Saturday, July 31, 2010

Daily delight: Rosie Huntington-Whitely for LOVE

Embarking on a journey with... NIMUE


Last week I went along to see Amber at Magic Tan in Epsom’s Market Road, where I was to experience a Nimue Skin Analysis before deciding whether or not to try the South African skincare brand’s advanced Chemibrasion treatment. The treatment is quite intensive, and contains various colour pigment inhibiters, including Retinol and Idebonone, which slowly work their way down through the skin to influence the colour cells. Not everyone is a candidate, and even if you are, it’s a great idea to use Nimue’s take home products for a while in advance to really prep your skin.
Most skin analysis-type sessions I’ve experienced have involved a cursory glance at the skin under a light, followed by a little subtle pinching and pressing, and you’re on your way. This was really quite different, and I was pretty bloody impressed. First my make up was removed and my skin given a jolly good double clean using Nimue’s Cleansing Gel and a muslin cloth, then Amber hauled over a bright light and spent almost ten minutes examining the reaction my skin had to that followed by a swipe or two with their Conditioner. She applied their - truly amazing – Exfoliating Enzyme formula for an even better look, then diagnosed my slightly reddened skin as being in line with their “Environmentally Damaged” profile. This means my skin is quite reactive and sensitive to the likes of heat and cold, and needs to be “toughened up” before any kind of special treatments can be carried out. She then uses their facial massage oil to give me a gorgeous massage and mask at the same time, followed by an application of Day cream, and lastly, sunblock. My skin felt incredible afterwards, and a 45 minutes skin anlysis is definitely a rarity these days. Soon I’ll be starting a two to three week long trial of their products in line with my skin type, hopefully followed by a Chemibrasion treatment. The treatment is basically a chemical peel but not as harsh and aggressive as many, offering a safe and slow delivery of a unique and powerful blend of active ingredients.The active ingredients include Retinol (for rejuvenation), Mandelic acid (for exfoliation and rejuvenation), Emblica fruit extract (an antioxidant and skin lightening agent), Idebenone (for skin depigmentation), Salicylic acid (for exfoliation), and Kojic acid (a skin lightening agent). It reduces any patches of discoloration on your skin and prevents new pigment from forming, whilst aiding skin rejuvenation in the form of increased collagen production and moisture content in your skin, and the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
It sounds a great treatment to me, and one I’m hoping I’ll be up to trying. Only time will tell!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Learning a little more about Darphin...


I recently spent an afternoon in the Ponsonby branch of the WORLDbeauty stores, which is always a sensory overload of the most delicious kind. As well as being there to tuck into a few macaroons and swill some iced tea with their dashing PR man Matt, my visit was also timed to coincide with a very exciting beauty announcement. The occasion was to mark the expansion of the super luxurious Darphin range into all of the WORLDbeauty stores, which is a cause for a celebration if ever I heard one. The WORLDbeauty stores are Darphin’s only retail presence in New Zealand, which speaks wonders for the credibility the WORLD brand has in the sphere of beauty as well as fashion. The Darphin team are a very choosy lot, and their presence in WORLD is largely down to Francis Hooper’s persistence in proving their mettle.
If you haven’t heard about the brand before, here is a little potted history. In 1958 , French skincare authority Pierre Darphin launched an innovative, holistic skincare programme that relied on smell and feel as much as it did on high performance. He realized that the beauty of a woman was not only about how her skin or body looked, but also how she felt about herself. He dedicated his research to women's well being, offering them only the best of plant and aromatic technology to create a state of inner and outer beauty, harnessing the powers of essential oils well before it became de rigeur in the beauty industry. In addition to carefully selecting ingredients, he believed in treating each skin condition with a unique custom care approach. After a thorough analysis of a client, he would give her an individual tailor-made recommendation to match her particular needs at every stage. Today the Darphin approach to skincare continues to be centred around the use of carefully selected plant extracts and botanical aromas to provide an extraordinary feeling, and extraordinary results. Whilst at the Ponsonby store, resident Darphin expert and oracle when it comes to all things beauty, Mary Castles gives my skin the once over, before recommending some products that would work wonders on me. One is the dreadfully exotic and fabulously fragranced 8 Flower Nectar Aromatic Dry Oil (pictured), a delicious mix derived from eight exotic flowers around the world and enriched with essential vitamins and Omegas 3 and 6. Its goal in life is to rejuvenate, nourish and detoxify skin, as well as minimise the appearance of lines and wrinkles and restore the skin’s own natural radiance, suppleness and resilience. Suitable for all skin types as a serum, it is simply amazing on the nose as well, being as fragrant as they come. But enough words, get into a WORLDbeauty store near you and have a sniff – I guarantee that you’ll be charmed.

Daily delight: Abbey Lee for Vogue Germany


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Talking beauty with... blogstar Rumi Neely


Fashiontoast.com blogger and model Rumi Neely travelled to Auckland last year to attend New Zealand Fashion Week and became a big fan of some of my favourite local labels, like Stolen Girlfriends Club and Deadly Ponies. With a blog that sees around 50,000 people a day check in to see what she’s wearing, she changed up to three times a day at NZFW and really raised the bar when it came to working an outfit in the front row. She was also immaculately groomed throughout, and really didn’t look like someone that spends a lot of time in planes! I had a chat to her recently about her picks from the world of beauty, where she seems to move as effortlessly as she does when she’s working some serious fashion.

When it comes to beauty, would you say you're high or low maintenance?
I'm not obsessive about beauty the way I am about fashion… I have a few staple products that I stick to, but I still love to try out new ones. Mostly when the packaging wins me over! Sad.

Are you a lipstick or a gloss fan?
I can go for weeks without touching either if it's up to me… but I use Aquaphor healing ointment every day.

And I read you have a new love of lashes, yes?
Well like most other girls, mascara is the one thing I don't leave home without putting on. Maybelline's Volum' Express is my favourite.

Do you have a signature scent, or do you flirt with a few?
I'm not really too big on perfume… it's all about the pheromones. No, just kidding! Kind of. The only one I like right now is Stella by Stella McCartney, in the roll-on tube.

What is the one beauty item you can't live without, your Desert Island pick?
Sunscreen!

And finally, what makes you feel really beautiful?
The beach... salty hair, sticky skin, the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daily delight: finally landing on Cloud Nine


I recently popped into the Servilles Chancery salon for an induction session with senior stylist Ivan Lee into the latest and greatest innovation for hair in many years, the Cloud Nine iron. Hype has been massive for these little babies for some time now, mainly due to their pedigree as the next generation iron straight from the original creators of the ghd. Servilles have been the first and only salons in New Zealand to carry the irons thus far, and Paul Serville has told me that they really are revolutionary, which is no faint praise indeed!
Cloud Nine’s major point of difference from an end user’s point of view is that they style in a variety of ways without the need for searing heat – an absolute bonus for people with fine hair, or those that can’t live without a daily swipe of the iron. The give you total control and - from what I saw - amazing results, but also care for the health and condition of your hair due to the addition of an innovative temperature gauge. The six heat settings also offer unlimited styling options, including just smoothing a blow wave, adding volume, flicks and waves, enhancing shine and if you must, just playing it straight.
The second super exciting innovation from Cloud Nine is their black patented ceramic plates, which glide through the hair like you wouldn’t believe and contain a “secret ingredient” that enhances shine. And the third – an automatic hibernation mode that kicks in when the irons are left unused for 30 minutes – how amazing is that? If I had a dollar for every time I’d had to call home thinking I’d left my irons on I’d be living it up in the Bahamas right now, so this is a godsend for the super busy (or perhaps, absentminded?) like me. When in this mode they’ll cool down to what the creators call “box temperature”, and only reheat once they are switched off and then on again.
Add to this some handy extras like Universal Voltage and a swivel cord that prevents twists and tangles, and you have one very desirable beauty tool. Oh, and they also come in three sizes: standard, wide and micro, which is a perfect little instrument to throw in your bag for touch ups, or if you have shorter hair or an unruly fringe. As a frequent traveller, the micros would be a godsend for me, whilst at home I’d be all over the wider set like you wouldn’t believe. I want them all!
Ivan took to my thick, long hair with the wide irons, and with zero product employed created some seriously deadly waves, which lasted well into the night and most of the next day. I was beyond impressed, and now count myself among Cloud Nine’s most rabid, raving fans. Next step: to get my hands on a set of these babies!

Kerastase + Saben? Oh, happy day!


I’m a huge fan of Saben bags - even my son’s diaper bag was a black leather Saben number back in the day – so I was super impressed at their latest collaboration with Kerastase that will see some very lucky peeps take home a gorgeous piece of Saben for free. Across the month of August, Kérastase is running an in-store promotion with Saben, who have produced a stylish, studded and limited edition clutch as a gift with purchase. Worth $100, the Saben clutch comes complimentary with the purchase of any three Kérastase smooth, plumping or shine products as prescribed by your stylist. Great hair and a great treat? Love that! Get in there while stocks last – this promo is one of the best I’ve seen in a while…

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why you REALLY need to try: Pureology


I am a passionate advocate of beauty products that are as kind on the environment and my body as possible, but am definitely not of the seaweed sandal, “I make my own moisturiser in the tub” sector of the society, preferring to leave that side of thing to the truly conscious experts out there. One of these experts is Jim Markham, who created the Pureology haircare line in Irvine, California in 2001. The very clever chap revolutionized colour care and gave it a conscience, launching the first 100 per cent Vegan formulas and ZeroSulfate shampoos for colour-treated hair to an eager audience of consumers much like myself. Jim identified a need among professional colourists and their clients for gentle, naturally-based products that deliver superior performance and keep your colour looking great for longer, and today, Pureology is the number one colour care brand in the USA. And as an added bonus, the company are committed to delivering superior hair colour care through the most indulgent products and services, while preserving and promoting environmental sustainability. 
The core values of Jim and his team have led the company to become one of the first prestigious haircare brands that embraces and pioneers sustainability. “We continuously strive to achieve the most decadent experience while preserving our environment with sustainable practices,” they say, which is about as eco luxe as it gets!
They have several systems on offer depending on your hair type, and right now I’m using SuperSmooth, which is colour care for unmanageable, colour-treated hair in need of intense smoothing and discipline as a result of multiple chemical processes. This system includes their patented AntiFadeComplex, which is a blend of potent antioxidants and full spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens to maximise colour retention and protect from heat styling damage. It is also ZeroSulfate., meaning that it’s blissfully free of harsh colour-stripping sulfates and salts, making it the ideal partner for my regular Keratin Smoothing treatments. The shampoo and conditioner also both have yummy natural ingredients like Camellia Oil, Sesame Oil and Organic Shea butter for extra smoothing properties, as well as Geranium to intensify shine.
And last but by no means least, where can you get this magic stuff? Well I was put onto the brand by the gorgeous Louise Pilkington, owner of Servilles salon in Ponsonby Road. Drop by there if you’re in the neighbourhood, or got to the brand's website and check the salon locator to find a stockist near you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daily delight: NIMUE Exfoliating Enzyme


Anyone who knows me knows that I warn everyone I meet off facial scrubs, mainly because who wants to scour off a layer of skin when our skin naturally thins as we age? A friend of mine who is a cosmetic surgeon constantly reminds me of this fact, and says that he’s seen awful examples of women who have spent years scrubbing their skin and having microdermabrasion, only to end up with severely thinned, lined skin that is a mass of bluish veins. Not my idea of fifty and fabulous, let me tell you! I do love a non-abrasive method of removing dead skin cells however, and am always championing great products that do this with minimal aggravation to the skin. The latest I’ve found is by South African skincare brand Nimue, and it’s simply called Exfoliating Enzyme. It works by utilising a combination of Papaya and Pineapple enzymes suspended in a non abrasive gel base to detach dead skin cells gently and promote cell renewal. As well as refining skin texture and leaving you with smooth and radiant skin, regular use of this baby also optimises penetration of active ingredients, making your skincare work that much more efficiently. Used twice or three times a week, it’s great for environmentally damaged skin, hyperpigmented skin or problematic skin, and is incredibly gentle from what I can tell thus far. Start by applying a small amount to clean dry skin. Leave on the skin for two minutes then activate the product with heat and water by massaging it in with wet fingertips, for at least 3-5 minutes. Last up, leave on the skin for an additional two minutes then rinse well. Instantly radiant skin, just like that!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Talking with an expert: Dr. Teresa Cattin...


Recently I had the good fortune to sit down and have a coffee with Dr. Teresa Cattin, who I’d heard about for years - and always in rather glowing terms – as being New Zealand’s best cosmetic physician. A Medical Practitioner (MSc, MBBCh, FRNZCGP, FNZCAM) and a member of the Appearance Medicine Society of Australasia, she is also the owner of FaceWorks Clinic in Albany, Auckland. As well as being president of the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine, she is a national trainer in Botox Cosmetic and Juvéderm, training other doctors in New Zealand and Australia. Needless to say, she is a clearly a woman who knows who stuff when it comes to needles and ant-ageing, and I grilled her for the latest and greatest innovations in the industry, as well as the changing face of beauty.
When asked for the low down on the cutting edge happenings in the world of Botox and fillers now, Teresa doesn’t hesitate before waxing long and lyrically about how far the likes of Botox have come since the days of being just a product used to freeze the forehead. “The products we have on hand now are so superior to the ones we started with,” she says, “and anything with hylauronic acid is just a joy to work with: safer, longer lasting, softer and more importantly, can be used in a variety of ways.” She says that her work has gone so far beyond freezing and filling that it’s not funny, and she and her peers’ understanding of the ageing face has evolved to the point where the companies creating new products are struggling to keep up. When asked if consumers are demanding a more dynamic face, she says “absolutely, and then we’re demanding more from the pharmaceutical companies as a direct result”. She says that when the industry was in its infancy a lot of influence came down from the US, where the “wind tunnel” facelift had been big business, and beauty was equated with being line free. “Now we know that being completely without wrinkles doesn’t make you look any better,” she says with a smile, “and in most cases, can make you look really peculiar. A lot of the focus now is going in under the skin rather than on the surface, and the main trend is creating volume in the face.” Now experts are looking at the likes of shadows and where light reflects on the face, as well as shape in general. “IF you look at an older woman’s face the shape is often more like an inverted triangle,” she explains, “whereas a young woman’s will have a beautiful soft oval shape. One of the most rejuvenating things you can do is smooth out the jawline and try and recreate that oval for a client, which can achieve an incredible result without even touching a wrinkle”. Her favourite filler for this sort of work is Juvéderm, which she says is the “next generation filler as well as much longer lasting. She says that as we get older and the fat disappears from our face the light reflection gets lower and lower, making the face look dull and drawn. Shadowing in the tear trough in particular makes a face look incredibly tired, and filling in that can make a much bigger impact than getting rid of the surrounding wrinkles ever could. It must be asked: is addressing a loss of volume in the face a massive investment? “It doesn’t have to be, and if a client has looked after their skin well it makes things that much simpler again,” says the doctor. She says that a lot can be done for around $800-$1200, and the results can last up to twelve months.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hallelujah, Eve Lom lands at last!


News of the availability of Eve Lom’s range of killer, high performance skincare products Down Under is definitely a cause for celebration. The newest brand to land at Mecca Cosmetica, the collection is the creation of one of the most respected and sought-after beauty professionals alive today, Eve Lom. Born in Czechoslovakia, Eve met the renowned skin specialist Georgette Klinger in Hollywood in the early 1980s and began her career as a facialist. She subsequently relocated to London where she studied anatomy, nutrition and massage techniques, expanding her repertoire to also include acupuncture after time training with the masters in China. In 1984, the first Eve Lom salon opened in London, and not longer after her range began to evolve following the media frenzy that surrounded the release of her cult Cleanser, which Vogue called "probably the best cleanser in the world". Fast forward to 2010 and the products that make up the pared-down regime Eve recommends are available here, which is dreadfully exciting for beauty fans the length and breadth of New Zealand and Australia.
My first foray into the world of Eve Lom is via a pot of her Kiss Mix, which I’m ploughing my way through in a rather speedy fashion. I haven't yet had the pleasure of using that very special cleanser, but if this puppy is anything to go on, it will live up to the hype and more. Kiss Mix is a richly moisturising pot of goodness that tends to chapped and dry lips, and also includes the natural sunscreen Zinc Oxide to protect lips from UV rays, and tingling menthol for an added pick-me-up. With its moisturising and healing ingredients, Kiss Mix is an absolute must for everybody, including the blokes. It is also a year-round product as it keeps lips moisturised and protected from UV rays in summer and biting winds in winter. It’s is great to use with lipstick to add shine to your lips or on its own as a moisturising base, and is a brand new handbag essential in my universe. Get thee a pot ASAP.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Daily delight: maybe it's Maybelline


I’m a sucker for a good mascara, and because I don’t wear make up often, I like one that performs and makes my lashes look super sized when I do. I’m usually a slave to the likes of M.A.C’s Pro Lash and Smashbox’s Lash DNA, but just recently I’ve been wooed by a much less expensive beast... That’ll be some of the key players in Maybelline New York’s revamped XXL Pro line, which is inspired by makeup artists’ routines and tricks. These are a bunch of easy two step mascaras that deliver some truly serious lashes, the results of which you get to choose depending on formulation: volume, curl, intensity or length. The XXL Pro range is also available in a variety of shades and in waterproof versions. The first, XXL Pro Volume, intensifies lashes for up to six times the volume and 40 per cent longer lashes, which is no mean feat. XXL Pro 24Hr Bold delivers extreme volume – up to eleven times the normal volume of your lashes, while XXL Pro Curl curves lashes for 12 hours while delivering a 45° curl. My favourite so far though must be the super glam XXL Pro Extensions, which makes your lashes look up to 85 per cent longer while still feeling very touchable and not at all stiff or sticky. This stuff has totally won me over, and at less than 25 bucks will possibly win me over time and time again. Nice work, Maybelline!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Daily delight: La Prairie Cellular Lip Renewal Concentrate


A skincare brand known for its groundbreaking – and often pricey – products, La Prairie is often at the forefront of research into new scientific innovations for those that worship at its sleek silver altar. It also prides itself on highly active products targeting very specific concerns, and carries the mantle of “the Rolls Royce of skincare brands” very well. One of their many skincare subsets is the Swiss Specialists range, which functions much as a hospital’s Intensive Care department would for your skin. These are La Prairie’s “care givers”, treatments aimed at relieving dryness and dullness caused by stress, fatigue, exposure to sun and environmental pollutants – and yep, age. They moisturize and nourish, producing what they say are immediate results in the form of firmer, smoother, younger-looking skin. A product from the range that I’m trialling right now is the Cellular Lip Renewal Concentrate, a total retexturising treatment that helps re-plump and rejuvenate your lips. It gently exfoliates, moisturises and conditions the delicate skin, while providing protection. It includes an advanced Triple Restore Complex, which helps to reduce oxidation damage, rebuilds the lips’ moisture barrier and stimulatea the production of collagen and elastin. All sounds pretty good to me! The multi-faceted concentrate not only restores cumulative damage but also revives the lips’ natural colour (which I’ve found fades with age), plumpness and vitality. Apply a small amount to your lips morning and evening and watch it do its magic. Oh, and if you’re getting ready to apply a face full of slap, allow it to dry before applying your lip colour or things can get a little messy... in the most fabulous way, of course!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In love with Oribe’s old school Hollywood glamour for Armani Privé




Backstage at the Armani Privé Fall 2010 couture show in Paris, iconic hairstylist Oribe channeled old Hollywood glamour, smoothing and curling each model’s hair into thick, luxurious manes with lots of body and sophisticated shine.
“The hair at Armani Privé was super‐soft and glamorous…it’s rich‐looking with a bit of texture,” he said after the show. “It’s a very blown‐out look that almost sweeps into the models’ faces. We kept a little curl at the front, with everything mostly straight at the back. We adapted the looks to let each girl’s personality show through.”
I personally think the look was totally perfect for Armani Privé as well as easily achievable for most of us long haired ladies, golden-hued or not. When asked how to recreate this soft and sexy little number at home, he told me, “start with a really soft blowout, making sure to keep quality texture”. His own brand Royal Blowout can create that soft effect. “You should be able to move the hair…there should be nothing stiff about it whatsoever,” he added. Next up, simply spray his Imperméable Anti‐Humidity Spray - or similar - all over to finish the look. “The key,” Oribe adds, “is to keep the hair really soft with beautiful movement.”
* All images come courtesy of Style.com

Monday, July 12, 2010

Daily delight: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate


I’ve just come back from a whirlwind less-than-48 hour trip to the glorious Australian city of Melbourne, and I’ll just say that it was one of those ones where a good night’s sleep just wasn’t on the agenda! And sleep was most definitely on my mind after attending a yoga workshop last week lead by local fitness name Mande White, which was in aid of the release of Kiehl’s brand new Midnight Recovery Concentrate.
Already a runaway hit in the US – where it is outselling their legendary Ultra Facial Moisturiser by a ratio of 3-1 – this lavender scented little baby was specifically formulated to biologically replicate skin’s natural lipids for optimal skin repair during the night. During the day skin’s function is to protect itself against internal and external aggressors. At night it needs to regenerate, repair and replenish what is has lost as a result of daily stresses. Kiehl’s chemists developed a powerhouse blend of active botanical and essential oils that work all night to replenish lipids for a fresher and more radiant appearance by morning. After two years of research on the repair activity of essential and botanical oils, Kiehl’s developed this anhydrous (“water-free”) concentration of Squalane, night-blooming Evening Primrose and essential oils including therapeutic Lavender. The formulation also contains Coriander and Rose Hip Seed Oils, which when combined, provides a complete blend of Omegas (Omega 3, 6 and 9). The clever little wonder boosts the repair and regeneration of skin when it is naturally programmed to best absorb active ingredients, typically between midnight to 4 a.m. As an added bonus, the potent elixir is 99 per cent naturally derived and paraben-free, and the recyclable dropper bottle has a beautiful old school feel that looks a treat in the bathroom. Love that!
To apply dispense two-three drops of Midnight Recovery Concentrate onto the top of a clean hand.
Tap fingertips into the oil lightly and then pat - not rub - gently on to the cheeks, forehead and chin. Lastly, lay your weary head on a pillow and get to it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crushing on a Crush, Stila's Raspberry stain


The newest member of Stila's Crush family of gorgeous lip and cheek stains is the delicious Raspberry Crush, which is a great buy for those of us that love products that do double duty. This little baby delivers a perfect pop of vibrant pink to your lips and cheeks, and doesn’t dry out your lips like a lot of similar products. Packed with good for you ingredients and a touch of subtle shimmer, the sheer raspberry-rich formula gives a healthy, glowing flush as per this pic, and reacts to your personal pH levels to create an individual pink shade that is particular to you every time. It can be applied straight from the tube (it has a pen-like brush) or using fingers, although I recommend the former lest you stain your fingertips a little pink, too!
Available right now from Mecca Cosmetica – get in there!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Loving: Butter LONDON at East Day Spa


It was with great delight that I greeted the news that I’d be popping into the Sky City Grand Hotel branch of East Day Spa to try a pedicure using products by UK nail sensation butter LONDON. The only spa in the country to be stocking the boutique brand, East have always done a fabulous pedi so I was interested to see how it could get any better.
I must admit that I knew little of the brand bar the odd mention in UK Vogue before I hit the spa, so I did a little delving. Butter LONDON was founded in 2005, when Londoner Sasha Muir found herself frustrated by the limited choices she was finding in nail care. She worked with butter LONDON Creative Director, product creator and celebrity manicurist Nonie Creme, to fill a gap in the market for quality nail products. Together, they have brought us a nail company that they charmingly say, “Believes in Rock and Roll, Great Britain and Fashion”. It’s also one that doesn’t use harmful chemicals, and creates beautiful on trend nail lacquers with a seasonal, cutting edge colour palette. The product collection features lacquers as well as treatments, including butter LONDON best seller Horse Power Nail Fertilizer; a nail strengthener that uses a herbal extract of Horsetail to nourish and repair the most damaged nails; and Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, which breaks down and softens dead skins cells from the nail plate without damage to the delicate skin around the nail.
Now part of East Day Spa’s luxury manicure and pedicure menu, Butter LONDON is available as part of East Day Spa’s Express, East and Warm Milk & Sandalwood Oil manicures and pedicures. They also stock a range of the seasonally refreshed, London-inspired nail lacquers with such fabulous names as Branwen’s Feather (pictured), Chimney Sweep, Diamond Geezer and MacBeth, as well as my pick for the day, Royal Navy. My therapist Janine was an absolute marvel – which is a given at East Day Spa, really – and said that she is loving working with the new product. As well as having a super duper high shine even before the top coat goes on, she says that the team have been amazed by the quick drying properties of the polish as well as the longevity. I for one am a convert, my tootsies look absolutely killer, and despite the arctic temperature of my office, I’m loath to don even an UGG. I’m also now the proud owner of a bottle of their Handbag Holiday Cuticle Oil – and what a gorgeous little bottle it is – so will report back on that, too.

Let's hear a round of applause for Sebastian Professional


One of my favourite haircare names right now, Sebastian Professional proved the power of its product this week, winning five categories in the 2010 Australian Beauty Awards. Sebastian was also runner up in another two categories, taking out more awards than any other and making it the clear judges’ favourite of the 24 competing hair care brands. The annual awards are judged by a panel of magazine beauty editors and industry experts, testing products released in the past 12 months for ease of use, value and performance.
Sebastian Professional was awarded winner of:
- Best Shampoo & Conditioner (Dry hair) – Hydre Shampoo and Conditioner
- Best Volumiser – Thickefy Foam
- Best Styling Cream – Whipped Crème
- Best Gel / Wax / Pomade – Craft Clay
- Best Hairspray – Re-Shaper
And runner up for:
- Best Shampoo & Conditioner (Normal Hair) – Hydre Shampoo and Conditioner
- Best Curl Enhancer – Whipped Crème
The brand underwent something of a makeover in the last twelve months, and has become a real force to be reckoned with in terms of performance, creative collaborations and credibility with the cool kids (a la Charlotte Ronson, right). Clearly it worked! Congratulations!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

And if you're in Auckland... head to The Department Store sale for some beauty cheapies and awesome treats!

Sitting down with an expert: Smashbox NZ’s Neisha Henry


One of my favourite local stores is the Smashbox concept store at the end of Ponsonby Road, near Servilles. As well as some rather talented staff they have some great products to play with, and new ones being launched all the time. I was lucky enough to sit down for a coffee with the very busy Neisha Henry (pictured), Educator and Brand Manager for Smashbox in New Zealand. She also works internationally with the LA-based make up giant, often travelling to brand launches and events in the Asia-Pacific region as a Smashbox International Pro-Artist. On a local level, Neisha has provided creative direction for some of the looks seen on the runways at New Zealand Fashion Week, and last year her team worked on the Nom*D and Federation shows (amongst others), which were two of my absolute favourites.
Neisha travels for work to Asia and Los Angeles four times a year, usually in the company of Davis Factor, co-founder of Smashbox and the great-grandson of make up legend Max Factor. As the company's HQ - Smashbox Studios - is also the venue for LA Fashion Week and hundreds of shoots a year, the petite brunette gets to see trends as they happen.
When asked what make up look she sees emerging for Winter 2010, it seems that our old friend the Smokey Eye is still an absolute favourite due to its ability to make pretty much any woman look downright gorgeous, “but it’s no longer about greys and blacks”. She says that “wines like warm, rich cabernets are coming through, and these are surprisingly easy to wear if you get the application right, as well as the right shade for you”. Those blessed with blue eyes can rock this trend with ease, “but if you have brown eyes you can look a little bruised, which isn’t ideal!” She says for the former, a purple or wine tone can come through as a liner, lip or a cheek colour, “but I really recommend you come into the store and get a professional to steer you in the right direction”. A 45-minute makeover at Smashbox will cost you around seventy dollars, redeemable on any product purchased on the day. They are experts at looks for both night and day, and the fact that parking is easy and free in the large car park behind the store is an added bonus. They also offer the option of a 90 minute make up master class so that you can find out a few tricks of the trade and recreate the look yourself at home. “You can dabble in a trend without being to literal about it,” she explains, “as usually they’re photographed on very young girls with totally symmetrical faces. You can use elements from that, but tailor it to suit your style and face shape.” She says that despite the fact that the brand product tests on the runway, they always keep the end user in mind. “We just love making women look beautiful,” she explains, “nothing gets too crazy, we like to keep things pretty and wearable.”
The Smashbox make up artists are also on call for corporate groups looking to spend their lunch hour getting gorgeous, and will soon be launching a frequent flyer-type programme for those who just want to whip in for a 20 minute eye application before a big night out. This is a godsend for women who may be a little nervous about getting this right, and I for one am all ready to sign up. Watch this space!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Daily delight: Environ's C-Quence Eye Gel


The South African sun is almost as unkind to skin as our own Down Under, so it is not surprising that out of Cape Town has come a line of skincare products that not only help prevent photo aging, but assist in healing its effects. It’s South African skincare brand Environ’s new C-Quence line, which promises to rejuvenate the skin and effectively reduce the visible signs of photo aging. No small feat! I recently picked up the range’s
C-Quence Eye Gel at the Department Store’s Lucy & The Powder Room, and am already in love with it. It has been specifically designed for use on the sensitive, delicate eye area where deep lines and crow's feet are visible, and is an incredibly light and easy to use formulation. It contains three peptides, Argireline, Matrixyl and Dermaxyl, which have been scientifically proven to combat the appearance of wrinkles. The mix of these three powerful peptides has been hailed as a breakthrough in stimulating cell communication and repair, and this little baby one of the most potent anti-aging products available today. Working together with vitamins A, C, and E, the C-Quence Eye Gel aims to give you firmer, healthier and more radiant skin, which is definitely part of my master plan. It also includes Soybean and Rosemary extracts to complete the full arsenal of powerful antioxidants. Said to give similar results to those from retinol but without the irritation, it is definitely found a raving fan in me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Daily delight: why not eat yourself beautiful


Bear with me here, I’m about to have one of my legendary raves. The subject matter may be foodie, but it has a more than tenuous link to beauty and should be yelled from the rooftops for it! That subject is avocado (one of my all time favourite foods) and in particular, avocado oil.
According to a recent media release espousing the wonders of all-Kiwi Grove Avocado Oil on to the wider market, avo oil is the “emerald nectar that will give you an enviable effervescent glow – from the inside out”, and that ain’t far from the truth. The most nutritionally complete fruit in the world, avocados have long been recognised as an important food source. Ranked by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most nutritious fruit, avocados offer a wealth of health and beauty benefits a well as tasting bloody marvellous. Beloved around the world for their buttery richness and subtle nutty flavour, they do wonders on the beauty front, too. For optimal health and beauty, include avocados and avocado oil in your skin, hair, and body care products as well as your diet. It is a natural source of Vitamin E and Omega 3 and 6, making it a staple ingredient that leaves you looking and feeling great. The healthy fats in avocados and their oil are ideal skin and hair moisturisers and are excellent for dry skin, including stubborn skin problems such as eczema. Researchers have found that avocado oil is more penetrating than commonly used oils such as almond, olive, safflower, and soy. And because of its excellent absorption, avocado oil is an ideal medium for transporting active ingredients beneath the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) into the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin where cellular renewal takes place. Avocado oil has also been found to have natural sunscreen properties, and can enhance the ability of products to protect the skin and hair from UVA and UVB rays. In tests, avocado oil proved to be a more effective sunscreen than jojoba, coconut, olive, sesame, and almond oils, so it may not be long before we’re all lathered in the stuff.
Full of the micronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants of fresh avocados, the rather tasty Grove version of this delicious oil is 100 per cent natural, with no cholesterol or trans fats and only low levels of saturated fats. Avocados contain the plant sterol, beta sitosterol, which is proven to lower cholesterol absorption. As a result of the cooler climate and slower growing rate, New Zealand avocados have higher levels of beta-sitosterol than those grown in warmer countries. So Grove is extremely good for you, locally grown and tastes bloody marvellous. Welcome to a brand new favourite in my pantry that is here to stay.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Daily delight: great dryer, great hair days


I always have to remind myself when it’s time to shell out for the likes of a new hair dryer or irons, as it’s often too easy to just keep on using the tired, old, worn out versions until they go to the great salon in the sky. I recently got my hands on a new Remington dryer however, and can’t rave about it enough. It goes by the name of the Remington Salon Pro 5000, and as well as being a top notch tool, is rather a sexy beast to look upon, too. With a long-life AC motor, it is what is known as a “salon quality” dryer, and contains ceramic, tourmaline ionic and active ionic hydrating technology, for the ultimate in static and frizz reduction.
Ions – either positive or negative charged particles – are hot in the world of hair dryers. Positive charges (from the common blow dryer) cause the hair’s cuticle to open, meaning hair is more prone to frizz and a dull appearance. However ionic hair dryers produce negatively charged ions, which don’t disrupt the cuticle. This allows it to remain flat, "trapping" moisture and eliminating frizz and static while giving hair more body. Who am I to argue with that? It also comes with a five-year warranty, should it all go pear-shaped, which I doubt.Next on my wish list? A set of Cloud 9 irons... better get saving!
Some tips from the experts for the perfect blow dry:
* Keep the dryer at least six inches away from your head to avoid burning your scalp or overheating your hair, neither of which are a pleasant experience.
* Dry down the hair shaft to smooth the cuticle and create a silky shiny style – use a brush or wide toothed comb to control hair.
* To help prevent heat damage and add shine, use a heat protection spray before blow drying. And I mean EVERY time.
* To create a style with lots of body or to set curls, apply volumising mousse or spray (I’m loving Sebastian’s new Volupt Spray) to towel dried hair. Distribute it evenly from roots to ends, then blow dry using a diffuser. Hair will be soft, shiny, and full of volume.
* For a super smooth, salon-like blow dry, choose an AC dryer and finish by running a straightening iron over your hair once dry.
For quick touch-ups between shampoos, mist hair with water to dampen it, then style with your dryer on a medium heat.