Beauty | Lifestyle | Health

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Weekend Post: A Break

I feel like for my weekend post this week I need to address my absence. I've not been blogging for long but I know there are some people who come back and I don't want to seem to have disappeared in a puff of blogger dust. Working full time and blogging whilst trying to maintain some semblance of a social life is proving quite difficult - so ive decided to take a little break.

Walks in the local area help clear my head. 

The last few months have been pretty exhausting, due to work I don't get a hell of a break over Christmas or new years and I think the next week I'll be taking a break from blogging. Lately I've felt like I wasn't making my posts as 100% as they should be and it's felt a little like a chore. I may cut down to one beauty post a week as I think I'd rather do something whole heartedly rather than two things kinda half assed.

I have a lot of exciting plans and opportunities coming up in 2015 and I think I'm bestboff right now saving my energy and get back into doing things the best I can. I'll be back early January once I've had some time to rest, photograph and draft some new posts that I can be proud of.

Until then I'll always be creeping twitter and instagram - so if you want to keep up me the links are in the sidebar.

Hope everyone has a lovely new year and I shall be back soon.

Claire x

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Frank Body Balm: A Brief Review

I absolutely adore Frank, that's no secret. I started out using scrub Frank three times a week - now I use it everyday. Naturally, when I found out there was a new product coming out I was straight to the website as soon as it was released to order it. I've used it every day for three weeks now. Lately I've had particularly bad dermatitis on my hands, I've used steroid cream once in the whole time while usually I'd use it most days. I wanted to substitute Frank body balm instead to see how he coped with my angry skin. 

Frank Body balm claims he'll help with the same things the scrub fixes - eczema, cellulite, dry skin. Again, like the scrubs this product is cruelty free and vegetarian (not vegan this time as it has beeswax). 
Essentially what happens is my skin cracks and gets very dry and irritated - just drying your hands with a towel after washing them is very painful. I used Frank on my hands several times a day and always before bed - I think this is the best time to apply creams as they really have time to sink in while you rest and your skin heals and renews itself. My skin is still quite dry but no longer painful at all and the redness is completely gone. Scrubbing my hands gently every night has also helped get rid of the dead skin from the dermatitis break out. I'm amazed at how gentle this product is to use as well - it's quite fragrant when first applied and is a real balmy/buttery texture and melts very quickly when it comes into contact with the skin and doesn't sting aggravated skin at all. It's a little bit gritty but once you've rubbed it into your skin a bit it's not noticeable at all. The smell is gorgeous, if you're familiar with the Original Frank it's just like that - a coffee and orange scent. 

Aside from my hands I also thought I'd test it out on the seasonal eczema I get every summer. The heat tends to inflame my skin, particularly on my legs where my skin is in contact with chairs while at work. I used this little tube of "smooth love" every night and not only did my skin improve markedly (no photos unfortunately) but I've noticed a major improvement in the cellulite department. I didn't have masses before but it's still something I was conscious of. My thighs and bum have never looked better (despite the fact I've been slacking off on going to the gym lately...). My skin is smooth, bright and always smells delicious. 

Tl;dr: As a gorgeous a product as I expected from the makers of one of my favourite beauty products in my arsenal. Do purchase it and really give it a go - the results are beyond the price tag and feeling a little sticky for a while. 

Claire x

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Blemish Banishers

Summer skin = more spots (generally) for me. I thought I'd share my two favourite spot treatments - both are great for different reasons and both are very affordable too. One is the more scientific and medical option - the other is totally natural and just as effective so whichever way you lean I got you. These kinds of treatments are idea for the kind of people who get spots in specific areas but don't want to use a mask that will dry out their whole face. Aside from these I highly recommend always removing makeup carefully (double cleansing is your best friend) and if at all possible having one day a week makeup free - though it's hard to fit in sometimes - will help your skin breathe a little better.

Generally speaking I get hormonal break-outs and breakouts on my forehead and chin and just from touching my face. Both of these treatments are anti-bacterial meaning they help prevent more spots from popping up in the wake of your current face-demon. The Sebamed is slightly acidic to mimic your skins natural pH of 5.5 - this helps kill bacteria, dries the spot out and helps reduce redness. I recommend always washing your hands before applying anything to your face - this helps reduce your skin's exposure to bacteria and will reduce the chances of causing blocked or infected pores. This one is like a gel - it's clear and leaves no trace on your skin so if you're having a bare faced day you can use this without worrying about it flaking or drying out your skin too much to the extent that it's noticeable.

The Lush option Vanishing Act (Or Grease Lightning otherwise, depending on which country you're in) is also antibacterial, using tea tree and lavender to fight off bugs. The lavender also helps reduce redness, aloe soothes inflammation and the witch hazel helps tighten pores up to leave your skin looking smoother. Similarly to the Sebamed it's a watery gel like consistency in a little pump bottle - I find it's a bit tough to control how much you get coming out at times but once applied to the skin it dries very quickly so having too much isn't really a problem. This one can flake a little if you apply too much but the overall effect on your skin is worth it. This one is ideal for going under makeup as it creates a bit of a barrier between the spot and your makeup. Another lovely thing about this one is it's very effective but also very gentle - if my skin is a little fragile feeling I know I can still use this on blemishes without aggravating it further.

Both are very affordable - I bought my Sebamed from Feelunique for 4.20 GBP and Vanishing Act for $16.90 NZD - the Sebamed doesn't seem to last as long due to being smaller (and I tend to overdolse a little whoops) but they both deliver fantastic results. Now's the time of year to be meticulous with your skin - no one wants breakouts over the holiday period!

Applied topically each night before bed (I apply mine after a serum like rosehip) I find first thing in the morning my face is much clearer, smoother and calmer looking. Both are oil free and help dry out spots without actually drying out the rest of your skin.

What are your top products for beating spots?

Claire x

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Weekend Post: Now on Monday

The wind-down to Christmas is on eek - I have a lot to get through for work in the next week and a half. I'm certainly looking forward to a few long weekends but in the business I work in it's bound to be a busy time. In the mean time I thought I'd try make myself feel a bit more festive by writing some Christmas cards and *trying* to get some shopping done. I've done a bit more online this year so fingers crossed it all gets to New Zealand in time...! 

Smith and Caugheys is one of those special places for me - it's not just a department store, mum has been taking me there every Christmas since I was a child (as long as I can remember really) and it's really the only thing Auckland has that's remotely close to the huge stores in London like Selfridges and John Lewis and the like. It's a beautiful store and going there feels like Christmas, every year they have a unique display in the store windows for the festive season, this year it was "A Pirates 12 Days of Christmas" - this is one of the scenes. All the little figures move, it's magical. I managed to get a few bits for my family while I was there as well. 

Shopping always makes me feel a bit peckish - I bought mum and myself a cookie each from Mrs Higgins. They're so delicious - proper cookie texture of crispy around the edges and soft in the middle. 

Aside from all that I also finally cut my hair to the length I want - bit of a shock but I love how it turned out. It's been in the back of my mind for the last few months and this weekend was the time. I went to my usual hairdresser and as usual he did exactly what I'd asked for. 

I think from now on I'll be posting my weekend posts on a Monday (starting next week obviously...) - just to give myself a bit more time to get the photos sorted and really write something I'm happy with/that might actually be interesting to read. So henceforth I'll have a new post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I don't get a hell of a lot of holiday at all this year so if I get a bit slack we'll face that when we get there.

Claire x

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Skincare Staples

All of these products are a daily thing for me - some of them are also pretty complimentary as well. Personally due to my skin I tend to lean towards preservative free/natural products and ingredients wherever possible. All of these tick the right boxes and have really helped my skin get to where it is now.

Ultrabland + Eau Roma Water by Lush. I think every post I do has something Lush in it - I've been using their products for over 7 years now and have no intention of stopping any time soon. I tried Ultrabland when I first started working there two Christmasses ago (eek how time flies). I was a little dubious as it is oil based and my skin can be a little on the oily side. However, since my skincare enlightenment I now know that oil based products are great for all skin types. This cleanser breaks down makeup like you wouldn't believe whilst also being really gentle on the skin. I use it around my eye area, to remove lipstick - everything. I always double cleanse to remove absolutely everything and this little black tub is worth its weight in gold. I think I'm onto about my 6th tub - I generally use one about every six months - which for everyday use is actually pretty cost effective.

Before using Ultrabland I never really got the "point" of toners. However Eau Roma Water is the perfect partner to Ultrbland. The way they work together is that the cleanser breaks down the makeup on your skin, then the toner helps lift the cleanser off leaving your skin clean and balanced without feeling too oily. I spritz this all over my face and remove with cotton pads. This toner is the most gentle one Lush makes and I find it smells gorgeous, the lavender and rose really calm the skin and it leaves you feeling very refreshed.

Rosehip Oil + Very Gentle Moisturising Cream. I've mentioned these both numerous times before - I've been using rosehip on my skin for years now. It's great for sensitive skin, healing acne scars, reducing redness and counteracting damage you're exposed to from the sun and pollution. Aside from that it's very balancing - my skin type is much more "normal" since using this and I absolutely love putting a few drops on after every shower. It's such a luxurious feeling product and even the packing is lovely. Aside from that it's also a Kiwi brand and I always love to support those where I can. I've not been without a bottle of this or the antioxidant variety for years.

I mentioned the serum version of this cream earlier this week in my Dream Team post - the cream itself again is great for sensitive skin as the name suggests. It also has hyaluronic acid in it meaning it helps your skin absorb more moisture than it would normally be able to. I love using this before foundation or tinted moisturiser as it creates a beautiful smooth base. It's also great for before bed on top of the rosehip oil to lock moisture in.

Coconut Frank. I talk about Frank all the time - I just can't get enough of it. It's one of those products that just sort of fixes everything. I use it on my face every night in the shower a bit like a face mask. Since doing this my skin is softer, brighter and any acne scars/blemishes are going away and fading. I actually feel OK having my skin bare which in the summer months is pretty much unheard of as that's the usual break-out time my skin goes mad. It's also really helped with the eczema on the backs of my legs which is a usual nightmare every year when the temperature heats up.

What products can you not live without?

Claire x

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dream Team #1

Again I feel like I need to make another little introduction - this is the start of another "series" I want to do. Essentially the premise is pretty simple and I'm sure you can guess it - it's basically show-casing a few products that work particularly well together or a common complaint. This time I picked two products I love for sensitive but breakout prone skin. That combination in itself is pretty tricky - often products for breakouts are quite harsh and drying and can make delicate faces feel angry and sad. I don't want your face to feel angry and sad so I am here to help,  friends. If this sounds like you read on - I have several of these ideas lined up along with more "Focus On" posts with some more lovely ingredients worth talking about. 


To give you a little background I have very eczema prone skin - especially during the warmer months when the heat tends to aggravate it. However it's also a bit oily in the t-zone resulting in frustrating breakouts. Trying to cater for both skin-types is a bit of a pain - these two do it beautifully.

Catastrophe Cosmetic starts out by absorbing excess oil and soothing redness with calamine powder - one thing I hate most about my skin is when it looks inflamed. The anti-oxidant blueberries are beautiful for this as well. Sometimes I wonder if the fact alone that it's blue helps cancel out red tones in the skin. This mask isn't scrubby at all (aside from the very few blueberry seeds in it) so is great if your skin is a little timid around exfoliation too. The almond oil helps balance oil production and leaves the skin moist rather than too dried out. Whenever my face is a bit on the breaking out side I always reach for this in my local Lush store. The fact it's also preservative free and kept in the fridge means it's very gentle ingredients wise and is lovely and cooling on sore or inflamed skin.

Following this the Very Gentle Calming Serum does exactly as the name would suggest - it calms redness further whilst sitting lightly on the skin. If your skin is a little on the dry side you may want to follow up with another moisturiser or oil as well. One pump is enough to cover the whole face - it's particularly useful I've found for environmental irritation - i.e. pollen and the such which is so prevalent around this time of year.

Afterwards I generally follow up with the Very Gentle face cream or rosehip oil depending on the condition of my skin at the time.

What do you guys think of this idea?

Claire x

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Weekend Post: Work Christmas Party and Shopping

November was an unbelievable month - I'm quite relived it's over and we're onto the last month  of 2014. To kick it off we had the sales team meeting at work and the Christmas party. As I'm a part of the sales team it was a pretty full on week this week! Below is what I wore - absolutely kicking myself for not including the shoes I wore which were my Jeffrey Campbell Litas - I've posted them on instagram before and I'm sure everyone knows what they look like. 

Also snaps for me for actually smiling in a photo for once. My makeup was pretty simple really - my base was everything from my dewy skin post earlier this week paired with a Lime Crime Red Velvet Velvetine. I also wore xobeauty lashes - the style I chose was the Romantic. 

It was such a fun night - we had a group of drag queens come in and do a cabaret show. Everyone absolutely loved it. If you want to see more of what was there have a look at my instagram - linked in the sidebar. 

Due to being a 76 year old woman on the inside/I take as long to recover as one would I needed a decent sleep in on Saturday to make up for an exhausting Friday. Dad and I went into the city for a few things and naturally because we were in Newmarket we couldn't go past Tasca for lunch - I had my new usual which is the tapas plate below. Absolutely delicious and always up to a very high standard. If you're in Auckland I highly recommend going there for a meal.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty quiet and I've just spent it planning posts for next week, pottering in the garden a bit and painting my nails unsuccessfully twice - I just bought some new colours and have decided neither of them suit me *sighing emoji here*

Sugar-snap peas from the garden

Nails that are far too girly for me to handle. 
My mum finally gets back from Europe tomorrow too - much house cleaning has gone on this afternoon. I've done a spot of online shopping for Christmas and a bit in real life shops too (amazing). Can't believe it's only three more weeks until Christmas - eeek. I'm more concerned about the fact that I don't have plans for new years yet. I'm such an old woman.

Claire x

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Nude Lip

Kylie Jenner inspired lips for paler girls - sometimes I find the browny colour a bit harsh on me - so I've found a combination that was mentioned in my recent monthly favourite that I thought I'd share properly. I always like to see the colour pay off of products too so I've included swatches (I'm just having such a swatch-y week good lord first the Hourglass palette then this?!) I'll stop posting my face next week I promise. This is my personal favourite combination.

Hourglass Femme Nude no.4 and MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture


The above swatches are in natural light - absolutely love them for defining the lip and it gives you a more put together look with minimum effort. 

Any must-have nudes I should add to my collection? (Already have my eye on the Femme Nude no.1...)

Claire x

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Do the Dew - How to with Oily Skin

OK, so I feel I need to make an effort to ~put my face out there more~ and it certainly won't be a weekly thing but I feel if I can show you swatches/how it looks on it'll be a lot more beneficial for anyone reading. Basically the deal is I love dewy/glowy skin but anyone with an oilier face knows that sometimes dewy = shiny. I've found a few products that mean that no longer need be the case. A few I've mentioned before and a few are a little newer.

Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturiser + Radiant Creamy Concealer (in Vanilla). 
I've mentioned this dreamy combination more than enough times - the moisturiser is great coverage, offers SPF and gives a really luminous finish to the skin. Pair this with the concealer in a pinky shade for covering blue/purple circles under the eyes and I find my complexion already looks a lot better. More fresh and a lot less dull whilst still letting your skin peek through rather than being too much like a "mask."

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette + Nars Lagina Bronzer. 
I don't know where the Hourglass Ambient lighting palette has been all my life but we've found each other now and that's what matters. This is the piece de resistance for oily skin that loves the dew. I use the centre shade for setting my concealer, the bronzey honey shade to warm up my cheeks - a bit like a blush. Finally I set all over with the left hand colour pictured above and you're all set. I like to pop a bit of Nars under my cheek bones to contour a little bit with a tapered face brush - as seen below. 

MAC Mineralise Blush in Warm Soul and Benefit Watts Up.
These two are totally optional but if I'm going out or really want to amp the glow up a bit I add both. The blush is a bit more intense than the Hourglass powder and still adds a lovely warmth. The Benefit highlighter is again very similar to the lightest shade in the Hourglass palette. 

The best part about all these products is they suit my oily/combination skin and really last the distance. In terms of what I'd recommend the most highly the Hourglass palette is actually fantastic value for money. This alone you can use alone as mentioned for blush, highlighter and setting powder. It gives the most air-brushed and beautiful finish. My skin is far from perfect and usually a bit on the pink side despite having very yellow toned skin everywhere else, you can barely tell at all using this with my usual base. 

Selfie Game Needs Work
Can someone please tell me I'm not the only one incapable of taking a good selfie with a camera? I had to use my phone camera for these eek - hope the quality is OK. I think they're just good enough to do the products justice. 

I've paired this with minimal brows and mascara and a nude lip - obviously this look is lovely with any eye or lip combo you like - I'll be using this for the work Christmas party this week. I'll be sure to post my Christmas look shortly after. 

P.s. what do you all think of the new theme?!

Claire x

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Weekend Post: Read, Eat, Listen, Do

I've been thinking about making a little series like this for a while - something I can use to keep you guys up to date with the non-beauty related stuff I'm into as well. I'll probably do it during weekend where I don't have anything outstandingly exciting to show you and maybe the odd one during the week (amongst beauty posts...).

Anyway, lets carry on!

READ. Jack Reacher - mum lent me this because I hadn't read any of the series and am one of those people who re-read the same series over and over. I've got about a hundred pages in so far and am really enjoying it - it's nice to read something a bit more real-life and gritty.

EAT. I have been eating one metric tonne of avocados weekly seeing as they're so cheap - 4 for 3 dollars at the supermarket don't mind if I do. I love having them on toast every morning with some Marmite and chilli jam. Delicious. I've had it for lunch as well as breakfast today too. Oops. As well as this I've been taking lozenge pro-biotics especially for throat/respiratory immunity as there's a lot of bugs going around at this time of year and I really can't afford to get sick. So far I've managed to stave off the bug that's hit a few people in the office.

LISTEN. Now that I have finally managed to get music sorted on my phone (man I just love this phone) I've added a whole lot of new stuff. At the moment I'm listening to Flawless on repeat (I'm late to the party I know - bear with me). The sound quality on my S4 is amazing - totally obsessed.

DO. Planning some very exciting things for next year which I will talk about closer to the time. In terms of a more superficial level I've been painting my nails orange for summer - I can't get enough of this colour (Hot and Spicy by OPI - was mentioned on a monthly favourite post here). As well as that I've been fake tanning - my legs are about ready to be exposed to the oncoming Kiwi summer. My hands below are a typical example of how bad I am at tanning fingers. Don't you just love my new Meadowlark ring though? I bought it for myself as an early Christmas present for one year at my first full time job. Very surreal how different everything is now compared to a year ago.

Hope this new series is of some interest - should be more exciting than describing my quiet weekend in the least! Back on Wednesday as per usual for a new beauty post. Until then.

Claire x

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Monthly Favourites: November 2014

Ahh, monthly favourites time again. I do love a good product round-up. There's a few new bits and bobs here and a few pieces I've had for a while and have started really reaching for again. A lot of them are complimentary products that I use in conjunction with each other. Right, on with it then.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette.
To say this palette is absolutely stunning would be an understatement. I think I'll do a more in depth review of this one with swatches and photos of it on because you really need to see it and try it to do it justice. Inside are three finishing powders of different shades - together you can pretty much finish your makeup, add dimension and blur imperfections in one. It sets your makeup and is great for oily skinned folk as it gives you that glow without making you oily and without the need for cream products.

Hourglass Femme Nude No.4
I'd been keen to try these for a wee while - I'm a sucker for a good nude and when I found out this brand was also cruelty free I thought "Well no reason not to try them now!". I use this in combination with my next favourite - the MAC lipliner pencil in Subculture. It's a beautiful finish for a lipstick, satin, very opaque and very long-lasting too. They are a little on the pricey side but for the amount of product you get in the tube and how long it lasts on the lips they're wonderful. I'd compare them to the NARS lip pencils except the plus on these is they don't need sharpening which means no product goes to waste. The packing is so luxurious and application is wonderfully easy too.

MAC Lip-liner in Subculture.
As mentioned this one goes superbly with the Hourglass lipstick - particularly if you're into that Kylie Jenner lip which is so on trend at the moment. It's a lovely pinky-brown shade but is still light enough to look natural and flattering on pale skin too (which suits me...).

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla.
Usually I avoid anything with a pink tone in it like the plague because my skin is actually very yellow toned. However, for the blue toned under-eye circles I seem so prone to of late this one is a lifesaver. It brightens (because it's the lightest of the concealers), is quite hydrating, doesn't crease and gives you a lovely highlighted look under your eyes. I use this every morning after applying my tinted moisturiser and set it with the lightest shade from the Hourglass palette. Can't get enough of this combination.

xoBeauty Pretty Ties.
I've mentioned these before I few months ago in a favourites video but again, this month I've bought more and have been using them religiously. They're so gentle on hair and better yet - they actually hold my bun together. Typically with fine hair I find it falls out too easily with conventional round/thin hair ties but this shape and size holds that messy and effortless bun in place all day at work. Super impressed.

Sympathy for the Skin. 
Over the last few weeks I'm beginning to see I have a problem with body lotions. I have about five in my present collection - dry skin problems I guess? Anyway, I picked this one up in a bit of a weekend haul (one of the numerous recent trips to Lush...). It's one I hadn't purchased in a while but now I've got it I can't imagine why I went without it - it's the perfect lotion for summer. Very hydrating, tropical banana and vanilla fragrance and beautiful post shower/before bed when you can really let it sink in.

Quite relieved this month is over - the last of 2014 is on its way eeek. Next month there will be Christmas posts a-plenty so keep an eye out for those too!

Claire x

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

About: Oil Pulling

I mentioned a few products I particularly love with coconut recently in this post, I thought coconut oil in particular deserved a little more focus and much like the oil itself, oil pulling is becoming quite a "thing." I recently started doing it a few months ago and thought I'd shed some light on the method and benefits behind it.

What is oil pulling? 
Oil pulling is essentially a similar concept to using mouth wash. The main exception being you substitute mouth wash for coconut oil and you're swishing it around for longer than you would with mouth wash too.

How do you do it? 
It's a little unpleasant the first time you do it, and using a mild flavoured oil will definitely help - coconut is great because it tastes mild and is naturally slightly anti-bacterial. I take a teaspoon sized amount (shown above) and you chew it up until it's a liquid. If you're in a very hot climate your oil may already be in its liquid state. Once you're chewing it up and gently swishing it around (you don't need to do it quite as vigorously as you would with Listerine...) check the time - you ideally want to be oil pulling for 10 - 20 minutes. I do this process every third day usually - I like to clean my teeth first, floss and then oil pull. I feel like the oil gets to do the best job and have greater access to your teeth when they're already clean. Afterwards, brush again to get any excess oil off your teeth.

A few things to note - don't spit the oil down the drain, once it cools again it'll solidify can block the drain. Either spit it into the garden or a paper towel and bin it. Also, don't swallow the oil - by the time it's been doing its thing for 20 minutes there's a lot of gunk in there you don't want in your stomach.

What are the benefits? 
The benefits are numerous - for a start it helps remove bacteria in your mouth. You know when you cook with oil and the oil absorbs the colour/essence of whatever you're cooking in it? It's the same when you oil pull - the coconut will absorb toxins and bacteria in your mouth (which, as mentioned above is why you shouldn't swallow it!). This results in a cleaner feeling mouth and fresher breath - I never have a dry feeling mouth in the mornings when I do this regularly and my teeth keep that "smooth" feel post-brush for longer. You'll notice the colour of the oil has changed when you spit it out - quite revolting but you can see it's working.
Another huge benefit is it very gently whitens your teeth - because it removes surface stains (like coffee and red wine...). It won't whiten them drastically like bleaching would but this is a good option for those of you with sensitive teeth, thin enamel or don't want to splash out on an expensive treatment. I've found my teeth feel less sensitive too and my gums feel a lot healthier and less sensitive too.

Do you oil pull? Is it something you'd try?

Claire x

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The PPL Shall Return on Wednesday

To any of you regular readers waiting for a weekend post unfortunately I don't have one this week. I've had a bit of a tough one and need some time with my best friend eating ice cream. I'm scheduling my usual beauty posts to go ahead on Wednesday and Friday as per usual but I just needed a weekend off.

See you all next weekend.

Claire x

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Office Beauty

Post-work drinks or just going out with your mates after uni/school can warrant a bit of a change. Aside from that I think having a few solid and reliable bits in your bag to keep you feeling lovely are always handy. I compiled a little list of things I find indispensable throughout work/post work dos.

The first, of course, is a hand cream. The Burts Bees Banana and Beeswax hand cream is the best I've found - I've done a more in depth bit on it here. Washing your hands a lot seems to be a thing that just happens - applying this afterwards keeps them tidy looking and feeling nice.

Second is a little mirror - I've had this one forever and it slips nicely into my handbag and is very discreet for checking lipstick or your teeth post lunch (hah!). You can get these pretty cheaply and they're well worth having.

Next is a few lip products - a balm is a must if you have dry lips - or just lips full stop really. Being in an air conditioned environment can make your skin dry as is, but your lips are even more delicate and don't have oil glands which means they can't keep themselves hydrated. Something like Burts Bees lip balm or my current favourite - the Hurraw! Coconut lip balm is beautiful.

Following this, if you're heading out later or need to "dress" your look up a bit a lip pencil like the Nars lip pencils or something similar are great. Moisturising, add a bit of colour and most importantly are easy to applyand if you do mess it up, easy to fix as well.

Finally - the old staple, a nail file. Having snaggy nails does my head in - if I have even a small chip I have to smooth it out. One of these duo-nail files (is duo-nail file even a thing? I just made that up) with two grains means you can really buff them into shape or just smooth an edge where be.

Anything you always have handy at work?

Claire x

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Top 3: Hand and Nail Care

Lately my hands and nails have fallen into ill repair - meaning I've had to bust out the heavy duty products. I thought I'd share, anyone with brittle or easily chipped nails and dry hands will benefit from these three wonderful pocket sized products.

One. Start to Finish Top and Base Coat, OPI.
I've used this one for years and it's great in my books partly because it kills two birds with one stone. Rather than having two products you can use this for creating a smooth canvas to put colour on over the top and helping prevent chips. It really helps maintains the condition of your nails as well - I don't get that peeling or cracking on the top layers of my nails (unless I pick at it when it chips...). A tad on the pricey side but if you paint your nails a lot this will be well worth the investment - I get through a bottle in a little under a year and that's with painting my nails every week too.

Two. CND Solar Cuticle Oil.
A recent addition to my collection but this is a super nail saver - particularly if you're into getting gel or Shellac nails. It helps the nail to grow out strong while it's still forming. Applying this every day makes my cuticles less cracked and dry and my nails a lot shinier and healthy feeling too. Aside from that it smells like marzipan - which might allude to the almond oil that's a main ingredient (along with jojoba). This wee bottle is pretty generous and will last quite a while - for 20NZD it's actually pretty cost effective too. 

Three. Burts Bees Banana and Beeswax hand cream.
I've mentioned this one in my recently rediscovered products post here. It's the only cream I've ever found that really combats that painful dry skin that can arise from dermatitis and really lasts on the skin too. It smells beautiful, sinks in and really helps repair your hands. I love applying this one after I've washed my hands - I find that's the best time to apply because the warm water softens your skin and allows it to absorb more easily and skin is more delicate when it's been in water (particularly if you have dermatitis/eczema). 

Having soft and well tended to hands always look lovely and prepare your nails for polish - something that always makes me feel more put together. 

Claire x

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Weekend Post: Back to the City

After a week trying to fit 46 hours of work into a 40 hour week I was more relieved than usual to get to the weekend. I've not been into the city in several weeks and as mum is going overseas for work soon we thought we'd have a day out. As usual we went to Newmarket which is one of my favourite places in Auckland to shop and have lunch. I had a wee Lush list as a few of my favourite things were getting a bit low, unfortunately my shampoo was only available in the baby or humongous bottles so I guess I have an excuse to go back soon? Anyway, I got one of my favourite body lotions and must have cream cleanser as I'm getting a bit low. Picked up the new Lush Times (or Fresh Matters as it's called now) and got the Christmas gift guide in the post. 

After fake tanning like a tanorexic I needed a new tinted moisturiser or foundation - I picked up my much loved Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturiser in Alaska, it suits perfectly and is lovely and yellow so I don't look like I have a yellow body and weirdly pink face hah. I'd been meaning to try the Hourglass Nude Femme lipsticks for a while and I settled on No.4 - my word these are bloody gorgeous. From the packaging and the beautiful satin finish I will definitely be trying a few other shades in this range. I was a bit cheeky and tried the Ambient Lighting palette as well - there were only two left and the price has dropped significantly so I was like hell TREAT YO SELF and bought one. It's the loveliest range of powders - I can say this, tinted moisturiser and something on your brows and lashes gives the most amazing "no makeup"makeup look. I'll definitely need to do a more detailed post on these later. Also bought a pair of draped cargo/harem pants which I have been dreaming of for a while and happened to trip over in Country Road, conveniently they were even 25% off. I'll feature them soon in an outfit post!

Lunch was at my usual tapas bar - I got the tapas platter with slow cooked green beans, chorizo sausage on Spanish baked beans with tomato bread, olives and hummus on the side. I'm hungry just thinking about it. This place is consistently perfect and the service is always excellent.

Finally the piece I was really planning on getting yesterday - I was actually assuming I'd need to order it as my fingers are tiny and each time I've been the jeweler hasn't had the stone/metal combo I've been after. This ring was obviously meant to find its way to my finger - it fits perfectly and is the silver/amethyst combination I was after. It's my treat to myself after a year of finishing university/being at my current job. It was too expensive a piece for me to feel comfortable to ask for for Christmas so I bought it for myself - I've had my eye on this since April. 

Today I'm doing the usual frantic photo taking, drafting, editing and the such. My access to a laptop at home is about to disappear so I'm trying to get extra ahead now...!

Claire x

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Little Luxuries

The other day I was thinking about the little things that perk me up if I've had a rubbish day - the sorts of things you don't really "need" but still want and appreciate. So I put together a list of things I feel are totally vital if you've been having a rubbish week and fancy picking up a few treats for yourself.

Lovely Jubblies - Boob Cream. All boobs deserve a pot of this stuff - it smells beautiful (because it's from Lush, of course), is super hydrating and how luxurious is it having a cream especially dedicated to your boobs? You can't go wrong really, big or small this cream is designed to help reduce lines and tighten up the skin with tigerlily. Applied after a shower it sinks in over night and keeps your neck and chest looking especially lovely.

A new nail polish. I love Butter London and OPI - OPI in particular I think are fantastic quality. Sometimes it's a bit of an effort but I always find with a colourful set of fingers and toes my life is that much more "put together." Splashing out on a new bottle now and again is always a lovely way to treat yourself, it's fairly inexpensive in comparison to getting your nails done and obviously you get a hell of a lot of wears out of one bottle of nail colour.

Perfume. I was going to say expensive perfume but to be honest one of my all time favourites is actually a pretty afforable one - from Lush (good old Vanillary - a warming and comforting smell). However I do love a good high end perfume too - I think Coco Chanel Mademoiselle is a pretty universally appreciated fragrance and my most recent addition is Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb extreme - it's just like if Vanillary and Mademoiselle had a baby. Quite a rich oriental one with strong vanilla notes and floral top notes. All in all, bloody gorgeous and I always feel fantastic wearing it.

MAC Lipstick. If there's some other brand you prefer, go for it. However for me MAC is king in the lipstick department and I haven't really ventured away from it...ever. There's such a huge colour range and the feel of the packaging feels a little tube of luxury that you smoosh onto your mouth.

A scented candle. I've really only just been able to justify this financially recently, but when Ecoya came out with a Coconut and Elderflower scented candle I could really pass that u, could I? There's something wonderfully relaxing and calming about a scented candle - I like to light mine in my room while I'm sitting there reading, or have it burning while I plan blog posts. Keeping it for special occasions I find sometimes helps bring on the "inspiration" as it were - it puts you into writing mode or relaxing mode or whatever you want to be doing when you can smell it burning. Shop around and find one you love.

Bit of a different post to normal but I quite enjoyed writing it - frankly the list could have been much longer but top five seemed about right (for the first post anyway).

Claire x

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Focus On: Coconut

Coconut is a bit of a buzz in the beauty community lately - and with good reason. I thought I'd start this little series - now and again I'll choose a set of products I love based on a key ingredient - I always like to know different properties and benefits of ingredients and as I buy pretty natural it's a good way to find new products you might like. Anyway - on with the coconut edition!

Daddy-O shampoo by Lush. I've mentioned this lovely shampoo before in my hair care post. The coconut in it is lovely and hydrating without weighing my hair down, aside from that it adds a beautiful if not delicate fragrance to the shampoo. Coconut oil is great for your hair due to its lauric acid content - your hair is naturally acidic so treatments with coconut in them help counteract the drying effect sulfates in shampoo can have (personally I use half/half - one SLS free shampoo and one with, I don't find it harsh at all).

Coconut Oil - cold-pressed and extra virgin. Which brings me to my next item - of course I have to include coconut oil itself. It's fantastic for your skin, as mentioned the lauric acid content is very high in the cold-pressed version and makes a wonderful hair mask or an oil to be added to a bath. It's lovely for your face to remove makeup at a pinch, is great on sensitive or sun burned skin. Aside from all that it's also slightly anti-bacterial so it's a win-win-win really. What's not to love?

Frank - Coconut. Having got through a packet of all three Frank varieties now I can say this one is by far my favourite. Definitely the most gentle, the coconut (and grapeseed) oils are so hydrating and gentle whilst also being scrubby and refreshing. I love to use this one before tan, to remove old tan and to help clear up spotty skin - I just pat it all over my face like a face mask and leave to soak while I was my hair then rinse off the coffee and coconut and my skin is always less red, smoother and absorbs serums and moisturisers better. It's a dream in a brown paper bag.

Hurraw - Coconut. I love the night treatment Hurraw balm but the coconut really takes the cake - if for no other reason that it smells like a coconut lovers dream. It glides across chapped lips like you wouldn't believe and lasts a long time on the skin too. Aside from that it's all natural, cruelty free and vegan. Need I say more?

Any coconut based products you love? I'm always keen to try more with this beautiful ingredient.

Claire x


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Weekend Post: Cocktails and Sheep

This weekend dad needed help dagging the sheep, so I helped shift them through the races and separate the lambs from the sheep (we did the lambs last week). It stops the sheep from getting more grubby and helps keep any flies away going into summer. 



This was pre-shearing but I'm just pleased with how brown I am after using my Loving Tan Ultra Dark tanning mousse. The photo doesn't do it justice - I think I'll need to do a post on it later on, it's a beautiful product and lasts such a long time.

 In the evening I was due at a cocktail party - Harvey Wallbangers and a Pink Paradise were what I went for. Am I the only person that's guaranteed a hangover if I drink champagne?

I posted more on instagram (whee I have instagram) which is linked on the sidebar if you're interested. I wore high waisted Levis jeans, a drapey top, white singlet and Jeffrey Campbells. I had no idea what to do with my makeup so naturally I just went for my usual winged eyeliner and added some xobeauty lashes - the same as what I was wearing the other weekend - called The Flirt.
Before - After - Pink Paradise
The anal-retentive person in me wouldn't allow three portrait photos when all the rest of my blog photos are landscape. So I made a collage...anyway here's my outfit for the night. Today I've just been playing with my new phone like mad (I am absolutely in love with it might I add). Aside from that a spot of gardening and a lot of drafting for the next week - work is busier than ever and I'm trying to make sure I can stay on top of everything. Another fairly quiet weekend all in all but I'll be heading back into the city next week - feels like it's been absolutely ages since I was there.


Right, on with the rest of my Sunday work - next post will be up on Wednesday usual time!

Claire x

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Social Media!

I've finally received my new phone in the post which of course means I had to get Instagram and Twitter. I'll keep you guys updated on new posts and the like so head over and follow me if you want more regular updates. I'll be doing my usual weekend post tomorrow! All links are now in the side bar if you're interested.

Claire x

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Recently Rediscovered

Much like shopping my stash I've recently found a few products I used to use a lot have crept back into my routine. I thought I'd highlight a few that really stood out - you might find something you'd like to add to your own collection!

Fair Trade Foot Lotion. I've been using Lush for over seven years now - and recently I've been having a real "binge" as it were. Seeing as we're heading back into warmer months and my feet are on display in my recently purchased black Havaianas my heels need a little more attention. After I've scrubbed my feet with Frank I like to smother them with this and put some socks on. If it's a cool night I put my super warm woolly ones on, otherwise just some thick cotton socks work wonders. This cream makes your feet feel cool, refreshed and most importantly very soft and jandal-weather worthy.

Mineralise Skinfinish in Lightscapade. This well known MAC product gets mentions all over and for good reason. It's one of those highlighters you can't really go wrong with - it's beautifully pearly, not sparkly at all, gives a beautiful natural glow whilst being nearly impossible to overdo. It's great for summer if you're more oily as it's not adding more cream to your face (my other favourite highlighter is of course Benefit Watts Up). Beautiful cool toned pearly colour with some gold hints in it, it's a great option for fairer ladies as well.

Sea Spray. Another Lush one (sorrynotsorry). Since cutting my hair shorter I've been angling more towards beachy waves and a bit of texture. This one got pulled out because it's great to spritz into damp hair before you plait it to give beautiful long lasting waves (and naturally because it's Lush it smells heavenly too). I often use it to re-fresh day old waves and to give a bit of oomph but also as a setting spray for my hair - think a sock bun with fly-away hair tendencies, a few puffs of this and your hair is held for the day.

Beeswax and Banana Hand Cream. Along with coconut and vanilla, banana is one of my favourite ingredients/scents in beauty products. Beeswax of course is great for dry cracked skin and this is genuinely the best cream I've found to counteract/prevent my dermatitis from flaring up. It's a little on the pricey side - I have to buy it online for about $16NZD but it's worth every cent. A little goes a long way and lasts on your skin a long while. I take this to work with me every day in my hand bag and it sleeps besides me on my table at night (after I've applied it before bed of course!)

Seen anything you fancy?

Claire x

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Current Hair Care Routine

Although I use (some) products formulated more with blonde hair in mind I honestly think these would suit most hair types. I've been using almost all of these for quite some time - with the exception of the Kevin Murphy shine spray so I can attest to their effectiveness and quality for certain.

Daddy-O Shampoo by Lush. Not only does this smell heavenly (violets and coconut anyone?) but it also does a superb job of maintaining my summer lightened hair and keeping any strong brassy tones away. My hair tends to be ashy blonde on the top where the sun touches it and a more strawberry blonde underneath. This shampoo cleanses without being stripping, tones with its purple colour and gives me a bit of body without making my hair feel "crunchy" like some shampoos can do. As blonde hair is a bit more porous than darker hair colours it can pick up dirt more easily and look grubby - after washing with this my hair looks fresh and bright every time.

Plumping Wash by Kevin Murphy. This company does not test on animals and like Lush isn't owned by a bigger company that does - so I was quite pleased to trip across them. This shampoo is SLS free so if my hair is a little oily but not in major need of a cleanse or I just want something that gives more volume than Daddy-O I use this. I find mixing up your products now and again can really help your skin/hair from getting stuck in a rut and getting to used to the same products.

Absolut Repair by L'Oreal. I'm gradually trying to steer myself away from anything L'Oreal but I must admit, they got it bang on with this one. It's designed to be a hair mask but I use it as a conditioner as my hair has a tendency to be on the dry side. The lactic acid helps maintain the hair follicle (your hair is more acidic than basic which is why too much shampoo can be drying) and has really helped slow down the appearance of split ends in my hair. Not only that but it makes my messy blonde locks a dream to tangle tease away after I've got out of the shower.

L'Oreal Mythic Oil. Again, this one was a gift a few years ago, it in similar in the way the conditioner works - it also helps tame frizz and lock in moisture.

Kevin Murphy Shine Spray. The ultimate in a quick finishing spray for glossy and lightly scented locks. If I want a bit of extra shine on the ends of my hair and I'm in a hurry this is a dream to use - just shake up the bottle and spritz a few pumps and brush through.

L'Oreal Texture Dust. This dust can be a little sticky if you're too heavy handed, but when you get it right you get a great amount of volume in your hair as well as the fact it helps absorb some excess oil. I usually lift the top sections of my hair and just dust a little underneath to fluff up. That way my hair is volumised but not sticky looking on the outside.

Got any different recommendations? Always keen on cruelty free options!

Claire x


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Weekend Post: Kale Chips + Gardens

 I've finally got a great crop of kale growing in the garden - from little wee seeds all the way up to big bushy plants. I decided to try making kale chips from some of the leaves. They turned out pretty delicious so I thought I'd share what I did to make them.

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius on bake.  

Remove stalks from the kale and place on a baking tray. 

Drizzle with olive oil and some garlic salt. Try and keep the leaves as elevated as possible to they can go crispy. 

Bake for 8 - 12 minutes or until they go crunchy and delicious. 

I also fake tanned with Loving Tan - my legs below turned out pretty well (I haven't washed off the colour guide layer yet) - please ignore the feet. My hands turned out hilariously, I thought I'd done pretty well getting between my fingers but by the time the tan had developed overnight I had ombre little brown paws haha.


Finally this afternoon mum and I went to the local garden centre - I'd wanted to get some more plants to replace the ones that got munched up by accident (I was very sad, they were the only seeds aside from my kale that were still living...). So as I drove in my car, mum paid me back for the gas with plants instead - I was more than happy with that!

I bought a little aloe vera - I'm jumping on the blogging bandwagon with cacti. This little guy in the middle will only get about twice the size he is now so will be perfect for my office. I also chose out a few marigolds as they're very pretty flowers to have in the garden as well as attracting insects away from your veggies. If you have snails and butterflies eating your plants, put some marigolds in, the bugs will eat the marigold leaves instead and the flowers add some real colour to the area - let alone the fact that the bees love them!


Above on the left is a little cactus I plucked from our garden, we have so many of them around at the moment and they sort of just fall out their roots are so small. So, I picked a cute little one with a bit of a root on it and shifted it into its new home. On the right is my aloe which will be coming to work with me tomorrow and the radishes are what I picked from the garden this afternoon - dipped in a little salt and they're delicious.

Lilah is my little "helper" and by this I mean he stares at me while I de-pot and re-plant things. Occasionally he'll follow me around if he's feeling espeicially energetic.

My marigolds planted and some lovely bunches of wild flowers - they were all going a bit mad so I just kept them as they were. This is the pollinator mix, made especially for bees. I love bees and having them in the garden is lovely so hopefully these will grow into some beautiful flowers that help draw more bees to the veggie patch and give the bees something to eat!

For a weekend that seemed like it was going to be pretty quiet it turned out quite nicely - now all I have left to do is bring in my laundry to make my bed and do the vacuuming (sigh).

Claire x
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