Welcome to Rancho Relaxo (Monday Night Pamper)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged about a pamper session – I do apologise! I actually haven’t had a lot of inspiration lately, but this month I was inspired to not only have a pamper session but to take it to another level – visit a skin spa.

BBRL-FrontAll my readers who are my real-life friends will know this is my regular beauty spot. All forms of hair removal, hair maintenance and skin repair happens in this place for me. I’ve been a long-term client of this place, and have seen it grow and change over the years. There are multiple therapists available, however my regular appointments tend to be with Rachael-Lee herself. She’s seen me through my early 20′s problem-free skin, my adult acne days and I guess what is now my (early stages of) ageing skin (although that’s not something I want to admit!). It had been quite a while since I’ve had a facial here (about 12 months), so I figured it was about time I treated myself.

I’m a passionate small-business supporter, so avoid going to large chain spas or laser clinics for any of my treatments. I mean, check out these little details at Beauty By Rachael-Lee (the link will take you to their Facebook page).

BBRL - Bed

 

BBRL - Products Close Up

I ended up having a Multivitamin Facial, which was amaaaaazing. There is nothing quite like a proper facial – I can do my own little pamper sessions throughout the month, but nothing beats a deep exfoliating and cleansing facial. I always need a little bit of extraction, and I forgot how painful this can be! Luckily, I only needed a few extractions (I’ve had some very intense extraction sessions with Rachael-Lee in the past), and I can see the value in this step – for me, it makes a really dramatic difference in my skin health and appearance.

BBRL - Room

I don’t always care for the relaxing waterfall-style music that is played on endless repeat in day spas, but luckily Rachael-Lee sometimes gives me the option of more upbeat music (if we’re the only people in at the time). This time, I went with the already-playing cover music (one of my favourite genres – if it is one). The massage and products were all amazing, and I left feeling very relaxed and ready for bed. I always book my facials in the evenings (or late afternoons) and make no plans afterwards – I want to maintain my zen state, keep the products on my face overnight and wake up feeling refreshed.

Obviously I live in a small part of the world, and not everybody can get out to this lovely place. Therefore my tips for judging a facial treatment and spa quality are as follows:

  • No sales – you should not feel pressured to buy something after the facial. There should be no feeling of sales tactics during the facial either.
  • A decent temperature – if the spa can’t maintain a reasonable temperature during your facial, it’s going to be a struggle to enjoy it.
  • Respect for your privacy – once I went for a facial at a random spa and the therapist told me to get completely undressed, left me with a hand-sized towel to cover my body, and re-entered the room without knocking, and I was definitely not ready. For the record, Rachael-Lee offered me a robe, will knock before attempting to re-enter the room, and really just wants straps off your shoulders – I don’t remove any clothing.
  • You should know what they are doing, but keep it to bare minimum details. This may just be my personal style, but I like to know what step the therapist is up to, what she is applying and that is about it. I don’t even think this much detail is necessary, but as a skincare lover, I’m always interested to know what the beautiful product is that is being rubbed on. Any more details and I really start to over-think it.
  • The therapist should actually advise you on what you should be getting for your skin needs and skin type. I had a glycolic peel many years ago from a random therapist and afterwards was advised by my regular therapist (incidentally it was Rachael-Lee back in her hey-day of being someone’s employee) that the procedure was completely unsuitable for my skin type at the time. You should never get a specific treatment just because it’s the most expensive.

ONE WEEK ON….

My skin is looking and feeling amazing. I had a few raised inflammations (very tiny) for the following two days, but these settled easily. Unfortunately I am not one to really go without makeup, even though I know it would be quite helpful following a facial, but my skin never seems to get irritated with makeup application after treatments. I think it’s worth keeping your skin as makeup-free for as long as you can after your facial. I try to avoid any exfoliation for about 5 days, which was a little trick I picked up on after having a series of microdermabrasian treatments. It’s a particular recommendation following microderm, to avoid exfoliating. I feel like giving my skin 4-5 days after any facial before using an exfoliant works wonders – my skin is really glowing post scrub!

If for some reason you’ve never tried a professional facial, or are unsure where to start – dive in. Make a gentle decision for your first one, something with deep cleansing and scrubbing but maybe nothing more invasive than that. It is the ultimate pamper and a great way to treat yourself.

Beauty by Rachael-Lee is located on the corner of Stafford Street and Colless Street, South Penrith. In case there’s any confusion, this is most definitely not a sponsored post, I really am just that big of a fan! [Treatment was $AUD80 and went for 1 hour]

And remember – if irritation occurs, discontinue use…

Shine bright like a diamond

My disclaimer for this post is that I’m about to rave about a ludicrously priced product that is quite hard to source. I apologise in advance, but it was too stunning to exclude from this blog!

I picked up the Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow with some difficulty during my time in the US. This stuff seemed to be sold out wherever I went, or I would only find one lonely shade. I’d tested out the shadow in Mecca Cosmetica a few months before, and was stunned at the coverage and quality, and how easy it was to use. I was determined to get the gold shade for greatest impact and maximum use (as I regularly wear gold and brown shades). For $US32.00, I wanted this shade [Metallic Gilded Gold], and no other [RRP $AUD44.00].

Stila-Pack

So as you can see, the eye shadow comes in a serious little bundle. It comes with a primer and a mixing plate, and a dropper to use with the primer. I’m slightly obsessive with keeping things new, so after using it, I cleaned it all up and took the dropper out – but if I was going to use this regularly, I could store it with just the dropper in the bottle.

Stila-Open

The texture of this reminds me of a paste; I wouldn’t say it’s a cream, as it’s not as smooth or fine as a cream shadow. I’ve paired this randomly with a concealer brush, but an alternative brush would be the MAC 239.

Stila-Mixing

So it’s a simple procedure – drop the primer into the pan, add the shadow, mix and apply. Upon application, it feels like any cream shadow, but once it sets, it actually feels like what I would imagine eyelash glue would feel like if it was applied to the entire eyelid – not uncomfortable, but noticeable. You’ve got a little bit of time to move it around before it sets – again, just like eyelash glue. Unlike cream shadows, it doesn’t rub into the skin, so it can be physically moved around the lid, rather than blended in.

The pigmentation from this stuff is insane – it’s really strong and deep, and really makes an impact. Unfortunately, I only took a dodgy photo of me wearing this with my phone (and with the front camera at that! Amateur!), so no great selfie to share at this stage. You’ll have to take my word for it (or obviously refer to some other beauty blogs) – this stuff is gorgeous!

Stila - On Hand

It really is like tiny bits of foil – who knows how this stuff is made?! My only issue with it is that it’s not really a buildable shadow – this is the main performer. I paired it with an extremely dark shadow (Naked 3: Blackheart) and packed this on top. I personally wouldn’t spend the time packing and blending millions of shades underneath this, as you will probably not see any of it.

Would I buy it again? Sure, it’s very unique. Shame about the hideous price.
Who would I recommend it to? I think my sisters from the Indian Subcontinent will love this shadow – it suits the style of makeup we can pull off at a traditional event.
Is it value for money? I’m not sure what to say on this – I’ve made my thoughts very clear on the price. I suggest not thinking about the price and just buying it if it seems like your thing.
How can you get it? Mecca Cosmetica in Australia and Sephora internationally.  

And remember… if irritation occurs, discontinue use.

Summertime Sadness

Just kidding about the heading – no sadness about summer. But as summer is fast approaching here in Australia, it’s time to get serious about summer skincare. I have combination-oily skin, and am fearful of the sun’s rays touching my skin. Here are my summertime essentials:

Summertime Sadness

QV Face Moisturising Day Cream
I’ve been using this moisturiser daily for a year, and am still loving it. I’ve mentioned my respect for QV before, and this moisturiser has become a bit of a HG face product. It has SPF included, and is light and non-greasy, so perfect for summer. [RRP $11.99 - Find it at Chemist Warehouse]

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Spray (SPF 50)
Now, I’m not much of a beach person, but I tend to make an annual pilgrimage there, and do my best to shelter from the rays. I picked this little beauty up last summer, and have replenished my stock for this coming summer (side note – it lasts ages, I disposed of mine during my US trip to make room for more exciting products!). It’s non-greasy on the skin, and leaves no residue when sprayed on your body – it does leave a sticky residue in your hair though, as though you’ve sprayed on too much hairspray. I actually use this on a regular basis when gardening, and I love it. [RRP $12.95 - Find it at your local supermarket]

Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil
This little beauty was a sample from a Clarins counter in Myer. This oil has lasted ages, and I think will be a worthy addition to my summer collection, particularly as hair removal routines return to normal and my body demands more moisture. It claims to be suitable for preventing stretch marks during pregnancy, but if it doesn’t do that, it still smells and feels amazing. [RRP $62.00 - Find it at Myer]

Glam Glow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment
This was a US purchase that I am using very sparingly – the price is ridiculous. I made sure I sampled the hell out of this mask (unlike most other products in Sephora, it was like getting blood from stone at times to sample this), and found it to be extremely hydrating. It smells delicious (I sensed hints of coconut, one of my favourite scents), and can be worn as a short-term mask, or overnight. It takes a few uses to really notice the difference, but once I wore it around 4 times, my skin was feeling a lot softer and hydrated. [RRP $75.00 - FInd it at Mecca Cosmetica]

Bumble & Bumble Defrizz
Now, I’ve been heat styling my hair since the 9th grade. I still remember the first hair straightener I bought, it had a double function as a crimper – it was a great era to grow up in. Ever since then, I’ve been fighting the battle with fly aways and frizz, and have tried a range of products, both high and low price points. Nothing frustrates me more than spending time on my hair, and then heading out into the heat and having it frizz out. Bumble & Bumble have an amazing range of hair products, and I’ve yet to try anything that didn’t do as the bottle indicated (although my exposure to the brand doesn’t extend to every product), and this little bottle of serum-y goodness doesn’t fail to deliver on its promise. Only a tiny bit of product is required, blow dry it in and see the results almost instantly. I also find that it seems to extend my blowdry/straightening session for an extra day – score! [RRP $38.00 - Find it at Mecca Cosmetica].

Rimmel Salon Pro Polish
Finally, summer isn’t summer unless I have some garish bright nail polish slapped onto my tips. The little coral number in the photo has yet to get a chance on my hands, but it’s not too far away. Great range of shades for a low-price polish, and I find the Salon Pro colour range quite interesting – not huge, but every shade is quite unique. [RRP $8.95 - Find it at Priceline].

So that’s me in the lead up to summer – I’m sure many products will be added, but I’m expecting these to remain. Stay safe in the sun and heat, and don’t forget your hat!

Is it worth the hype? [Naked 3 Palette]

The long-awaited and much-discussed Urban Decay Naked Palette 3… was it worth the wait? Was it going to be a let down like Naked 2? Will they ever be able to repeat the success of the original Naked palette?

In terms of the last question, if you measure success on the quality and initiative of the first palette, then no, I don’t think that can ever be repeated. If you base it on pure sales, I think Urban Decay will constantly get huge sales from their Naked products, simply because of the beauty cult and hype that surrounds it. It most definitely is not a let down like the Naked 2 was for me. Naked 2 was far too silver-toned for me (my most hated eyeshadow shade is silver), so Naked 2 didn’t get much interest or use by me. Naked 3 was promoted as a rose gold toned palette, and it really does fit that description.

Naked 3In typical Naked fashion, the palette comes with a brush, which I have clearly not used. I’ve used the brush from the original Naked palette which is excellent quality, so I expect this to be the same. There are 12 shades that are the size equivalent of a full-sized eyeshadow. As expected, the shadows are excellent quality – highly pigmented and easy to work with – applying and blending. My top 3 shades have to be:
Blackheart  - a really dark, smokey shade (it’s the last shade in the palette). It has a shimmer through it, and blends beautifully. It really doesn’t compare with anything from previous Naked palettes.
Liar - a shimmery brown-mauve shade, that highlights beautifully with Blackheart, and is really quite a different shade.
Buzz - now this seems to sum up the entirety of the Naked 3 palette – a classic rose-gold shade. I don’t find this as wearable as some of the other shades, but it is quite unique to this palette.

Eyes

 

 

Here’s me looking at you (while wearing Naked 3)…

 

 

Would I buy it again? I can’t see myself needing it again anytime soon, due to my severe addiction to palettes. But yes, I would want this to be in a my makeup collection permanently.
Who would I recommend it to? Palette lovers, and neutrals lovers.
Is it value for money? $US54 is a bargain for 12 full shadows!
How can you get it? Aussie buyers can source this on Beauty Bay for $82.10. If you know anyone travelling to the US, it’s worth requesting! Don’t bother waiting for Sephora Australia, as they have informed us recently that Urban Decay won’t be stocked here. Boo hiss.

Sticky lip gloss…

Sticky lip gloss – I’m not a fan. I’m not alone in this, I know, there are plenty of people who hate on sticky glosses. Your hair gets stuck to them, they have way too much residue, and they just feel horrible. In my personal experience, there are very few non-sticky glosses, so as a result, I’m not a huge of glosses at all. I’ve been a long time user of MAC Lipglass in the past, as they have an OK colour pay off and aren’t so sticky that my lips get stuck together, but lately I always reach for a lipstick rather than a gloss.On my US wanderings, I was very keen to try out Milani Cosmetics. They come up in so many US-based YouTube videos and tutorials, and seem to be good value for money. The brand was a bit tricky to find at times, or I would find the display (which was quite tiny in most places) and there would be minimal stock. I managed to pick up a few items, one of which was the Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss. $4.99 was a safe investment price, and I figured if it was horrible, it would just sink down to the bottom of my lip collection, and join the rest of the sticky glosses.

20140908_171046_2A sticky gloss on a delicious looking Donna Hay cover

What a pleasant surprise – this stuff is really nice. I bought the shade Mauve Fetish, which is a classic Aych shade – browny pink. Now, I’m going to be brutally honest here – this stuff is sticky as hell. I don’t think I’ve ever used a stickier gloss! Butttttt the colour pay-off is excellent, and it stays on for a really long time (which also means it has extended stickiness). Secondary to my hate of sticky glosses is the need to reapply them so often, but this stuff needs very little reapplication. I put it on the other day before meeting a friend for a coffee, and it was still visible 3 hours and 1 coffee/cake combo later. It was impressive enough that it gave me some inspiration for a blog post – regular readers will notice I’m somewhat lacking in this lately!

Would I buy it again? For sure – the colour pay off is great.
Who would I recommend it to? Lovers of glosses.
Is it value for money? Yup. $US4.99!
How can you get it? Milani is available in Australia via Crush Cosmetics. I couldn’t find Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss, but an interesting relative of it may be the “Lip Intense” – $10.50. It might be worth checking out if you are an avid vlog watcher and blog reader like myself and are curious about what Milani has to offer.

Until next time… 

Trying to be a beautiful brunette…

Well weren’t you a wonderful little surprise, Beautiful Brunette? After years of committing myself as a John Frieda Brilliant Brunette devotee, I never really gave any other coloured shampoos a chance – very racist of me.

Now my hair tale is essentially this – I am brunette. I don’t have dark ethnic locks, I don’t have mousey brown hair – I have a fairly classic brunette colour. A sucker for a trend, I started getting balayage (ombre) done to it about a year ago, and each visit I get lighter and lighter (sometimes intentional, sometimes not so intentional). Post USA, my hair was a darling shade of orange, and I understand the pain of those who have blonde highlights – it is so hard to maintain! Most Friday’s I get a bit of time to browse Priceline, which is one of my favourite past times. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for me to walk out not having spent any money. One particularly orange-y day, I browsed the hair section, particularly the blonde toners. $15 for a bottle I will rarely use wasn’t enough to convince me, so instead I started browsing some of the bargain bins – and discovered the Beautiful Brunette range.

BB shampoo

$6.90 – minimal risk. It was marked down by about $1, but I’m also a sucker for marketing – slap a pink piece of paper on it Priceline, and I’m interested. I picked up the above shampoo, and the below conditioner (Argan Smooth Deep Moisture Conditioner), and figured my hair couldn’t end up any worse.
ArganSmoothConditioner

These were both a very good find! The shampoo seemed to take a bit of the orange brassiness of my highlights off, and the conditioner was looovely. I returned the following week, and bought another pair. If you’re going to give one of the two a chance, I really recommend the conditioner – the combo is nice, but I think the real winner is the conditioner. It’s very moisturising, and smells quite nice. It has a bit of a shimmer to it when squeezed out of the bottle, but don’t let that scare you off – it doesn’t seem to transfer into your hair. I noticed quite an improvement after only a few uses – combine this with coconut oil, and you’ll be unstoppable!

Would I buy it again? Already have – I think it’s a more competitively priced version of Brilliant Brunette.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who wants serious moisture – or wants to maintain a decent brunette colour.
Is it value for money? It’s fairly normal shampoo pricing, so yes.
How can you get it? Priceline has plenty of stock – I also spotted it tonight in Big W for $4.80.

It’s time to tell the truth: Smashbox Full Exposure Palette

Regular readers may recall my excitement to pick up new palettes in the US – in fact, I had quite the list of palettes to add to my collection. My brother went to the US the week before I did, so he treated me to the Naked 3 palette; this opened up some space for an extra palette. I ended up buying the Smashbox Full Exposure palette early in the trip, then treated myself to a Marc Jacobs one just before returning home. The downside to palettes is that they can add quite a bit of weight to one’s makeup baggage allowance, so I had to make some very considered decisions. I figured the Smashbox one was a safe choice, as I had previously owned and enjoyed a Smashbox palette.

Well, you sure screwed me Smashbox. This palette was really disappointing. Based on my experience with the Masterclass 2 palette (see earlier link), I had high hopes for the matte shadows in this palette, and minimal interest in the shimmers. The whole palette had 14 shadows – 7 shimmer, 7 matte (about 8 with gold tones, and 6 with silver tones). For $49.00, I didn’t expect the world, but I did expect to like and use more than 4 shades! Oddly enough, the 4 gold toned shimmers have tickled my fancy, and have become a part of my regular weekly makeup. 4 shadows out of 14 is hardly impressive – a poor choice of palette on my part. The only thing that I liked was that there was a fairly decent brush included – a double-sided brush, with one side recommended for matte, and the other for shimmers. It’s not an amazing brush, but it’s pretty good for an included brush, and it suited me during my travels (I took really minimal makeup this trip – I had big makeup dreams!).

Basically, my issue is the pigmentation in this palette. Really minimal colour payoff, despite how much you dip and rub that brush (even using my regular brushes didn’t change that!). The mattes barely show up, and although I’m not one to wear shimmer to work, the 4 gold-toned shimmers are quite lovely, so have been quite nice to wear. I can’t explain why this is always sold out – beauty bloggers have a lot to answer for, I guess. My recommendation is stick with the Urban Decay Naked palettes, or check out the Lorac Pro palette – I don’t own that, but I’ve heard great things.

Would I buy it again? Definitely not.
Who would I recommend this to? Someone who is being offered it for free – if exchanging money, stick with the Naked Palette!
Is it value for money? Definitely not.
How can you get it? In Australia, from Mecca Cosmetica (it’s constantly sold out - go figure!)

Smashbox Full Exposure Eye Shadow Palette

Well, I do apologise…

Ramadan has come and gone, hence why I have been so silent for so long. Waking early, fasting all day, and being disciplined at night made blogging quite tough. So as my heading suggests… I do apologise for my silence. But I’m back, the blog lives on, and my beauty love continues to grow.

Now, of course I have a huge range of things I picked up in the US that I want to review. I honestly don’t know where to begin, as there is heaps to still try out. But something I’ve already started using that I love already, is the Caudalie Beauty Elixir. I was blessed to have a huge breakout recently; after having been breakout free for quite a while, this was distressing, and I had to bust out some of my previously well-loved and respected products (e.g. Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel, ASAP Clearskin Gel). Much to my horror they weren’t quite doing it – I got a lot of tiny pimples that lasted for a day, but left me with a permanent blemish – thanks a lot skin!

Enter the Beauty Elixir. Now this stuff smells DIVINE. I’m personally using it as a toner, when I’ve used a hardcore exfoliator (ASAP Exfoliating Facial Scrub – I only use it twice a week, as I find it quite strong on my skin), just before I apply some serious hydration (Clarins Facial Oil). I got the travel sized bottle, so this stuff is precious to me. It’s made up of grape, orange blossom, rose, balm mint and rosemary (according to the website), which creates a seriously delightful smelling mist, and it settles really beautifully on the skin. My number one skin concern, when I’m not having a feral month, is hyperpigmentation (blemishes) and scars. This stuff seems to be working a beauty on my hyperpigmentation, especially when used in conjunction with the other hardcore clearing stuff. I’m not entirely sure about its claims re: glowing, bright skin, but it sure is nice to use.

caudalie-beauty elixir

Would I buy it again? Definitely. Where from, I’m not entirely sure.
Who would I recommend this to? Lovers of floral scents, those who want a serious toner product, and those who have cash to burn.
How can you get it? I picked mine up in Sephora, which is of no help to Australians. I’ve googled around, ASOS potentially stocks it (though they have none at the time of searching); LookFantastic stocks it and claims to have free worldwide shipping, however I’ve never personally used that website. Please let me know if you’ve seen Caudalie stocked anywhere that would be accessible for Aussies!

Until next time, readers…

Goodbye OPI

Hello all! Firstly, my apologies for not blogging very consistently as of late – as regular readers will know, I’ve been away in the US for a few weeks. All good things must come to an end, so I’m back in Australia, and back in winter mode. I’m working on a few different posts that are looking at some of the new products I picked up (quite a few of them are much raved about products), but I need some time to have a proper play around and see if they are worth the hype.

During my trip, it become clear to me that my long relationship with OPI is officially over. OPI’s brush is no longer the be-all and end-all, and nor is their formula the best on the market. They remain one of the most expensive salon formulas in Australia, so it’s time to move on. I follow the brand on Facebook, so constantly see updates of their new shades and ranges, and one that interested me a lot this year was the Brazil Range. I picked up ‘Amazon… Amazoff’ which is a lovely teal shade – or so I thought. I also picked up ‘Red Hot Rio’, which also disappointed me. Neither shade was horrible, but neither had any sort of wow-power. The teal shade ended up looking horrible on me and I changed it after one day (God bless holidays!), and the red was just… well, it was just another shade of red.

It’s been a while since I used OPI, so I’d forgotten about the large monstrosity of a handle, and even the brush seems to have put on 10 pounds. You can catch a glimpse of the polish in the photo below – there is nothing as refreshing as a Mint Julep in Louisiana.

drink

So that’s it from me OPI – you have been good to me, you’ve been a lovely indulgence for many years, and helped build my love for nail polish – but no more. It’s Essie for the mean time – I picked up the gorgeous ‘Mint Candy Apple’ which you can kind of see in the picture below. I figured it’s about time I included some selfies on this blog, so here I am, in all my Harry Potter fandom glory – enjoying a butterbeer in Hogsmeade (i.e. Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida).

butterbeer cropped

Until next time…

Where did all my money go? (US Loves)

It went to the Kate Spade store, that’s where. Now, this isn’t a beauty post, but I really wanted to do a ‘US Loves’ post, and this brand takes the crown. I got some things on my last US trip, but this time, I’ve been completely shameless about it.

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If I had endless cash to spend, I would buy some of her clothing, a pair of shoes, some jewellery and essentially all the bags in the store – large and small. Her designs are so spot on – there are more that I want than I don’t, which is tough on my bank balance.

The colours, the quality, and the designs are just divine. The ultimate combination for a Kate Spade and makeup lover like myself was splurging on a makeup bag!

20140617-114448.jpg
(Excuse my photo quality – not the best since I’m on the road)

I’ve packed all my travel makeup into this new bag, bar all the larger spoils of my Sephora hauls – palettes, bottles etc.

If you’re not familiar with the brand, have a look at the Kate Spade website , I assure you that you will fall in love.

Until next time…

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