FAVES | October 2017

Welcome back to the periodically-neglected site I write on, and thank you for popping by again! The site has had a bit of a hiccup lately and all the posts had to be re-uploaded (unfortunately sans-photos). As such, please bear with while my incredibly patient webmaster Finn fixes things, and I re-upload a veritable shit ton of photos. It might not happen quickly, because I refuse to put pressure on Finn (he is the true saviour of this site and often my sanity), and I avoid my blog when I am anxious – which is often.

Anywho, in the past few months I’ve taken a couple of leaps of faith in terms of beauty and skincare, resulting in some new favourites, one or two mistakes, and unmentionable amounts of money leaving my bank account. Today’s post features some of the good stuff – mostly the things I’ve used and liked during the past month for my ease, but I promise I’ll release the rest in another rambly post.

First up, some familiar items around these here parts. About a year ago, I raved about the Ethique solid beauty bar range (see here), in particular the Heali Kiwi shampoo bar. It straight-up saved my sore and grumpy scalp, and within 3 weeks of beginning use I had a whole host of wee baby hairs sprouting up, proving the much happier state of my scalp. I found myself in the same predicament this year – a sore, perpetually itchy, dry and generally sad head. So of course I ordered the only thing that I knew worked, and after my first use of my new bar, my scalp stopped screaming and my hair was lighter and infinitely happier.

You guys, this stuff is some heavenly witchcraft. I must always have a backup as of yesterday, and after I’ve rehabilitated my scalp with this bar, I’ll be using Ethique’s Oaty Delicious bar as my regular shampoo (also super gentle for grumpy scalps).

Secondly in skincare land (the scalp is skin..), is the Aésop Control Gel. We all know I love Aésop and nearly all they do, but the shining product in the past however-many weeks has definitely been their Control Gel. When my skin hates me, a dot of this helps calm the offending site, reduce redness, dry out the blemish (without drying out the surrounding skin), and limit scarring. I have fair and scar-happy skin, and the good amount of niacinamide in this gel helps reduce the evidence of spots, which is always welcome. I’m relatively certain it’s mostly (added) fragrance-free, but if it does have any, it doesn’t upset my persnickety skin balance. AND, it’s like $20. Winner winner chicken dinner. Now, onto makeup!

I’ve said it before – while I’m middling on her actual music, Rihanna knows her makeup. This is evident in her groundbreaking makeup line Fenty Beauty, which launched in September and immediately reeled me and the rest of the world in. I (naturally) went for the single lip product in the initial launch – a ‘universal colour’ lip gloss called the Gloss Bomb. It’s designed to work for anyone of absolutely any skin tone, and judging by the 100+ swatches I’ve seen on people of all tones, it really does. I don’t know how or why, but it does. The colour isn’t too saturated, it’s not too shimmery or sticky, it tastes of sweets, and it’s probably the truest example I’ve tried of a My Lips But Better colour (as much as I hate the term). Of course, there are some downsides – number one being it’s a gloss, so it sticks to your hair and the rest of your face. Number two is that way too much product comes out on the applicator, though that’s easily fixed. Otherwise, it’s a perfect wee pick me up to have in my makeup bag, for something to pull my last-minute look together and moisturise my oft-neglected lips. As a bonus, it makes a nice subtle highlight when dabbed on the cheekbones in a pinch. Yeah, it’s expensive, but for a gloss that I actually use and don’t fundamentally hate? I’ll take it.

I have less to blub on about with the other two favourite makeup items I have, but they’re the same thing, and they even came in the same Sephora order as the Fenty Beauty gloss. Said order was largely spurred by the offer they had on, where upon dropping $90+ on makeup, you could get a mini of the cult classic Kat Von D liquid eyeliner. As you can see I took that offer, and I am very glad I did. I 110% get why people love this liner – it’s so easy to control! It has such a precise tip! It’s fucking brilliant! I’d never actually used a true brush-tip liquid eyeliner pen, and only now do I see the light. Honestly, the control I have with this is out of this world. Though it’s not as pigmented as others I have, I don’t mind too much as I can quite easily do another swipe and build it up a wee bit. It doesn’t bunch, it doesn’t crud up on top of itself. Beautiful. I even cried with it on, and didn’t have a problem with dulled eyeliner wings.

Liner #2 was actually an add-on to my basket, because I wanted to meet the minimum to get the KVD liner. It’s the Sephora Long Lasting Khol Pencil in #07, Infinite Beige (what an inventive name.. not). This matches my skin in an eerily-perfect way, so when its in my waterline it does exactly as it should: making me look more awake and generally put-together. It’s super soft, yet hard-wearing – doesn’t scratch upon application and also stays put for many an hour. The only time it’s gone wrong on me was when I tightlined my eye with my Nars khol liner and forgot to let that dry before applying the Sephora one, which ended up taking on a grey tinge from the Nars liner. Once I realised my mistake and let it dry first, we were fine. As with many Sephora products, this was very good value – approx $10, and it’s noticeably longer than most khol pencils so is excellent value for money.

Another favourites done. Despite being long, I think I’ll stick to the format I forced myself to take this month – just 5 (or less) things each month. Then I’ll have less excuses, and perhaps I’ll conquer my anxieties and post a bit more. I know I’ve rambled far beyond acceptable limits in this one, but it is good to be back behind the keyboard, even if I am overthinking every phrase. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around. I promise I’ll try to make my efforts a little more obvious around here – I have a lot of posts planned, but the main thing holding me back is the anxiety I get from managing a presence on and relative to my blog (which I’m not very good at, evidently).

Speaking of, feel free to tell me things you like to read. I’m thinking I might branch out a little more into some mental health/coping mechanisms posts – things that pertain to my actual life, as I only wear makeup twice a week – in an effort to name and identify the things holding me back. Of course, this doesn’t mean a halt on beauty and skincare – god no! Those are my favourite topics by far. Anyway, I’ll leave you with some interesting questions this time round:

What’s your preferred blogging style (as a consumer), and what would you want to read more of? Alternatively, what were your favourite things this month?

October Favourites

It’s time. Again. How time flies, and all that. Let’s go.

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T2 French Earl Grey Loose Tea
I like (intentionally) warm drinks. They’re great, especially tea – all kinds of it! Except Earl Grey, because it tastes like latex to me. I’ve tried lots of brands to no avail, but then I found T2’s twist. Why it’s French, I’ll never know because it tastes like black tea with a bunch of tropical fruit chucked in, and I love it so much.

Ethique Frizz Wrangler Solid Shampoo
Yep, mentioning that rad zero-waste company again. They sent me a sample of this shampoo with the cool limited edition shaving soap I bought my dad for Father’s Day, and when I ran out of my regular bar I tried it.. holy christmas, my hair has never been as soft and manageable as it is now. Works brilliantly with my conditioner bar, too (the Guardian, in case you were wondering).

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The Prettiest Darn Phone Case That Ever Was
I found it on Etsy at 3am on a Saturday, and bought it because it was only $25 including shipping (ish) and it’s cool. It arrived the following Tuesday and I am mega stoked. There’s heaps of different flower combinations and whatnot, too – have a look if you like.

LUSH Bath Bombs
I am trying to take more baths because they are good for reducing anxiety, making me read more books and forcing me to be away from technology for a bit (a godsend for self-employed idiots like me). I don’t like being able to see myself in the water, so I’ve been dropping way too much money on things that make the water smell and look nice. I’m finding LUSH ones give me the best result. Sploosh – fizz fizz fizz. Yay.

Davines Authentic Moisturising Balm
I still have no clue how to pronounce the brand, but this stuff is amazing. It’s supposed to be able to be used for body, face and hair but I’ve been using it as a body moisturiser. I’ve noticed that it can be hard to spread over the skin sometimes, which I suspect is due to the properties that lend it to multi-use. The scent is herby-lavender-rosey-ey and it’s really really enjoyable. It moisturises well without leaving a greasy film and/or reacting to my skin. There’s no way in hell I’m putting that much fragrance near my face, but I might try it on my hair sometime soon.

What have you been enjoying this month?

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.

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?

HAIR | Happy Strands

As I’ve mentioned in both my May Favourites and a sampler review so far, I’ve been pretty fucking impressed with Ethique’s solid haircare products as of late. Due to 7 months of non-stop work at multiple jobs and a body that can’t process stress, my scalp had gone from relatively happy to distraught. Incredibly dry and therefore flaky and itchy, getting oily very quickly and losing ridiculous amounts of hair every time I moved, it was not the best. This sounds like classic over-cleansing with the wrong shampoo, but I assure you I’d investigated every cause and I was not over-brushing or over-washing, I didn’t have dandruff and I’d been using hairdresser-recommended SLS-free shampoos and silicone-free conditioners only once a week. I don’t style my hair and I’ve never pulled at it – it really just seems like it was stress. So when I decided to try Ethique (read the sampler box review here) and saw I could try a scalp-healing shampoo and a protective conditioner, I was all for it.

The second I finished the samples I went to order the full sizes, and here’s why.

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Ethique are all about reducing waste and unnecessary shit from products, which I am all for so long as the product is functional. I’m pleased to report the products here are definitely that. They offer solid ‘beauty bars’ – shampoo/conditioner/moisturiser/cleanser sans excess water, leaving behind the concentrated ingredients. Just a few swipes of the bars across your head or skin, and you’re good to go. They even offer in-shower containers made of sugarcane and bamboo that help drain your bars and stop them dissolving unnecessarily, which is really quite a good idea given how often I forget to take stuff out of the shower with me. Each bar will supposedly last about 2-3 shampoo bottles, meaning it’s well worth your cost.

Shampoos/conditioners are the products with the most feedback on Ethique’s Facebook page, and most regularly mentioned in reviews, so when I ordered my initial sampler, that seemed like a logical place to start. I’d been intrigued in the whole solid shampoo concept for a while – LUSH do similar bars, and while I enjoyed the one I had a year or so ago I found it quite stripping and drying on my hair, despite being designed for dry hair and scalps. Ethique’s products seem to be a lot kinder, considering the responses they get, so I decided to give it a shot.

I chose the Heali Kiwi shampoo bar, designed to help heal and soothe irritated and unhappy scalps while still cleansing appropriately. Within one use, my scalp was less itchy and already going an extra day without needing a wash. Within two washes, I had almost forgotten I even had a grumpy head. Similar story with the Guardian conditioner I chose – it left my hair feeling silky and soft, but not full of silicone-y gunk as some conditioners do, and my notorious stress-induced hairfall levels reduced a good third between the first and second washes with the bar.

Now let me just stop for a second and be super-straight with you – I have never been one to believe in one-use-wonder products, and haven’t ever encountered any prior to these items. I’m not one to fall for much marketing, and I am highly skeptical whenever anyone claims a product is some kind of instant wonder.

This stuff has been a whole new level of impressive for me; the past year or so I’ve been finding stress exhibiting itself in all sorts of weird ways on my body, and I seem to be reacting to more things than ever before. Even when I try and reduce my stress I’m still dealing with these side-effects, so I’m rapidly trying to adjust the products I use (or don’t use) for my uppity skin. The only shampoo and conditioner I’ve found that don’t irritate my scalp are these ones, and I genuinely believe my scalp recovery is mostly due to them. At my recent haircut, I mentioned how ‘fluffy’ my hair had been lately and my hairdresser friend Jessie informed me that the ‘fluffiness’ is in fact tiny baby hairs, growing in place of all the hair I’d lost about 3 months ago. In fact, I would estimate that at one point mid-April I had 2/3 the amount of hair I normally do, and the main difference I’d made since then was the use of this shampoo and conditioner. My hair is healthier, stronger and shinier since using these products, and the odd time I do switch to something else for a wash, I’m left disappointed with a dry and sore scalp once more.

I’ll admit that towards the end the bars do get a little squidgy, but what more could I expect from a solid bar being kept in a damp place? The in-shower containers definitely extend the lives of the bars considerably, and are relatively sturdy – I am an absolute klutz and have dropped these bright cubes in the bath multiple times, but you’d never guess. Once I’d adjusted to picking a bar up instead of a bottle and begun to see the effects, I was converted. Ethique, you have a solid (ha, ha) advocate in me.

 

Shop Ethique products here. This post is NOT sponsored – all products purchased by me personally.

 

 

P.S. I’m by no means an environmentalist, but I have to say that there’s something super satisfying about not chucking out a bunch of plastic bottles every few weeks – a lot less clutter in my bathroom, and a lot less junk in the ocean. Win-win.

Have you tried any Ethique products? What would you like to try from them?

Ethique: Eco-Friendly Products That Are Actually Quite Good

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For a while now, Ethique has been popping up all over my Facebook feed and in NZ blogs I read. Formerly known as Sorbet, Ethique is a company that believes in reducing packaging waste by removing the excess water from your staple beauty products, leaving you with a concentrated solid bar packed full of goodies to cleanse, moisturise or enhance your skin, your hair, your pets, your clothes and just about all the basic things you need to look after. I’d heard nothing but positive reviews on multiple Ethique products so one ludicrously early morning I placed an order for one of their sampler boxes; a little box with five samples of their products that you select, for a minimal cost with free NZ shipping. I chose a shampoo bar, a conditioner bar, a cleansing bar, a body butter and a face moisturiser – all generous sizes, designed to last about a week so you get a good feel for each product. It’s now been about a month since I received my sampler, so let’s give it a review, shall we?

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T-B: Heali Kiwi Shampoo Bar; The Guardian Conditioner; SuperStar! Cleansing Bar

The products I was most excited to trial were the shampoo and conditioner bar I chose, as these are the products with the most feedback on Ethique’s Facebook page, and most regularly mentioned in reviews. I chose the Heali Kiwi shampoo bar, designed to cleanse whilst helping to heal and soothe irritated and unhappy scalps. My scalp has been having a tantrum for a fair few months, and within 2 uses, this had sorted it. Similar story with the Guardian conditioner – hairfall reduced by a very considerable amount, soft and happy hair that didn’t get frizzy. I don’t wash my hair more than twice a week, and these bars lasted through three washes, so I did get well over a week’s use.  I presume a ‘week’s worth’ of product insinuates daily use which these bars didn’t make, but I consider it great value for money considering I have thick, medium-length hair with a lot more strands than most people do. Needless to say, the moment I used up the last of these, I ordered the full-size, with some fancy containers. Full review soon, because DAMN am I impressed.

I was somewhat skeptical of the SuperStar! cleansing bar as it is designed to remove makeup and cleanse the face without stripping or irritating the skin, but contains Sweet Orange oil which can be an irritant to sensitive skins as it contains limonene. As a person with moderately panicky skin, I was hesitant but gave it a shot anyway and was pleasantly surprised – it melted easily with my body temperature, removed my makeup fairly well and most importantly, left my skin feeling clean but not filmy or parched. Despite being very strongly scented with it the Sweet Orange oil didn’t end up upsetting my skin, though I suspect it was mostly this ingredient that stung my eyes a little when getting mascara off (this could well be user-error, despite my best efforts to be careful). I’m not 100% in love, but I can certainly appreciate the versatility of the product and the formulation.

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L-R: Jasmine & Ylang Ylang Body Butter Block; The Perfector Face Moisturiser

I’ve been on a bit of a Jasmine-scented kick since discovering the LUSH Flying Fox shower gel, so I couldn’t go past the wee daisy, which was the Jasmine & Ylang Ylang Body Butter Block. This was definitely not a week’s sample as it only gave me one full body moisturising, but I’m not complaining because I don’t think you really need much more of a trial for such a product. It was a product that meant I could definitely forgo perfume, as it scented my skin, my clothes and my towel beautifully and quite intensely – almost too much so – but also coated my skin in a luxurious soft oil that left my desert-like skin quite happy. Probably not an every-day use product for me, but certainly an indulgent one.

The Perfector is Ethique’s moisturiser offering, touted as a solid face cream. It’s certainly got an impressive ingredient list – boasting rosehip and coconut oils, glyceryl, kaolin clay, hyaluronic acid and a fragrance of frankincense, ylang ylang and vanilla. The hyaluronic acid and glyceryl definitely do their job in the hydration department, and the oils cover the nourishing aspect quite well, leaving me with plump, happy skin in the morning. The Perfector is like SuperStar! in that you melt it on your face and massage it in, but I ended up with far too much product the two times I tried this so I ended up melting the amount I wanted in my hands, rubbing them together and pressing the product into my face as I do with other face oils. I’m not convinced this would sit well for me under makeup as oil takes a while to sink in to my skin and I don’t like waiting, so I’m happy with this as a night product. Possible repurchase.

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All in all, I really liked my first taster of Ethique’s products and have found at least 3 products to repurchase in full. In fact, I have the shampoo and conditioner awaiting me in my cupboard, so expect a full review soon, along with a run-down of the five other products I’ll be trying in the second sampler I ordered with my hair products. If you’re looking for a new something for your skin/hair/body and don’t fancy breaking the bank, I’d thoroughly recommend Ethique. Super fast shipping in NZ, high-quality products with easy-to-read ingredients lists, and customer service who have been nothing short of bloody fabulous whenever I’ve spoken to them. Certainly a new staple brand in my cupboards!