lacking in tonicity to diminish visible signs of fine lines and really get your inner glow cranking. Lifting and firming, moisturising and oxygenating, it also included a neck and shoulder massage - and let me tell you, this was the real deal as Katie had incredible hands - and a foot and lower leg rub to really get you blissful. I nodded off for a bit it was so relaxing, only to wake with truly sparkling skin. The lemon and verbena scented cleanser was even a highlight - usually a pretty perfunctory step in your average facial - and I packed one in my bag when I went home. Highly recommended and hopefully for me, to be repeated again one day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Daily delight: hair, here and everywhere

If you’re like me and do your fair share of travelling – both road trips and plane flights – you’ll be constantly on the hunt for that aboslutely perfect, leak free receptacle to decant your favourite products into, with many I’ve found far too small to handle more than a weekend at the beach. And let’s by honest ladies, travelling around the country or across the world just ain’t no excuse for flat, dull and lacklustre hair, and just a quick wash or two is never an option. So it was with great excitement that I heard of the small but perfectly formed new releases from Kérastase Paris, which just scream luxury on the move. Their limited edition Kérastase Travel Sets include a Bain (100ml) and a Treat (75ml), nestled within a cute white travel pouch. They also come in four different variations – dry, rebellious, weak or ageing to suit your hair type. Nutritive is for normal to moderately dry, sensitised hair, Oleo Relax for dry, rebellious hair, Force for weakened hair and Age Recharge for de-vitalised hair. Now if only I got get the equivalent for my face and bodycare and I’d be sweet!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Get ready to assemble your best kit ever - the gospel according to M.A.C...

One way to start the year of right on a beauty note is to give your make up kit a major overhaul. Clear out all of the products that may be on the turn - there may not be an expiration date on every package, but products do have a shelf life. Here's what you might want to ditch:
Liquid Foundation and Nail Polish: If they remain separated after you shake them, they're done. Bin immediately.
Lipsticks: Give them the sniff test. If there's something vaguely chemical about your lippy, it's past its prime. Sticks that are sweating or that have a dried texture are on their way to becoming rancid, but you usually have about three years till that happens.
Liquid Eyeliner: Silicone-based liners are safe for two years, but water-based ones get on the dodgy side much faster. If in doubt, bin it.
Sponges: If yours are brittle, buy new ones. Old, porous ones will suck up your makeup and you'll lose way more money on lost foundation than you will by buying a fresh pack.
Brushes: If the bristles are fraying or falling out, dump it.
But what to replace the above with? I tracked down an extremely busy Amber D - Senior Artist with M.A.C - to get the lowdown on what to buy when you're in the market for a sparkling new kit. She says that we all want to start the New Year off fresh but in the Southern Hemisphere it's more likely to be sweaty and hot, “so people are really wanting to keep things minimal when it comes to what they are wearing a base”. The most obvious choice for a barely there base is a tinted moisturiser, and M.A.C do a fabulous version that has good longevity as well as feeling incredibly light on your face. The internationally loved brand has also just released a compact, creamy foundation in their Mineralize range, which they just can't keep on the shelves. If you like the super natural look, M.A.C Face & Body Foundation is another great option as it can be kept super sheer or gradually built up for absolutely flawless coverage. “It doesn't really look like you've got anything on,” Amber explains, “and it also doesn't sit on the skin but instead melts away into the skin, so is great for any skin type. It's also water resistant, so great for the heat.” She says that the best way to apply any foundation is by using a foundation brush, and to choose which one you want to invest in according to how you like your coverage. “If you're someone that really wants to build up your coverage I'd go for a traditional, painter's style foundation brush,” she says, “as they tend to pick up a little more product and also deposit more on.” Foundation-wise, she also thinks that no woman should be without the brand's aforementioned Studio Sculpt SPF15 formula (a personal favourite of mine), which can be worn relatively sheer or layered up using a traditional foundation brush. She also rates Studio Sculpt Concealer, but stresses that it's essential that you only use the tiniest amount, and blend well.

After a week in heaven, I'm back.

Yes, I've returned from Dreamtime i.e. a week spent in the pursuit of all things important in life and much time spent lying next to the pool above. Gwinganna the second time around was beyond incredible, and I really do think I've come back with a shinier outlook on life, a great deal of optimism across the board and the best skin I've had in years. Long may it last! I tried some super gorgeous new spa treatments when I was there as well, and will give you the low down over the next few weeks. It was a truly special time - I highly recommend it.