Sep 28, 2009

New Zealand Pictures

My posting has been sporadic as the internet connection here is very patchy at the moment. Also, because hubby and I are on holiday in Devon & Cornwall! :)

We were crossing the Tamar bridge when I suddenly thought of New Zealand. I think looking at the boats must have brought back the memories from our previous life in Auckland, NZ. Below is a picture of Auckland harbour as seen from Devonport.

The next few pictures are views from our rented apartment's top-to-floor windows. Most days we could see the islands miles away as it was on 19th floor. Gorgeous! Though I don't miss living in it as it was a tiny 1-bedroom apartment.

The above is one of the old buildings nearby. The picture doesn't do justice to it...
Rangitoto is an interesting island off Auckland's coast. It has a volcano that looks the same from whichever direction you see it. And yes, we have a partial view of that volcano from our windows! :) Oh how I miss living in NZ...

Sep 22, 2009

Germaine de Capuccini Excel Therapy Renacer Facial Emulsion

Yesterday I used up the last drop of Germaine de Capuccini Excel Therapy Renacer Facial Emulsion. It's a light moisturising lotion that's easily absorbed by my skin. I found that it's a tad too rich for my combination skin in the summer, so I used in winter or whenever my skin felt dry.

I'm only in my early 30s but I already have lines on my neck!! Horrors... So I used this lotion daily as a neck cream to keep wrinkles at bay. I don't see any visible difference in my skin texture, but I know the lotion is keeping my neck hydrated. The subtle marine scent is just beautiful, made me feel like I'm on a spa break whenever I used it.

The blurb: "Cytokines are naturally present in the skin, their function is to detect problems and correct them. They are present at birth but decrease with age. Germaine De Capuccini has developed a bio-active product called 'MPC' (a mixture of poweful cytokines) which stimulate the effect of the natural function of the cytokines. This powerful MPC will:Repair, Renew and provide a Self Defense action. This extraordinary break through in technology means that the Excel Therapy range is a highly active and unique range of anti-ageing skin care. Excel Therapy Renacer is suitable for 'ageing' skin and those concerned and wish to slow down the ageing process. It is particularly suitable for normal skin and skin with a tendecy towards oiliness."

Verdict: in can be a tad too rich for my face and it makes an average neck cream.

Sep 19, 2009

I've Found My HG Hair Conditioner!

I know I'm on to a very good thing when I managed to finish up a 500ml bottle of product AND used it consistently for 9 months straight without switching to other brand. It's an impressive feat for a product because I normally like to try different products to make sure I'm not missing out on anything out there. :)

It's even more impressive because it's a "natural" product that's "vegan, using certified organic ingredients where possible, 100% natural botanical aromatherapy and formulated without animal ingredients or animal testing."

So here it is: my long hair is loving Al'chemy Macadamia & Wheat Protein Treatment Conditioner. It's supposed to be for "damaged hair & split ends or intensive care". My hair is fairly normal with only a tiny bit of split ends, I use the conditioner every time I wash my hair (2-3 times/week) - I suppose it counts as intensive care in that matter.

Personally I find that this conditioner does everything it says on this blurb: "The ultimate deeply repairing hair treatment combining cold pressed Australian macadamia oil to nourish the scalp and hair. The conditioner contains 2% wheat protein to help repair hair follicles and eliminate tangles. Your hair retains moisture, is revitalized and silky smooth."

I love the practical pump bottle as I don't like fiddling around with bottle tops in the shower. The yummy cardamom smell enhances my hair washing experience immensely.

Overall I'm very pleased with this beautiful find from my previous life in OZ. Thankfully it's also available in UK (as A'kin, not Al'chemy - not sure why) so I don't need to have withdrawal symptoms. :)

Verdict: I think I've found my Holy Grail hair conditioner! Enough said.

Ingredients: Aqua (purified Australian water), glycerin (botanical source), behentrimonium methosulfate (from GMO free rapeseed) (and) cetearyl alcohol (botanical source), hydrolyzed wheat protein (GMO free), macadamia ternifolia seed oil (cold pressed Australian grown), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil (cold pressed Australian grown), soy lecithin (GMO free), glyceryl laurate (botanical source), sodium gluconate (from GMO free corn), potassium sorbate, citric acid (botanical source), fusanus spicatus wood (West Australian sandalwood) oil, cedrus atlantica (cedarwood) bark oil, lecithin (and) tocopherol (and) ascorbyl palmitate (and) hydrogenated palm glycerides citrate, elettaria cardamomum seed oil, syzygium atomaticum (clove) flower oil.

Sep 17, 2009

The Body Shop: Questionable Ethics?

I was about to write about The Body Shop's Eye Definer today. I changed my mind after reading the news here (thanks to Londonmakeupgirl).

In a way I feel kind of sad. The Body Shop was the shop that introduced me to the concept of "natural" and "ethical" products back in the 90s when I was a teenager. My very first purchase after I started earning was Body Shop's face mask, soaps, and a bottle of peach perfume oil. I remember that I could get a free refill of shower gel once I've returned 10 empty plastic bottles back to them. What a great recycling concept, started long before "being green" is fashionable!

It seemed that they have really changed over the years. I really hope someone would start remembering the reason the brand was there in the first place...

Sep 12, 2009

Sanctuary Spa Body Wash

I've just finished a bottle of Sanctuary Spa Body Wash.

It says, "An aromatic body wash infused with Essential Oils and Spices to gently cleanse and condition, whilst moisturising capsules of Sesame Oil and Jojoba burst on the skin to help leave it feeling soft, silky smooth and subtly scented."

I think it's probably the first Sanctuary Spa product that I'm not so keen on. It smells as lovely as the rest of the "classic" range and foamed nicely. Unfortunately it left my skin feeling a little dry.

Verdict: I'm sticking to my favourite shower product - 12-hour Moisturising Shower Cream

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Sodium laureth sulfate, Glycerin, Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, PEG-40 hydrogenate castor oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium hydroxide, Jojoba esters, Triethylene glycol, Benzyl alcohol, Propylene glycol, Magnesium chloride, Magnesium nitrate, Acrylates copolymer, Polyethylene terephthalate, Sesamum indicum (Sesame) seed oil, Talc, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Hexyl cinnamal, Benqyl benzoate, Linalool, Limonene, Benzyl salicylate, Cl 73360 (Red 30), Cl 15985 (Yellow 6)

Sep 11, 2009

Olive & Bergamot Body Lotion

Hurra, I've finally finished a bottle of Olive & Bergamot Body Lotion I bought from Superdrug back in April! :) I'm still sticking to my "No Buy" Challenge, so I can't really buy a new body lotion until I run out of all body lotion in my stash.

I can't seem to find the picture of the exact product, for an idea, the packaging is similar to the bottles (2nd & 4th items on the picture) - the body lotion comes from Superdrug's Natural range. A warning for die-hard "natural" products fans, ignore the name, it's not a true natural/organic product - it has paraffinum liquidum on the ingredients list!

For the price it's quite a good body lotion, it keeps my skin moisturised. The only thing I'm not keen on is the smell - the floral/citrus-ey scent reminded me so much of flowers (yellow/red/brown chrysanthemums?) used for funerals in Asia... That's why it's taken me that long to finish it.

Verdict: I quite like the texture, in the future I would buy a different scent though.

Ingredients: Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Steric Acid, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergmot) Fruit Extract, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Carbomer, Propylene Glycol, Parfum, Linalool, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Benzophenone-4, Disodium EDTA, Cl 14700, Cl 19140, Cl 60730.

Sep 9, 2009

Rare Moonflower

Moonflower gets it's name from the fact that it blooms in the evening. It's quite a rare thing to see, as they only flower once a year when they're doing well and the blooms only last a few hours before they died. You know a flower is about to open when you can start smelling the scent. The intoxicating scent gets stronger as the flower opens bigger and wider.
I consider myself lucky as I've seen the rare Moonlower bloomed twice. The first one was seven years ago and the last one was a few weeks ago. Not surprising, really, as PIL own a Moonflower plant. It was a present from a fellow expat who brought it back from Singapore.
PIL always host "Moonflower party" everytime the bloom is out. I remembered them knocking on the neighbours doors and ringing up everyone in their gardening club whenever the flower bloomed. They said the plant always flower everytime there's a great thing happening in the family. There were three flowers in 2002, that was the year we got married and came back to England. Last year there wasn't any flower, nor did the year before. This year there was one, so the plant must have loved us coming back to England (again)! :) Must be a good thing then, since this time I don't really like being back here...

Sep 8, 2009

GROWN Damask Rose, Black Pepper & Sage Shampoo

GROWN Damask Rose, Black Pepper & Sage Shampoo is another fabulous buy from my OZ stint. I've been using it for about 8 months now.

I almost gave this shampoo away as the first few times of using it I didn't like it, I couldn't get the shampoo to foam properly. I'm glad I decided to keep it. After trials and errors, I discovered that applying it on very wet hair produces plenty of foam.

Here's how I would normally use it: use 2 pumps to begin with, gently massaging it into the hair and scalp, rinse well, then repeat with another 2 pumps before rinsing everything away. My hair feel much softer and lighter when I do it this way.

I also use it to wash my makeup brushes to keep the natural hair soft. I have to remember not to use too much shampoo, otherwise my brushes feel too soft! :)

The gorgeous geranium scent reminds me of it's "sister" from the same brand: Geranium leaf, Bergamot and Rose-bud facial cleanser. The chic pump bottle is recyclable - LOVE!

Verdict: a good organic shampoo that keeps my hair soft, making my hair (and the bathroom) smelling gorgeous afterwards.

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract (and) Matricaria Recutita (Camomile) Flower Extract (and) Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract (and) Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract (and) Solanum Centrale (Bush Tomato) Fruit Extract (and) Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Vegetable), Hydrolysed Wheat Protein, Rosa Damascena (Rose Absolute) Flower Oil, Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper) Seed Oil, Polysorbate 20 (Vegetable), Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oil, Salvi Sclrea (Clary Sage) Oil, Phenoxyethanol Citral (Vegetable), Geraniol (Vegetable), Citronellol (Vegetble), Linlool, Limonene (Vegetable), Sodium Hydroxymethyglycinate (Vegetable), Caramel (Vegetable).

Sep 6, 2009

Nude Skincare

My review of Nude Skincare is based on my short-term experience in using 3ml size sent by the kind people at Nude. As usual, clicking on the product name will bring you straight to the relevant webpage, which also has the ingredients list. :)

Cleansing Facial Oil - This nicely scented facial oil works well to dissolve all my make-up, including waterproof mascara, so it gets a thumbs up from me. It's very easy to use: "Warm between hands and massage onto dry face. Apply warm water to form a light milk and rinse clean." See what I mean, it's easier to use than Bloom's Nuts About You. My combination/oily skin seems to like it though it's supposed to be "For normal to dry skins." My skin is acne-prone, so after cleansing with the oil I would do another cleansing with my normal facial cleanser, in case the oil residue stays on and cause acne.

Cleansing Facial Wash - This foaming facial wash is supposed to "effectively removes make-up and pollution leaving skin immaculately clean." I have to say it didn't remove all my make-up completely even when I double-cleansed. So I ended up using it as the 2nd part double-cleansing (after cleansing my face with the facial oil) and as a morning cleanser on it's own. The texture and scent reminded me so much of She Cleanser (my old HG cleanser). The difference: my skin felt a little tight after using Nude facial wash, that's why I'm not really in love with it.

Clarifying Water - The instruction says that it's "not suitable for very sensitive skins." I really wanted the to work for me as it contains rosa damascena flower water, so I tried it anyway. Unfortunately my skin reacted to it, perhaps my skin doesn't like the "BHA from willow bark". So this product is probably more suitable for people with less sensitive skin.

Deep Cleansing Mask
- This mask comes in the form of mousse with tiny grains (organic burity?) in it. "Smooth onto cleansed, dry skin twice a week, after 10 minutes, remove by massaging gently with warm water." My skin felt smoother after application, possibly due to the glycerin and shea butter. I wasn't so keen on the scent though.

Hibiscus Monoi - The gorgeous scent of this Hibiscus scented coconut oil reminds me so much of my old-time favourite Elemis Monoi Melt. In my opinion Nude Hibiscus Monoi wins hands down as the oil is lighter and more easily absorbed by my skin. It worked well as a body moisturiser, keeping my skin nice and smooth. I enjoyed the lingering scent of the oil, as if I was wearing a perfumed body lotion. The oil has the tendency to solidify in cooler weather, just like normal coconut oil. Which isn't a problem as it turns into liquid again on direct contact with the skin.

Verdict: Hibiscus Monoi and Cleansing Facial Oil are on my must-have list now.

Unfortunately the moisturiser dried up in it's packaging, so I can't tell you much about it apart from the lovely scent I could smell when I cut the packaging open. :)

Sep 4, 2009

Big Flirt Thickening Mascara

I bought Big Flirt Thickening Mascara in 6 Fuchsia Fusion when I wanted a purplish mascara.

I like:
- the funky tube.
- the vivid fuchsia makes my dark eyelashes stand out prettily.
- the mascara adds a little bit of length and volume to my eyelashes, though not dramatic enough to produce a false eyelash effect mentioned on the blurb on the website.

The one thing that I don't like: it smells awful! Whenever I opened the tube the strong smell gives me headaches. It's not a "mascara going bad" smell, it's more like strong chemical-ey scent, if it makes sense. The smell has always been there since I got it from the shop. The only reason I haven't thrown it away is because the colour intensity is so good I couldn't bear to throw it away. Well, not yet anyway.

Verdict: I love the colour intensity, pity the strong smell puts me off. :(

Edit: hubby said the smell reminds him of very strong ink. As I couldn't stand the smell anymore it's in the bin as of today (16 Sept 09).

Sep 2, 2009

"No Buy" Challenge

News of the day: I'm officially joining the "No Buy" Challenge! According to my friend L, lots of people are NATO (No Action Talk Only) members, so I'm going to prove that I'm part of the minorities. :)
RULES (I nicked them from Blair):
1. NO buying any beauty related products (skincare, cosmetics, hair products, and body-related products) from September 1st to November 1st.
2. The only time you can buy beauty related products is when you’re out of the product and don’t have a spare, and to buy for others as a gift.
3. If you fail, you have to use the beauty products you have and do a makeover. You have to make yourself look like a clown, not a pretty one but an embarrassing one, and post a picture of your face on your blog.

No. 3 is a good incentive, as generally I don't like to take pictures of myself, especially when I'm not looking good. Thinking about it, two months sounds like a long time though. And I was eyeing a new Hermes perfume amongst other things...

Anyway, here's a little "escape" clause, added by request:
EXCEPTION: the remaining points balance on my Boots Advantage Card.
The small print: I also think it's ok to buy magazine that has beauty product giveaways! Hehehe...

Sep 1, 2009

Nail Marbling Tutorial

I was intrigued when I saw pictures of Nail Marbling. It seems like something that would suit my personality. You see, generally I like to be different but I don't like to stand out from the crowd too much.

I quite like this (from Beauty and the Blog):
and this (from nevertoomuchglitter):
If you're interested to do Nail Marbling, go to Nihrida's Blog for video tutorial. For pictorial tutorials, go to Creativeten or Oceasia.

I intend to try it when I have some spare time, and when MIL isn't around - in case I make a big mess, so as not to upset her. She's extra-super obsessed with tidiness, a drop of spilled plain water on the table could freak her out... I miss having my own place. Sigh. :(

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