Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Acne Series: Guest Review 3 of Aphelia Cosmetology

I was lucky enough to get three acne skincare packs from Aphelia Cosmetology for guest reviewers with acne to trial for me. I think that this is important because the treatment of acne is such a personalised journey that it is good to hear about the results of the skincare from a variety of people.

In the third review of this series, Nalini from The Made Up Maiden has reviewed this acne set for me. Nalini is 30 and has troublesome skin. She has tried many products to fix it without a lot of luck.

Here is Nalini's review:

I've always thought the journey to clear skin can be quite a complicated one. There are just so many things that affect the condition of your skin; genetics, skincare, diet, hormones, weather, stress...the list is endless.

In my case, both parents had acne when they were younger, and I had hopes that my acne would fade once I left my teens. My skin isn't completely horrendous, but I do have some minimal scarring on my cheeks (which goes away after a little while), and the odd large pimple on my chin during those hormonal times, which goes away after a while but is still really frustrating when it happens! I'm 30 years old, so it looks like these problems are here to stay. I have contemplated taking hormonal pills or medication aimed at reducing acne, but decided that the possible side effects haven't really been worth the benefit.

As a result, I was really keen to explore the Aphelia Cosmetology range and see if it lives up to the promise of helping with acne troubled skin. I would classify my skin as combination, the t-zone gets a little oily towards midday, while the rest of my skin is pretty much classified as 'normal'. I received the following items.

Master Cleanse Deep Cleanse Fluid:

This was the foaming cleanser that I used morning and night. It's packaged in a slimline silver tube that you pump to get the cleanser out. Like all foaming cleansers, you only need a tiny amount for your entire face. All you need to do is dispense into wet hands, rub together, and gently apply in circular motions. I felt that it was quite good at cleaning my face and my skin didn't feel dry or tight afterwards. It's also unscented, which is good because certain scents can really put me off using a product.

Classic Skin Purifier Cleansing Oil:

This is the cleansing oil that is packaged with the treatment essence. I didn't mind this product too much, it's basically unscented and you apply it by dispensing a couple of pumps into your hands, apply all over your face, then damped your hands and massage to emulsify. I felt that this did a fair job of cleansing my makeup off, but I did feel that it didn't quite work as well as my much beloved Shu Uemura cleansing oil. I ordinarily double cleanse at night, once using the cleansing oil, and then follow up using the deep cleanse foaming fluid. Using this left my skin feeling quite supple and clean. What I liked most about this is it's packaged in a clear tube, which is very handy at estimating how much you have left before you need to repurchase.

Acne treatment 12+5 essence:

This is basically the star item in the range, as it's supposed to target the blemishes. I was initially a little put off by this. It's packaged in a pump-action, slimline tube, with the essence being a yellow, clear liquid with a very strong scent. I'm hard pressed to define it but I would say that it's quite herbal. It does fade a little while after application but it did take me a while to get accustomed to the scent. You're supposed to put this on after you've cleansed and dried your face, concentrating on blemishes before spreading the remaining product over the rest of your face.

Overall, I must say that I did notice a change in my skin. It's much clearer than it used to be and I don't get breakouts as often as I did. However, as I mentioned in my introduction, there are many factors that could have contributed to this, so I'm not really sure if it's because of regular use of these products.

I do like the range though and I would probably repurchase the deep cleanse fluid and the essence, the only downside is I find the essence a little expensive at $49 a bottle. It does come packaged in a set with the cleansing oil, which retails at $49.95 (making it much more affordable to get the set), but I happen to like the foaming cleanser more than I like the oil. This leads to me to believe that paying $49 for just the essence alone isn't quite justified.

Thanks for your detailed review, Nalini.

If you missed the two other reviews in this series, you can find them here and here.

If you would like to try Aphelia Cosmetology to see if it can fix your acne then you are in luck. I am giving away an entire set of the products that you have seen reviewed here. I will have the link to that giveaway up this afternoon.

What has been your acne Holy Grail products?

All opinions are my own or Nalini's own and we received no remuneration for this post. The products were provided to Nalini for her consideration.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Get Pampered at Gallo Hair

Gallo Hair, East Sydney (image source)

It has been about 18 months since I last had a haircut. Way. Too. Long. Though, it has been pretty cool having long hair, for once, as I usually keep it quite short. When I was a povo student I used to get my hair cut once or twice a year. I would grow it and grow it then one day snap and get it all chopped off. Once I started working full time, I decided it was time to get regular haircuts and actually maintain a hair style. The look that I was going for was the curly pob (below is my favourite photo of this haircut as well as a cute pic of The Crazy Kid at 3 weeks of age). For three years I got my hair cut every 8-10 weeks and it was in the best condition ever. And then I had kids...

After The Crazy Kid came along I dropped back to twice yearly haircuts, then when Kiki joined our family I gave up getting my haircut.

Just before Christmas, I was invited to experience a treatment and blow dry and treatment at Gallo Hair in East Sydney and I snapped up the opportunity. Gallo Hair is situated in a renovated town house on the trendy Crown Street in East Sydney. I nearly missed it walking past. Once you are inside, it is such a stunning and classy looking salon. Unlike one that I have been in before. It is ultra modern with plenty of glass and mirrors and they had gorgeous touch of vases of fresh flowers everywhere. Unfortunately I was too shy to take any photos once I was inside. There were other clients there and I just felt weir taking happy snaps so I have lifted a couple from the internet so that you can see what I am talking about.

Gallo Hair from the outside. Apologies for the dodgy photo - it was bright and I
got some serious reflection.

The ultra modern interior Image source

Upon arrival, I was offered a glass of bubbly but Kiki was still on the boob so I declined and went with water instead.

Before my treatment and blow dry 

My hair was washed and then I discussed with my hair dresser which treatment would be best for my hair. I confessed that it had been well over a year since I last got my haircut so she suggested a protein treatment to repair damage. My hair was washed then the treatment applied and whilst it was on I had the most heavenly 10 minute head massage ever. I'm pretty sure that I lost consciousness there for a moment!

After the treatment it was time for the blow dry. I was dying to find out just how long my hair was. Having curly hair, you loose about 1/3 of the length to curl and bounce. Another thing I was looking forward to was having swishy hair. Curly hair doesn't swish so it is such a novelty having straight hair that you can swish!

I was stoked with the results. My hair looked fantastic. It looked so healthy, even though it hadn't been cut in so long. The effects of the treatment lasted for a good few weeks. I noticed my curls were neater and more well defined, and my hair felt soft and had lost the dryness it had prior to the treatment. I had a wedding later that day and the bride actually commented to me how good my hair looked (she had never seen me with straight hair so it was a big change!).

Gallo Hair has been around for 10 years and is highly respected both in Sydney and Australia wide. The salon has created looks for Channel 7 News and A Current Affairs shows for the likes of Samantha Armytage, Chris Bath, Monique Wright & Talitha Cummins plus many more at 7. Other celebrity clients include Jacki Weaver, Catherine Martin & Baz Lurhman.

Gallo Hair is located at 132 Crown St East Sydney.

Do you get regular haircuts or can years pass between snips? How good are head massages! Are they your favourite part of the hairdresser experience?

All opinions are my own and I received no remuneration for this post. This service was provided for consideration.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Urban Spa Urban Indulgence

I love going to the spa. Honestly, who doesn't. These days, unfortunately, my spa trips are few and far between. I blame the damn kids for that one! So, as you can imagine, I was pretty damn excited when the in-laws presented me with an Urban Spa voucher for the Urban Indulgence package: one hour hot stone Lomi Lomi massage followed by a Heavenly Spa Facial - two hours on indulgent bliss, for Christmas.

I had never had a hot stone massage before so was very much looking forward to this, if nothing else out of curiosity about what is involved. Whenever you see pictures advertising a hot stone massage, the beautiful model always has a bunch of largish stones on her back so I wasn't sure whether it was more an acupressure experience where they left the stones strategically placed on the back to work their magic or whether it was an actual massage.  Turns out that it is an actual massage. I requested a firm massage as my back has really been giving me issues. Carrying 15kgs of Crazy Kid or 9kgs of Kiki (or 26kgs of double babies) really isn't too good for the back so it had been causing me problems for a couple of months. My therapist (the lovely Kristy) gave me an expertly firm massage and used a small, smooth hot stone, along with her hands, to perform the massage. It was quite a unique experience as one minute I could sense that she was using her hands to do the massage then then next I'd get a sweep of hotness as the stone was run over me. It really was a delightful sensory experience. As my back was a problem area, Kristy spent 30 minutes just on that then the other 30 minutes was spent on the rest of my body. I could feel myself drifting in and out of consciousness throughout the massage. One really special thing about this massage was that the massage table was heated. Such a small touch, but one that was greatly appreciated (although it was a great contributor to my lack of consciousness!).

All too soon, the massage was over and it was time for the facial. I actually requested to get my brows waxed whilst I was there as I take no care of them at all so it's nice to have them looking neat, for once!

Kristy asked what my skin concerns were. I usually have fairly decent skin but recently I have been super slack in taking care of it as I have just been too damn tired. I was expecting it to be a little congested (actually, I knew it was - I have a bountiful blackhead farm on my nose!) and possibly a little dehydrated. Kristy then looked at closely with a special light and came to the same conclusions as me. There was a lot of congestion on the nose, forehead and chin, with above average oil flow in these areas and the cheeks and eye areas were dehydrated. She then devised a personalised facial to tackle these issues. The facial consisted of a cleanse, exfoliation, deep cleanse/pore treatment, oxygen plumping and a personalised mask. For the exfoliation, a masked was applied then buffed off with a brush that felt absolutely a hairy animal was gently crawling over my face. This brush didn't oscillate as fast as the Clarisonic does and I actually found myself preferring the slower speed. This brush was used after every step and it was such a delightful inclusion in facial.

Whilst the exfoliating mask was on, I was able to choose between having a 5 minute scalp, hand or foot massage - I went with scalp massage and it was divine...I could have laid there all day having my scalp massaged! For the personalised mask, I had a rose mask to rehydrate my skin. Again, while that was on I got another massage, this time of my neck and shoulders. Heaven!

The two hours of pampering left me feeling so blissed out, almost like I was walking on air. My skin was plump and clear, and a week on it is still looking hydrated. My mother-in-law looked after The Crazy Kid and Kiki whilst I was pampered and I have to confess that I didn't really want to go back to them once I was finished. I wanted to go home to sleep and embrace my blissed out state for a bit longer!

It was the little things that put this treatment above treatments that I have had in the past. I love that my therapist didn't leave the room whilst my masks were on but instead added some extra pampering with the massages. I hate it when the therapist walks outs and leaves me whilst a mask is on...makes me feel a little ripped off, so the massages were very much appreciated. I loved the heated massage table. It kept me nice and toasty during the treatments and added to my relaxation. And I loved the brush used after every step in the facial.

This was definitely one of the better spa experiences I have had and one that left me feeling so relaxed afterwards. A week on I still have no pain in my back and my skin still looks beautifully hydrated (although the blackhead farm is already producing another crop ready for harvest!). If you or anyone you know needs some serious pampering, I'd definitely recommend the Urban Indulgence package.

I went to the salon in Avalon; however, there are spas all over the place. Have a look here to find one near you.

What has been your best spa experience? Have you ever had a terrible experience at a spa?

All opinions are my own and I received no remuneration for this post. This package was a Christmas gift from the in-laws.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Winners of the Burt's Bees Giveaway

Apologies that it has taken me so long to get around to drawing this comp. We have been having a really rough time getting The Crazy Kid to bed of an evening. It's taking me a minimum of 30 minutes, sometimes more than an hour to get him down. I am not allowed to the leave the room  until he is asleep otherwise he screams the house. Hubby is not allowed to put him to bed otherwise he screams the house down. He will then wake up throughout the night and notice that I am not in his room any more and scream the house down so just about every night I end up sleeping in his bed with him. It is driving us crazy and we are at a loss what to do. He was always such an awesome sleeper, would pretty much put himself to bed then not make a sound all night. Now bedtimes are a total nightmare. As cool as his car bed is, I would still prefer to wake up beside my husband in my own bed and not next to my 3 year old in his car bed. He started preschool this year so we suspect that is behind his issues, we just don't know how to fix them. Any tips would be very much welcome.

Anyway, back to the real reason for this post - to draw the winners of my Burt's Bees comp. Thank you so much for your support in this giveaway. I got a massive 117 entries which I was stoked about. Lets start with the winner of the Sweet Kisses giftpack.

The winner is Alicia (aliciaraul)!

Now to the Treats for your Sweet gift pack:

And the winner is Kate (katwasmi)!

I will now contact the winners.

Just a heads up that I will be overseas for most of May and don't see me preparing any scheduled posts so I am going to put a massive giveaway instead. I hope you pop by regularly but if not, at least make sure that you stop by in May!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Winner of the $50 Groupon gift voucher

A huge thank you to everyone for entering my giveaway of a $50 Groupon Voucher. I ended up with a massive 86 entries.

The 31st entry was from Michelle Gray. Congrats!

Michelle, I will be contacting you via email and Twitter.

Don't worry if you didn't win this giveaway, I am just about to draw the Burt's Bees comp and then I will be hosting another giveaway tomorrow so please come back and check it out ( is for a $100 voucher somewhere awesome!).

Monday, 4 March 2013

OPI Euro Centrale: You're Such a BudaPest swatch

Another swatch - this one is from OPI's Euro Centrale range. This range is super varied and there is a colour in it to suit everyone. When I get my butt into gear I will do a post showcasing the whole range, but for now here is You're Such a BudaPest.

I would say this is a blue but The Crazy Kid insists that it is a purple. Either way, the formulation is beautiful. You can just about get away with one coat though there is the tiniest amount of streakiness. Two coats and it is perfection.

So, who is right - me or The Crazy Kid? Is this a blue or a purple?

All opinions are my own and I received no remuneration for this post. This polish was provided for consideration.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

OPI Modern Family She's Lily Something

Here is the next swatch I have for you from the Nicole by OPI Modern Family Collection - She's Lily Something. This is described by OPI as a fantasy land filled with glittery pick, confetti and stars.

Ordinarily, I would say that OPI are the glitter pro's. Their formulations are usually flawless. However, I had issues with this one. All of my stars sunk to the bottom of the bottle and it took ages to shake them back into the formulation and, even then, it was very difficult to pick them up with the brush. I initially did one thin top coat on each nail and half of my nails did not end up with even a single star on them. I then went back and did a second coat and this time made an effort to keep dipping the brush back in the bottle until it pick up a star. I then had to dab the polish on kind of thickly to get the stars to stay.

The final look is quite effective and funky but I am not sure if it is worth the effort. I love the random stars and the glitter is awesome. It is very fine and a mixture of pink and hologram. There is plenty of it and it gives the nail a reflective sheen.

 I did have one other issue with the stars. The corners of the stars lifted up easily which made the nails kind of sharp and scratchy. Maybe I should have applied another top coat over them to really seal them in. As cool as the stars look once applied, I don't think that they were worth all the effort.

The below swatches of She's Lily Something have been applied over butter LONDON Molly-coddled (swatched here).

If you missed my swatch of Luke of the Draw from the same collection here it is.

What are your thoughts on the stars - worth the effort or give it a miss?

All opinions are my own and I received no remuneration for this post. She's Lily Something was provided for consideration.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Butter London Molly Coddled Swatch - a cure for my end of Summer blues

The First of March is my most hated day of the year. Every year, without fail, I feel a little bit depressed on the First of March. I absolutely love summer. I love the hot weather, the skimpy clothes, the summer fruits and the party seasons. I only have good memories of summer - Christmas time, six weeks holidays when in school then three months off whilst at uni. In my eyes, there is not one bad thing about summer. That is why I hate the First of March. Yes, it is still hot. Yes, my summer fruits are still in season and I can still wear my skimpy clothes, but, in my mind, it means that winter is near. The weather is only going to get colder and my favourite time of the year is official over.

In an attempt to lift my end of Summer blues I decided to give myself a bright, cheerful manicure. The colour I choose was a luscious purple cream from butter LONDON called Molly-Coddled. It was just about opaque after one coat, just ever so slightly streaky. Two coats, completely opaque and streak free.

If you haven't previously heard of butter LONDON, it is a nail polish brand with a massive range of high fashion colours and it's products are formulated without the use of the harmful ingredients like Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP or Parabens. butter LONDON was the first company to sell 3 Free nail lacquer in the United States. Formaldehyde is one of the biggest nasties that I make a real effort to avoid. I did my PhD in Forensics and spent a lot of time watching autopsies. Once the body parts have been harvested, they are stored in Formaldehyde to be preserved. The Formaldehyde alters the proteins in the tissue to stop them breaking down - fine for the dead, not something I want to use whilst I am alive. It is nasty, nasty stuff.

(apologies for this photo - it looked in focus
on my phone. I have put a glitter top coat on so
can't re-photograph)

butter LONDON polishes can be purchased from Beautiful Life Industries for $20.00 with free delivery. Below is a sample of some of the other colours in their range.

Have you tried butter LONDON before? Are you a summer lover or a winter fan?

All opinions are my own and I received no remuneration for this post. Molly-coddled was provided for consideration.