Happy New Year everyone and welcome to my first decluttering post of 2017. While 2016 was a good decluttering year for me, I hope to make 2017 even better and I'm looking forward to working out which items from my collection are ready to be used up and moved out.

First up is this sample post: you'll see above that yet again I've somehow managed to acquire a bundle of deluxe-sized samples of various products, most of which are too small for full reviews and all of which are too large for one of my 'sachet city' posts.

So what I thought I'd do is kick off 2017 with a quick look at what smaller items I'll be focusing on in January, and when I've used them all I'll check back in with mini reviews of each.

Let's have a look.

La Mer samples

A couple of Mecca staff kindly took pity on me when I was in my third trimester and floating around Mecca looking sorry for myself, so I've happily wound up with five little samples to try (two of which contain the same product).

In this lot I have:
  • The Cleansing Gel: This apparently derives its remarkable cleansing power from magnetised tourmaline and La Mer's exclusive Deconstructed Waters™. These positively charged waters allow the cleanser to draw dirt, debris, makeup and pollutants gently out of the skin. 
  • The Regenerative Serum: This active yet comforting serum is meant to accelerate skin's natural renewal process. Complementing skin's natural production of 'youth proteins', collagen and elastin, the appearance of lines, wrinkles and pores is diminished over time as a firmer, more lifted, beautifully ageless look is revealed.
  • Crème de la Mer: I have two of these. The cream apparently contains La Mer's legendary Miracle Broth™ and it should reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles, while improving firmness and rejuvenating the complexion.
  • The Moisturising Soft Cream: This should apparently deliver the same radiance and renewal that made the original Crème de la Mer a legend, in a supple new texture. Infused with the nutrient-rich Miracle Broth, it penetrates deep into the skin to replenish moisture and strengthen. 

While I would never spend as much on skincare as these products cost (we're talking an average of $500 AUD per item), it's still nice to have the opportunity to try them and I can't wait to see how they fare.

Zelens Transformer Instant Renewal Mask

This product came from Maslow & Co and I can't wait to try it because I've had good luck with Zelens products in the past and I've heard good things about this one. It should encourage skin renewal with immediately visible results: skin appears softer, firmer and smoother with a noticeably youthful glow. Powered with a potent complex of high-performance ingredients, this advanced multi-action mask also hydrates, energises, replenishes and revives the skin.

That all sounds good to me. I have far too many masks on the go at the moment so I'm looking forward to trying this one and then moving it out of my collection.

Asap Soothing Gel

This should reduce inflammation and soothe damaged skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera promote healing, calm the skin and reduce the appearance of redness. This gel is a water-based gel formulation that hydrates without adding oil, making it an ideal moisturiser particularly for oily skin.

I'm not big on gels because I have dry skin and usually need something heavier, but this is a good product to crack open now that it's summer: a gel might feel nice in all this heat.

Alpha-H Instant Facial with Cypress and Barley

I've used this before and it's one of the few Alpha-H products I've tried that I don't like. I've reviewed it here. I received it in a sub box and I'm keen to move it out of my collection quickly, since it's a smaller product and I know that it shouldn't take too long to finish.

It's described as a fast-acting, oil-free facial that delivers the clarity and radiance of microdermabrasion and salon-inspired peels without the abrasion and stress. It should soothe and repair the skin, even out skintone and resurface the complexion. From memory it did all of those things but not very well and I much prefer Alpha-H's Liquid Gold, which you use in the same way. We'll see if I like it any better this time around.

Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads

These are radiance-boosting pads that are soaked in exfoliating glycolic acid (2.8%) to restore texture and resurface the skin, while witch hazel helps to tone. The moisturising formula with hyaluronic acid and blue daisy helps reveal brighter, smoother-looking skin.

These have been doing the rounds in the beauty community and I've been wanting to try them, so I was happy to see them show up in a recent sub box. Hopefully five pads is enough to really get a feel for the product and how it works over time. We'll see.

Beenigma Face Cream 

This cream apparently uses bee venom to 'trick' the skin into thinking it has been stung, thus producing the skin-smoothing collagen needed for youthful skin. Clever, if a little scary when you think about it ; ). The product also contains Manuka honey, which is good for clearing the complexion.

I received this in a recent Maslow & Co box and I'm super excited to try it because I've heard Tati (beauty youtuber) rave about it to no end. Fingers crossed I like it as much as she does!

In sum

That's it! These are the products I'll slowly be introducing into my routine throughout January, and I can't wait to report back on each one. Fingers crossed there's something to love in here, but hopefully none of the La Mer products, which are well outside my price range.

Happy New Year to all, and speak soon x

Last time Priceline had a fifty per cent off skincare sale, I bought two Antipodes products and this was one of them. I did have a huge list of items that I wanted to try from the brand, but the purse strings were tight so I limited myself to two, knowing that I could buy a couple more next time around.

This particular serum wasn't my first choice but most of the Antipodes stock was gone by the time I got to my local Priceline, so I settled for this and a toner (I'll review the latter shortly) and I'm now almost done with the bottle so it's definitely time to review it.

While I do like it, it's probably not one I'd buy again because I prefer other serums I've used, but it's not a bad product and I wouldn't say no if it came my way again.

Antipodes claims/product details:
  • A water-based corrective serum to help target pigmentation, brighten your skin and restore even tone
  • Destined to have a leading role in your daily beauty ritual with its revolutionary bioactive ingredients from New Zealand nature
  • Waiwera mineral water from an ancient spring voted the world's best water restores essential moisture to parched skin
  • Antioxidant-rich Vinanza Performance Plus addresses facial redness and the melanin production that can cause discolouration
  • Add in the subtle exfoliating action of superfruit kiwi enzyme and soothing Oxifend from red grapes, and your skin will be gloriously glowing! 
  • Mamaku black fern and Reishi mushroom assist with healthy cell renewal for the ultimate fresh-faced beauty
  • RRP $59 AUD for 30ml, but do shop around


If you read this blog, you'll know that I recently fell for Antipodes' Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum (reviewed here) so I think I was half-expecting to love this serum as much as I did that one. While I do think this is a decent product for the price, my skin much preferred the chia product so I'd rather buy that one instead.

When I first used this I got a bit of a fright because it's a dark brownish red colour (I guess that's the red grapes) and I wasn't expecting it to look like that. In some lights you'd be forgiven for thinking it's blood - eep! It's a very thin watery product that's lightweight and smells of fruit, so if you prefer thinner serums like I do, this might appeal to you.

What's good about this product is that it spreads well and absorbs almost instantly, given how thin it is, so I have no concerns that it's coating my skin or interfering with my moisturiser's ability to absorb. This is how I like my serums so it gains points on that front.

I've been using this at least once a day - often twice - for almost three months now, and I think that if it were going to offer any cumulative benefits it would have done so by now so it's safe to say that this hasn't done much for my skin. While I do enjoy using it and it has a temporary brightening effect after application, it hasn't made my skin happier overall like the chia serum did so I can definitely say that the latter is the better product (at least for my skin).

On the claims: I don't think this does anything towards pigmentation or uneven skintone but it does have a temporary brightening effect; it does hydrate a little but I definitely need a moisturiser over the top because this isn't moisturising enough on its own; I don't think this has done anything for facial redness or discolouration; but I do think it makes my skin glow for a while immediately after use.

All in all, this isn't a bad product for the price but I think Antipodes has better serums on offer. Whenever Priceline has another sale, I'll be sure to try something else from the range.

Nice but not great.

I mentioned in my last empties post that I thought I would have enough for three empties posts this month, and indeed I do. In fact I could have made four for December because I've managed to get through quite a bit of stuff recently, but I've decided to limit it to three and hold a few over for January.

First things first, I apologise that my photos aren't great in this post: I made the mistake of throwing my empties out before checking the photos first so I couldn't go ahead and re-shoot them because the products were long gone. Foo! Hoh well, not to worry - we don't need to rely on photos for colour here so I'll go ahead and post anyway.

Let's have a look.

Project Pan items

I won't go on about these too much here because I've done that enough via Project Pan, but I will comment briefly on each item:

The Mine Tan tanning mousse was a good product but I wouldn't buy it because I prefer tanning creams. So purchase? No.

The Bodyography lip products were both nice and while I liked the lipstick because it's a great formula, the gloss didn't have enough pigment for me personally (nice formula otherwise though). So that's a yes for the lipstick and a no for the gloss.

I wouldn't touch the Nars Sheer Glow Foundation with a barge pole because it looks like a mask on me and it sits in pores (so that's a no) and the Evelyn Iona concealer was nice but I'm keen to try other products because I've been through two of these this year (so that's a maybe).

Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil

Full review here. I did really enjoy this product but I started getting tired of it towards the end of the bottle (and it's a large bottle) so that tells me it's like but not love and I don't feel the need to try it again. I liked the texture, scent and feel of this product on the skin and it did a good job of removing makeup, but I have other cleansing oils I prefer. Repurchase? No.

Swisspers Rosehip Rejuvenating Cleansing Wipes

I don't use cleansing wipes much but I do like to have a packet on hand for emergencies, and this one was on hand for ages because I didn't like it and didn't want to use it. I've reviewed it here

The wipes didn't contain enough moisture, they made my skin sting after use and they didn't clean well either. I got through them by wetting them with a micellar water first because they didn't work well enough on their own. Blurgh. Purchase? No.

MOR Rosa Noir Hand & Body Milk

Full review here. I've been through two of these now because I received two from The Parcel (yep, it was a repeat product - not cool) and unfortunately it's one of the few MOR products I've come across that I didn't love. The scent was a bit strong and heady for me and the product wasn't as hydrating as I would like, so I used it occasionally on my legs just to get through it and to keep the scent away from my face. Purchase? No.

At One Skincare Toning Coffee Scrub

I've become addicted to coffee scrubs this year and this is one of the nicest ones I've tried. I've reviewed it here. It came from Maslow & Co and I loved how finely milled the coffee grains were because it was gentle on the skin while still delivering a good exfoliation. Plus it smelled amazing. Purchase? Maybe.

Sukin Energising Body Scrub with Coffee and Coconut

Full review here. I really enjoyed this product because it offered the things I love about a coffee scrub - the scent and the good exfoliation - without coming with the usual mess because it was a cream product so it adhered better to the skin than a dry scrub usually does. Plus Sukin is a reasonably priced brand so this is one to keep in mind for the next time that Priceline has a sale. Purchase? Yes.

Lanolips Lovely Lanolin Golden Ointment, Dry Skin Salve

This is one of those products that doesn't get used except in certain situations (at least for me) and it certainly got used after I had my little boy and ended up with nipples that were in all-sorts because he wasn't an easy feeder for the first couple of months. I've reviewed it here.

It's one of those super thick ointments that's good for super dry skin but isn't for everyday use, and it worked well on the cans (!) and also on dry feet. Purchase? Maybe.

Chantecaille Jasmine Lily Healing Mask

Full review here. This was one of those rare instant love products for me and I loved it so much that I've already bought the full size. Yes it's expensive but I've never used a mask that's this hydrating and leaves my dry skin feeling so plumped, nourished and comfortable. If you have dry, dehydrated skin I urge you to pop into Mecca and grab a sample. Don't hate me if you end up loving it though because at $123 AUD a pop, it ain't cheap! Purchase? Already have.

In sum

This wasn't a great bunch of empties but it does contain a lot of Project Pan items so that makes me happy. What also makes me happy is moving more items out of my collection - particularly because I'll be doing another makeup inventory post in January so I'm keen to get my numbers down before then. The best item in here is the Chantecaille mask, hands down, but I loved the coffee scrub too.

Hope all's well with you guys, and speak soon x

I've been meaning to start reviewing the pieces in this Rituals gift set for ages now, it's just that I've been lost in the various year-end posts I've been writing (like favourites etc) and so my reviews of this kit have fallen to the wayside.

And even though I still have more round-up posts to write - like my year-end Project Pan update - I wanted to sneak this little post in today because I've almost finished the tub and I prefer reviewing products while I've still got them so I can smell and touch them one last time before finalising my post.

Anyhoo. Rituals' Hammam Hot Scrub. Let's have a look.

Rituals claims/product details:
  • A nourishing body scrub with warming ginger and refreshing eucalyptus
  • Leaves your skin with a wonderful tingly feeling
  • Body scrub offering an intensive purifying, nourishing and exfoliating effect
  • The exfoliation leaves skin exceptionally soft and refreshed, and creates a warm and delicious feeling that immediately reduces tiredness
  • Contains natural purifying sea salt, warming ginger and refreshing eucalyptus
  • RRP $39 AUD for 450g

As you can see below, the scrub is a pale blue colour and it contains thick cubes of sea salt.

There's not a huge amount of product in the tub and to start with I thought it wouldn't last me long at all, but turns out that you don't need heaps of it each time so it's lasted a good while.


While I don't dislike this product, I don't love it either and I've used other Rituals products that grab me more than this does. And although it's been open for a while, it's taken me some time to confirm how I feel about it, which tells me that my experience with it hasn't been consistent. If I love something, I love it each time I use it and there's no swinging about.

It's a thick, granular product that feels quite oily to the touch. It's one of those scrubs that essentially feels like oil mixed with salt, and indeed that's how it feels when rubbed across the skin. 

And therein lies the problem for me: the grains are quite harsh and scratchy (I guess that's because they're cubes with sharp edges), but the addition of the oil somehow makes it feel like you're not getting a decent exfoliation - even though you probably are. Either that or you're just scratching away at your skin, which is honestly how I feel sometimes when I use this. Some scrubs are just too harsh and I think this is one of those, but the oil is misleading because your skin doesn't feel raw afterwards, just a touch greasy.

Other than that, this does feel like a luxe product and I can see why some people love it. Everything from the look of it to the packaging to the scent screams fancy, so if you like a rough, oily scrub then this might be for you. I would also call this a unisex product because the scent is quite masculine: I smell eucalyptus more than ginger and it's refreshing so it does wake you up and it would be a good product for use in the morning.

But unfortunately I can't recommend it. I just used it one last time on my hands to confirm what I've written, and they feel like they've been scratched a little where I've rubbed the grains across my skin. They also feel oilier than I would like (I personally don't like scrubs that are too oily) so I can safely say that this isn't the product for me. This appears to put me in the minority though because the reviews I've read on this are generally glowing, so it could just be that it doesn't work for me.

While I give quite a few products 'disappointing' tags throughout the year, when it comes to the yearly round-up of products I don't like, I only pick out the worst of the worst - just so you know which items that have bothered me more than all others.

Although I don't like being negative on this blog, I also don't want people to waste money on bad products so that's why I think it's helpful to let you know when I've found stuff that really hasn't hit the mark - particularly when it's got a hefty price-tag to boot.

Before we get stuck into this post, let me give the usual disclaimer: just because I don't like these products, this doesn't mean that they're bad products overall so if you love anything in this list, all that means is that it works for you where it hasn't worked for me. Lucky you!

But enough preamble. Here are my most disappointing products of 2016:

Josie Maran Argan Enlightenment Illuminiser

Full review here. I was expecting to love this product because it's had some great reviews, but turns out I don't - and I'm not the only one.

My issue with it is that it's too reflective so it's hard to get a natural look from it, and it's so reflective that I can't mix it in with my foundation (as I normally would a product like this) or I'll risk looking like the Tin Man. It's also harder to work with than other liquid illuminators I've used because it has a weird, mousse-like consistency and it dries down so you need to move fast or you won't be able to blend it out. Just not my kind of product.

Pixi Glow Mist

I thought I would love this to pieces because it's a firm favourite in the beauty community and it's meant to be great for dry skin since it aims to hydrate and add a nice glow. I've reviewed it here.

Unfortunately all this did for me was turn me into a complete grease-ball. Honestly, it was so oily that I couldn't find any use for it on the face and I resorted to using it on my body, just to get through the damn bottle. Maybe I got a bung one, but this certainly didn't give me a nice glow - it drowned me in oil and lifted/dissolved my makeup. Erk.

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter

Full review here. This is another product that's been hyped up to the moon and back but unfortunately it didn't work for me at all. Ach, don't you hate that?!

Why didn't I like it? I don't like the fabled scent (don't shoot me) and the product itself just doesn't want to absorb into my skin, so it streaks and leaves me covered with a sticky layer of gunk that doesn't deliver hydration where I need it. Indeed, every time I used this my skin felt so dry afterwards that I would have to go back in with another product. Just not my cup of tea.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20 in Sand

Another product that has received so much love in the beauty community but that just doesn't work for me. Foo. Extra foo because it ain't cheap so I wasted good money on it. I've reviewed it here.

My biggest issue with the product is that it's too sheer. Now I do like a light base, but this one is too light - to the point that it's not worth wearing - and even though the colour is more intense when I build it, somehow this doesn't translate to the product covering imperfections better or evening out my complexion. It's almost as though this product 'dyes' the skin, as opposed to making things like age spots less noticeable, which is why the coverage isn't good enough for me. I've heard the 'oil free' version has better coverage so perhaps I would like that more. I'm not game to find out!

Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Isolde

I know, I know - don't hate me. But I just can't see the hype around Nars eyeshadows, and I'm not the only one. Many of us feel that they're way over-hyped and don't think much of the formula at all, so don't go out and buy one before giving it a good test-run on the eyes. I've reviewed this one here.

Isolde has made the list ahead of others I own because it's extra bad: it swatches well when you use your fingers but it just doesn't want to show up on my eyes, plus it reeks of a chemical alcohol smell so I find it really off-putting to use. Such a shame because the colours are gorgeous, but it's definitely the worst of the Nars shadows I own and I don't recommend it.

Nars Audacious Mascara in Black Moon

Full review here. While we're on the Nars topic, here's another one to avoid. Indeed, I've seen a lot of people say that they don't like this mascara, while a few people think it's amazing - so it seems to be one of those polarising products that you either love or hate.

Two things happen every time I use this: first, I get blobs of mascara all along my upper eye area (in particular the lashline) that need to be removed; and second, it's so clumpy that I need to whip out my eyelash comb. Every single time. I'm far too lazy for that extra step. Plus I can't use this on my lower lashline because the wand is too chunky, so the brush-design is an epic fail but on top of that, the formula doesn't do much for lengthening or thickening either. Blurgh.

Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipsticks

I've reviewed one of these here. My issue with these lipsticks is how much they stink. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I used a product that stunk this much - perhaps never - and the stench is so bad that I just can't use them. Argh.

They smell and taste like a cheap floral perfume (exactly like the Bonne Bell lip balm in the blue tube, only stronger) and the stench hasn't died down over time, so looks like I'll never be able to wear these. Whenever I put one on my lips, I last about five minutes before I have to take it off - that's how much I can't stand the smell and how much it lingers. Shame on me for buying three of these before opening one. Nice formula but an unwearable product for me. So disappointing!

Garnier Miracle Wake Up Cream

I've used a few of these 'blurring' creams now and I haven't liked any of them but this is the worst one by far. I've reviewed it here.

This stuff stinks of alcohol and it doesn't want to absorb so it sits on top of the skin, rather than delivering moisture where I need it most. Plus it leaves a layer of gunk on your face and makes me looks and feel really dry, and I can't put anything over it (like makeup or sunscreen) because it 'balls up' and leaves me with dirty flakes on my face. Horrendous product.

In sum

There we have it, my top eight disappointing products of the year. I did think of making this a 'top ten' list but I really wanted to limit it to the most disappointing finds of the year, which is why I've narrowed it down to eight.

If you'd like to see more disappointing products, you can check out last year's post here.

Do let us know in the comments whether you've found any disappointing products this year that we should all avoid!

Speak soon x
Some people don't write December favourites posts because they focus instead on their yearly favourites and find the monthly December ones redundant, and while I do see the logic in that, I also feel that I've loved particular products throughout December that don't necessarily make it to my 2016 'best of' lists and I want to mention them all the same.

So without further ado, here are my favourites for this month.

Chantecaille Jasmine Lily Healing Mask

Full review here. I fell head over heels for this product from the moment I used it, so much so that I've already gone out and bought the full size. Indeed, it would have made it to my yearly favourites post if I'd used it for longer, but since it's a newer product I would rather see if it stands the test of time and then mention it in my 2017 favourites if it does.

I received it in one of my Mecca Beauty Loop boxes and I'm so glad I did because it's the most hydrating mask I've ever used. It feels so soothing and cooling when applied, and after use my dry skin just looks nourished and plump and it feels much more comfortable. I don't like the $123 AUD price tag but I'll live with it because that's what Mecca gift cards are for ; ). A gorgeous product. It's no surprise to me that its average review score on Mecca's website is 4.8 stars out of five.

SK-II RNA Power Eye Cream

This also came in a sample box and the 2.5g tub lasted over a month of daily use so I think the full size winds up being reasonable value on a price-per-use basis, despite the whopping $149 AUD price tag. I've reviewed it here.

I don't normally feel that expensive products are worth their outlays, but in this case I'm prepared to make an exception because it's just a beautiful eye cream and my dry, dehydrated and sleep-deprived skin really enjoyed it. After use, my eyes felt comfortable and nourished, and I'll certainly keep it in mind if I have some cash to burn on decent skincare: not all products are worth the splurge, but I do think this one is.

May Coop Raw Sauce

Full review here. Essences are having their moment these days and the ones I've used so far have impressed me, including this one.

My skin really liked it and after use it looked brighter and more awake, plus it felt firmer and more toned to boot. It's one of those products that gives you a slap in the face in the best of ways, and I liked how fresh and healthy my skin looked after using this. While I don't think it's the best product of its kind that I've used, what's good about it is that it's not expensive so it's a good starting point if you're interested in trying an essence. Definitely worth a look-in.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit

Full review here. Yes this was in my Pan that Palette 2016 challenge so in theory I should be sick to death of it, but in reality I'm not. That's how you know a product is really good: when you use it to death and don't become bored of it, that means it's a keeper.

The reason I've loved this so much throughout December is because it's an easy, versatile product and I've been tired and short on time, meaning products like this come in extra handy. Even though I've now finished Dim Light, I use Radiant Light as a bronzer topper, a mix of Radiant and Incandescent Light as an all-over finishing powder, and I've even gone in and concentrated the two shades for use as a highlighter both on the face and the eyes. So many uses for one product. You have to love that.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15

I haven't reviewed this yet because I've only been using it for the last couple of weeks, but I had to mention it because it became a firm favourite from the moment I opened my sample. Yes I've used it before but back then I didn't have many other primers to compare it to, and these days I've used a lot of them so I have a better idea of what's good and what's not. This one's fantastic. 

You only need the tiniest bit each time because it's thin and it spreads out so beautifully, so even this 4ml sample will last me for ages and, when I do buy it (which I certainly will), I reckon I'll only need the travel size since I'll never get through a full bottle. It just smooths the skin, feels beautiful on and preps the face so well for makeup - it's no surprise to me that it's a beauty-lovers' favourite. A sensational product, and one I'm looking forward to reviewing.

In sum

There are my favourites for the month! It wasn't hard to pick out my top five for December because I knew exactly what I've been loving without scouting around in my bathroom, which just goes to show that these products were front-of-mind.

Do let me know what you've been loving this month : )

While I may have only used a deluxe sample of this product so far, it's already hit HG status and I'm planning to spend my Mecca gift card on it today. Sometimes a product just works for you and you can't get it out of your mind, and this is one of those products for me.

And although I need another face mask like I need a hole in the head (and this one costs a whopping $123 AUD), I've decided that I can't live without it and, well, that's what gift cards are for, yes - allowing you to buy things that you normally wouldn't? That's what I think, anyway ; )

Let's have a look.

Chantecaille claims/product details:
  • A soothing mask that brightens and hydrates dull, dry and irritated skin
  • Provides protection from overexposure of the elements
  • The ideal skin solution for sunburned, jet-lagged, irritated or wind-chapped skin, this lightweight gel-like consistency has an instant cooling sensation that helps calm reddened skin
  • Chamomile helps calm inflammation and repair damaged tissue with vitamin B5
  • Jasmine promotes cellular turnover, while providing the senses with a fragrant experience
  • An ideal treatment for those with rosacea
  • Ideal for sensitive skin
  • RRP $123 AUD for 50ml


This product is just gorgeous and if I hadn't already written my 2016 'best of' post for skincare, I would be including it there because I've fallen in love with it and it just works for my skin. 

Indeed, it's no surprise to me that its average review score on Mecca's website is 4.8 stars out of five, and it seems that a lot of people have gone out and bought it after receiving this sample in their Beauty Loop boxes, so I'm not the only one!

It's a white cream that's lightweight like a lotion in consistency but it has a slightly oily feel and it spreads so well that you only need a small amount each time - a good thing, considering the price tag.

It does have a floral scent but not in a pungent or unnatural way, and it's certainly a smell I can live with so it's worth grabbing a sample even if you're sensitive to fragrance because you might be ok with this.

From the moment I first put this on, I knew that I loved the product: it's one of those rare things that just feels like it's doing you good from the time you put it on your face up until the time you wash it off. It feels super soothing and calming on the skin, but more than anything I find that it gives my dry skin a drink and that's why I love it so much. Honestly, it's probably the most hydrating mask I've used to date so it's worth giving this a go if you have dry, dehydrated skin like I do.

Also worth noting is that you can use this as an overnight mask if you want to, and while I have tried it for this purpose, I much prefer it when used as a standard leave-on mask so I'll probably just use it for that when I buy my tub.

On the claims: yes I do think this soothes, brightens and hydrates dull, dry and irritated skin; yes it does feel like it has a protective element; and yes I do think this has an instant cooling sensation that helps calm reddened skin.

I also agree that it has an effect on inflammation and I can see how it would help those with sun-burned, wind-chapped or irritated skin. And while I can't say for sure whether this helps repair damaged tissue because it's hard to measure something like that, I'm prepared to believe it given how good my skin looks and feels after using this.

All in all, I think this is a fantastic product and I'm going to buy the full size today. More than anything it plumps and hydrates my dry skin so beautifully, and for this reason I've given it an HG tag.

Welcome to my next 'best of' post for 2016. After this skincare post I'll bring you my top makeup picks for the year, which will round off this Best in Beauty series until 2017.

If you would like to see which products made last year's list, please check out my 2015 favourites here - and note that some of the products that made it onto last year's list are making a reappearance this year because they're that good, although I have tried to bring you some new options this time around and although I still love all the products on last year's list, these are the items that are front-of-mind for 2016.

So without further ado...

Best makeup remover/cleansing water: Unani Il-luminate Micellar Water

Full review here. It was love at first use with this product and I'm sad that it's not easy to come by in Australia (I received this bottle in a sub box) because I would have bought it by now if I could.

Yes it's a water but it's a touch thicker than water in texture - almost like a water/gel hybrid - and it does a good job of removing my makeup. Plus it smells nice to boot and I enjoyed using it, unlike any other makeup remover I've tried this year: those have been products I've barely noticed or been interested in. This one I noticed because it left my skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated after use.

Best cleanser (gentle): SebaMed Liquid Face & Body Wash

I love a good gentle cleanser in the morning - one that doesn't strip the skin - and this was the best one I found in 2016. I've reviewed it here.

It's a blue-green gel that smells soapy and clean, and the texture feels quite rich - velvety and smooth - against the skin. Indeed, the texture is one of the reasons why I liked it so much: it just feels nice and so it's a pleasure to use. It also removes makeup and grime well so it's one to keep in mind if you're after a gentle, daily cleanser that doesn't cost the earth. This ticks all the boxes for me and I can't wait to get my hands on it again.

Best cleanser (oil): Martina Organics Oil Cleanser

Full review here. Two things struck me about this product when I first used it: first, the scent is absolutely beautiful (I've always loved jasmine); and second, this is much thinner than any other oil cleanser I've used to date so it feels nice and light against the skin.

I've used a lot of great cleansing oils this year but this one is my favourite to date, if only for the scent alone. But it does do a good job of dissolving gunk and it also feels beautiful on the skin - like it's good for you - so it's one I've missed since I finished my bottle. Must source another one!

Best cleanser (clarifying): Ren Clearcalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser

It's definitely been a year of cleansers for me and this is another top pick, in part because of the scent but also because it's good value and you get a whopping 150ml of product in the bottle. I've reviewed it here.

It's a beautifully smooth, silky clay that feels so wonderfully creamy and cooling against the skin that I'd almost recommend it just for the texture alone! It also smells gently of these Dutch almond fingers that Mum used to buy from the supermarket (so I guess it smells of almond meal and honey to me) and I get a lift whenever I use it. I can't use it every day on my dry skin because it would be too much, but it's something I can use on alternate days and I do think it has a purifying effect. Love.

Best toning product: Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid

This is technically more of a treatment than a toner, but you do use it as you would a toner and since I don't have a dedicated toner that I've fallen for this year, I'm calling this my top pick under this heading. I've reviewed it here.

No other product I've ever used has done as much for my skin as this one has, and if you want to know which item would win first place in any category, it's this. It brightens and resurfaces my skin like no other product on the market and I can't live without it. I always notice a huge difference when I come back to this product and it's been a favourite for years, which says enough in itself.

Best serum (for dry skin): Antipodes Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum

Full review here. Once I got over the slightly fishy scent to this product, it quickly became a firm favourite and I can't wait to buy another bottle when Priceline has its next skincare sale.

It's just a beautifully rich and hydrating product that does wonders for dry skin because it's more of an oil than a serum, and it definitely rescued me during my pregnancy when winter hit and my skin chucked a dry tantrum. I can't imagine ever being without it now and I'll be surprised if I find anything that beats it and that's as reasonably priced.

Best serum (for anyone): Elemental Herbology Cell Food

I couldn't pick between this serum and the Antipodes product so I've decided to include both because they're quite different and suit different needs. I've reviewed this one here.

I prefer this product over the Antipodes one when my skin isn't quite so dry and what I love about it is that it leaves my face looking brighter and fresher, and it smooths out my skin so I need less of my moisturiser and foundation when I use this. Plus I feel like it's doing good things for my complexion in terms of making it look and feel more even. A great product, and one that should suit a lot of skin-types.

Best moisturiser (daily): Alpha-H Balancing Moisturiser and Gentle Exfoliant

Full review here. I'm on my second tube of this now and I love it just as much the second time as I did the first time. If you're after a moisturiser that's gentle enough to use every day but still has enough punch to really wake up your face, this could be the product for you.

What I love about it is that my skin just looks brighter and more radiant whenever I apply it. My skin also feels firmer and smoother, so for this reason it's a great product to use under makeup. Also, while the description says it's for oily/combination skin, my skin is dry and this works wonders for me in terms of hydration, so don't discount it if your skin is like mine because it may work for you too. Such a great product.

Best moisturiser (treatment): Alpha-H Liquid Gold Rejuvenating Cream

I couldn't pick between this Alpha-H moisturiser and the one above it so I've included both. You use this product on alternate evenings to Alpha-H's Liquid Gold (although you can use one without the other) and the two do go hand in hand so it's worth trying them together if you can. Full review here.

When I use this, my skin looks and feels healthier, smoother and more plumped, and it softens my fine lines too. Plus it helps clarify the skin and make my skintone more even, so it's a winner in my books and I'm already on to my second one. Love it.

Best facial sunscreen: Mecca To Save Face SPF 50+

Full review here. This is the best and most reasonably priced facial sunscreen I've tried to date and I urge you to go into Mecca and grab a sample because it's honestly life-changing.

It protects my skin, never looks or feels greasy and it doesn't leave a white cast, so it's perfect for the face and it's become the only facial sunscreen I ever use. Plus you can pat it on over makeup and it won't disturb or dissolve your face, so it's definitely a winner and one of the rare facial sunscreens on the market that does its job so well. Just a great product.

Best face mask (mud/clay): Alpha-H Balancing and Pore Refining Mask

I do love a mask that only needs ten minutes to work, and I can feel the difference in my skin as soon as I wash this product off: it feels cleaner, tighter and smoother, and it looks brighter and more refined. I've reviewed the product here.

I do need to apply a bit more moisturiser than normal after I've used this because my skin feels a little on the dry/dehydrated side, but that's standard for me when it comes to clay masks so I don't mind it because the results are there. Another great product from Alpha-H, a brand who rarely sets a foot wrong in my books.

Best face mask (brightening): Ren Glycolactic Radiance Mask

I've included a few options for face masks because different masks do different things, and while the above one is better for clarifying, this one's better for plumping and brightening the skin. I've reviewed it here.

This is one of those rare hyped-up products that actually meets the hype, and also the product claims. It refreshes and renews the complexion, reduces fine lines (temporarily), and also temporarily improves skintone, firmness and radiance. Plus it combats congestion and leaves your skin healthy and glowing. Awesome.

Best treatment: Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

I wasn't sure what to call this product but I wanted to mention it, so let's call it a 'treatment' and leave it at that. I've reviewed it here.

I really don't know how to describe the results I get from this product, other than to say that it absolutely meets all its claims - a rare thing, in my experience! Yes it instantly revitalises and visibly rejuvenates the skin; yes it smooths, firms and tones; yes it reduces signs of fatigue and imperfections; and yes it evens out the complexion and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And all in one minute. What's not to love?!

Best overnight mask (pricey): Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel

Full review here. Yes this is expensive but it's worth every penny in my opinion because it's that good.

This is one of those rare products that does so much for your skin that others start commenting on how good it looks. That must mean it's doing something right! It restores and renews the skin, targets wrinkles and fine lines, and it also helps make my skin look more even so it does something towards reducing pigmentation and scarring. Huzzah!

Best overnight mask (budget): Pixi Nourishing Sleep Mask

It's rare that I like a product enough to buy it again but I can definitely see myself picking this one up again as soon as Beauty Bay has another sale. I've reviewed it here.

As soon as I use it, my skin looks and feels like it's had a drink. It's soothing and cooling when applied, and I enjoy using it for that reason alone because it feels so refreshing and gives my dry skin some instant relief. After applying it, my skin feels nourished and comfortable, and I wake up to soft, hydrated skin that looks and feels a damn sight better than it did the night before. Another product that does exactly what it says it will do. Thank golly for that.

In sum

These are my top fifteen skincare picks of the year, and believe me, I had a lot of trouble narrowing things down because I've fallen in love with a lot of skincare this year but I wanted to only bring you the best of the best.

Do let me know what your favourite skincare discoveries were this year - I'd love to hear.

Speak soon x

I received this travel-sized Sukin body scrub from a sub box and since I've wound up with so many smaller-sized products recently and am starting to feel overwhelmed, I decided to open it straight away and use it up until it was all gone, which it now almost is.

Sukin has been a hit-and-miss brand for me: I love the cleanser and mask that I've tried but the moisturisers just haven't hit the mark. Fortunately this product is another hit and I've really enjoyed using it, and I'll certainly keep it in mind to buy in future because it's not expensive and I do like it enough to use it again.

Sukin claims/product details:
  • Utilising indulgent and aromatic coffee extracts and coconut shell, this body exfoliator works to effectively polish and stimulate the surface of the skin
  • Aloe vera, coconut oil and jojoba oil provide lasting hydration that will soften the skin’s appearance for a smooth complexion
  • Added rosehip and vitamin e provide important antioxidants and nutrients to maintain a healthy glow
  • Paraben free
  • To use: massage into damp skin in the shower; rinse well with warm water; use once or twice a week
  • RRP $14.99 for 200ml


This is a nice product and I recommend it if you're looking for an inexpensive body scrub. It mightn't be the best scrub I've ever used, but it's readily available and you can often find it on special, so it's one to keep in mind for the next time that Priceline has a sale.

It's a cream product that contains fine coffee grounds and it indeed smells like coffee and coconut. If you like the idea of all those coffee scrubs flooding the market these days but don't like how messy they can be, then this might be the product for you because it gives you the coffee scent and effect without all the mess that a dry scrub can bring.

I squeeze a good dollop of this out and spread it over my skin, and I like how easy it is to use because the product adheres well and allows you to use it under the shower without risking losing half of it in the process (which can happen with the dry scrubs mentioned above).

It contains enough scrubby matter to allow you to give your skin a good polish, although I do find that I need to use quite a bit each time to cover my whole body. This is probably the only downside to the product: although it's not expensive, it didn't take many uses for me to finish this 50ml tube (perhaps five?), so you'll get through the bottle quite quickly if you need to use as much per application as I do.

The good news is that it's not drying like some scrubs can be and I do think the oils included in the formula help make it more of a hydrating scrub than one that strips the skin. I still need to moisturise after I've used it, but my skin is dry so I always do that anyway - other may not need to.

In sum, this is a great little scrub and I recommend it. While it mightn't be the most effective scrub that I've tried, it does the job and it smells awesome so it's a winner in my books.

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