Love at first scent.

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When I was little, I spent most of my summers at my grandparents’ place, moseying around their backyard. I was six, whiling away the afternoon collecting a bounty of grapes, tiptoeing to smell my grandmother’s blooming rose garden, and climbing their apple trees until the sun went down. There was a decrepit wooden swing that would sway precariously from one of the branches and I remember often climbing into it, and staying there for the rest of the day collecting all of my six year old thoughts.

That was 25 years ago, and while the trees are gone and my grandparents now both rest in peace, the nostalgic scent of green apples and memory of that afternoon still lingers to tell a thousand stories.

My recent work for Miu Miu’s new fragrance takes me back to my childhood in all of its rebellion, mischievousness and insouciance.

The weather was absolutely terrible for half of this shoot so much of the photos are of me standing in the rain (while much of my time post-shoot was photoshopping raindrops off the perfume bottle). It was a few days after my grandfather passed away and it all hit home a little too much because I ended up having a hormonal meltdown and an ugly cry in the middle of the most amazing tulip field. It goes without saying though, that my best work always comes out of adversity.

See the story on Vogue here.

Styling by me | photography by Jamie Lau.

A Light Bulb Moment.

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In between tying the waist of my jeans together with elastic bands and trying to stop myself from throwing up (or falling asleep) behind the camera for all of July/August, I was lucky enough to be commissioned by Clinique and Vogue to style and photograph a set of images for the launch of their new Smart Custom Repair Eye Treatment and Clinique Smart Custom-Repair skincare range.

Having the amazing opportunity to work with some of the most game-changing products aside, it was a small relief to be behind the camera rather than in front of it (if you didn’t already know, I am almost 14 weeks pregnant – and going through that awkward ‘just fat’ stage…) creating content for a brand I’ve long respected and personally used for so many years now (I still wear my faithful Chubby Sticks daily!).

To see the rest of the images and to read more about Clinique’s new range, follow the links below.

If you don’t use a daily eye treatment, here’s why you should

How to tell when it’s time to start using an eye cream

Cut your morning routine in half: meet beauty’s multi-taskers

Styling and photography by me.

My Best Japanese Beauty Buys.

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A new month means a new adventure.

In case you missed it, I took some of you to Japan last week by way of this carefully curated guide to the best Japanese budget beauty buys (at least in my humble opinion) for Vogue Australia. The post has actually been nine months in the making – but it means every single product in my guide has been tried and tested for almost a year by me. And I have to say, I had much difficulty narrowing down my favourite products!

I’m heading back to Japan later this month (look out for my packing list shortly) so I hope my list of beauty recommendations helps those of you also visiting this breathtaking and hypnotic country!

Read the full post on how to shop for Japanese cosmetics over at Vogue.com.au.

Vogue Spy Style: The New Wave

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ICYMI, my latest SpyStyle post for Vogue Australia gives you the how-to on my hair with some secret tips from my hair stylist Marie Cain from Head Studio.

If there’s only one make or break tip I can impart, it’s ensuring you use the appropriate-sized curling iron for your hair length. I tried to replicate these waves with my 32mm Babyliss Pro the other day (it was the only curler I had on hand) and it was. utter. disaster. I’m off to find that 19mm curler this week in an effort to avoid that dreaded aunty look, but in the meantime let me know if you have any tips you’d like to share on hair!

See the full blog post on Vogue.com.au.

The lightness of being.

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The moon hasn’t hung quite as high as it used to for me over the past few months, but there’s a certain lightness of being that comes after a new haircut.

So in the spirit of fresh starts and beginnings, I visited my hairdresser this morning where we decided to take scissors to my hair and lopped it off to a summer-friendly Kiko Mizuhara-length. I guess, in a way, it’s getting rid of old hair, old ends, old me… a haircut can be the best kind of therapy.

If you’re thinking of doing the same, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post on Vogue, where I plan to share a few tips from my hairstylist, Marie on how she created this look for me.

As for now, I’m off to undo Marie’s magic and rush to my first boxing class in a month! It’s gonna hurt…

Photographs by me.

Vogue Spy Style: La Mer.

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Don’t get me wrong: I’m into technologically-advanced Japanese mascara and anti-blemish masks as much as the next Glossier-obsessed girl; but I suppose I’ve always shied away from beauty-oriented posts simply because 1. Having the camera so close to my face makes me break out in a rash, and 2. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing or talking about, anyway.

With warm weather around the corner though, I’m hoping to go make-up free over summer (ok, maybe I’ll start with just foundation-free) – which has been almost impossible after suffering from unsightly eczema all my life. But, after being lucky enough to be given the collaborative opportunity recently by Vogue Australia and La Mer to road test their legendary essentials skincare range, I jumped at the chance to improve my morning and evening skincare regime in the lead-up to summer.

I’ve documented my La Mer experience on Vogue.com.au which went live today – read the post here.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, it is a little on the expensive side (I only have my husband – a qualified chemist  who mixes his own potions and lotions for his patients – to remind me). So far though, I have had such a positive experience with the range. And by that, I mean, today I went foundation-free for the first time in a long time!

I hope to follow up this Spy Style post with one on this blog in three months’ time to give you a more comprehensive overview of what it has (or hasn’t) done for my skin. In the meantime, check out my latest Spy Style post and let me know what you think, particularly those of you already using La Mer or are thinking about upping your skincare regime.

Beauty Spot.

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Days like these are so rare.

The first thing I do on Sunday morning after waking up is open the blinds in my bedroom to reveal a  brand new day. These days, a grey cast of light greets me which means there’ll be no photography by the window sill that morning. But on days when the sky is clear and the sun is out, and the dappled light filters through the trees outside and into my expansive window, I quickly grab my camera (and Olympus OM-D E-M5 if anyone’s wondering) and make ordinary things like these – lipsticks, blushers, eyelash curlers – come to life through my looking glass.

On this particularly beautiful day, I gathered some of my current beauty favourites I use for special occasions.

A fancy foundation, a finishing powder, the perfect go-anywhere blush, a highlighting pen (to lift my base that little bit extra), an eyelash curler (because I’ve always believed a curler is so much more important than a mascara – if it had to come down to one) and, of course, the Red Lipstick.

It seems like a rite of passage – if we were speaking in beauty terms – to ‘invest’ in a Tom Ford lipstick. Once you get past the $65 accompanying price tag (I think I audibly gasped in the middle of the DJs cosmetics floor) you’ll realise that this wondrous, brilliantly encased thing of a lipstick is worth every single glowing review. I decided on ‘Wild Ginger’ – it’s the perfect cross between MAC Morange & Lady Danger (which happen to be two of the hardest-working lipsticks in my make-up repertoire). I also won’t lie – the elegant, sophisticated and sleek art-deco inspired case tipped me right over the edge and reminds me that on some days you just have to create your own sunshine.

Photographs by me.

Pursuit of emptiness.

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It’s embarrassing how much I am drunkenly, achingly, in love with Hannah’s blog.

It’s always the words.

And hers are so effortless, but so heavyweight; never purposely written for pomp, and always so congruously devoid of superflous details. Hannah’s is appropriately pared-back, refreshingly grounded, and gives me hope that something so simple can, in fact, be just as ridiculously beautiful.

Which is kind of how I felt when I bought my first Muji product precisely three years ago from a forgotten corner of a Stockholm department store. That day – with the gentle whisper of encouragement from my husband (who already was a Muji connoisseur from all his previous trips to Japan) – I purchased an in-flight cotton travel set. It was striped pale blue, and contained an inflatable air pillow and sleeping mask fashioned from the softest brushed cotton and housed in a matching cotton bag with a simple rope drawstring. Three years of flying from one corner of the world to the other, and I still never get on a plane without it.

Since then, my husband and I have filled every nook and cranny of our little home with things from Muji on our overseas travels. Chopsticks, bobby pins, pens (oh, the pens!), hair elastics, plush toy tool set (um, yes, you read right), striped shirts, affordable acrylic storage (that has such a cult following that it deserves its own Instagram account), tatami home slippers, and mittens we purchased out of slight desperation at the Broadway store because it was bitterly cold in New York that day. Heck, we’ve even got a palm-sized hairdryer, in typical Japanese fashion.

Trips to Muji (which, by the way, translates to “no-label quality goods”) are always on my travel itinerary. There’s something so therapeutic, so calming, so clean and pure about embracing the essence of this lifestyle brand, worlds away from any other place and every other brand.

When Muji headquarters in Melbourne emailed me last month, I was – rather aptly – in Japan. It was the day after we had visited the flagship store in Tokyo, fawning over porcelain rice bowls, delightfully minimalist pyjamas, the softest jersey bed linen, and those striped shirts (I can never get enough).

Fast forward two weeks when I was in Melbourne for all but 18 hours. I managed to squeeze in a quick afternoon coffee just before the H&M launch with the ever-lovely and effervescent Muji PR & Marketing team (hi, Kat!) who were, at the time, knee deep in preparations for their second store opening this side of the equator.

I smuggled a few products from Muji’s skincare range (something I haven’t tried on my face before) in my tiny carry-on back to Perth, and am ridiculously excited to embark on what I anticipate will be a new, all-consuming, obsession.

Muji’s pursuit of emptiness speaks to me in ways very few lifestyle brands have. Its train of thought is unnervingly reminiscent of mine: my uncluttered desk, the list-making, my penchant for crisp, clean bed sheets, the way I line up my shoes, colour-code my closet, work with no less than six different coloured highlighters, and wrap my presents in brown paper then tie them all up with string.

Who knew this deliberate pursuit of emptiness would leave me feeling so full, so content, and never, ever, really wanting what is more than necessary.

Beauty Essentials.

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A new season and a brand new month means getting my beauty essentials in order to see me through the next few months. Some are old favourites, some new, and some I’ve rediscovered and unearthed from the back of my beauty cupboard.

1. Babyliss Curling Iron 32mm: It’s crazy that I own three of these – all different barrel sizes to cater for my different hair lengths. As my hair’s currently past the collarbone, I’ve moved from using the 25mm to the 32mm to achieve more round, bouncy waves.

2. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector: this is always high on rotation no matter what season. On days when my skin feels settled, I apply a pea-sized amount to my face, and then finish with concealer. Nothing more, nothing less. My shade of choice is Moonstone.

3. Shu Uemura eyeshadow duo: I picked this up a while ago whilst duty-free shopping in Shanghai. Bronze/copper/gold shadows suit my complexion the best. I save this one for evenings as it’s very shimmery and pigmented. I usually apply the darker bronze across the lids and then dab the gold in my inner corners (and blending it with the bronze).

4. Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising Masque: At the moment, I’m using this masque in place of my conditioner. I ran out of conditioner one day and haven’t been bothered to replenish it. This masque leaves my hair feeling soft (I have to leave it in for at least a minute though) and gives it a silky finish the next day.

3. Almay Make-Up Eraser Sticks: You can buy these from Priceline – they’ve honestly been SUCH an essential part of my cat-eye routine. They’re basically cotton buds with make-up remover contained within the stick. Just snap one end off and the remover simply moistens the other end for you to use.

4. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner Pencil: my go-to when I can’t be bothered using a brush to apply liner. They don’t have as much staying power as, say, MAC Blacktrack or my Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Liner, but as far as pencils go, this reigns supreme by far. I use Mahogany for day and Jet for night.

5. Philosophy Cinnamon Buns lipgloss: I’ve lost count of how many years I’ve been using this – possibly since my early 20s! I was introduced to this by an SA at Mecca Cosmetica when they were first released for Christmas. Since then, I’ve been hooked. I love the gold flecks in an otherwise clear gloss – it suits my warm-toned skin and looks lovely (and subtle) over any lippie.

6. Lulu Organics Hair Powder: A dry shampoo in (talc-free) powder form. It’s made from organic corn starch, white clay, horsetail powder and fine essential oils. I was introduced to this by my hairdresser and have all but forgotten it until now. There’s more information on it here.

7. Make Up For Ever HD Powder: I will use no other powder forever and forever. I love the new/improved packaging – it used to be a tiny tub which was so hard to swirl my powder brush in.

Surviving Summer.

With the mercury predicted to hit 41C in Perth today, I haven’t mustered the courage to step outside the house just yet. Summer’s officially here, so what could be more timely than my new post for Vogue Australia – my guide to surviving summer with my favourite hair & beauty products.

Read the full post here.

Here comes the sun, alright.

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Hair Topshelf.

Inspired by my new haircut, I thought I’d pull together a hair topshelf of all the products I’ve been reaching for lately.

My skin and hair took a battering whilst I was on holiday, presumably from moving from city to city every few days and acclimatising to different apartments and climates more often than usual.

I came home to find my hair perpetually straw-like, ends frazzled and in dire need of a few inches lopped off. With the latter ceremoniously and therapeutically carried out yesterday, I’ll be relying on the following products to whip my hair back into shiny shape:

1. Aesop Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising Masque. I apply this deep-conditioning treatment once or twice a week to supplement the Classic Conditioner which I also use during the week. I’ve been using this for only 2-3 weeks so no significant improvement in the texture of my hair just yet but, admittedly, I love this masque more for its soothing rose petal and lavender scent!

2. Moroccan Oil. I run a couple of drops through the lengths and ends of my hair as soon as I get out of the shower. It leaves my hair (which I leave to naturally dry almost always) feeling really hydrated.

3. Klorane Dry Shampoo. The one hair essential I really can’t live without! I don’t have time to wash my hair every day so this comes in handy after the gym or on those in-between days. I buy a full-sized can for the bathroom shelf and a travel-sized one to take on the plane.

4. Bumble & Bumble Spray de Mode. To be honest, I rarely use hairspray as I don’t have the patience or the time to be your typical not-a-hair-out-of-place girl, but when I do need one for whatever reason, I reach for this one by B&B which I picked up at Sephora in the States.

5. Bumble & Bumble Brilliantine. For special occasions, usually. I love using it to add texture and shine to S-waves and large, barrel curls.

6. Schwarzkopf Osis+ Dust it mattifying powder. My favourite product in my hair kit! I use this during the day to add volume to my crown as well as texturise the front of my hair. It’s a tiny bottle with a large price tag but I’m still on my first bottle and I’ve been using it for roughly a year now.

Opera Ballerina.

I can’t remember the last time I painted my nails fire-engine red or black satin.

I’ve been obsessed with nude, albicant nail polishes since the start of autumn and it seems as though there’ll be no letting up through spring and the upcoming summer.

This weekend has been the first time in about two or three weeks that I’ve had an opportunity to catch my breath and finally devote some time to painting a new colour on my nails. What girl doesn’t love a fresh, glossy manicure?

For those who are wondering, I’m wearing L’Oreal ‘Opera Ballerina’, above.

And to those of you on Facebook, join in the conversation with me here! You’ll be the first in the know as I bring you exclusive and exciting updates on this blog.

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Ode to the Classics #5.

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It’s the last post in my series of Classics so I thought I’d move away from fashion for a moment and talk about my favourite, timeless beauty products.

As an aside, I must admit my beauty posts are a rarity in itself, as I prefer to leave it up to bonafide babes like Eleanor and Carmen and admire from afar.

Nevertheless, I thought some of you might be interested in uncovering another side to this blog that you don’t see all too often. So, it took me a long time to embrace red lipstick. Admittedly, I’m still coming to terms with wearing it without feeling (or looking) like a clown. Most days (ok, every day) a little slick of tinted lip balm suffices. Or sometimes, nothing at all.

But I’m sure most of you would agree that there’s something inexplicably chic and enduring in a very foxy kind of way, about a red lip. Like a beauty cure-all, if you will. It wasn’t until I finally pinpointed the right products, the right formula and the right shade of red (for me) that I became more comfortable with wearing a lipstick that was almost bright and bold enough to stop traffic.

Here are my top picks and mainstays in my beauty cabinet:

Lipstick I’m more of a Lady Danger girl than a Russian Red, preferring warm-toned orange/reds than cool, berry shades. Creamy formulas are much more forgiving (especially as my lips are prone to dryness) but I’ll sometimes layer a thin slick of gloss (Philosophy Cinnamon Buns is my favourite) on top if I’m wearing a matte lippie.

Lip pencils/crayons NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil all the way – it’s a pencil/lipstick in one and I love that it’s so easy to apply. I’m wearing Red Square in the photos above, which I first purchased from Sephora San Francisco during my USA holiday last year. I’ve reached for this the most ever since and use it as both a lip liner and a lipstick. It also has some pretty decent staying power.

My other favourites include Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Coral (a very pigmented lip butter), NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl (a touch more crimson and full-bodied than Red Square) and Clinque’s Chubby Stick in Two Ton Tomato, which is much more sheer but perfect for the office.

Nail Polish I couldn’t write this beauty post on Classics without at least mentioning a timeless, red manicure. It’s the colour I wear most often whilst travelling because I never have to – nor do I want to – worry about coordinating my nail polish with my outfit (red seems to go with everything!).

The ones I seem to reach for the most are: Essie Red Nouveau, OPI Big Apple Red, and Chanel Barcelona Red, which has tiny flecks of gold through the lacquer. I also love OPI Cajun Shrimp (an orange/red) for summer. My application involves two coats on each nail and finishes with a good, glossy top coat to seal the colour.

But back to the lippie, I’ll leave you with a fun fact: A study conducted by sociologists from the Universite de Bretagne-Sud, France, found that waitresses who wore red lipstick on the job received tips 50 per cent of the time from male customers, while those wearing other colours or no lipstick were tipped 30 per cent of the time. 

And if that doesn’t convince you, maybe Gwyneth will, who once professed, ‘beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick!’

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How to curl a bob.

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I thought my hair today deserved its own post, simply because it’s only the second (or first?) time that I’ve curled it like this since I had it cut super short last month. If we want to get technical here, it’s only the second time I’ve devoted more than five minutes to it (no exaggeration either). My work colleagues probably wouldn’t recognise me if they saw these photos!

I used my 32mm Babyliss Pro because curling my hair with a clampless device was proving near impossible without giving myself second degree burns.

I love how the curls turned out yet for some unexplainable reason I still don’t feel short hair is ‘me’. But as they say, hair grows back, right?

This Sandra Lee-simple method takes me about 15 minutes and even quicker if I just want perfectly imperfect, barely-there waves. These curls will also take me through the next day or two – so I usually wash and curl my hair on a Friday and won’t have to do a thing to it all weekend.

You’ll need: a curling iron (I’m using a clampless Cloud Nine Wand above), heat protectant, good hairspray, and a paddle brush.

There are two key things involved with this method:

  • Use your left arm to curl the right side of your head; and your right arm to curl the left side of your head. Doing this not only ensures a lesser chance of getting scalded by the curling iron, but you can also get closer to the root which helps to achieve more volume near the crown.
  • Point the curling wand downwards, until it’s at a 45 degree angle or almost vertical. The shape of my curls turn out nicer (i.e. tapers towards the ends) when I point the curler down, instead of up.

Follow the steps above and repeat until you’ve curled all of your hair. Then run a paddle brush through your hair to create that ‘brushed-out’ effect, before giving it a final spritz of hairspray.

Guide to French Girl Hair.

I stumbled across an article on Vogue.com the other day, which discussed the merits of ‘French Girl Hair’ and how to replicate it at home (props if you happen to be wearing a breton top and holding a pain au chocolat in one hand, whilst doing so).

As I read through the step-by-step process, I found it both amusing and flattering (or probably just shocked) that I had been adopting an almost-identical approach to my hair for weeks now. Except I had no idea this ‘method’ was innately French whatsoever. But, hey, I’ll run with it anyway.

For me, it all started when I packed next to nothing in my beauty case for Singapore last month. To conserve luggage space, I didn’t bring a comb (let alone a brush), no hairdryer or curling iron, no conditioner and no styling products. It turned out that I actually didn’t need any of these products to achieve hair I was two hundred percent happy with. I showered, washed my hair with hotel shampoo, towel-dried it, parted it with my fingers and left it to dry naturally. It was a tangled mess but it somehow sorted itself out throughout the day. I was left with lots more volume (perhaps from not using conditioner?), an organic ‘S’ wave through my hair and, apparently, the French Girl look.

So since then, I’ve methodically stuck to this same approach – no conditioner, no hair brush, and no Parlux. Instead, I just use these:

Lush ‘Big’ sea salt shampoo (once every 2-3 days), a spritz of Moroccan Oil after the towel-dry, and a tiny dash of Osis ‘Dust-it’ for styling. On in-between days, I use a small amount of Batiste dry shampoo for that just-washed look. For work, I like having my hair up and out of the way so I enlist an arsenal of bobby pins to create a low bun. For travelling, I’ll leave everything but the Osis and a travel sized Batiste at home.

If I can be completely honest, the best thing about this routine is that it’s the Lazy Guide to Doing My Hair. I hate washing my hair (even though it only just touches my shoulders) and I hate blow drying it even more (even if the Parlux makes things an infinite times easier). It took me a while to get over it but I also don’t suit that polished, not-a-single-hair-out-of-place look.

And as the phrase du jour goes, messy hair, don’t care…

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Simple Pleasures.

Currently high on rotation in my life.

House of Harlow rings, Revlon nail polish, my vintage Hermes Kelly watch and my go-to lip balm: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.

Simple pleasures.

Embody.

I’ve been after an opaque nude/milky white nail colour for a little while now, and chanced upon this one by Revlon during a routine shop at Priceline a month or so ago. I’ve been wearing it non-stop ever since.

Admittedly, I purchased it for its just-right hue (it’s the only white-coloured polish I’ve found that doesn’t apply like liquid paper!) rather than its top/base coat properties. I always apply a top coat anyway, regardless of what nail polish I use.

Embody appears like a very sheer pale pink at first but after two or three coats, it transforms into the most perfect shade of almost-white. I love that it transitions seamlessly from summer to winter, and whilst it’s still very much a ‘safe’ and conservative colour, I love that it has a certain edge to it, without looking overly bridal or like I’ve just had a French manicure.

Beauty Kit.

Diptyque Olène eau de toilette, Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, NARS lipstick in Dolce Vita, and my every day jewellery.

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Make-up in sticky weather.

My Bali makeup post last year was surprisingly popular with a few of you so I thought I’d do the same during my mini-holiday in Singapore last weekend.

If I had thought what I packed in my cosmetic case for Bali was the ‘barest essentials’, it seems I miraculously did one better with my Singapore makeup kit.

To set the scene, my husband and I didn’t purchase check-in luggage for our Singapore trip, given that we were only going away for four days.  I also love how I can get off the plane and head straight to the taxi stand or MRT, instead of jostling amongst my fellow travellers at the luggage carousel.

Anyway, packing for a humid and sticky holiday was also going to prove to be a challenge. I eventually settled for the above items, save for an eyeshadow and a pressed powder compact.

I’m still amazed that this is really all I wore on my face (the eyeliner was only worn during the evening, too). I almost always find it more comfortable hiding behind a sheath of makeup and always go quite heavy at night.

For my base (both day and night), I used a pea-sized amount of Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone all over (this stuff is liquid gold). I then concealed (under the eyes, on the chin and around my nose) with Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC-3.

On my cheeks I wore Melba by MAC and then applied Lunasol waterproof mascara to my lashes before curling them with my Shu. I forgot to include my eyebrow product in this picture but, for reference, I used a taupe brow pencil by Giorgio Armani. I use light brown brow products because I find black coloured pencils too harsh and jarring on me. I’m also so used to using pencils that I can do my brows quite quickly and easily. I’m a real klutz with brow gels, powders and waxes etc.

This is the “finished” look:

I’m surprised but will happily admit that my makeup did not budge the entire day. Not bad for a place with 96% humidity.

I can’t remember what I’m wearing on my lips. It may have been Lady Danger worn as a barely-there stain, except it looks really pink here (?!).

To set my makeup, I used a little bit of MAC Blot Pressed Powder, which I normally carry with me every day anyway.

Oh, and the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream is really just my every day lip balm, which I purchased on a whim at Shanghai International Airport (who else loves buying shit they don’t need at DFS?). It’s great, though. It reminds me of Lucas Paw Paw Ointment but in fancier packaging.

USA holiday makeup haul.

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My beauty haul from my recent USA holiday encompassed both tried-and-true Holy Grails, and new & experimental purchases.

Most were purchased from Sephora, whilst the rest were sourced from department stores (Bloomies and Nordstrom), stand alone boutiques (like Fresh Sugar on Bleecker St and Diptyque in San Fran) and fantastic drug/convenience stores (Walgreens and Duane Reade).

Here’s a full listing of my loot:

Lips: Fresh Sugar tinted lip treatment in Coral and Passion. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square, Dragon Girl, and Dolce Vita. NARS lipstick in Schiap, and Dolce Vita. Wet ‘n’ Wild lipstick in Stoplight Red.

Face: Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Foundation in 5.5. MAC blush in Melba. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer in SC2 and Loose Setting Powder. Clarisonic Delicate Brushes.

Eyes: Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circles Treatment and Bottom Lash Mascara. Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Eye Liner Pencil. Shu Eyelash Curler. Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Liner.

Hair & Other: Bumble & Bumble Shine On and Spray de Mode Hairspray. Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo Powder. Essie & OPI nail polishes. Diptyque Olene EDT.

And here’s what I’d repurchase:

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner Pencil: I’ve used this almost every single day since purchasing it in Sephora, Vancouver. It glides on smoothly, stays put all day and night long and is easy to use. It also comes with its own sharpener. I only bought one colour – Mahogany – which is a rich, dark brown versatile for day. I only wish I had purchased more of these Liners!

Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Liner: I’d be very surprised if this isn’t the best, cheapest liquid liner currently on the market. Does not budge, colour pay-off is fantastic and, most notably, I think this was only $5?!

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment: Worth every (expensive) penny. Super moisturising with the intensity of a very pigmented lipstick, with the added benefit of SPF15. I wear this mostly to the office and on lazy weekends.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square: This has quickly become my HG lip product and remains as possibly my most favourite holiday makeup purchase. I love that it can do double duty as a liner and a lippie, and that it’s just so gloriously, blindingly bright!

MAC Blush in Melba: I am going to admit right now that the only reason I purchased this was because right before I left for the airport, I sneaked into my sister’s bedroom and used her Melba as I felt I needed a bit of colour on the apples of my cheeks. I fell in love with the colour as soon as I applied it so I decided to track it down during my holiday. It’s the most perfect, everyday colour. I used to reach for my NARS Orgasm on days I want a natural flush but I’ve been instead favouring Melba every day since I purchased it.

Next time I plan to fill my Sephora basket with…

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal and Moonstone

Clinique Chubby Sticks

Stila Long Wear Lip Colors

I hope to do a similar post on beauty purchases from French pharmacies after my Europe trip later this year, so if you’re interested, keep a look out for it.

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Beauty on the go.

Here are a few of my hair products that are currently in high rotation.

They’re actually all pint-sized and great to travel with. I use the Dust-it (perfect for texturising my bangs whilst it grows out) and Brilliantine the most; reserving Spray de Mode and Shine On for when I’m going out at night. I really don’t know what I’d do without dry shampoo (other than the fact that I’d probably have to wash my hair more often – which I try to avoid). Upon the recommendation of a girlfriend, I picked up a bottle of Oscar Blandi from Sephora on my recent travels.

Serendipity.

I accidentally discovered one of my best beauty discoveries on my holiday, and it came straight out of my toiletries bag.

I packed my tube of Embryolisse, simply because it was the only moisturiser I own that’s travel-friendly. I purchased it about two years ago and have only used it half a dozen times, if that. I found the cream a bit too rich and greasy for my sensitive skin and so, like many other ‘cult’ beauty products, it has been collecting dust in my bathroom cupboard ever since.

When I ran out of cleanser a week into my trip (and after making an unsuccessful trip to Nordstrom in Vegas to stock up on my usual Mario Badescu wash) I thought I’d try to the Embryolisse as a cleanser by mixing a little water in it.

It ended up being one of the best, if not the best, cleansers I’ve ever used. It was potent enough to remove my makeup without me having to pull and tug with a cloth, but it was really gentle and left my skin feeling baby soft.

Unfortunately I ran out of the cream before my trip ended, so as soon as I got home I stocked up on four tubes of it from eBay. I’d love to know if any of you use Embryolisse, and where you purchase them from? Unfortunately regular trips to Paris to stock up on French skincare are a mere pipedream for me at the moment!

Clarisonic: Weeks 2-4

Um, so as the title suggests, I’ve been a little slack with my updates. Sorry! As I briefly mentioned in my post below, my skin was giving me hell earlier this month so I decided to lay off the Clarisonic-ing for a week and go into hiding. Anyway, the good news is that my skin is back to normal now and I’ve hopped back on the Clarisonic train. So without further ado, here is my week by week synopsis:

Week 2

Texture and clarity continued to improve but I also started purging this week. Though my skin’s idea of ‘purging’ was laughable – for some reason I only saw 2-3 pimples crop up and that was it. No other sign of a blemish. Not sure if you could even call this ‘purging’? Anyway, the cleanser I’m using this week is Kiehl’s. I haven’t bothered with the free cleanser that came with the Clarisonic.

Week 3 

Spots are still there but my skin is becoming softer and softer. My eczema flares up this week to the point where it’s affecting my self-confidence so I give the Clarisonic a break. I’ve switched back to gently cleansing with sorbolene cream and a microfibre cloth.

Week 4 

Back on the Clarisonic and I’m pretty sure my skin has not looked and felt this good in years. I’ve also started using new skincare products (as per my post below) although I’m still cleansing with sorbolene cream as a precautionary measure. I’m using it 1-2 times a day (sometimes in the morning and always at night). This week my skin feels amazingly and unbelievably soft (and so clear!) and I think I owe most of it to the Clarisonic. I can confidently say that this beauty tool has been an absolute skin saviour for me and definitely a keeper.

You can read how I went in the first week of using the Clarisonic here 🙂

Clarisonic: Week 1

I’ve been asked by a couple of readers as to how my Clarisonic is going and now that it has been a week since I started using it, I thought it would be the perfect time to answer these questions.

Yes, mine is the Mia. You can buy the Clarisonic from a few different places and at varying prices too. I bought mine from Myer for $149 but if you have a look online and arm yourself with a coupon code, you’d be able to find a Mia for anywhere between $100 and $130-ish.

If you’re travelling to the States, you can purchase the Clarisonic at Sephora. I’ve heard the brushes also are cheaper at Sephora (than at Myer, for example) so I plan to buy my replacement brushes as well as pick up a Delicate brush head when I’m travelling to the US in a few months’ time. Alternatively, brushes are available from eBay and I’ve read that it’s recommended you replace them every 3 months or so.

As for how week 1 has progressed with my Clarisonic, just scroll down 🙂

I’ve been alternating between my preferred skin care regime and the cleanser that came with the Clarisonic. Not for any particular reason; mostly just for experimental purposes and whatever I feel like using at the time.

I’ll start with my skin type and the motivation behind my purchase of the Clarisonic.

My skin type:

Dry/sensitive/allergic/problematic and I suffer from chronic eczema on various parts of my face (usually around the eyes). My skin is rarely oily and I don’t get pimples. Instead, I experience eczema breakouts on different parts of my face at least once a week and that’s no fun at all.

Why did I purchase the Clarisonic? 

I’ve been exfoliating twice a day, every day with a microfibre cloth. I was pretty happy with my regime for a few years until I started to feel concerned about how hygienic or clean my cloths were, and whether or not I was damaging my skin without even realising i.e. over-exfoliating, rubbing too vigorously, not using clean enough cloths.

So I guess the major reason I purchased the Clarisonic was to ensure my skin was getting a deep and thorough clean every single time, using a method that was safe and hygienic for my skin. Anything else is a bonus, really.

What do I want out of it?

Not necessarily a miracle but simply clean and glowing skin. It would be great if my eczema could clear up completely or its breakouts be reduced (but let’s face it, the Clarisonic was not designed to give eczema sufferers hallelujah moments), and ideally I’d love for my skintone to even out to a point where I could rely less on makeup. But as I said above, so long as the Clarisonic is able to deliver a thorough exfoliation every single time without having a detrimental effect on my skin, that would suffice for me.

So how did the first week go?

The first few days were a non-event. I definitely could feel and see that the Clarisonic was thoroughly cleaning and exfoliating my skin, but for the first half of the week it certainly wasn’t life-changing. My dry, eczema patches near my eyes/forehead were also not responding to the Clarisonic during the first few days (not that I had pinned all my hopes on this) and my skin wasn’t feeling as soft as many others have experienced with the Clarisonic. To sum up the first half of the week, my skin wasn’t getting any worse but it wasn’t getting dramatically better, either.

The turning point occurred at the beginning of this week. Today (day 7) in particular has seen a real improvement in the tone and texture of my skin. My eczema has started to clear (I don’t want to speak too soon though as it has a knack for coming back to haunt me) and my skin has started to look much smoother and feel noticeably softer compared to last week. With all this mind, I’m conscious of being a victim of the placebo effect so I’m going to keep monitoring my skin closely over the next few weeks.

I’m using my Clarisonic 1-2 times a day, which is more than what I had initially set out to do due to my problematic and temperamental skin. My skin hasn’t gotten any worse (i.e. no new eczema flare-ups) from daily Clarisonic-ing, so I’m going to keep up with my twice-daily exfoliations and see how I go. I’m also using the Sensitive brush head, which came with the Mia.

The verdict

I find the Clarisonic stupidly easy to use, I love how it’s waterproof so I can use it in the shower, and it’s really handy how the brush head automatically turns off after a minute to indicate that I’ve spent sufficient time exfoliating my skin. So I guess in a matter of words; so far, so good 🙂