Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Inspired by jewellery

Today my mani is inspired by a pair of earrings I bought in Europe (Germany I think, I can't quite remember) when I went on a trip there for a conference in Norway in 2010. It was my first time in Europe, and my first big holiday with the boyfriend.

Here's my design:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My winter moisturiser essentials

My skin is usually oily and doesn't need much moisturiser, but winter wreaks havoc on my skin! This is what I've been using this year to keep it happy:


Daytime moisturiser: Kosmea Replenishing Moisture Cream*, $44.95 AUD for 50 mL


Moisturising and smoothing but doesn't leave the skin shiny or greasy - perfect under BB cream.


Leave-on exfoliator: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, $42.00 for 118 mL ($29.40 for members)

Salicylic acid exfoliates oily skin to eliminate blackheads and dull skin. Leaving it on for longer periods allows it to work properly. But it itches something awful for the first 5 minutes!


Serum: Kosmea Certified Organic Rose Hip Oil*, $24.95 AUD for 20 mL

Slightly pricier than other brands, but gives me the best blackhead-eliminating, skin-smoothing results.


Night cream: Sukin Facial Moisturiser, $9.99 AUD for 125 mL

A recent find, full of aloe goodness, glycerin and rose hip oil. Also, incredibly budget-friendly!


Sleeping mask: Laneige Water Sleeping Pack_Ex (bought from HK a few years back, can't seem to find it on any e-tailers apart from eBay)

Supposedly like clingfilm for your face, this is an award-winning treatment you wear over your night cream to seal in moisture. You wake up with the softest, plump skin, and has a relaxing, light and floral scent.


SOS super moisturising cream: Olay Moisturising Lotion, $13.20 for 150 mL

This gives me tiny whiteheads if I use it too often, but restores dry skin to normal-feeling elasticity within seconds, without leaving you shiny. Great for emergencies, and another one your wallet will thank you for.


Soothing body lotion: Lush Dream Cream, $28.95 for 240 g

Full of oat milk (which contains anti-irritant avenanthramides and other goodies), this quickly calms down red and irritated skin.


Moisturising body cream: DIY Body Butter (recipe here)


Incredibly thick homemade body butter containing only shea butter, grapeseed oil and a few drops of fragrant oil. Shea butter acts as an emollient to soften the roughest skin.


What are your favourite moisturisers?


Products marked * provided for review by PR, which did not affect my opinions.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Rainbow glittaahh!! Australis Fairy Bread mani and comparison swatches

Some of you might've already spotted the remnants of this mani on my DIY Peel-Off Base Coat post... here's what the mani looked like in full:


Australian cosmetics brand Australis recently released two limited edition polish shades to celebrate their 21st birthday: Hip Hip Hooray, a classic red creme, and Fairy Bread, a rainbow glitterbomb. Naturally, I went straight for the glitterbomb! I also picked up Aqua, a For Audrey-style Tiffany blue creme. I wore 3 coats Aqua, with Fairy Bread dabbed on top, then I added a matte coat the next day (of course!):



Fairy Bread is very much in the Rainbow Connection/Happy Birthday/Gems family of rainbow glitter. If you're eagle-eyed, you can see the slightly taco big hexes. Here's a comparison of Milani Gems and Fairy Bread:


Fairy Bread is basically a scaled-up version of Milani Gems, with a touch more pink and gold glitter, and less blue and green. This close up you can easily see the taco glitters - for those of you who don't know what taco glitter is, you don't love food enough! :P It's glitter that's curled up at the edges like taco shells. Taco-ing usually happens as the glitter reacts to the solvents in nail polish over time.

I bought these during a 2 for $10 special - $5 is a frankly ridiculous bargain for a chunky glitter (as is the regular price of $7.95), and I'm more than happy to put up with the tacos, which aren't too noticeable on the nail anyway. If you've been lusting after a rainbow glitter but couldn't justify the price, I'd definitely recommend you try out Fairy Bread!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Parissa Chamomile Body Sugar

I've always been really bad at waxing - so much of the time I simply can't be bothered waxing and just reach for the razor instead. There are half-used jars of wax all over my bathroom, from every brand imaginable. The latest one I've tried though, might just get me out of this bad habit, just in time for spring and dresses: Parissa Chamomile Body Sugar. It's newly launched in Australia, and it's suitable for all areas of the body. the ingredients are all-natural and non-toxic, and it tastes like sugar. I know this because I licked it. For science! (Of course.)


To use it, you just need to heat the wax until it's the consistency of honey, spread a very thin layer on the desired area in the direction of hair growth with one of the included spatulas, then press a cotton strip on it and "zip" it off in the other direction ("zip" sounds a fair bit better than "rip" I guess...).

Getting the wax runny only takes about 20 seconds on high in the microwave. I found that the wax also retains heat far better than any other wax I've tried - I finished waxing my legs and eyebrows without having to reheat it, which is great because my bathroom is upstairs from the microwave, and I am not a seasoned waxer! There's also a STACK of cotton strips included - great for people who stuff up a lot (i.e. me).

I also found that this product doesn't hurt as much as the waxes I've used in the past - whether it's because the chamomile is soothing, or because it's formulated to stick less to skin, I'm not sure. But it stuck to hair surprisingly well - even a few hairs as short as 1 mm came out! I'd like to attribute it to my mad waxing skillz but... I have none *sigh*


The body sugar also comes with a little vial of azulene oil - this is extracted from chamomile and has anti-inflammatory properties (in other words, makes your skin less red and painful after the "zipping"). It's disturbingly blue, but that's because azulene itself is an intense cobalt colour - I actually synthesised some in undergraduate chemistry labs! :)

Pros:
- Heaps of strips! (20)

- Super quick to warm (20 seconds in the microwave)
- Can use it all over
- Water soluble = easy cleanup - just jump into the shower afterwards. I wash the strips in the shower too, literally takes seconds.
- Soothing azulene oil included

Cons
- Like with all waxes, works best on longer hair

So will this be the end of razor burn for me? I guess we'll have to wait and see!


(Parissa Chamomile Body Sugar has an RRP of $12.99, and is available nationwide at Priceline. Provided for review by PR.. For more information see Disclosure Policy.)


Reference

M Guarrera, L Turbino and A Rebora. The anti-inflammatory activity of azulene. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 2001, 15, 486.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Answers to some questions from readers about pimples


 A few readers have asked me questions about acne - I thought I'd share my answers here :)

What's the fastest way to get rid of a huge pimple?

A cortisone injection from a dermatologist. This will even get rid of those massive hard lumps under the skin that usually take forever to go away on their own! Most pimples after treatment will flatten out in 1-3 days. As handy as it is, it's not recommended that this be done regularly (it can wreak havoc on your hormones) - save it for night-before-the-prom type emergencies. The price varies but it'll set you back $50-100 per jab.


What causes acne?

Acne forms when pores become blocked with sebum and dead cells, and often these blockages are invaded by bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, which leads to inflammation (redness and pus). This usually happens due to hormones called androgens (such as testosterone) which cause the skin to product more sebum - these hormones increase drastically during puberty. Additionally, genetics, diet, smoking, stress, environment, medication, hormonal fluctuations (e.g. menstrual cycle or disorders) and pregnancy can also play a role for particular individuals.


What's better - benzoyl peroxide or antibiotic cream?

Overall - benzoyl peroxide. Firstly, it doesn't encourage antibiotic resistance, which is when the antibiotics kill all the weak bacteria, leaving the strong bacteria to multiply and make strong bacteria babies, and the antibiotics won't work anymore. Bacteria don't ever become immune to BP. Secondly, BP doesn't just kill bacteria - it also helps reduce sebum production and encourages shedding of skin. BP is more commonly used with mild to moderate acne, and is available over the counter, whereas you need a prescription for the antibiotics in most countries. However, combining antibiotics and BP avoids the problem of antibiotic resistance and can be more effective - ask your doctor if you're not sure what's right for you.


Does UV light improve acne?

The results are mixed as to what effect UV light has, but it doesn't work as well as topical creams, plus topical creams aren't going to give you cancer or age your skin like UV light will!



References

JJ Leyden. A review of the use of combination therapies for the treatment of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol 2003, 49, S200.

A Nast et al. Guideline on the therapy of acne. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 2010, 8, S1.

AF Taub. Procedural treatments for acne vulgaris. Dermatol Surg 2007, 33, 1005.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Framed nails


I've been avoiding framed nails for a while because I thought they'd make my nails look smaller. Surprisingly, they don't! Or at least they don't if you have a dark border and light middle. I can imagine that if you have big nails that you want to make look smaller, a light coloured edge that isn't very far from your skin colour could work.

I planned on making the frame by painting a semi-ruffian, then swiping the free edge at the end, but my bottle brush skills suck and I ended up using a nail art brush anyway.

Frame: Borghese Stellare Notte
Middle: China Glaze DV8
The hex glitters can be purchased from Born Pretty


I actually quite like the dark border for giving definition to colours that would normally be too close to my skintone to wear without looking weird (I'm looking at you, golds and pale glitters). I get the feeling I'll be trying this out with a lot of my unwearables! It's also a great way of refreshing a chipped/regrowth-afflicted colour you're not quite ready to get rid of yet.

Adorably my boyfriend suggested that I try leaving off the stripe at the free edge, and got upset when I told him that would just be a ruffian! :)

What do you think of framed nails?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Notes on Essence Peel-Off Base Coat and how to DIY it

You may have heard that Essence's new Peel-Off Base Coat is awesome for hard-to-remove need-to-break-out-the-foil polishes - it takes 10 minutes to dry, but that's nothing compared to the pain and dry wrinkly fingers of glitter removal. For those of you who don't have access to Essence, or simply can't find it yet despite going to Target 3 times in the past week (i.e. me), there is a solution!

A lot of reviews of the Peel Off Base Coat have noted that it's stringy and white, like PVA glue. And for good reason... check out the ingredients:


Polyvinyl acetate emulsion - PVA is an adhesive polymer which is usually used as an emulsion in water.

Water - you know what that is!

Ethylhexylglycerin and phenoxyethanol - these two ingredients are often used together as a preservative system for preventing bacteria and mould from growing in water-based cosmetics. They're typically used at a concentration of under 1%.


So the composition is almost identical to PVA glue (which is a PVA emulsion in water), with the addition of preservatives!

Alanna from Pretty Purple Polish has tested using PVA glue out here with a handy set of step-by-step images - I also tested some "white craft glue" out under some glitter. Instead of waiting to peel it off at home like a normal person, I peeled it off with my fingers on the train. Here's the result:


It peels off incredibly easily, in big flakes. Unlike with a normal basecoat, my nails didn't feel dry or rough afterwards - it just separates smoothly with not much force at all.


A few things to note

- To thin out Essence Peel Off Base Coat or your DIY PVA base, don't use nail polish thinner. As well as being expensive, most polish thinners are made of solvents that aren't compatible with water emulsions and it'll probably separate. The best thinner for PVA? Water! (And if you want to experiment, a tiny bit of dishwashing liquid is often used to thin PVA for spray guns.)

- Let the PVA dry (i.e. go clear) before you put polish on top - it shrinks significantly as the water evaporates. You don't want a manicure made of lumpy.

- Be careful not to get it on your skin as well as the nail - a little stray tab of PVA on your skin can be a "handle" for the rest of the polish to peel. And it will peel off in one massive sheet.

- Clean-up with acetone won't work well, especially if the glue is dry. Pulling at it will make the polish lift off. So far the best thing I've found for getting rid of stray dry bits is manicure scissors.

- If you get it on a brush, use warm/hot water to soak it off, not nail polish remover. Nail polish remover just makes it go crusty.


Overall, I think this is a genius idea, and frankly I'm surprised it took this long! I take my hat off to whoever saw how easily PVA glue peels off skin and went "Hmmm....". And you bet I'll continue stalking ALL OF THE TARGETS until I get my hands on the real thing.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Beauty Bloggers Utopia Wildcard Challenge: "Recreate Yourself" FOTD

On September 29 & 30, Beauty Bloggers Utopia is happening, and the invite list is incredibly selective. Since my blog was just a wee baby when applications happened, I didn't expect to be able to go, but Makeup Utopia announced a FOTD challenge to apply for the last two wildcard tickets. The theme is "Recreate Yourself".

For my entry, I decided to stray away from the tried-and-true fresh-faced minimalistic thing I've been rocking for, like, the past 8 years, and go for a glammer look - something I'm not comfortable with at all! Especially considering how I only just started learning how to use eyeshadow last week, this was a proper challenge! This was the result - apologies for the stray hairs and stuff, we're not allowed post-processing for this challenge so all I've done is crop out bookshelves on the sides:

...but not the Snoopy plush collection my mum insisted on getting!

My right shoulder is super interesting!

7 Days of Eyeshadow - Part 1

So, as I've mentioned previously, I'm not well versed in the ins and outs of "interesting" makeup/warpaint. I've been sticking to the same everyday look for the past... well, forever. But a girl has to start somewhere, so I challenged myself to try out a new eyeshadow look every day for 7 days (not necessarily wear out of the house).

This was my first attempt at being creative with eyeshadow - these are the ones that turned out more "wearable" during the daytime. Being a novice, I also stupidly took photos before putting on mascara/falsies most of the time! So please excuse that sloppiness and try to imagine that there are luscious Bambi lashes there (diamonte on the ends if you prefer), thank you.


1. Subtle brown - this is mainly just a darker version of my natural eyelid colouring:



2. Taupe - inspired by Jen of My Funny Valentine - her blog is one of my favourites, and in part inspired me to start my own blog :) She always does such nice things with taupe:



3. Muted green - annoyingly I think this is the same colour as my veins, and brings them out more. I probably could've also gone a bit harder with the blending brush:


I was pretty happy with the first two looks, and I'll probably revisit them in the future - not so happy with the green, but since I love green I'm determined to work out some way of slapping it on that won't make me look like Morticia Addams. But zombie is in now, right?

....Right?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Review: Oseque Oxygen Mask Cleanser

Today I'm reviewing Oseque Oxygen Mask Cleanser. This is a best-seller in South Korea, and Koreans are obsessed with skincare, so I was very excited to try it out. It's also been endorsed by Korean actress Lee Ah Hyun, From what I've gathered, when a Korean actress endorses something, the Asian beauty world goes crazy (see e.g. BB cream). So this could well be the next big thing!


How to use it:
- Apply thin layer to dry face (it's supposed to remove makeup)
- Let it foam by itself for a bit over 10 seconds (the foam is oxygen gas bubbles generating)
- Rub it around for 30 seconds
- Rinse

This is what it looks like after spreading and foaming:


At first I was a little hesitant about the oxygen bubbles. Theoretically they flush out your pores, oxygenate your skin and kill anaerobic bacteria...but y'know, oxidation. This was the first time I'd heard of oxygen gas-based skincare, so I'm not entirely sure how it's supposed to work and how nicely they play with antioxidant skincare (the academic research all focuses on oxygen in wound healing), but there are a handful of them on the market.

It's pleasantly tingly and cooling on the face - kind of tickly! The self-foaming aspect was great for avoiding that terrible moment when you realise that you'll have to scrape the glob of gel off your face with your nails (Nivea Young Visage Wash Off, I'm looking at you). It also doesn't seem to contain a lot of surfactants, which means it's incredibly gentle. After washing my skin felt clean but not dry and tight. Win!

It does a good job of washing off BB cream, but even though it claims it'll remove mascara, I wasn't brave enough to rub it on my eyes. It also comes in a hygienic pump bottle:


Frustratingly, I can't find a proper ingredients list for this cleanser, beyond a huge list of active ingredients, which includes vitamins C and E, various botanicals, emu oil, coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, collagen, silk powder, milk protein and green tea extract. These are great ingredients, but I think they're wasted in a wash-off product. Also, with so many ingredients, there probably isn't much of each one.

This version of the cleanser also contains Gigawhite, a blend of Swiss botanical extracts which has been shown to lighten age spots and melasma at 5% concentration. I'm not super stressed about my whiteness (my aunts are though, I'm never going to find a good husband apparently, since good husbands all like their women pasty, that's just how it goes), but I haven't really noticed any real difference after 3 weeks. Again, since cleanser only stays in contact with skin for a short period of time, I wasn't expecting a huge difference - there's also a whitener-free version for those who like their skin brown.

Overall, it's a very gentle but effective cleanser with barely any surfactants. My skin definitely feels less dry after washing than with my normal regimen. Definitely a good option for dry winter skin!

(Provided for review by Glow and Glamour. Available for purchase from Glow and Glamour - use coupon code labmuffin for a 5% discount.)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Sponging

The theme this week is sponging. I did a simple sponged gradient with ulta3 Berry over Rimmel Lively Lilac, which is the least lively purple I've seen to be honest!

For my sponged gradients I've been using a dishwashing sponge - they're so cheap I don't feel bad throwing them out after one mani. I want to try more interesting sponged patterns in the future, but I always seem to end up with a simple 2-colour design!

Check out more sponging:

Monday, 13 August 2012

OPI James Bond 007 Skyfall collection review and swatches

Of all the big-name collections I've seen so this year, OPI's Skyfall collection would definitely be up top! The colours are a mix of classic sexy reds and purples, and sleek hi-tech metallics. Unlike most previous OPI collections where the names were puns on the theme, these are simply named after Bond films, and two colours were used in the upcoming Skyfall which is set to premiere in November. I have a few swatches for you today.

(Some of you might have seen sneak peeks of these on my Instagram feed already ;) I'm @labmuffin - add me! Especially if you post food pics. I have a Pavlovian impulse to double click any food pic, like the food will then appear in my mouth. Sadly, this is not how Instagram works.)

Onto the swatches:


Die Another Day: this is a fiery bright scarlet, glowing-from-the-inside stunner. The shimmer particles are very fine and makes for a super sexy colour. This one even felt a bit too sexy on my nails, like I should've been wearing a tight gown, or leather. I'm keeping this one for those special occasions. 2 perfectly smooth coats.


Live and Let Die: I can't quite tell what colour this is. In the bottle I'm almost certain it's navy with gold irregular microglitter particles, but on the nail it looks dusty forest green, almost black. It might just be the gold adding some yellow to the blue. It reminds me of China Glaze's very Christmassy Glittering Garland, but bluer. The best thing? It's a perfect, quick-drying one-coater. This swatch is 2 coats, because I couldn't quite believe it.I am completely in love with this one.


The Living Daylights: Glitterbomb, hurray! This is like a muted version of Rainbow Connection from last year's holiday collection. There are only hexes of one size (the same size as the big 'uns in Rainbow Connection) in 4 colours - teal, pastel coral, light gold and silver. Very chic, old-timey, (dare I say it) Instagram-esque colours. Like most chunky glitters, this one works best if you dab it on rather than use regular strokes. This is over Die Another Day:


And over Live and Let Die:



I was a bit iffy on this one... and then I mattified it. INSTANT LOVE.


For some reason, matte glitter is my kryptonite and the muted colours in The Living Daylights just work so well with matte. I'm defiitely going to be trying out lots of combos with this polish!

Overall, I'm very impressed with this collection and compiling a list of what to buy when it's released. The formula is excellent, as I've come to expect with OPI - very user friendly, no streaks, quick and smooth drying.

The collection will be coming out in Australia mid-September - which ones are you going to get?

(These were provided for review -  for more information see Disclosure Policy.)

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Alternatives to Laneige's Strawberry Peeling Gel

A while ago I reviewed Laneige Strawberry Yogurt Peeling Gel, and at the end I dropped the bomb that it'd been recently discontinued, and some of you yelled at me a bit (cough)... so I've been exploring alternatives, because I love you all, yes I do! :)

A reminder of the sort of peeling strands Laneige's Peeling Gel had:



First up - TheFaceShop's Smart Peeling Water in Pomegranate.


Packaging

Just a normal flip-top soft-bodied tube, like the Laneige gel.

Effectiveness

This is a clearish gel with red beads. While the Laneige was gloopy and pulpy, this is smooth and watery. Unfortunately, this means less cellulose balling up and scrubbing. I needed twice the usual pea-sized gel dollop to get the same effect. It's a bit cheaper, but since you use twice as much it's false economy.

After drying, my skin felt soft, but not unbelievably can't-stop-poking-myself-in-the-face soft. When I tried it on wet skin in the shower, I barely got two hairs' worth of cellulose strands.



Scent

The sweet strawberry scent of the Laneige product was one of the biggest wins for me - unfortunately this one smells kind of weird and plasticky.

Overall verdict: Disappointing.

(I've since noticed that there are several types of TheFaceShop peeling gel - I haven't tried them but they might be a bit more effective, since this is for sensitive skin.)


Skinfood Pineapple Peeling Gel


Packaging

This comes in a cute container with an oval twist top - way less flimsy than the usual flip-top tube, doesn't have the scratchy corners on the top and has a little nozzle tip, which is way neater than the usual flat openings. And because the lid is oval, there isn't the problem of trying to twist a circular lid off when your hands are slippery. I guess when I use it up, it might be hard to get the last bits out of the sturdy container, but for now, I love the packaging.

Effectiveness

Pulpy texture - check! Unlike the other two gels, this has no capsules, which I thought were just a gimmick anyway.

The nozzle tip makes it so easy to dispense (the number of times I've squirted precious Laneige gel onto the floor/wall/in my mouth is frankly embarrassing. No, it does not taste as good as it smells).

And it works wonderfully! It might even be better than Laneige. I couldn't stop poking myself in the face - it felt like poking a marshmallow. Mmmm, marshmallows. (I'm on a diet.) It works quite well on wet skin in the shower too.

The main difference is that it's a bit rougher than Laneige - it has tiny grains the size of caster sugar (mmmm, sugar) or fine egg timer sand. I love this, since it's pretty much a perfect 2-in-1 product (lazy girl high-five!).

 
Scent

This is the other difference: it smells nowhere near as nice as the Laneige. It's vaguely citrusy and slightly artificial, and I swear I've smelt it before but it eludes me.

Overall verdict: It might actually be better than the Laneige gel. But why can't it smell like strawberries? *has a sad*


TheFaceShop has branded stores around the world. Skinfood has branded stores around the world too but not Sydney, though you can buy it from various Korean shops, including Bloom Cosmetics which is generally in places where Asians shop (in Sydney CBD, follow the kids with extravagant hair and bubble tea to World Square and Sussex St). Cheapest for both is probably online (SaSa, eBay etc.).

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Fishtail Braid

Today's Artsy Wednesday theme is fishtail braid nails. I've wanted to try this out for a while, but it seemed so messy - I'm glad I tried it though!


Base colour is Nicole by OPI City Pretty Rose, braid is ulta3 Metal and Black Satin.

For a good braid, you want very opaque colours (preferably one-coaters) but unfortunately the black showed up under City Pretty Rose so I had to do some mangling with an art brush.

It's a pretty fun look, but annoyingly the braid makes the polish quite thick at the free edge.

I hadn't tried out City Pretty Rose even though I'd had it in the untrieds box for about a year - it's bright but not quite hot pink, and quite flattering on my skin!

Are you going to try this look?

More Artsy Wednesday fishtail nail art:


Note our new member, Emily of An Accent Nail! We expect great things from her... no pressure :P

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lush Friends With Benefits Massage Bar

My boyfriend isn't usually interested in trying out beauty products... except this. He is an utter FIEND for massages and tickles (I think it's mainly the undivided attention). I prefer the "dig your elbow into my back and leave it" school of massage, but he's all about the touchy-feely. (I've been trying in vain to get him out of the habit of just turning his back on me when he wants a massage by responding with a firm ass grope. He's learning.)

We've been using pure virgin coconut oil for a while, which smells like a delicious tropical holiday - but coconut oil is generally a solid at room temperature, and it's a bit of a task scooping it out. Here's where Lush's massage bars come in handy - they're like a block of soap and melt slowly when rubbed on skin, but not when being gently handled.


Lush has a range of different massage bars, including Wiccy Magic Muscles, which comes with a base of hard azuki beans (aka red beans) for a harder massage, and Hottie, which contains "warming" oils. The one I have, Friends With Benefits, smells like choc-orange.

How to use it: Rub it on the massagee's skin until enough has melted for your liking. I broke it into quarters for easier handling, and I think I'll be able to get 15 half-hour back massages on a 6 foot tall boy out of one bar.

Pros
- Handy, no greasy bottle caps to untwist, no leakage
- No wastage, "dispenses" exactly as much as you want, no dregs at the bottom of the bottle
- No excess packaging!
- Lovely moisturising emollients which sink into skin - cocoa and shea butters

Cons
- Takes longer to oil up than liquids
- Absorbs into hands/skin quickly, you have to keep adding more to keep it slippery
- Cocoa butter is comedogenic, and is the first ingredient - while it makes the bar nice and hard, it can also get nice and hard in your pores
- The scent doesn't really do it for me

Overall, I'm quite impressed - it's very handy for a short massage, but adding a splash of grapeseed oil would make it better for a hardcore knot-banishing session. It's very good as a general body moisturiser, an a sneaky way to get the boyfriend to moisturise!

I'd love to try out some of the other massage bar offerings, such as Strawberry Feels Forever, which is supposed to smell like marshmallows - yum! (Or perhaps formulate my own bar... hmm.)

What are your favourite massage products?

Friends With Benefits retails for $13.95/65 g. A sample was given to me when I bought another item.

Monday, 6 August 2012

What's wrong with SLS?


Lots of personal care products proudly say they're "SLS-free". What was wrong with it in the first place?

Sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as sodium dodecyl sulfate, or sodium coco-sulfate) is found in many personal care products, such as shampoo, toothpaste . It looks like this:


It has an oil-soluble "tail" (on the left) and a water-soluble "head" (with the plus/minus signs on right). This means it's very useful in making foamy bubbles and making oil and water mix together, which are its two main uses in personal care products.

If you remember from the face washing post, surfactants helps oil lift off from skin. Sodium lauryl sulfate is very good at this - a bit too good. That oil serves to keep water in your skin, and keep things out. Unfortunately SLS in larger quantities, or for longer periods of time, can strip too much, causing irritation. 5% SLS in a product is usually enough to cause irritation in most people, but many people are sensitive to far less.

However, although it's a potent irritant, there is no evidence that it causes cancer, as is sometimes claimed.

An interesting link has been found between SLS-containing toothpastes and the development of mouth ulcers or canker sores. The bottom line is, if you're prone to canker sores (sadly, I am), switching to an SLS-free toothpaste may help.

For the other toiletries, there's no need to panic and throw all the SLS-containing bottles out - if you're happy with how your SLS-containing shampoo/soap/cream, then it's probably fine. If you're experiencing itching, flaking, dryness or redness, then it might help to try out some SLS-free products.


References

S Marrakchi, H I Maibach. Sodium lauryl sulfate-induced irritation in the human face: regional and age-related differences. Skin Pharmacol Physiol, 2006, 19, 177. 
C M Healy, M Paterson, S Joyston-Bechal, D M Williams, M H Thornhill. The effect of a sodium lauryl sulfate-free dentifrice on patients with recurrent oral ulceration. Oral Dis 1999, 5, 39.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Great Aussie Polish Challenge Day 7: Peita's Polish plus special guests

Some of you might have noticed my new blog layout - in fact, some of you may have been unlucky enough to visit while it was a horrific mess. It took me freaking forever, and I'm still not completely done fiddling with it... let's just say, it won't be changed again for a good while.

Finally, to round up this week of Aussie polishes, an Aussie indie! This is from a line created by a Brisbane lady called Peita, and is fittingly called Peita's Polish. This black-and-white Connect the Dots style polish is called Zebration. I've been lusting after CtD for a while, so I grabbed this without hesitation! Peita kindly resent it when it got lost in the mail - excellent customer service is always a bonus :)

Here it is, over Sportsgirl Hot Tropic (green creme with almost non-existent blue shimmer, previously swatched here) and Kit Shop Loves Sunset (coral pink creme, previously swatched here):


How funky is it? I think I'll be rocking this black-and-white glitter on neon look all summer :)

Here it is, in front of my zebra print slanket (yes I have a slanket... two actually. My house is cold. Judge if you will, but I will be warm and encased in a pocket of lovely fluffy goodness. HA!):


If you want to get Zebration on your nails, Peita sells it through Etsy here, along with a host of other gorgeous shades and glitterbombs.


Well, that rounds up The Great Aussie Polish Challenge - phew! I hope you Aussie chicks now know what brands to look out for, and my international readers know what to ask for in swaps (and if you still don't know, check out the other girls' blogs below for more amazing Aussie polish swatches).

Science and skincare fans - don't worry, skincare and science will be back with a vengeance next week :)

Also - are you an Aussie nail fan who missed out on joining our challenge? Join our Aussie Nails Facebook page for lots of talk about... buying polish, mainly.


Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Great Aussie Polish Challenge Day 6: Ozotic!

Ozotic! The very name gives me a spine tingle. This amazing Aussie brand makes arguably the world's best and biggest range of holos and multichromes. Recently though, they've decided to discontinue the 500 series, which is the. most. AMAZING. range of multichromes and linear holos... sob! So I went out and bought a heap. Duh!

I swatched Ozotic 505 recently and was blown away by the incredible range of colour. Today I have Ozotic 528, its glitter-sister - it's basically the same colour shift but in glitter form. OooooOOOOOOooooooh.

Over black creme:




Look at it. LOOOK ATTTT EETTTTTT. It's discontinued, but its differently coloured cousins are still available (just!) at piCture pOlish. Does your boyfriend/husband think you need it? Probably not. Do you need it? Quite possibly. Women are better at being right in the long run than men, science pretty much says. Go on.


Friday, 3 August 2012

The Great Aussie Polish Challenge Day 5: BYS

BYS is a cheap Australian cosmetics brand - they do a bit of everything, including polishes and eyeshadows. One of their coolest ranges is the Colour Change collection, which is full of polishes which change colour in different temperatures. I've found that winter is a great time for wearing these - I'm not sure you'd get the cool shade at all during summer! I've shown you the Blue version before, now here's the Green:




I took these right after getting out of bed, so you can see the cold creeping across my nails! First off, it needs 5 coats to hide the nail line, which is annoying. Also, the pale "warm" colour looks weird on my skin, although I love the murky green "cool" colour. But the sheerness means that maybe I'll be able to do colour changing glitter gradients in the future :)

Have you tried these before? Would you want to?

More Aussie polishes:



Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Great Aussie Polish Challenge Days 3&4: Savvy and Australis

Back to The Great Aussie Polish Challenge, yay! Time for some more Aussie polish brands... today I've picked 2, Savvy and Australis, to make up for the lack of Aussie polish yesterday.

Savvy is a brand owned by Priceline, the major chain beauty store/pharmacy in Australia. For the longest time they just had a handful of blah pinks, reds and neutrals, but suddenly they introduced a massive range of awesome colours for a bargain - I can't remember exactly how much but I think they were about $3 each. Score!

This is the shade that caught my eye immediately - Flaming Blue is a semi-sheer dark cobalt base with what looks to me like green and blue shimmer particles. It's been sitting in my untrieds for a while, along with Essence Blue Addicted, and they go together beautifully:



Application was 3 easy coats. I was very impressed by the colour and quality. Looking forward to seeing what colours they'll put out next!

The next day I added Australis Speck-tacular.


Australis Speck-tacular is just that - spectacular! It's a multicoloured flakie topcoat that shows its colours best over a dark base (see my post here on underwear for flakies). It makes your nails look like glimmering opals.

Check out all the other great Aussie brands my challenge-mates picked!


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