SKIN | Mini Reviews – High-End Skincare

More sample reviews! Here is a selection of trial-size sachets and tubes I’ve collected, from higher-end beauty brands. Do they live up to the hype?

Well, you’d better read on!

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules: These made my face feel a strange combination of siliconey and oily. Unpleasant. They also weren’t too beneficial for my skin, but I think they would be for older skins. Repurchase? No.

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Serum: This felt lovely, but I didn’t need it – I just liked using it. It made no difference to my skin, but I’m not the target clientele for this product. Repurchase? No, perhaps in 10 years.

Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream: This smells quite herby and while at first I didn’t like that aspect, it did grow on me. It was a good night cream, perhaps a little oilier feeling than I really like though. I would advise caution for sensitive-skinned people, because of that fragrance aspect. Repurchase? If I couldn’t get my preferred products, sure.

Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream: This is quite a nice all-rounder cream, suitable for most skins and pretty unreactive. It’s for these reasons I keep a tube of it in my makeup artist’s kit; but I want my moisturiser to be a little more targeted for my skin’s needs. Repurchase? Only for my kit.

Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser: Terrible. Awful. WAY too harsh. Repurchase? No, no no no no.

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed:
This is the ‘normal’ skin version of a previous favourite, the Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter. Despite the name ‘foaming’, the shea butter version isn’t too stripping, but this one was. A bit too much for my dry skin, but for oilier complexions it’d work. Repurchase? No.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Night Cream:
This is really nice – thick and comforting, but not too emollient. It reminds me of my favourite, MAC Comfort Creme, but a little heavier on the dimethicone and a stranger scent. Repurchase? Maybe – but not if I can have my MAC one.

Shiseido Future Solution LX Cleansing Foam:
This is a little pot an ex-coworker gave me which had this cleanser in it. It was LOVELY, one of the only foam cleanser I’ve used that didn’t completely strip my skin. I think I preferred the Ibuki Gentle Cleanser a little more for my skin, but this is still a great product. Repurchase? No, just because I like the Ibuki one better.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Caplet Serum:
I’ve written about this in an empties before, when I used up the full size. It feels nice and is enticingly sparkly, but I doubt it actually does anything – I certainly haven’t seen a marked difference. Repurchase? I’ll use up the other minis I have, but won’t repurchase in the full size.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Eye Gel:
Eye gels are no replacement for creams, and this isn’t an exception. Unremarkable. Repurchase? No.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum: Oh, the famed miracle-serum. No idea if it’s actually intended for my skin, but it made it feel bloody lovely – constructive and hydrating, but not too oily. The same way my loved Clarins Double Serum makes my skin feel. Repurchase? Not unless I discover it has some benefits beyond what my Clarins one offers me, as that one is less expensive than ANR.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Moisture Cream SPF 30+: This was a struggle for me to finish, as I really don’t like SPF in my moisturiser. I’ll admit, I’m lazy with SPF, but I’d rather pull my socks up and use seperate SPF and moisturiser, instead of taking a lesser-quality moisturiser. This gave me a white cast, didn’t hydrate enough and felt incredibly thick. Repurchase? No – but if you have normal skin and like a moisturiser with SPF, this would be a good one.

Estée Lauder Take It Away Makeup Remover: I don’t know what it was about this, but it didn’t live up to the hype at all. As a makeup-removing lotion, it felt like it did fuck all – and I don’t wear anything near as hardcore as Double Wear, so how is this supposed to work? I am aware this was an old (4-5 years) tube of my mum’s, which may have been a factor, but yikes – I needed my standard double cleanse even after this. Repurchase? No, give me an oil/balm cleanser any day.

Lipidol Cleansing Face Oil: This was a tiny sachet I used up over a year ago so this review is relying on one use, with a dodgy-at-best memory. Bear with. I do remember being surprised; it was better than I had expected, but certainly not a huge game changer. It was too fragranced and liquidy for my liking – an oil cleanser shouldn’t be the consistency of water. Repurchase? Unlikely – I’d try it again, but I already have oil cleansers I do love.

Estée Lauder Idealist Pore Refining Serum: I first used this nearly 6 years ago in a sample size, and I loved it. My barely-ever-touched skin loved this silky, refining serum, and it inspired my first fascination with my skin. I remember washing my face, putting this on and moisturising – then admiring my face in the mirror. Ah, the seeds of my future obsession. Repurchase? If I could afford it and my pores were more of a problem (like when I don’t use A/BHAs), I would.

What sample/mini things have you tried or used lately?

MAKEUP | Lashes for Days

The item I hear most about stashes of in the beauty blogger/vlogger world is mascara. Mascara goes off quicker than just about any other beauty product (you should be popping that tube in the bin 6 months after opening, by the way) and I can’t personally justify having more than one on the go at once, but I did find eight – yes, count ’em, eight – hanging out in my stash of things during a huge clear out recently. I thought it’d be a good time to do a bit of a run down of them, and tell you my thoughts – there’s a repurchase in there, 90’s-esque colour, and a packaging hatred, so get amongst for some lash-by-lash breakdown..

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Line-up: Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye; Maybelline Rocket Volume Express; Maybelline Great Lash Classic in Vision in Violet and Very Berry; Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes; Revlon Photoready 3D Volume in Blackest Brown; MaxFactor 2000 Calorie in Brown Black; LA Colors mascara in brown

First up, Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara. This one is a miniature size, but oh BOY the price is not. Do you fancy dropping $57 on a mascara? Because I don’t, despite how perfect the product is. Smokey Eye Mascara is gorgeously black in pigment, lasts well and makes my lashes look long, and fluttery as fuck. I actually prefer the miniature size, because it means I can finish a mascara before it dries up and gets useless, but I don’t waste $30 when it does. Bobbi, please sell these perfect little minis. I’d drop the outrageous dollars I’m sure you’d charge on them, because I know how idyllic this stuff is – I just want a size I can finish!

Next, we set in on the half of this line up that Maybelline make. The Rocket Volume Express mascara was much-hyped in 2012-2o13, first brought to my attention by (then) Essie Button, but unavailable in NZ, as it remains to this day. It’s a pretty great one, separating lashes like no tomorrow and keeping them relatively same-looking all day, yet still easy to get off when all is said and done. It’s a plastic, mildly terrifying wand that will absolutely scrape your tightline and make you flinch several times, but if you’re happy to adjust then it does the job pretty well. Gets a little thick and spidery at the end of it’s life, but definitely one Maybelline need to bring to Antipodean shores. I hear the waterproof version is even better.

The Maybelline Great Lash formula is pretty damn iconic – around since the 70’s, the pink-and-green tube has several different incarnations – big/little wand, super-dark formula, blah blah blah.. and then, colour formulas! I picked up two from Amazon a while ago – ‘Vision in Violet‘, a playdough-purple monstrosity, and ‘Very Berry‘, a red mascara with the world’s most unimaginative name. These were technically fine – Violet was a bit thicker than Berry in my experience, but they both had a thin wand and average wear. On the whole, I have two words to say about Violet – never & again. It was a terrible colour and dried up far too quickly. Berry was actually pretty cool – being a burgundy it enhanced my blue eyes and really made them pop in a way a bit more obvious than the usual brown trick. However, trying to remove it was a horror film – despite thinking I had properly removed it all, I woke up to a terrified ex-boyfriend thinking there was something very wrong with my eyes. A lot of fun to own, but I’m sure the other few plum/burgundy mascaras out there will have formulas that outrank this.

The Maybelline Great Lash Brush Gimmick I chose to buy into was the Lots of Lashes brush – a tiny cone/heart-shaped brush that’s designed to get to every corner. I bought it because I’d been intrigued by it for a while and it was $11, but I bloody loved it – easy to get off, separates my lashes nicely, gets ’em all, and isn’t soul-rippingly expensive ($28 for a mascara that costs US$6 is a fucking rip, and you know it Maybelline).

Back when Kmart redid their makeup section, they sold stuff really cheap. I was well into brown/black mascaras at this time, and that’s when I picked up the Revlon Photoready 3D and the MaxFactor 2000 Calorie mascaras. Revlon’s offering stayed unopened for a while, and fell in love with Max Factor’s, which made my lashes look long and fluffy with it’s thicker, drier formula. I noticed as time went on that it flaked off onto my cheeks at the end of the day, and left my lashes looking pretty shite. I thought it was down to it needing to be chucked, so I picked up another one. Straight out of the shop, same deal. Gave it 7 tries and got fed up. No thanks, Max.

Revlon, had the opposite problem – as it got older it became wetter, and left lash imprints everywhere. I also found the name misleading – it did give a brilliant result (especially with that brush on there – long soft plastic bristles everywhere that got all my lashes and made them stand out of my face like nobody’s business) but I promise you there was no volumising going on there whatsoever. The final complaint I have about this one is packaging. It’s a good mascara, but a makeup bag space hog. Not my favourite mascara of them all, but I didn’t despise it. Not like..

LA Colors brown mascara – a nightmare I should’ve seen coming, given it cost me $3. It did fuck all, and was way to warm for anyone. It was cruelty-free though, so props for that. I ended up desperately trying it in my brows for a week, and then it got gloopy. Not a good time.

There you go – some thoughts on mascara. A post you didn’t know you’d want to read. Or maybe you didn’t – I don’t know. Now go forth, and don’t buy an LA Colors mascara.

New Fascinations: Colour/Lips

Continuing with my last New Fascinations post, I’m still focusing on makeup. Ironic given that I rarely wear it.. I know, I know. This time around, it’s colour products (highlighters, blush, bronzer, etc) and lip products – the things that’ve been launching the most lately. I’ve picked out the ones that stood out slightly more than the same-old face kits and high-coverage concealers, did some vague research and written some thoughts. Anyway, let’s get to it:


COLOUR


Lancôme,  Belle De Teint Mosaic Palette:
A summery limited edition, I am enamoured with this packaging. A giant diamondy compact is already all I want and need, but the inside is gorgeous too. Two contrasting colours of blush, and two of complimentary bronzer. The paler version is so-so, but just LOOK at that deeper one. Red blushes are my weakness.


YSL, Baby Doll Kiss & Blush Duo Stick:
 This launch feels very Korean-cosmetic-inspired. An extension from their existing Baby Doll Kiss & Blush liquid stains, this is a matte dual-colour balm that you can use on the lips and cheeks. It’s apparently very pigmented – I’d love to give it a go.


Benefit, Hoola Lite:
 Pale kids, rejoice. The cult bronzer is available in shades that won’t make you look like Jersey Shore! Definitely on my wish list – but I feel weird about buying it unless Benefit are planning to release a corresponding ‘deep’ shade too. Whitewashing isn’t cool.


BareMinerals,  Invisible Bronze Powder Bronzer: 
I saw Ruth Crilly swatching this in a recent video, and I’m mesmerized. It was smooth, gently pigmented and most importantly, not too warm. Get me to a Mecca so I can swatch it!


RMS Beauty,Magic Luminizer:
  The younger sister of a cult favourite, this is a champagne-toned, very natural cream highlighter. I think the original Living Luminizer will suit me better, but I’m glad they’ve released this for a wider range of tones.


BECCA,  Prismatic Amethyst Shimmering Skin Perfector:
NOBODY NEEDS A PURPLE POWDER HIGHLIGHTER. Please, stop the fuckery.


Lancôme,  My Parisian Pastels Limited Edition Shimmer Cubes
 Apparently you can use these things as a highlighter by swirling your brush across the cubes, or pick up a cube and apply it straight to your eyelid. Thing is, if they can be picked up and applied, it can’t be a very soft formula.. and the idea of dragging a sugar-cube of glitter across my eye makes me wince.


YSL,  Touche Éclat White Strobing Pen: 
Like the Touche Éclat, but instead of colour-corrective luminising goodness, it’s just white and ultra-super-glowy. I think this will either be god-awful, or absolutely stunning – no middle ground when it comes to Touche Éclat. If there is a problem, I suspect it’ll be in the blendability as this is where liquid/cream products tend to fall down. But if it’s good.. this will be a big seller.


LIPS

Revlon,  Ultra HD Gel Lip Colours: I’m not a big fan of matte lipsticks on the whole, so anything promising a moisturizing, comfortable texture and a decent pigment is something I’m keen on. I love the slimline packaging, too – much more elegant and precise than the usual. The shades I fancy the most are two pinky-plum ones: ‘Dawn’ and ‘Vineyard’.

Bobbi Brown, Art Stick Liquid Lip:  Bobbi have revamped their (excellent) Art Sticks to create a thick, demi-matte cream housed in a squeezy-tube, and these things are ace. ‘Azalea’ is the brightest and best new lipstick I’ve seen in a long time, and ‘Vintage Pink’ is one I would wear on the regular too. Selinah tells me these last for ages and don’t turn your lips into a desert, but Fleur de Force doesn’t agree – nonetheless, I need some for myself.

Antipodes, Moisture-Boost Natural Lipsticks: I quite enjoyed the previous incarnation of Antipodes’ lipsticks; it always impressed me how relatively opaque they were, given the all-natural ingredient list, and how well they wore. The whole line has had a face-lift, and new shades added – apparently the new formula is even more pigmented than before. I’m eyeing up ‘Queenstown Hot Chocolate’ and ‘Piha Beach’ Tangerine.

Benefit,  They’re Real! Double The Lip: These are supposed to be a combination of lipliner and lipstick – separate shades in the same cartridge, and shaped so the liner stays sharp. I can see how it should work, but what I don’t see is why you’d want one of these in such wildly opposing shades. Some match up and look quite nice, like ‘Lusty Rose’ (god, you can tell I’m on a Rose roll at the moment); but others such as ‘Pink Thrills’ just don’t match up for me.

L’Oreal Paris,  Infallible Matte Lip Colour: L’Oreal bringing in the weird and impractical packaging once again. These consist of a sponge tip applicator with a condensed pigment packed into the lid, so when you screw it on, it re-colours the applicator. There are obvious practicality issues here, but I also worry about the longevity of the sponge-tip applicator. Regardless, I want to try them. The reds and oranges look ridiculously pigmented, and ‘Virgin’ is a nice everyday colour.

Hourglass,  GIRL Lip Stylo: Everyone loves Hourglass: fact. No surprise then, that these new lip stylos have been such a hit. If I’m honest, I was a little disappointed – no innovative or particularly unique colours, and the formula seems a little less pigmented than I’d expect. However, I definitely have a bit of a hankering for two shades – ‘Activist’ and ‘Inventor’. Not too out there, but still interesting and flattering.

Kevyn Aucoin,  The Molten Lip Colour – Top Coat:  I’m pretty sure a lip colour ‘top coat’ is just a gloss, but I’m willing to put that aside for these gorgeous-looking things. They’re designed to be worn over lipsticks to add an extra dimension of holographic shine, and unlike most ‘holographic’ makeup, I am on board.

Lime Crime,  Diamond Crushers: These are a mega intense version of a lip top coat and are aptly named, because they do look like you have kissed diamond dust. I love the duochrome shift in most of them, and based on swatches, ‘Acid Fairy’ and ‘Trip’ look like the best. Having said that, I’m still not over the excessively dodgy antics of the company a few years ago, so I’ll pass.

So that’s it! There’s my thoughts on the newest things in makeup. Look out for the skincare edition coming up soon. In the meantime – is there anything I’ve mentioned that you’d love to or have tried?

New Fascinations: Eyes/Base

In the past year, I’ve noticed a steadily increasing stream of product releases. It seems every few weeks, multiple brands release new items into their arsenal and take the blogging world by storm – emails flood inboxes, flatlays are instagrammed, and YouTube hauls cut away to slick close-up demonstrations. Now more than ever we’re bombarded with overwhelming newness and hyperboles on the necessity of beauty products, but I’m easily bored when it comes to makeup. With such a steady stream of newness, my eyes start glazing over – for the most part, it all looks like the same contour palette. Despite this, over the past few months I have found myself with quite a wee list of interesting new products so I’ve done some poking around, swatching and investigating, and have a few thoughts on the latest items in the beauty world. This is a collection of things beyond highlighting drops and liquid lipsticks, that stand out and seem to offer us something different. Read on, and see if I’m as enthralled as people with affiliate links.


EYES


YSL, The Shock Mascara:
 This looks like YSL’s answer to Too Faced’s Better Than Sex (even the same colour cap). Very volumising, I hear it gives the oomph you want for lashes that seduce; and it comes in burgundy. Oh yes please, so long as it isn’t too sticky.


Nude By Nature, Eyeshadow Trio:
 Not the newest of the new, but I was so blown away by Nude By Nature’s relaunched single shadows, that I went in search of more. Their 3-pan palettes are well-curated and so, so tempting – the rose one is just begging to be mine.


Lancôme, Grandiose Liner:
 If you hadn’t heard, Lancôme have made a liquid eyeliner with a really weird handle on the brush. Word is the packaging innovation is just okay, but the formula is absolutely bomb. I’ve been looking for a smudge-free alternative to my Napoleon Perdis Matte Eye Ink, and I think this is it.


Rimmel London, Precise Eyeliner:
 Who doesn’t want royal-blue liner? It’s unusual that the more affordable brands take big colour risks in such products, and I’m glad – Rimmel are known for some excellent eyeliners, so I expect a solid product from them.


Maybelline, Eye Studio Master Drama Nude Eyeliner: 
This is a few months old now, but all my blogging friends are raving about the new (very long-named) Eye Studio liners from Maybelline. I was super impressed with their Colour Show liners a few years ago, and these are reported to be just as creamy and pigmented, with shimmer involved.


Benefit ,They’re Real! Duo Eyeshadow Blender:
 3 words. What the fuck?! The only good things I’ve heard about these were in a very-obviously sponsored video by Shaaanxo, and the rest has been (rightfully, it seems) negative. It’s 2017 – we’ve just begun to forget our unhygienic sponge-applicator sins of past, so please don’t bring them back.


L’Oreal Paris, Brow Artist Maker:
 This looks MAD. A kabuki-style, dense brush for your eyebrows? Attached to a plastic barrel of powdery stuff? I have Googled, and I can’t figure out how this could possibly work, but I am fascinated and desperately want to get my hands on one.


Stila, Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow:
 Another hugely popular recent launch, I was at first uninterested – I’m not keen on forking out $40 for a tiny tube of cream eyeshadow. But then the reviews started coming in, and I hear its incredible. Long-lasting, properly metallic and non-scratchy removal. Oh god. I DO need it.


Clarins, 4-Colour All-in-One Pen: 
Straight off the bat, this was never going to work. Clarins, what were you thinking? Making a pen with 4 thin cylinders of liner with no oxidation protection was always going to result in brittle, scratchy and dry liners that hurt people’s faces. I do love a good bit of stationery, but perhaps not when it comes to a product that’s going near my eye.


BASE

Estee Lauder, Perfectionist Serum Compact: I loved the original fluid Perfectionist foundation when I tried it, and I want a new compact solid cream foundation. This looks especially lovely, and has had good reviews.

Bobbi Brown, Retouching Wand: Yeah, these came out like 6 months ago.. but I still haven’t managed to swatch one. The idea, however, is right up my alley and Sophie reckons it’s good so of course, I want it too!

L’Oreal Paris, Fixing Mist: It’s not often I bother going all-out when doing makeup on myself, but when I do, it pisses me off when it starts transferring (though it’s usually due to a fault with my face). I refuse to drop lots on a setting spray and I hear great things about this, so I’d like to give it a shot.

Shiseido, IBUKI Smart Filtering Smoother: So I should’ve realised when I read the ingredients list that this wasn’t a thick, tub product. But I thought it was. Regardless I was excited, especially due to the SPF content. Then I searched actual, not-PR images and it’s a flat, squeeze tube thing. HALF the height of it is just the damn lid. Not excited anymore.

Urban Decay, Self-Adjusting Complexion Primer: The aforementioned Shaaanxo video introduced me to this – I watched her put it on her face and I actually saw a magic difference, so I thought I would very much like it. Now I’m torn, because I’ve also read a few bad reviews. I’ll need to get a sample.

NARS, Soft Matte Complete Concealer: Another big-scale launch in Beauty Land. Apparently this is no normal pot concealer; it really is soft! It won’t tug at your eyes! Velvety as fuck, and as always with NARS, very sleek packaging.

Kevyn Aucoin, The Loose Powder Brush: I love the shape of this thing, it looks like a broom you’d find on a spaceship. It’s goat hair, which I do love in a powder brush, and is a nice size – smaller than others I have, but still enough for my moon of a face.

By Terry, Hyaluronic Hydra Powder: To be honest, I haven’t looked up reviews for this. ‘Hyaluronic’ + ‘Powder’ are not words I normally pair, so my interest is piqued. The mini is $17 at Mecca and I have decided I’ll have it. Don’t talk me out of it.

BECCA, First Light Priming Filter: Yeah, fine concept.. let’s be real though, most consumers can’t be arsed getting on the colour-correcting train. It’s vital for makeup artists, but we have other tricks that don’t have a pants-shittingly expensive price tag.

What new beauty things have caught your eye recently?

January Favourites

I had a strange January; full of excitement, disappointment, busy days and boring days.  So, like a normal month.. but heightened. Regardless, I have more favourites than I have for the past few months, because I keep discovering pretty rad things – so here I am to boast about it.

Caitlin Moran – How to Be A Woman:
My best friend of going-on 6 years, Claris, gave me this wonderful book for Christmas. I’d long-heard of Caitlin Moran and had been meaning to read her books for a while, but Claris said she thought I’d especially love this one. Turns out I do, because Caitlin is exactly my kinda person. Witty, honest and utterly unabashed, she tells stories she’s lived that helped her recognise what it meant to be a woman for her. The stories seem at first a little random and other than being in chronological order, seem to just be entertaining anecdotes. But by the 3rd or 4th chapter, I began to see a pattern emerging – each chapter drawing to a close in a very natural way (compared to most narratives), and leaving me thinking “Oh, I remember when I had a similar experience..” and actually beginning to think about how different experiences helped develop and shape who I am as a woman. I think every lady should have a copy of this book, stat. No matter what, you’ll learn something – I even think my mum will like it.

Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadow – Cat Nap:
As I may have previously mentioned, I’ve been trying to get a bit more wear out of my makeup by putting it on more often, and this kitten (haha.. geddit?) has made it a lot more fun for every day. My beautiful friend Sophie gave me this shadow for Christmas, and I do genuinely love it. It’s a little icier than most shimmery pinks I’ve seen or own, and I love the sparkly glimmer it adds to my eyes. It does fall down a little and wears off after about 4 hours, but I don’t mind because that’s about all the time I go out for most days.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick – Sand Dune (Mini):
I’ve had this cute lil’ fella rolling around in my makeup bag for a while now, and while I do use it every now and again (cream shadows are great for travel), it’s very much come into it’s own this month. Now I’m wearing a bit more makeup I’m really appreciating my fast/multi-use products, and this one fits right in. A medium matte brown, I can draw some all over my lid and blend for a nice light layer in a hurry; or if I’m feeling fancy I might pop a little in my crease and blend it out before chucking another colour on the main lid. It’s quick to apply, and once it dries down, lasts a FUCKING long time.. I’m telling you.

Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick – Blush:
On Boxing Day, I took myself to the Newmarket Life Pharmacy in the hope that the Elizabeth Arden counter would have my favourite lip balm on sale. They didn’t, but I needed it anyway. I got chatting to the counter girl (who I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of, but was probably the greatest person I interacted with all day), and she surprised me by letting me know that I qualified for the GWP, a full size of the Lip Protectant Stick I already know I bloody love. I was bloody stoked. It’s a tinted one, and it makes your lips a lovely ‘look-at-me-aren’t-I-beautiful’ pink, WHILE protecting them from the sun and hydrating them excellently. This is now attached to me permanently, until summer is over.

LUSH Bubbly Shower Gel:
Also scored in Boxing Day sales; I had originally planned to get the 250g size of this shower gel, but the sales assistants pointed out I could have twice as much shower gel for $6 more, so I took their advice and now I have the biggest bottle of shower gel I have personally ever seen. Good job though, because I love this scent. It’s the Celebrate scent, just like the body lotion and the Golden Wonder bath bomb, and it smells like orange Fanta when I use it in my hair. It never fails to make me feel super happy and sparkly, no matter the mood I was in previously – fitting, given it’s designed to smell of fruit and champagne!

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial:
Mecca Newmarket didn’t have my Holy-Grail mask (the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal) in stock when I popped in, so I decided to try their relatively-new offering in the same line. Designed to gently but thoroughly chemically exfoliate your face overnight, it obviously has lower actives & acid levels – but it still works and you do get more product than the mask, so it all evens out. As it’s to be layered with serums and before moisturiser, it doesn’t dehydrate or injure the skin, just does it’s job and leaves your skin fresh when you cleanse in the morning. Perfect the night before a big day when I want to impress people I have crushes on by making my face look especially gorgeous.

Aesop Camellia Nut Hydrating Facial Cream:
I chatted a little about this in a brief round-up here, and when the Auckland Aesop store opened I knew I needed a jar of this in my life. The time finally came this month to wave goodbye to moisturisers of old, and crack this open. Upon first application, I was instantly reminded why I had been dreaming of this cream for near-on a year – it’s light, yet hydrates every patch of skin; protective but doesn’t leave a film on my upper dermis. Super soothing and not gluggy, I fucking adore this. I don’t use a lot either, because I don’t need to – yet another box ticked. This is how a high-end, quality moisturiser should make you feel.. in skin paradise.

Soap & Glory – The Righteous Butter (mini):
Another Sophie gift, that she must’ve read my mind to choose. I’ve been kicking myself since I left the UK over  years ago for not investing in more Soap & Glory bodycare, which hasn’t been helped by the constant praise I hear for it from my favourite UK bloggers. Soph gave me The Righteous Butter, a super-thick body butter ideal for very dry skin (hi, that’s me) and carries their signature Pink scent. I am so, so in love. This tiny tub has lasted 3 full-body applications (no small feat), and has at least one more in it. I am ordering more on Boots.com as we speak, because I never want to smell like anything that’s not sherbet again.

What were your favourites in January?

EMPTIES | December 2016

Over November and December, I used up a huge collection of products and barely even had to try for it – the empties blogger’s dream. Here they are!

Dr Hauschka Revitalising Mask:
Of all the products I grew to love when I was with Dr. Hauschka, this is my number one; my can’t-go-without-it product. Whenever something is a bit off with my skin (or the night/day before a big event) I slather this on and let it do it’s magic. It gently revitalises skin, with a result similar to that of harsher ‘revitalising’ products, but without harming my wussy skin.
Repurchase? It’s a little steep at $87 a pop, but this is definitely worth it.

LUSH Celebrate Lotion:
I first tried this when it came in a Christmas gift I received last year, and I tried to stretch it out as long as possible, but eventually gave in to the scent and used it all up. Definitely a favourite scent in the LUSH ranges.
Repurchase? I was hoping it’d be released in this year’s Christmas range, but alas. Come on, LUSH Kitchen!

Meiskin Mandarin Face Scrub:
This one has been in the cupboard a while – given to me by my friend Steph when we worked at Farmers. It is quite lovely though, it gives me an excellent scrub, on the level of a self-microderm kit! Unsure of the kind of beads in it, though.
Repurchase? I have just ordered another in their Boxing Day Sale!

Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara (mini):
A regular feature in my empties – nothing fluffs my lashes as beautifully as this magic formula.
Repurchase? As I always say when I use up one of these; Bobbi Brown – let me purchase minis of this, and I’ll buy them until I die.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads:
I bought these in order to incorporate an AHA/BHA product back into my daily routine. I do love them (a great low-level acid product), but I have to say I feel strange about using a pad a day and having to throw them out. Feels unnecessarily wasteful.
Repurchase? I’m looking a these as an option, but until I choose a product I’m using something else.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick:
This stuff is good. An offshoot of the Eight Hour Cream line, this is a hugely hydrating lip balm with SPF 15, in a stick form. Very handy and great during summer (especially as my skin gets drier).
Repurchase? Not any time soon – I was given (a tinted) one as a GWP recently.

Clarisonic Sensitive Facial Brush Head (not pictured):
Just like with toothbrushes, you’re recommended to change your Clarisonic brush head every 3 months. Also like with toothbrushes, I don’t – in fact, I think I change my toothbrush more often! In my defense, I rarely use my Clarisonic these days, and when it’s not in use I keep the brush head off the device, dry and tucked away in a sanitary place. This one is alright (it came with the body), but still a little harsh for my liking.
Repurchase? Not so long as I can get a gentler one.

Goodness Every Week Scrub:
I was super impressed with this, especially as I wasn’t a fan of Trilogy’s facial scrub (Goodness’s parent company). This gives me similar results as the Meiskin scrub, but is much easier to get and cheaper – winner! I also like that the scrubby bits are jojoba beads which are degradable and environmentally safe, but not jagged enough to ruin my skin.
Repurchase? It’s looking very likely!

Nivea In-Shower Body Lotion:
This came in a Black Box I was sent a few months ago, and I’m glad cause I’d been wanting to try it. Quite slippery, as it warns, but hydrating and protective on a budget.
Repurchase? Maybe in the future.

Bobbi Brown Radiance Boost Mask (mini):
I only used this up just the other night, and it was a lot finer than I’d expected for an exfoliating mask. Like the other two scrubs I’ve mentioned, it was a microderm-style scrub and I was very happy with it!
Repurchase? Probably not, as the other ones I’ve mentioned are significantly cheaper with similar results.

Trilogy Hydrating Mist Toner:
I really, really love this. I wouldn’t call it a toner at all, rather just a hydrating mist, but it’s beautiful and the scent reminds me of  on of my favourite places in the world. Excellent for hydrating my skin and cooling it down, as well as calming my mind.
Repurchase? Yes!

Clarins Double Serum:
Another frequent flyer on this blog, I’m a big fan of Double Serum. I swear it’s a good chunk of why my skin is behaving better these days.
Repurchase? Yep – though I’ve just started on a 50mL size.

Apples & Pears Beeswax Lip Balm:
It only took me two years, but I’ve finally finished one of the best lip balms I’ve ever used. It transforms into an almost oil-like texture that nourishes my lips significantly better than most products.
Repurchase? If only – Apples & Pears no longer exists. I have one more, though.

LUSH The Comforter Shower Cream:
The scent of LUSH’s famous Comforter bubble bar is beautiful – blackcurrants and clouds. They’ve replicated it in a shower cream format, and it’s only a touch less amazing than the original bar.
Repurchase? No need right now, but yes.

Bionsen Sensitive Stick Deodorant:
I prefer a stick formula to roll-on or (heaven forbid) spray deodorants, and the unisex scent of this one is pleasant but not strong. It’s not an antiperspirant, but still keeps me fresh all day. It also happens to be one of the only deodorants that doesn’t irritate my eczema. Thank heaven for it’s existence.
Repurchase? Yes! Almost due for another Boots order actually.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Caplet Serum:
I’m not sure why this serum is in the Elizabeth Arden Ceramide range, because it’s not particularly hydrating. It is, however, VERY sparkly and alluring to look at. Not sure it did too much in terms of brightening my skin, though.
Repurchase? No.

Anatomicals Be Good With Your Hands In Bed Night-Time Hand Cream:
This was quite cheap and I used it up very quickly, but I tell you what – it’s great. Very hydrating, sinks in well and doesn’t leave a film on your hands. Not as good as my EA 8-Hour Treatment, but with a name like this (and a price point like that – $8), I’m not complaining.
Repurchase? Yes, if I can find it again!

Nivea Refreshing Facial Wash Gel:
I was expecting this gel cleanser to be very stripping and harsh, but it was surprisingly gentle and hydrating. Felt lovely on the skin, and was only $2.90.
Repurchase? Quite possibly, yes.

Thanks for reading! What about you? What have you used up from your stash lately?

EMPTIES | October 2016

This month I’ve made a huge effort to clear out the things I have doubles and samples of and get them used up, so it’s a packaging-heavy month.

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Dr. Hauschka Melissa Day Cream
This was my last tube I had stocked up from my time with Dr Hauschka, and I was both sad and excited to see it go, in all it’s summery, lemony yellow glory.
Repurchase? I want to try other moisturisers, but I can always come back to this.

LUSH Miranda Soap
Every month or so I chop off a chunk of one of my soaps to work my way through. This was my second chunk of Miranda, and I like it. Clean, fruity and inoffensive.
Repurchase? Quite possibly.

Clinique All About Eyes Cream – Rich
In my quest to find my perfect eye cream, I got this sample from a Clinique counter in town. A good eye cream, sank in nicely and kept my undereyes hydrated.
Repurchase? Definitley over my current Kiehl’s one.

YSL Fusion Ink in B10
This sample is nearing 2 years old – I used it up much much earlier than now obviously, so it was well over due date.
Repurchase? Already did a month after this sample!

Clarins Eye Contour Gel
I was given this sample quite a while ago, and I never used it up because it was not for me. It didn’t do anything, and I don’t think a gel for eyes has much of a point anyway if I’m honest..
Repurchase? No.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in 2
I loved the texture of this upon application and the way it made my skin glow, but it never stopped feeling tacky, which I abhorre, and it oxidised.
Repurchase? Sadly, no.

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Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Moisture Cream
This is my favourite winter moisturiser, as talked about in this post. This is my second pot, and I came to the end of it just in time to switch over to summer moisturiser, which I’m currently hunting for.
Repurchase? Yes, even at the price tag ($150.. ouch)

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Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation in 1N1
Another foundation I quite like – but perhaps a little too heavy for me to use too often.
Repurchase? I’ll consider it when I’ve used up my YSL Fusion Ink.

YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation in BR20
This was a lovely light-medium foundation that was very dewy. Could be a concern in summer months.
Repurchase? No – I love my Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation too much.

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Eye Cream
The thickest and most expensive eye cream I’ve ever used, and unfortunately I adore it.
Repurchase? Currently searching desperately for something as good (or close to) that doesn’t carry a $146 price tag.

Clarins Instant Light Brush-On Perfector
This is the closest thing I’ve found to the YSL Touche Eclat, in texture and colour. This one is just a tad more yellow-tone, but I’m not complaining.
Repurchase? Maybe when I’ve used some more things up.

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Tonymoly Egg Pore Tightening Pack
Shit man, this stuff really sucks the oil out of the face, and has the most unwieldy packaging. But it eventually dried up.
Repurchase? Probably not, as the need for nose packs has diminished quite a lot since using more acids in my routine.

Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Frizz Remedy Hair Treatment
This is the second Aussie hair treatment I’ve used up, and just like the last I enjoyed it. Made my hair soft but not weighed down.
Repurchase? Yes!

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask
Like most of the beauty blogging world, I love this stuff. I have found in recent months that I can’t really use it directly on my face, but it makes a wonderful hybrid mask when mixed with clay. Also a wonderful calming spot treatment or overnight mask.
Repurchase? Yes – and so will the friends I’ve referred to this stuff.

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LUSH Turkish Delight Shower Smoothie
I used up one of these not so long ago, and only got through this one so fast because I depotted half of it into the top of my large size of this.
Repurchase? Yes, as long as the Lush Kitchen bring it back!

LUSH Twilight Shower Gel
Ah the cult classic, hard to find Twilight. Deliciously sweet and calming. I prefer it in this scent to the bath bomb, but I think I like the heavy malty element of the jelly over the gel.
Repurchase? Not soon – I have a full 250g bottle in my cupboard at the moment.

LUSH Flying Fox Shower Gel
This is legitimately my all-time favourite shower gel. It calms me down when I’m anxious, yet makes me feel powerful and confident when I need a boost. Of course, it’s discontinued.
Repurchase? Yes, when I’m down to one bottle left (currently 2.5).

LUSH Vanilla Dee-Lite Body Lotion
Another often-talked about thing here, and another discontinued item. Luckily it’s been back in the Lush Kitchen a few times, so I’m hoping it’ll be back again soon.
Repurchase? Yes, when I don’t have a few back-ups.

What interesting things did you use up in October?

EMPTIES | September 2016

This month I’ve done a strange flatlay, but I kind of love it. Despite being shot on a very rainy Sunday, it’s very season-appropriate – as Sophie would quote, “Plants Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking”. Let’s get to it.

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Dr Hauschka Night Serum
This is not actually empty, but it breaks me out and I’ve had it far too long. I was given it when I worked for Dr. Hauschka 18 months ago and as it’s not a product with traditional preservatives in it, it really needs to be chucked.
Repurchase? No – though the apple-blossom scent is nice.

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream
I like a light eye cream in the mornings to sit nicely under my makeup, and this is the best I’ve tried for that. I’ve written about it here previously.
Repurchase? Yes, unless my current one grows on me.

LUSH Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner
Magical stuff that you use like a wash-out hair conditioner, but on your body. This gives my skin heaps of moisture and an excellent scent.
Repurchase? Yes, when I have room.

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Mascara – Transparent
As far as brow gels go, this is not a good one. It comes out of the tube with a weird film on the brush that leaves horrific globs on your eyebrows; the brush is a bobbly monstrosity and is difficult to manouver. No.
Repurchase? Definitely not.

Clarins Double Serum (not pictured)
I like this because it strengthens my skin and helps it heal, as well as working amazingly in conjunction with AHA/BHAs to improve skin texture.
Repurchase? Already halfway through another.

LUSH Honey I Washed the Kids Soap, approx 25g (not pictured)
I love the sweet and comforting scent of this, despite the exceptionally drying effect it has on my hands.
Repurchase? At some point.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in 0 – Porcelain
This is my favourite everyday foundation – light but not too sheer, an excellent colour match and nicely blendable. There’s still some left in here, but it started smelling weird and was nearly done anyway.
Repurchase? On another bottle now!

Formula 10.06 So Totally Clean (Sensitive) (not pictured)
I’ve written about this and my affection for it numerous times here and here.
Repurchase? No – it’s near-impossible to find in NZ right now, so I’m trying a heavier acid toning product.

LUSH Layer Cake Soap, approx 15g (not pictured)
I got a sample of this with a LUSH Kitchen order and loved it – it was the red & purple colours, which have raspberry & blackcurranty scents (two of my favourite scent families). Not as drying as other soaps!
Repurchase? Quite possibly, but only if I got the same colours.

Dr. Hauschka Blackthorn Toning Body Oil
One of my favourite luxurious-as-fuck bathroom items – my skin never feels as smooth as when I’ve put this on. I don’t know if it tones, but then I try not to think about what is or isn’t toned on my body..
Repurchase? I have so many body moisturisers right now, but the second I can spare the cash, I will.

Ethique Oaty Delicious Shampoo/Body Wash Bar (not pictured)
This little mini came in my second sampler box, and I ended up loving it. Review due soon!
Repurchase? Yes – this will be my new shampoo soon, I expect.

LUSH Pink Peppermint Foot Lotion
Another not-quite finished product – I’m not a fan of anything to do with feet at the best of times, but the scent of this is that of a horribly medicinal, sweet milky-peppermint. Despite the arnica content, I just couldn’t get past the scent and the grease it left on me.
Repurchase? No.

Bionsen Sensitive Stick Deodorant
My favourite deodorant. It’s aluminium-free so it’s gentle and doesn’t hurt my armpits, even when I’ve been rude enough to shave them. My eczema patch doesn’t object to it and it has a clean, unisex scent.
Repurchase? Yep. This is one I have multiple backups of.

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Intensive Moisturising Hand Treatment
This is the thickest and silkiest hand cream in the world, that hydrates my hands and repairs them when they get dry and scaly (more often than I’d care to admit).
Repurchase? I’m holding off until the christmas sets with more of these cute tiny sizes come out, but yes.

TREND: Nontouring

When the term ‘nontouring’ first popped up in titles on my YouTube feed, I was incredibly confused. What the hell did makeup have to do with people not going on tours? It turns out I was reading it wrong, and this is a term for the stupidest fucking development yet in beauty trends.

So what is it? Nontouring is a term for the absence of contour makeup on the face. So.. just not doing any contouring. Let’s be real here for just a wee second and recognise that there is absolutely no need to give a label to the absence of one ridiculous beauty trend, thereby creating another one. It’s not innovative, it’s not new.. it’s how most young women did their makeup before cakefaces became the norm. It’s simply erasing an oft-useless 10 minutes of application time, and resembling a nicer version of yourself as opposed to a gargoyle Kardashian.

Before I jump ahead I’ll make a point to explain that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with chucking loads of shit on your face – so long as it makes you happy, and you wash it all off properly at the end of the day (lest Caroline Hirons hunt you down). When I want to look particularly fancy/hide my double chin, I have been known to deepen a few shadows on my face, and add some attention to my cheekbones. Do what you like with your makeup, I couldn’t care less. But personally, I bloody hate contouring and all it’s spinoffs.

Contouring is a technique designed initially for stage, where you have people looking at you from 50m away while you’re under very strong lights. With these things going for you anyone would look like a potato.. so enter contouring. Strong shadows drawn and then blended onto the face under the cheekbones, around the hairline and jawline and anywhere else right next to the area you want to emphasise/make your face look like a face from far away. It works like a charm, and was soon picked up by drag artists wanting to really develop their dramatic characters (makes sense). But last I checked, the average teenager doesn’t want to look like a drag artist, no matter how fabulous the queen. So why are people doing it just to go to the dairy?

The answer is not necessarily the Kardashians, though I’m sure certain members of that brood have a large part to play. With makeup being an increasingly accessible and fast-rising hobby, it becomes more feasible to try and replicate things people admire – namely celebrities. The thing here is that on red carpets, the makeup artists working on these celebrities are going all out. They have to; like on stage, their client will be under a lot of lights with a lot of flash, and they need to stand out from everyone else, so they have to dial up the drama and make Kim look fucking flawless so she’s noticed. And people will notice – “omg Kim is my liiife”, “goals”, “smh why is she so hot”. Admiration, followed by replication.

Again, most people do not have these circumstances, and when someone tries to replicate the whole thing it inevitably looks ridiculous. So the ‘gurus’ we watch take the most noticeable elements from these looks (contour) and focus on those. The general idea most seem to take from the red carpets is that the heavier the contour, the sharper the cheekbones and the more flawless you look. It looks flawless because you aren’t even seeing your skin – it’s suffocated under 17 layers of product. I can’t help but think that if you need to ‘bake’ your face with half a tin of powder to stop your product moving, perhaps you’re wearing too much.

Contour is in no way a practical trend – to do it well, you have to blend until your arm falls off. Most people don’t, resulting in an effect Bobbi Brown says “looks like dirt”. So how can you have the drama of Kim K without having to try so hard? ‘Strobing‘, or ‘using highlighter to look permanently sweaty’. It’s highlighting the tops of the cheekbones so much that they’re basically all you see on the face. Lots of product, doesn’t have to be blended as much, and creates shadows in it’s absence. But you still have tons of shit on your face, and you look oilier than the bottom of a roasting pan. So the next phase is basically dialing it back – strobing without the strobe, thereby removing the shadowing/contour effect. Whoa, is that a.. normal human face? Apparently not, it’s called nontouring now.

What bothers me the most is that there’s always got to be some ridiculous trend. We can’t just say “you know what, I don’t want to look like a face-paint tiger”. It’s always something that’s supposed to ‘play up’ a part of your face, to hide something you hate; it has to have a seemingly-essential purpose. So many people wear makeup because they feel like they need to, but makeup isn’t for that. Makeup is to enhance the nice face you already have, not replace it.

Maybe my dislike of contour and it’s friends is because I’m lazy – I can’t be fucked to wear any makeup half the time, much less to blend giant stripes onto it. But up close, I guarantee Kim K looks like she’s wearing a rubber mask. For the average person, makeup is designed to enhance the naturally existing features, and it does it well if you use it right. If you want some definition to your face, do the bronzer-3 trick. Tap some sparkly stuff on your already-existing cheekbones to bring them out without startling someone. Embrace your face, don’t draw all over it – nobody has naturally white undereyes unless they’re dead. Makeup is awesome and I love it – one of my jobs is putting it on people’s faces – but for most it’s at it’s best when it’s working with your face, instead of trying to make something that isn’t there.

What do you think of contouring, strobing and ‘nontouring’?

May Favourites

Jumping back into beauty blogging means writing posts about your favourite things every month, and here we go with May. This month there’s ten products on my desk, so let’s get started.

L-R, from top: Clarins Double Serum; MAC CoyGirl blush; Tangle Teezer Salon Elite; Formula 10.0.6 SOoTotally Clean; Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner in Wine Ink; MAC Beauty Powder in Natural; LUSH Don't Rain On My Parade Shower Gel; Bobbi Brown Extra Face Oil; Ethique Sampler Box

LUSH Don’t Rain On My Parade Shower Gel
Just before Easter I picked up the seasonal Ultraviolet bubble bar and liked it, so when I saw this similarly-scented gel, I snapped it up. Violets coated in treacle, with a touch of malt.. amazing. I can see myself buying the big size when this one is done.

Clarins Double Serum
A friend who worked for Clarins showed me this stuff almost a year ago, and I promptly fell in love with this smoothing, nourishing serum. After a minor breakout thanks to a product failure, I’m confident that my nightly pump of this helped my skin recover. In fact, this always helps my skin bounce back from anything.

Bobbi Brown Face Oil
As my friend Selinah would tell you, I hated the idea of oil the first time I tried this. Long story short, she kept making me try it and eventually I bought this little mini size at the end of April. Nothing I have ever tried hydrates my skin so fully, leaving it so supple and smelling so good.

Formula 10.0.6 So Totally Clean (Sensitive Formula)
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Morgan taught me about the importance of chemical exfoliants, and this was the gentlest and easiest to access AHA/BHA toner I could find (a suggestion in Morgan’s post). This is my third bottle of the stuff, and helps keep my skin just that bit clearer and fresher. Amazing.

Ethique Heali Kiwi Solid Shampoo
Having had a needlessly stressed-out, irritated scalp for the past few months, I turned to Ethique and their solid shampoo bar designed to help heal troublesome scalps. I’m glad to say the sample I ordered of it worked a treat, and I have the full size on it’s way!

Ethique Guardian Solid Conditioner
When you use shampoo, you use conditioner, right? This smells like lime cordial and leaves my hair so very very soft. Also on it’s way in a full size and I can’t wait.

MAC Maleficent Beauty Powder – Natural
I redisovered this in my stash when I was re-organising it and after some googling to refresh what it’s intended for, I have been using this Beauty Powder (world’s most ambiguous product name) to set my face and keep things in place without over-mattifying or looking like I’ve got anything on. It doesn’t work under my eyes, but elsewhere I look glowy and perfect all day when I wear this. Make it permanent please, MAC.

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner – Wine Ink
I feel a little like a cheat for including this given it was only in the last week of May that I discovered this, but when I had my session with Amy Conway at Selinah’s Bobbi Brown counter, I couldn’t leave without this. We all know how I love rich plummy colours on my eyes, and this is just perfect for my blue eyes in our winter/autumn weather. Gently defining, colour-enhancing but not boring, as brown can be.

MAC Coy Girl Sheertone Powder Blush
I scored this on Trade Me in the beginning of the month for about $8 including shipping – if you know MAC pans that’s a blimmin’ bargain, as there’s well over 1/4 of the product left (retails for nearing $50 now full size). Such a beautiful bright mauve, and I’ve been wearing it whenever there’s makeup on my face.

Tangle Teezer Salon Elite Hairbrush
Another end-of-April purchase, I’d been hearing endless praises about Tangle Teezers and when I found myself in town on very few hours sleep and not having brushed my hair in a while, I caved in and bought this. Even with my grumpy, easily-knotted thick hair, brushing my hair is a dream with this thing. While it’s not 100% pain-free (I can’t expect anything to remove knots from my hair and be pain-free), it reduces pain and time spent brushing my thick locks. I appreciate that. Works wet or dry, and easy to clean. WIN.

There’s my round-up; what have been your favourites in May?