Origins ‘Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask’ Review

Happy Easter all!  I hope everyone has had a fantastic long weekend and got to nibble on a little bit of yummy chocolate today.

Origins is a brand I have only recently familiarised myself with, and I have to say I am quite pleased with their brand ethos, which includes formulations without parabens, pthlalates, mineral oil and other nasties, as well as positive commitment to the environment.  It has been a very long time since I have used any kind of clay mask, so I was very excited about this product!

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Price: $34, available from Mecca Cosmetica.

Product Plus:  Activated charcoal draws out impurities while Lecithin dissolves them.

Application:   Create a smooth even layer over face and leave until dry to wash off.  (Approximately 20 minutes).

Fragrance:  Quite a light fragrance; a really light charcoal scent which is not overpowering.

Thoughts:  I wouldn’t use for particularly dry or sensitive skins, and wouldn’t overuse in winter for normal skins.  The mask is a creamy, thick consistency that is easily spreadable into an even covering and doesn’t drip.  Once applied the fragrance is pleasant and not too strong as it does take a good 20 minutes to dry properly. You want to see cracking!  It felt very calming while on.  White China Clay is soothing as well as ideal for drawing out impurities and assisting with oil control.  Active Charcoal is on board with this also, and is reputed to clean skin deeply with added benefits for acne.

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It was a bit of a pain to wash off the whole face and after this my skin felt rather raw from having to wash for so long (like, a good 5 minutes!).  Once off though, the skin looks firmer, tighter and refined. I had a little redness where I had to really give it a good scrub to get it off but overall a really clarified and even tone was left.  The problem for me was that this caused quite a breakout in my skin a couple of days after use.  It was to be expected, but it is something for those prone to breakouts to be aware of.

Conclusion:  I have mostly used it at a time where I had a few breakouts anyway, but many of these times it drew many more breakouts to the surface.  Clear Improvement Mask is a really good way to cleanse your skin particularly if it is oily and I really did enjoy the soothing effect it had the day after use.  For skin that can handle it, a weekly use could have amazing clarifying effects.  You could pop on an overnight hydrating mask afterwards if you find clay masks too drying for your skin type, or even just restrict use to the t-zone to help clear out those pores if you have problems with blackheads.  I think I will be using this every couple of weeks to really give my skin a great cleanse, so luckily this mask has a 24 month expiry period!

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Disclosure: Origins are a brand owned by the Estée Lauder Companies, so while Origins as a brand is cruelty free, their parent company tests on animals when required by law (ie. to sell in China).  I purchased this product myself.

Another Origins product, the No Puffery Cooling Mask For Puffy Eyes, has now been added to my wishlist!  Spending so much time studying and in front of a computer always leaves my eyes puffy and tired.  Looking forward to trying this one soon!

What Origins products have you tried?

Bon Appetite!

Refreshing Sheet Masks

Following on with my obsession with Asian skincare brands and products, of course I love a good sheet mask.  Most of the ones I have tried come from Korean brand The Face Shop, as they have stores in Australia.  Of these I have tried the Mung Bean, Lemon, Pearl Collagen, Cucumber and probably a couple of others too! My favourites are the Lemon – for it’s fresh glow result, and the Cucumber – water hydration that soothes my skin.  Below I have reviewed one of the masks I bought while in Singapore (also a Korean brand), and I find this one really similar to the Cucumber The Face Shop Mask.  If you are in Singapore though, I would check this mask out!

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Price: The Face Shop have a variety of masks for a few dollars each.  These Watson’s masks were a pack of ten at Singapore Airport for about $7 S.

Product Plus:  Single use packets mean you can switch up the type of mask you use more often to really suit your needs.

Application:  Apply sheet for about 15-30 mins then leave remaining moisture on overnight.

Thoughts:  Quite hydrating and really refreshing.  I think I could actually use this a couple of times a week and would get better results without breaking out.  However, it does leave a sticky feeling on my skin afterwards which I am not a fan of.  I can’t remember The Face Shop Cucumber Mask leaving me with that feeling?  It might though.  I actually fought the urge to wash this off before bed though and I am glad I did, as my skin was super moisturised, plump and evenly toned in the morning.  It didn’t really leave my skin looking much brighter, but I didn’t think after one – or even a couple – of uses it would affect brightness much anyway.

Conclusion:  I love sheet masks.  The benefits are usually quick and easy to see, whether you use one several times or only once a week.  I often find them gentler than other masks and they are actually great for congested skin because they are lightly hydrating without being oily and super soothing.  Check for ingredients like Aloe Vera and Vitamin C (which are in this Watson’s mask).

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Get yourself some sheet masks, try them out, and let me know how you go!

Bon Appetite!

Elemental Herbology ‘Soothing Oil Free Hydrator’ Review

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Price: This was a sample with another purchase and I cannot find an Australian price for this product.  Other items in the Elemental Herbology range are available from Mecca Cosmetica

Score: ♥♥♥

Product Plus:  Oil Free.

Application:   Apply during the day.

Thoughts:  I do have combination skin, but mine is fairly well-behaved in terms of oiliness.  However if I use the wrong product, I definitely get a lot of t-zone oiliness immediately.  I was skeptical because this has SPF, and generally SPF=Oil, but was pleasantly surprised at how light the formula feels .  I only needed a very small amount, so this tiny 5ml sample lasted me nearly two weeks – cool!  It has a creamy-opaque consistency, but smoothes out well.  It does give skin a slight sheen, I believe due to the SPF, but this looks more like a healthy glow than shininess.  Once absorbed it feels really comfortable and I found after a day of use that I didn’t have any more oil in my t-zone than normal.  It has a real herb-like fragrance, and seems legit about being soothing too as my redness didn’t flare up while using this.

Conclusion:  Having never tried Elemental Herbology before, I am quite intrigued and would now try more products by this English brand.  Although it says ‘Ingredients derived from a 100% Natural Source’ after the ingredients list on the back, I cannot figure out if that means all ingredients are included in this, or simply the ones with an asterisk.  The SPF content isn’t a lot by Australian standards but I liked this as it didn’t feel heavy on my skin, and I am hardly in the sun anyway.

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I would love other people’s thoughts on this brand so I can see if their other products would be worth a go!

Bon Appetite!

Perfect Potion “Detox Body Buff” Review

I am so obsessed with scrubs! Sugar, salt, nuts – you name it. So long as it smells delicious too. The short and long term benefits of scrubbing are obvious, and everyone likes to see immediate results. I have to admit, personally I rather enjoy when a scrub leaves that soft, moisturised feeling on the skin, but that thoroughly squeaky clean feeling doesn’t go astray either!

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Price: Gift from a friend

Score: ♥♥♥♥

Product Plus: Certified Natural Cosmetics.

Application: Massage onto damp skin in circular motions then rinse off. Tip: Work from your outer limbs in towards your heart to stimulate blood flow. Never press hard with a scrub, gentle motions are best so as to not damage skin. If you want a more thorough effect, work over the area for slightly longer, or maybe a different product might be in order.

Thoughts: Leafy citrus scent? Check. Crushed nut shells buffing away dead skin? Check. Leaves skin with a super squeaky clean and polished feeling? Check! The only problems I have with this is that it isn’t in a bigger bottle: it’s only 125ml. At least a little goes a long way. And that scent of Juniper Berries and Grapefruit – what a combination!

Conclusion: Although the nut shells are very fine, this is quite a thorough scrub – the sandy texture is deceiving! Once a week should do the trick for most people. It is ideal for someone who prefers no after-scrub feeling of product still on the skin. I have mostly been using this as a hand scrub, and I don’t think my skin has ever been this soft or refined. That feeling lasted well into the next several days too.

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The products from Perfect Potion are marvellous. Natural, Australian Made and Owned; with beautiful rich, earthy fragrances. This is the first scrub I had ever tried from them, and I sure will be going back for more!

Check out the Perfect Potion website for your own delicious treats, or to find a store near you

What are some of your favourite scrubs?

Bon Appetite!

Lush ‘Honey I Washed the Kids: Soap’ Review

Natural ingredients always seem more effective, and when paired with a great brand ethos, companies like Lush are hard for me to resist. Lush also have some absolutely mouth-watering fragrances in their products, but one I always come back to is their Honey Soap.

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Price: ( $$$ ) $69.50 per kilo. Small, pre-cut blocks vary from about $6-$15.

Score: ♥♥♥

Product Plus: Natural ingredients. Vegetarian.

Application: Massage onto damp skin into a lather, or use a sponge.

Thoughts: An easy lather with a heavenly scent. I cannot get enough of this fragrance. Honey is something that can smell too sweet, but Lush get this honey/toffee recipe right. Lush soaps make lovely presents, but this is something you might want to keep for yourself! This leaves a delicate perfume on skin for a short time, but best of all doesn’t leave my skin with any dry, tight feelings, even in winter.

Conclusion: Only negative thing about this soap is that it is quite soft, and therefore doesn’t last nearly as long as other soaps, which is a bit disappointing. Overall though, a gorgeous, gentle soap. And the convenience of purchasing specific sizes is something I really love about Lush soaps (because I get really bored of the same fragrance).

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Which Lush soap fragrance is your favourite?

Bon Appetite!

Macadamia Natural Oil “Deep Repair Masque” Review

If you regularly colour your hair, or if it’s dry or damaged, you are going to want to try this treatment.

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Price: ( $$ ) $19.95 for 100ml

Score: ♥♥♥♥♥

Product Plus: ‘Cruelty Free – Paraben Free – Alcohol Free’. How things should be.

Application: After shampooing, apply and leave for 7 minutes before rinsing out. Can use up to twice per week.

Thoughts: The fragrance is… I don’t know. It really smells like a hair product. Do you know what I mean? It is quite a thick cream, but is easy to work with. I use quite a bit even though my hair is medium in length, because I want to really massage it in and ensure there is enough there for my hair to absorb. Also, my hair is thin, weak and curly, and I colour it coppery-red, so it REALLY needs an extra boost of moisture, particularly after this summer (two doses of colour, sun, salt water and chlorine pools). Although the instructions recommend twice a week, for two weeks I used this in place of a conditioner because my hair felt like it was made of plastic. Dry, dead plastic. I really love that it feels rich enough to not worry about wrapping hair in a warm towel, or cling-wrap, or whatever people do that I don’t do because: lazy. The two main ingredients in this are Argan Oil and Macadamia Nut Oil. Delicious and good for your hair. This mask has a pretty high concentration of each as they are fairly high on the ingredients list. Good, and I sure can see the difference!

Conclusion: I overused it and now it’s nearly empty. I have no regrets! It more or less fixed that birds nest I call my hair, and in a matter of weeks. I will repurchase this, and only use it maybe once a week. If you have finer or oily hair, maybe only once a week and I wouldn’t use it at the roots, because it is quite a rich mask.

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I would love to hear about any recommendations for other hair masks too!

Bon Appetite!

Guerlain “Aqua Allegoria: Mandarine Basilic” Perfume Review

Happy Monday everyone!  To alleviate the pain from going back to work or uni, here is what I use for a little pick-me-up:

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Score:  ♥♥♥♥♥

Product Plus:  For me, no allergies when using this perfume!

Application:  Lasts surprisingly well for an Eau de Toilette.  On my skin (moisturised) I can still smell the base notes and a little of the middle after 5 hours.

Fragrance Notes:  Aromatic Citrus.  Top includes clementine, orange blossom, green tea.  Middle includes peony, mandarin orange, basil.  Base includes sandalwood and amber.

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Thoughts:  Apart from the fragrance being irresistible, the bottles are gorgeous with honey-combed gold detail to accent a simple shape.  This is an amazingly refreshing perfume, and although it is a Citrus, the notes of Mandarine last a lot longer than most.  Guerlain is one of the original perfume houses of France, so I think by now it is very clear that they know what they’re doing!   The layering of scent is perfect, and unlike a lot of Citrus it has depth.

Conclusion:  On me, Mandarine Basilic maintains a strong mandarin fragrance with a little less basil, and once settled has a wonderful spicy amber/citrus scent.  One of my favourites!  Perfumes in the Aqua Allegoria range all seem to have similar positive points, and it is a very large range with something for everyone!

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Perfume Tip:  Just in case anyone hasn’t heard this before!  When applying perfume ensure the areas of skin you are applying to are moisturised.  Many brands will have matching scented body lotions or creams designed to assist in layering your fragrance and ensuring it lasts.  However, if you want to go for either a less scented option or even if you want something cheaper or basic, try to match it to the base notes of the perfume.  In my experience matching to top notes can clash and alter the fragrance of the perfume, sometimes with pretty awful results.

Bon Appetite!