Sunday, February 26, 2012

How sun-damaged is my skin? UV scan reveals all!

As my regular readers would know, I have super pale skin. It took me a while to accept my porcelain complexion,but after years of basting myself in fake tan and too-dark bronzer, I've come to actually appreciate my skin tone.

Despite my desire for a burnished tan, I always used sunscreen, both in summer on the beach and on my exposed and face in my day-to-day life. Without getting too preachy, sunscreen isn't just for us whiteys, but crucial for everyone with an aversion to dying from skin cancer, regardless of your ability to tan (you bitch!).

I mentally hi-fived Past Michaela for being so sunsafe when I had my skin checked out by Consultant dermatologist Dr Stephen Shumack at a work junket for the new interactive iPhone app Know Your Own Skin. The app gives you the tools to check and track any changes in moles, freckles and their ilk and a guide on how to check every inch of your skin for sun damage.

Coming back to me, the heroine in our story of loss and redemption, I plopped my face in the UV photo light thingie (I believe this is the correct technical term) as it took a series of shots.

Good God, check out the uneven foundation blending on this ho
Above is how I appear to the naked eye, albeit with scary bright lighting. Fairly even texture, without many sun blemishes or visible damage.

Below is the UV image that reveals areas of sun damage.
You can see most of the darker spots, indicating damage, are concentrated on my forehead, chin and across my cheeks. Dr Shumack noted that my nose is unusually pale compared to others in my age group and skin type, thanks to a liberal use of zinc. Out of ten, one being a snowman and ten being Donatella Versace, I rate a respectable two. While it's a bit of a jarring scare tactic, I'll definitely be even more vigilant about protecting my skin after seeing what previous lapses in care have resulted in.

To prevent future damage, Dr Shumack and the Know Your Own Skin initiative recommend using a daily sunblock (obvious yes, but daily means daily, not just in summer or when you remember). Physical formulas are best, as they provide the best cover, chemical ones are fine, especially for the office plebs like myself. However working outdoors, cycling into work or being a slack student dozing off on the beach demands a physical block, no excuses.

As you age, self-regulation becomes more important as your risk for developing abnormal sun spots increases. While those under 35 are fine to swan up to their doctor's for a suss once a year, those over 40 are encouraged to get looked at every three months.

As a avid fan of not getting cancer, I take care to look after my skin by slathering on and reapplying sunscreen and not standing out in the sun like a total dill. I wholeheartedly recommend you do the same (be sunsmart, not be a total dill).

You can download the Know Your Own Skin app for free from the Apple App Store, or the initiative's homepage here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cheeky Alice by Vivienne Westwood review

Last year we had Naughty Alice, these year we have her (supposedly) sexier, more sensual older sister, Cheeky Alice.

While I enjoyed Naughty as a casual day or office scent,and loved the Maly Siri artwork used in the campaign, she (yes, I feel like I have to refer to these perfumes as ladies) never felt like a particularly naughty or daring scent.

I'd hoped that Cheeky Alice would bring it and add some feistiness to the original scent, but nope, same old, same old. There's the same powder as Naughty, with a very similar strong rose presence, but minus Naughty's sugar violets. Cheeky is more similar to Stella in its peony note, while Naughty reminded me of a more powdery Kenzo Flower. Lily of the valley is prominent throughout, delicate and sweet, coy rather than cheeky, polite and placid. I think Cheeky Alice could have really benefited from some spice like cumin or a hot cinnamon to dirty it up the floral harmony. 

Yes, that's me reflected in the cap
Forget this "sexier older sister" being caught knickerless or picking flowers from someone else's garden (on the lower end of my cheeky scale), her game is throwing wild tea-parties (cucumber AND egg salad sandwiches? MADNESS!) and cross-stitching motivating phrases in her spare time.The cheekiest thing this Alice with ever do is forget to say thank you when she's offered some shortbread at the local nursing home where she volunteers.

The red bracelet wrapped around the bottle neck is rather sweet, but I do prefer the chain that came with my bottle of Naughty Alice, although I never wear it. 

The bracelet
I find the cutesy, vintage-style youthful marketing at odds with a more mature, inoffensive scent that wouldn't be out of place in the office. It's a perfectly nice floral, but honestly, I don't want that. I want my Alice to have a dark side, to spike the teapot and leave her g-string as a calling card.

C'mon Viv, I know you can do better, as evidenced by the off-beat Libertine and the actually cheeky and slightly indecent Boudoir, a study in being naughty verging on dirty. Take note please, Alice.

Don't make a joke about Alice's box, don't make a joke about Alice's box...
Cheeky Alice is A$95 for EDT 50ml and A$125 for 75ml.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gorilla Perfume by Lush Vanillary - review

I'm a gal who loves her vanilla. Preferably in cake form, but also as a scent. But, also in cake. How good is cake?!
I may be hungry right now. I just deleted like ten cake-related gifs. Could someone please send me a cake?

Anyway, Gorilla Perfume's Vanillary isn't really a cake scent, like a lot of other vanilla based fragrances. Sure it has a vanilla bean creaminess to it, and other gourmand notes but rather than then sugar! frosting! milk bottles! notes I normally get from vanilla frags, Vanillary is a lot more grown up. There's a definite dessert vibe, but rather than fluffy cupcakes, this treat has been sloshed in rum, burnt butter and served flambe. The base presents a more musky sandalwood than I normally like, but it works well with the caramel-like tonka bean (another of my favourite notes) overlay.

The two formulas I have, spray and solid fragrance are very similar in notes, but they develop differently. The solid retains that sweet rum note for longer, while the spray heads into a slightly smoky creme brulee direction, with toasty burnt brown sugar and something that reminds me of coconut cream. Both have a hint of jasmine, although on skin, it gives me more of a warm honeysuckle note.
Love the little flecks in the solid, like bits of vanilla bean
Silage is so-so for both, which is perfect for a day fragrance. The solid has outstanding lasting power though, and I could detect it on my wrist about nine hours after application. 

I've really been enjoying Gorilla Perfume's offering so far, they're very wallet friendly, come in travel sizes and are a good choice for someone who finds Lush branding too cute or the scents too sweet. Also, the solid formats are just perfect for layering. I've chucked on Vanillary under a few floral scents and it's definitely paid off. Favourite combo has been with Kenzo's Yuzu (a crisp, tart citrus) and surprisingly, Bulgari Black, with the warm vanilla really lifting that rubber/tire note to the forefront. Gorgeous!

Being fair, The Boyfriend doesn't like Vanillary. He ever so delicately described me as "smelling like a urinal. No, wait, one of those doors in the city, y'know the ones everyone pisses on." Delightful, that man. On the other hand, I wore the spray to work last week and a gang of suits basically fell at my feet in a group nose-grasm, so I'm guessing it's one of those hit or miss scents. Or The Boyfriend is doing very weird things with his wee....

And by the way, don't do like me and keep solids in your car while your park at Manly for a day. Total sticky disaster. I now chuck mine in the fridge to keep them firm when I'm not travelling, to avoid them getting all mushy.

Vanillary is A$44.95 for a 27g spray, A$19.95 for a 9g spray and A$10.95 for a 12g solid. 

This product was very nicely handed to me by PR Tom at an unrelated Lush event. Although it is a nifty gifty, this has in no way influenced my review and opinions are my own. It is also my opinion that Kevin Rudd swearing is like a koala trying to be tough. Awww, Ruddy! See my Disclaimer for more sexy details. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

shu uemura Creamy Dome Blusher in Fairy Pink - review and swatches

I've been having a good run with shu uemura recently. I've rediscovered two of their palettes, and have been using a blush from one of them almost everyday. Their new Creamy Dome Blusher in Fairy Pink is a pretty darn close match for the pink pressed powder I've been using, with a rather delicate peach tone than an overt PINK! GIRLS WEAR PINK! shade so I was keen to see how it translated as a cream. Also, how cute is the little white dome with its clear lid? It looks like a fairy observatory! 

Bottom is blush applied directly from dome...thingy, top swatch is worked in with fingers
On skin, it smooths in very well, no pilling over my tinted moisturiser, or streaks. It sets into a powder after a few minutes on skin, which is my preferred kind of cream make-up as I find it lasts longer and I'm less likely to streak it all over my forehead the next time I scratch my face. Like, I did this last week and only found out I had three coral finger prints dotted on my forehead when I got home and my boyfriend thought they were Doritos dust (which is somehow more understandable to him). Thanks, people in office! Def not 'a new young people trend' like claimed by me the next day!

Here I've applied directly to the apples of my cheeks, then blended in with fingertips, no need for a brush with this baby. I'll be chucking it into my handbag for when I have to get ready for the gym or touch-ups during the day as the formula means no cracking and covering my wallet with a layer of pink powder. You can twist the top to roll up more product (there's 8.5g in here).

It's part of shu uemura Celestial Garden Spring/Summer 2012 collection, and also comes in a orange/peach shade to that I'm dying to try. They both retail for A$48 at David Jones. I have a green polish and eyes palette from the same season, swatches to come soon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lush Tisty Tosty bath bomb review

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! I like to say I don't celebrate it because of how commercial it is, but the thing is, I totally relish it and by default I guess that means I celebrate it too. I don't buy into the overpriced romantic dinners for two and dozen limp roses, but I do like to wear kitschy heart patterned dress, ruby-red lips and ribbons, and have a play with everything sweet and romantic. Plus if The Boyfriend wants to buy me a bunch of flowers (I prefer peonies, tulips and pink/white roses babe. NO LILLIES!) or maybe some chocolate, then sure, go for it. Can't hurt, especially if you want to avoid the silent treatment. God, I sound like a super fun sulking girlfriend, right?

Anyway, I love the cute heart shaped, romanticised beauty goodies that appear in the lead up to V-Day. Lush bring out a pretty large range each Feburary. Although it's available all year, I picked up their Tisty Tosty bath bomb purely for the cute heart shap and mushy backstory (blah blah blah love potion blah blah mysterious rose blah and Ancient Persia. Me: I'll take it!).

I plopped it in my bath and it fizzled for roughly two minutes before disappearing to the great bathtub in the sky. I was disappointed that it didn't bubble around for longer, as previous Lush bath bombs I've used have gone the distance to successfully distract me while my hair treatment sinks in.

The scent is fine - a sweet, like almost turkish delight rose. Sadly, it didn't last very long and is quite a subtle scent. The Boyfriend couldn't smell it at all, so that kind of  nixes the romantic appeal. True to word, there were exactly seven rosebuds floating around after, which are a alot easier to clean up than rose petals and didn't stain my tub.

I can see it working for people who like delicate, subtle scents, but I'm all about the OMMPFF! in my products. Make it Snow Fairy scented and we've got a date. Also, how good would a Snow Fairy massage bar be?! MAKE THIS HAPPEN, LUSH PEOPLE!

Tisty Tosty Bath Bomb is $6.75 from Lush.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Botani Olive Skin Serum review

I've been a total facial oil and serum fiend since I started using rose-hip oil about three years ago, and noticed how well it plumped up my dehydrated and flaky skin. Since then I've jumped to different blends, from jojoba and evening primrose oils to argan and various mixes from REN (lovely, but out of my price range) to Estee Lauder's roll-call of night-time serums and treatments (again, huge money-burners). One type of oil I hadn't tried was olive, produced from cold-pressing pips, not the fruit. I'm aware of some of the benefits of olive oil for dry, damaged and mature skin and for tasty haloumi, having used hair products and body lotions counting it as a high-percentage ingredient in the past, but had never seen a version that is okayed for use on my face until I was sent this dropper bottle by Botani.

 Botani is an Australian made and owned company, which always gets my interest up. Also super cool is their dedication to avoiding common product baddies and banning artificial fragrances, colours, petrochemicals and mineral oils, all things I don't want to smoosh into my money-maker (yes, that's my face, not my (equally fine) ass). It's also vegan, with no animal testing. Vegan friendly, I'm pretty meh about, but zero testing on fluffy bunnies can only be good. The serum is also nut-free, although not all of their products are.
I decided to not only try this as a serum under my daily moisturiser and sunscreen (I've got something else on the go for night), but as the box advocates use for psoriasis sufferers, I tested it on The Boyfriend's patches on his arms.  
Firstly, I love the dropper bottles a lot of facial serums use. It's easy and lets me measure out want I want with no wastage. Also I can pretend to be a scientist! It's a clear fluid with a different kind of smell - not quite green, not the rotting mustiness of rose-hip or medical tickle of Estee Lauder formulations. I kind of get the sense of olive from it, but there's something else I can't my finger on. The Boyfriend says it doesn't have a smell at all, so there's also that. 

Its key ingredient is olive squalene, a lipid produced from olive pips, and which Botani says is similar to squalene found in your skin. I have no idea if this is important, so will be doing more research has I haven't heard it referred to before and Blogger refuses to believe it's a word.

About two drops cover my face, and I'm impressed at how quickly it sinks in. Perfect for morning use as it had an almost dry finish to it and my moisteriser was quite happy to absorb over the top afterwards. I don't have many skin complaints aside from dryness, and it easily took care of that - no flaking by mid-afternoon or tight cheeks, like I would encounter when using the lighter jojoba. I can't say anything for its anti-aging and crows feet banishing claims, as my skin isn't in the market for that yet (and hopefully never will be, as long as I take my glass of virgin's blood each morning,followed by six hours of baby sloth massage). It hasn't broken me out or been too heavy and I'm happy to keep using it as a serum, as it's doing a happy job of moisturing and keep my face smooth and flakey-free. The one thing I would change is the smell and how it reminds me of something, and oh my God, it's driving me crazy not knowing what it reminds me of.

As for The Boyfriend, his response is "What? Oh yeah, my arm's okay, I guess. Dunno. STOP STARING AT ME LIKE THAT!". He's actually been really good at applying daily, and it's definitely helped smooth out the dry, red spots, without further irritation. It's still visible, but it feels to me less rough and that raw red tone has quietened down. If he lets me (and he better, if he wants dinner), I'm going to next apply it behind his ears, where it's more drier, itchier and a lot more troublesome.

Botani Olive Skin Serum is A$31.95 and is stocked by the pay-sucking black hole of Priceline and a few other chemist chains.

This product was sent to me for consideration by Botani. They have in no way influenced my review and opinions are my own. It is also my opinion that Lana Del Rey was trolling the hipsters all along. "Dunno" is The Boyfriend's opinion. See my Disclaimer for more sexy details.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Australis Crystal Colour in Speck-tacular and Blackmail - review and swatches

When I saw Australis had a top coat with holographic flakes on shelf at Priceline (seriously, you'd think I work there, I'm in Priceline so often), I wasn't sure if it was new or just random old stock I'd never noticed before. I picked up the polish Speck-tacular and the Blackmail polish it was positioned next to, as the top coat was recommended for use on a dark base for best results, and I for some reason felt that I really needed another black shade. I pooped them on my bedroom dresser and immediately forgot about them for a week.

Happily I was reminded of them when Australis kindly sent to my work (addressed to someone who hasn't been in my position for two years, oops!) the exact same duo I'd bought. I stashed the polishes (and the flashing, glittery cat-bait bouncy ball that came with) in our office beauty cupboard, went home and tried out my own bottles.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

shu uemura Eye and Cheek Palette in Drowning in Flame - review and swatches

I picked up this shu uemura Holiday 2011 Eye and Cheek Palette in Drowning in Flame (wow, melodramatic much?) last year, obviously, but only just got around to trying out the shades. I'm not normally big on eyeshadow, being heavy handed/fingered with shadow application and a tendancy to forget I'm wearing it until two seconds after I've mashed my ape knuckles into my eyesockets and smeared it across my forehead. Also, you know how somethimes eyeshadow just look wrong on some people? I was kinda like that.
Allison, I love you, but no. Here's a Wotnot wipe.
But then with some time to kill in the gym changeroom (waiting for my lotion to dry before squeezing in to jeans is booooooring), I tried another shu uemura palette that I was using for its blush and I loved it. Enough to give this limited edition a shot, along with the Rouge Unlimited lipstick in Glitter Fuse (review here).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Estee Lauder LE Pure Color Gloss in Citron Kiss review and swatch

How gorgeous and summery is this lemon yellow tube of sunshine? I was a little unsure when I saw how bright it was - would I end up with custard-stained lips (actually that sounds like something I would enjoy very much).

But nope, it's a pretty sheer shade, with a hint of gold and shimmery glitter. It's very wearable over a stronger lipstick or solo.

The gold shimmer effect is very pretty, although subtle. My photos didn't quite capture how it illuminated my lips. I don't own any other lip glosses from Estee Lauder, so didn't realise that they are scented. And ZOMG I love the smell of this one, it's like lemon cordial with an apricot jam glaze. So delicious! 

Overall it's a practical shade that I will definitely use for a nude day lip and to add impact to darker lips.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Gloss Citron Kiss is a limited edition so be speedy. It's A$42 from EL counters, probably cheaper online from a US retailer.