For years I have bit my tongue when someone ask if I approve of XXX product or if I would recommend XXX product. To many, it is a must have, cult status, swore by product but to me it just simply didn’t work or fail to deliver to suit my needs. This has been bogging me a lot and I thought surely there are people out there who are on the same boat with me and disagree with some products too right?
So here I am sharing the first of many posts of products that didn’t work for me, less about products hating but more about sharing why it didn’t work and that it is okay to not follow the crowd. After all, my philosophy is to find the right product + combination routine for your skin as there are no one product that suits everyone.
Culprit #1 Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
I am sure everyone is familiar with this cult status product. It probably won every possible award to be won out there internationally. It is known mostly for its ability to deliver radiance and hydration. Some claims this perfect as a make up primer.
My experience: This didn’t deliver anything for me. It just felt like a layer of moisture that didn’t quite absorb into my skin and didn’t go well with make up either. It has a strange technique to pat rather than massage/rub into skin; I tried various technique but can honestly say it didn’t do anything to skin dullness or providing radiance without looking like a grease ball because it wasn’t absorbing into my skin.
Have you tried Clarins Beauty Flash Balm?
What was your experience?
After years of research (trial and error), I firmly believe that the key to flawless skin is a combination regular treatments of peels and laser. This is of course based off my personal experience and my skin type – combination and acne/pigmentation prone.
Before I continue, I just want to add that when it comes to chemical peels and laser treatments; these needs to be treated with cautious and care. Make sure to have your skin treated and analysed by professional to see if it can take on these treatments. I have been told by numerous skin specialist that my skin is thick hence it can take on regular treatments but this routine might not be suitable for all.
I have long been a fan of using mini-peels at home. Some of the note worthy prodz available in Aussie market are – Dermalogica Powerfoliant, DMK Dermatox & Dr.LeWinn’s Reversaderm Age Correcting Peel.
How it works?
A peel is usually a combination of chemical & skin neutralising ingredients (that are proven safe on skin) to dissolve the superficial layer of dead skin on skin. This helps to prevent congestion (which I get alot!), dullness (when we age, skin regeneration is much slower hence skin appears to look lacklustre) and to prevent acne/blackhead from worsening and reoccurring.
Peels usually comes in different percentages (5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30% and I believe some even goes up to 50% which needs to be applied by a professional) and a variety of options (AHA, BHA, Mandelic, Jessner’s, TCA, etc).
Recently whilst travelling in Taipei, it seems that home peeling kit is all the rage over there with products up to 30% available to purchase at pharmacies. Knowing how well peels has worked for me in the past, I knew I had a to pick up a few. Today, let’s talk about their best selling Dr.Hsieh range.
Dr Hsieh Acne 15% Mandelic Acid Anti-Acne Gel
NTW $120 (approx AUD$4)
As its name suggest, this is designed for when there is any acne breakout especially great for those hormonal acne that sits under the skin that takes forever to come onto surface. This helps to target acne, reduce redness (miracle worker for redness!!) and repair skin at one go since mandelic acid is the most gentle form of peel that is suitable for all skin types.
I only use this on spots that needs to be treated and don’t use this all over my face since it comes in such a small size (5ml). Reason why this is sold in such a small tube is because peels needs to be at its purest form to retain potency and efficiency. Hence it is better to repurchase the small tube rather than buying a full tube that takes forever to finish.
This peel did not sting my face and does not cause any adverse reaction. Also, this peel is designed to apply on clear skin without the need to wash off.
Dr Hsieh 25% Mandelic Acid Home-Peeling Liquid
I also picked up a 3rd generation 25% Mandelic Acid Home Peeling Liquid, this is ideal for those who have sensitive reaction to glycolic acid. Mandelic acid is also known for its work to normalise and brighten skin. Different level of acid percentage works on different skin types. 25% is great for combination skin and with regular use, this helps to prevent acne breakout and for skin to renew.
All Dr. Hsieh peels are non alcoholic, does not fragrance, no colorant, no preservatives. Most of these peels can be used everyday without irritation but I use these on spots/areas that needs a little more TLC (namely on my angry acne spots or my nose to prevent blackheads). I did not experience any downtime with both peels and usually reapply on spots both day and night to help ease skin to normalise.
These peels are best apply onto freshly cleansed skin and once dried on skin, continue with your usual skincare steps.
Overall, peels can be pleasant to use without any stinging, redness or skin reaction like most articles would like you to believe. Peels can be gentle and usable as a DIY home kit too, just be careful to ensure your skin gets a break in between peels and laser treatments to avoid excessive peeling of skin. Remember, balance is key when it comes to skin’s well-being.
My lovely friend aka amazing brow expert Lien Davies recently released her first ebook – How to Create Your Ultimate Brow Shape at Home. It is no secret that she has pretty much transformed my face/make up routine for the past 3 years!
Unfortunately for me, Lien is based in Sydney making it difficult for me to organise regular visits. I do try my very best to pay her a visit at least 1-2 times a year to help keep my brows in shape. Now that I have gotten the hang of it, I will never have to look back to over plucked brows or nasty over waxed incidents.
The book includes handy chapters like “Little Black Box of Brow Savours”, “Brow Tips”, “6 Steps to Your Ultimate Brow Shapes” & “Fix Your Brow Concerns”. Now you too can learn how to frame and trim your brows at home. Believe me brows are so important in changing the way you look and is the easier thing to do. But if you’re really messed it up, it takes years to fix.
PS, Lien has also brought out all the big guns, this ebook is edited by Yasemin Trollope and the beautiful illustrations are designed by Emma Tamaoki.
Special deal: Don’t forget to “Like” their FB page to get $10 off the ground breaking ebook!
To be honest, I haven’t been doing any of the “what I am bringing with me on my trip” type of posts. Since I had bit more time on my hands, I’ve decided to give it a go this time. By the time you are reading this post, we have already taken off and is probably either busy stuffing our faces or shopping. Insert Yao Ming face meme.
This is my plane carry on bag. It fits perfectly in this small little lunch bag I brought from Daiso. I always fill it with my transparent flight carry on bag, some facial sheet masks (a must have for all my flights for more than 5 hours) and one Envirosax bag so that I can fill it to carry my unexpected shopping stuff. Duty free and me don’t do well hence a shopping bag is a double must have!
Contents in my carry on transparent bag:
- Bioderma cleansing water, this is great for cleansing even without needing to rinse your face with water.
- Sisley lip balm, extremely hydrating and great for overnight flights.
- Guinot hand cream, good for hands and elbows.
- SK-II Stempower, mother of all cream this is rich and never clogs my pores.
- RMK toner, I am bring satchels of the moisturing toner so that I can keep patting it onto my skin throughout the flight.
- Others: sleeping eye mask, cotton pad, Lanolips everything balm, mouthwash, hydrating mist and usually I’ll bring toothbrush and toothpaste as well but this time around Shiz is bringing some for me.
This is my make up bag, I love how flat it is and wide you can open so I can easily look into and reach out for what I need. I believe this was a GWP from Biotherm.
These were all the items fitted into the make up bag above. Since this is a shopping trip, I had to promise myself to bring as little as possible.
- Benefit Hello Flawless, great foundation with amazing coverage. I love using this especially when I am running low in time and I don’t have to bring make up brushes with me while using this. Also doubles as a setting powder.
- Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Compact Foundation, again no foundation brush needed and has a boost of hydration in it for when my skin is feeling a little too dry for Hello Flawless.
- This RMK eyeshadow palette
- Some sample primers (I mostly opt for hydrating over oil free primers while travelling to minimise pores getting clogged)
- NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base, all time HG eyeshadow primer.
- Lunasol Brow Styling Pencil, I love this one because there’s no need for sharpening and the other end of this pencil is a spoolie great to comb and even out brows. No additional brush needed!
- Clinique Quickliner for Eyes, great for under eye lining.
- Estee Lauder + Lancome mascaras
- Others: tweezer, eyelash curler, hair sticker (to hold my fringe up), eyebrow scissors, cotton pad, cotton buds, eye drops.
My skincare and bodycare toiletry bag from Country Road.
I am not going to list out everything here, so basically for my skincare I have more facial sheet masks, sleeping pills, some acne care (for just in case), Dermalogica’s Skin Resurfacing Cleanser acts like a 2 in 1 for me so I don’t need to bring scrub along with me. More lotions especially hydrating ones La Mer cream and SKII Skin Signature eye cream. For days when my lips are really dehydrated, I pile on a thick layer of SKII Skin Signature Eye Cream outside and on my lips and overnight viola instantly perfect baby smooth lips.
As for shower stuff, I usually keep them in another clear bag. In here you can see my toothbrush, floss, deodorant, body scrub, body wash, body cream, oil cleanser, shampoo and hair oil. I am planning to buy the rest in 7-11 in Taiwan like toothpaste, hair conditioner, etc.
Random things I always bring with me on trips:
- Ziplock bag because you never know what might explode.
- Measuring tape (don’t ask why)
- Glasses even though I don’t need them, I wear them for the days when I am not wearing any eye make up.
Recently, Bobbi Brown released her 7th beauty book – Pretty Powerful: Beauty Stories to Inspire Confidence. It includes chapters and chapters of beauty stories that helps women to gain confidence. In this book, Bobbi Brown interviews real women, successful women, celebrities, athletes to inspire and motivate readers.
As a human being regardless of your sex, I truly believe everyone HAS a story, I have one and I am sure you do too. This book is about that, sharing your interesting & uplifting stories and providing tips and tricks for make up for everyone to feel confident. Pretty Powerful categorizes women into styles that reflect their natural, authentic styles.
Some of the inspiring women includes:
- Philanthropist Lauren Bush
- Actress Gabourey Sidibe
- Boxer Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells
- Model Nancy Donahue
- Author Lee Woodruff
- Singer Estelle
Those who are familiar with Bobbi Brown’s philosophy will know that the lady loves to promote the message of accentuating a woman’s natural beauty and not changing her into something she isn’t. This is something I can relate as I am all about how to make myself looking better and not hiding behind a false façade to mask my own insecurities. Aiming for natural beauty is timeless and classic, this will bring out the best of everyone and is often a simple step like lining your eyes or a flattering lip stick colour.
If you believe in empowering yourself,want to enhance your look naturally then this is the book for you. It is filled with all sorts of personalities and styles that I am sure you’ll find some that you can relate!
Available on Bobbi Brown counters
Back in 2010, I wrote a piece about how PR should approach beauty bloggers which was featured in Social Diary and Beauty Directory. Since then, so much has changed in the past 2 years in terms of the beauty industry and the numbers of beauty bloggers has since mushroomed all over Australia. There are even industry awards for beauty bloggers, go bloggers!
In my post, I wrote about how to pick the right bloggers for your client/brand (it is still very relevant til this day and I am still shock to see so many brands don’t do this) and this time around I thought it would be appropriate to talk about how to run an event with bloggers. Since I have had experiences in organising events like MBBE, attending beauty events and working with PR in organising events in Melbourne; I do have my two cents worth of opinion on this topic.
My advice for PR companies on planning an event in Melbourne:
Location – Location is key. In Melbourne unlike Sydney, certain areas are almost impossible to catch a cab. In Melbourne, it is generally always preferred to have events in the CBD area and there are no shortages of venue in the CBD area. I almost always cringe when my event invite locations are hard to get to, away from civilisation and not accessible via public transport.
Remember beauty bloggers unlike beauty editors don’t often have the budget to catch a cab to everywhere we go. Do your research or consult the locals when in doubt.
Timing – In Melbourne, a lot of us beauty blogger work full time and over time. *cue face palm* I guess you don’t necessarily want bloggers to sneak out of work to attend your event, feeling guilty about that and having to rush back to work. So after hour events is unfortunately the best way to go. Anything from 6pm – 8pm is great on work days and weekend events are always welcomed.
In terms of sending out invites, be sure to allow a minimum of 2 weeks prior to event not the day itself or two days before the actual event.
Reason – Always explain what the event is about. Is it for a new collection launch? Is it for brands to meet bloggers? Will there be experts on hand to interview? You want bloggers to come well prepared, researched and armed with questions to get the most out of your event. So please let us know what the event is about. The number of times I have received an invite without a proper introduction (first time heard of this PR) or reason for an event is appalling.
We all run a campaign with an objective, so run an event the same with a clear objective.
Research – I cannot stress this enough, we study prior to going into exam; so this is no different you will need to do your homework at least read one post or glance through the blog to know who you are speaking to. Nothing worse than mistaking a blogger to another blogger, believe me when I say this happens to us a lot. You wouldn’t do that to beauty editors now would you? Take the time to know your bloggers, know who you want to develop a relationship with, know how your brand will fit into which blogger the best.
This includes finding out each blogger’s niche, how they prefer to engage with PR instead of a mass send to 100 emails you can source online.
Reaching out – This tie in with research, knowing who to reach out to, ask within your industry and seek guidance in word of mouth. Tweeting about how you want to invite bloggers to this awesome event you’re planning is definitely a no-no. Shows that you don’t care, don’t bother to do your research and is plain old lazy.
A note to add to this is that if this is your first time reaching out to bloggers, be sure to introduce yourself instead of a blanket approach of sending out to as many bloggers as you can find on twitter.
Here are examples of some of the unsavoury instances that we’ve (collective feedback from MBBE) experienced in the past:
- Given less than 2 hours notice prior to an interview opportunity
- Invited to an event at the counter and were “encourage” to purchase products shown to us, complete with pushy SA
- Sidetracking the event by “stories” that were not relevant to the actual product launch hence running overtime
- Running blogger sessions back to back
- Run blogger events at make up counters and have random walk-by customers enter and participate without any crowd control
- Spend two whole hours talking up a product launch and send bloggers home with samples sizes (one – two use sizes)
- Promising bloggers about products to trial at an event and never follow up
- PR who didn’t do her research and invited beauty bloggers to a launch that was not relevant to their blogs and proceed to badmouth said bloggers for not attending her events including mention of their nationality
- Promising to cover interstate expenses which came out of the blogger’s pocket and never got back to the blogger after the event
- Invited and organised an event via email by PR from Sydney and have no one from Sydney attend the Melbourne event hence the SA/marketing person from the brand have no idea who are all these bloggers are.
One really great indication if you get fewer RSVP”s than you have expected, it could be one of two things, (a) you’re not engaging beauty bloggers correctly, or (b) bloggers are being respectful that their blog topic is not suited to the coverage expected from the event. Not all of us beauty bloggers are in it for the freebies.
PS: Here’s a really good read from BritishBeautyBlogger that covers how PR should be reaching out to beauty bloggers from a BB’s perspective. If you are a PR, I highly recommend you to take 5 minutes to read this.
Being a beauty blogger means we do things, normal women don’t usually do. For example, there are days we do nail swatches yeap 12 – 24 nail polishes in a day is not uncommon and then there are lip swatches that dries the f out of our lips. Let’s not begin with eye shadow swatches shall we?
I thought I should share with you some of my swear by products to keep my swatching going with minimal discomfort to my nails or my skin! Let’s begin shall we?
This beauty has no boundaries, you can use this to remove swatches on the pack of your hand, on your eyes, lips, face, everywhere including the waterline. It’s awesome like that. Doesn’t strip skin of its natural moisture and certainly doesn’t leave any trace of oiliness or greasiness. Perfect for back to back swatching duty.
Unscented Baby Wipes
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have baby wipes handy for EVERYTHING. From cleaning your brushes, make up palettes, spills, swatches, missed spots, face and the list goes on. If you’re in for a big swatching job, you’ll be grateful you have these baby handy nearby.Try Kirkland (Costco’s) or Huggies.
Uriage Bariederm Hand Cream
This is a barrier cream. It’s waterproof, fragrance free, paraben free, non comedogenic, rich in mineral salts, contains Uriage’s thermal water and is soothing and hydrating to the skin. Great to apply all over body when needed, I use this all over my hand/cuticles prior to doing my nails. Also great for back of hand/arm swatches. Be sure to give it a good 5-10 minutes to sink in prior to swatches, remember a tiny amount goes a long way.
Uriage Bariederm Lip Balm
This is a must if you do heaps of lip swatches. I use this as my daily lip base as well. It’s lightweight texture makes it really easy to apply and doesn’t affect swatches as much. Again, a tiny amount is all you need for swatching and if you want to go bare minimum, just on the cracks and fine lines of your lips will do. Your lips will thank you for it.
I go through cuticle oil much like Belle (my miniature fox terrier) goes through her toys – very, very quickly. Keeping nails in tip top condition at all times is half of the battle to having awesome nails. At the moment, I am obsessed with KIT cuticle oil and I massage them all over my finger and toe nails at least once every two days. It helps to prolong my nail colour, avoid chipping, nail drying out and preps my nails for the swatching jobs.
So do you have your must-have products to swatch with as well?
Ah, the joy of packing and not so fun unpacking of travelling. Throughout the years, you learn your lessons with what to bring and what to refrain from bringing. For me, I try to bring minimal make up products as I know it is “my routine” to stock up make up products when I travel be it in duty free or boutique shops overseas. Another reason why I choose to under pack make up products is that they are less likely to wreck my skin as compare to using wrong skincare products.
Here are some of the skincare products I always bring with me on my overseas travel. Some are pretty self-explanatory and some I’ll explain more.
- Facial cloth masks, many of them. – SKII, Beautymate, My Beauty Diary are my top picks.
- Cream Cleanser – One that isn’t too harsh and strip my skin from its natural moisture and won’t provoke my skin to breakout. I love Trilogy Cream Cleanser (AUD $36.95) depot into travelling cases of course.
- Something that is soothing – I am very picky when it comes to hotel rooms, pillows, etc. Hence I always need something to help soothe my cranky travelling mood. Molton Brown Cedrus Temple Soother (AUD $40) is not only good for travelling in flight but also a gem to keep next to the bed to help relax and promote good quality sleep. Best of all it’s not oil based so it’s not oily/messy.
- Gel eye cream – There are not many eye cream in the market that is light, effective, inexpensive and is good to reapply without delivering milia. Uriage Eye Contour Care (AUD $39.95) is one of them that keeps dehydrated fine lines under my eyes at bay and yet it’s so lightweight to constantly reapply.
- Eye drops – This is a must, remember how I used to blog about eye drops is great to refresh and rehydrate eyes but they are also AWESOME to help flush out left over eye makeup post eye makeup removal. When travelling something like Refresh Plus Eyedrops (AUD$ 15.70) is perfect for individual use and throw away without opening a new bottle and having to worry expiry date.
- Sunscreen – One can never have too many sunscreens but make sure you open one finish it and move onto another. Otherwise if you keep used sunscreen for too long you’ll have to bin them. Always opt for moisturising, high UVA/UVB protection, non comedogenic and lightweight. One that isn’t sticky or messy even in humid weather is Neutrogena Healthy Defence Daily Moisturiser SPF 30+. Perfect as it doubles as a primer too.
- Moisturising spritz – Loving Caudalie Beauty Elixir and Uriage Thermal Water Spray (AUD$10.95). Best invention ever, I can’t never get enough of spritz that actually delivers moisture without wrecking my makeup of the day.
- Shampoo & Conditioner – I am obsessed with Rahua Voluminous Shampoo & Conditioner (AUD $40 each). Smells heavenly, soothes my dry hair extensions and the finish is just amazing. One of those hair products that you can see results after blow dry. HG status for me. You will need this especially if you’re going on a beach vacation.
- Oil based make up remover - I love them in balm/gel based. Qsilica Remove Makeup & Grime Cleansing Gel fits perfectly for the bill.
Some other make up products I drag with me are of course:
- Eyelash curler – Can’t live without one. Shu Uemura, Utowa, Koji are my top picks.
- Tweezer – From Tweezerman of course.
- Scissors – A must to open product samples, to snip off purchased tags, trip your brows, the use of a scissors whilst travelling is endless.
- Contact lenses – For cosmetic reasons, once you pop them on you’ll realise the job for eye makeup is half done. They are awesome like that. Currently loving Rainbow Color contact lenses, they are natural and very comfortable.