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?

SKIN | 7 Mini Reviews – Kiehl’s

I used up some more samples – this time from Kiehl’s. I’d heard so much about numerous Kiehl’s products, such as the green eye cream and the famous Midnight Recovery Oil so I headed over to a counter and had a consult. I was suggested these products – but what did I think?

Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash

This face wash was a non-event – not bad, not good. It didn’t irritate my skin, sure, but it also didn’t clean particularly deeply. Repurchase? No.

Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner – Alcohol Free

Just like the cleanser, nothing special. Good that it’s alcohol-free, but as far as I’m aware this has no actual hard-hitting skin friend ingredients. Repurchase? Nope.

Centella Skin-Calming Facial Cleanser

This was the loveliest cream cleanser I’ve ever used, hands-down. It obviously didn’t foam, but still left my skin feeling clean and soft without the residue my Trilogy one sometimes leaves. Repurchase? On the list.

Skin Rescuer

I’d heard that this was a miracle-working moisturiser; it calmed angry skin, hydrated (but not too much) and balanced the skin’s mantle. But it did the opposite, and despite washing it off as soon as the reaction was obvious, I had plenty of pimples the next day. Repurchase? No, as much as I love the idea.

Creamy Eye Treatment

This is ridiculously thick and takes an age to massage in, but it hydrates wonderfully and smooths my under-eyes. It’s average under make-up. Repurchase? Using the full-size now.

Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturising Serum Concentrate

I really needed a good boost of hydration when I used this, so I popped this on and it was awesome. I was initially worried about the silicone-y smoothness it gave to my face, but that soon went away and it didn’t have the clogging effects silicone-based serums usually have. Repurchase? Perhaps next winter.

Midnight Recovery Oil

Oh, what high hopes I had for this. It felt lovely and smelt incredible – but the next morning, my face was covered in tiny surface pustules (yet under those, very glowy). A week later I tried again and sure enough it repeated. Yet to work out which ingredient it was. Repurchase? No, god no.

So on the whole, an equal split of hits & misses from this sample batch. I’m definitely interested in trying some more Kiehl’s products – but I’ll be taking their promises with a grain of salt.


Have you tried any of these Kiehl’s products? What do you think of them?


SKIN | 5 Mini Reviews – Aesop

In a move borrowed directly from Evelyn over at We Were Raised By Wolves, I have decided to begin posts on the samples I use up in my wee sample drawers. I always find Evelyn’s sample reviews so interesting, and they offer a chance to discuss the first responses we have to products.

First up, I’m reviewing some Aesop samples I was given in Melbourne* a few months ago – cleanser, exfoliant, toner, moisturiser and a mask. Each sample was quite small, but with the exception of the mask, provided me with ample product to cover my face. There wasn’t actually any dud in this selection, the lovely lady who served me clearly paid excellent attention to my skin needs and selected the samples accordingly as my face felt positively wonderful after using them all. I’ve definitely got a few on my to-purchase list..

headshotattempts 033-2

Fabulous Face Cleanser

This is a very liquid-ey, low-foaming gel that smells fresh (bergamot & citrus) but is not stripping. Left my face supple and refreshed, but didn’t leave behind residue – a dream of a cleanser. Mildly calming, too (which God knows my skin needs!).

Repurchase? Most definitely – on the list.

B & Tea Balancing Toner

Nothing like any other toner I’ve tried – where you normally think of toner as a watery essence, B & Tea is more of a liquid-leaning gel. As I find with most regular toners, I couldn’t see an immediate difference. But it felt refreshing and most importantly, hydrating (which most toners don’t really do for me, so it can’t be a bad thing).

Repurchase? I’ll consider it, once I’ve used up my current stash.

Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream

When I first squidged this out of the packet I was rather taken aback by it’s yellowness. But it didn’t smell weird so I put it on my face, and I am so glad I did. It hydrated my notoriously dry skin wonderfully without feeling too balmy and taking an age to sink in.

Repurchase? Oh, fuck yes. Hello, summer moisturiser.

Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste

This was the finest grit I’ve ever felt in a physical exfoliator, and the closest I’ve ever been to a physical polish of my skin. I used this on my skin when I hadn’t exfoliated (in any form) in quite some time, and it’s a good job I did because I would be mildly concerned about stripping layers off if I used this regularly – even gently. Having said that, a full-size would last bloody ages because you don’t need much at all.

Repurchase? Probably not, I have exfoliators close to this grit already and I don’t use them enough to justify purchasing this.

Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque

A drying mask that doesn’t freak my skin out? What?! I’m sold. Especially when it left my skin visibly clearer and managed to soak up excess oil without pulling all moisture from my skin. Magical.

Repurchase? Yes, but only when I’m feeling seriously flush with cash.

For the record: I have dry and sensitive, mildly reactive skin that likes to be looked after gently (hint: just like people, most skin likes being looked after gently). If you have similar skin and you’re looking for something in these categories, I’d highly recommend giving these products a try. Or you could do what I suggest other skin types do and pop into an Aesop retailer and ask the expert, because I can’t see your skin and even if I could, they’re much less likely to fuck up a product recommendation.

Have you tried anything from Aesop before?



*Flinders Lane Store – Miranda served me and she was an absolute gem. Truly a stellar customer service experience.

September Favourites

LUSH Fresh Farmacy Solid Cleanser
I picked this up on a whim back in May, I use it almost every day and it’s only just become half the size. It’s a solid facial soap and has calamine, chamomile, rose and lavender and is astringent but soothing, so perfect for a breakout-face.

Bdellium Tools 776
I have 3 of these brushes, and they are amazing. Morgan over at Hyacinth Girl compared this brush with the iconic MAC 217 and concluded that they are basically identical. I don’t have a 217, but holy fuck do I love these brushes. Perfect for everything, and it’s now a staple in my stash.


Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette
In my room at my new flat, I have to really contain myself to one makeup item of each type at a time. As such, for the last 3 weeks I’ve been using this palette and adoring it – the pink and rose gold tones compliment my eyes wonderfully and it’s an easy thing I don’t have to think about.

Lipstick Queen lipstick in Central Park
Hi, new favourite red lipstick. Pigmented as fuck, nice and bright and doesn’t move off my lips. Also, can we talk about the compact yet luxe matte-finish, metal tube? Lipstick Queen, you are incredible.

Trilogy Ultra Hydrating Face Cream
I’ve actually been using this more as a night treatment for my hands than anything else lately, as I ran out of my Elizabeth Arden Intensive Hand Treatment. This is a little harder to work in (figures), but it does the trick in a pinch. I also like it for the face but not as much as my HG winter moisturiser, hence the repurposing.

What have been your favourite beauty products this month?

July Favourites

July Favourites 2016

LUSH Vanilla Dee-Lite Body Lotion
Recently I’ve been coming to terms with what my dry skin needs, and the effort required to keep it nice. I ran into this stuff from LUSH, and it smells divine, hydrates wonderfully and is discontinued. Just my luck. LUSH Kitchen, please release it again soon..

MAC Bare Study Paint Pot
This has been living in my makeup bag for a while, and rightly so because it’s the perfect shimmery cream shadow that stays put and makes me look more awake.

LUSH Monsters & Aliens FUN
While I have been creative with LUSH’s bathroom-playdough offering, the idea of using it to create a shaving cream hadn’t crossed my mind – thanks, r/LushCosmetics! I gave it a go and wow, I have never had such smooth legs. This scent is probably my favourite – vanillary and peppery. Ooh.

Lipstick Queen Hello Sailor Lipstick
I picked this novel lipstick when it was relatively new, and it’s been hanging out in my collection since. Then, when designing the make-up for a show I was doing, I needed a pretty mauvey, barely-there lipstick. This is a winner, and it’ll be staying in my makeup bag.

Novelty Socks
One of my favourite things to easily cheer myself up is buying interesting socks. Cheap thrills, but in the past month I’ve bought 7 new pairs of socks and instantly felt better every time. The ones pictured have a basic cityscape, with a pink godzilla – a spectacle.

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Moisture Cream
This is my second jar of this stuff, and it is my holy-grail winter moisturiser. Luxurious and nourishing, I will only use this to moisturise my mug in the cooler months.

Brow Gel
The clear brow gel pictured is just the one I’ve been using lately (Maybelline Brow Drama), and I don’t think it’s anything special, but in general I have really been appreciating brow gel to hold my unruly face forests in place without overdoing it.

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream
In winter, I need a good eye cream. It’s my peak work months (hi, dark circles) my skin is horribly dry (hi, crepey texture), and due to aforementioned work, I wear more makeup. While it’s not thick enough for all the time, this classic eye cream is perfect for under makeup and for morning refreshment.

Seventeen Phwoarr Paint Under-Eye Concealer
Since re-tossing this back in my makeup bag, I’m impressed! It’s salmon-toned, full-coverage (seriously, I used this as foundation in a desperate moment) and creamy – hiding my dark circles flawlessly. A brilliant dupe for my problematic fave, Bobbi Brown Corrector.

Apples & Pears Lip Balms
These gorgeous rose-gold toned, bee-topped beauties have been tumbling around my life for a while, but I love them SO much. The texture is a light oil that will not migrate away from your lips before it’s done it’s job. A little goes a long, long way – but it’s discontinued. Not sure what to do with myself now. .


What have been your favourites this July? Any oil-type lip balms you could suggest?

Ethique: Eco-Friendly Products That Are Actually Quite Good


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?

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.

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.


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!