Welcome to my first sample post of the year! I'd forgotten just how many samples I'd managed to accrue in the last couple of months so I'm pleased that I've knocked off one round and I'll keep my head down and do more in the coming months.

Samples are a great way to satisfy the urge to try new products without actually buying anything, and more often than not they also make me happy to return to the products I'm using with fresh eyes because they've reminded me that what I've got works better for me than lots of other stuff.

Anyhoo. Let's have a look.

FemFresh Daily Intimate Wash

These turned up in our hospital 'showbag' when I had my son, and I thought I may as well try them out as a standard body wash - because who can be bothered with a separate cleanser for your intimates ; ) - and I'm sure they're nice and gentle but I didn't think much of them because they didn't lather well and didn't feel like they cleaned well.

I did also try them for washing my makeup brushes because gentle cleansers work best for that (anything too astringent can make your brushes feel dry and scratchy) but they didn't clean the gunk off properly, so that just goes to show.

Swisse Manuka Honey Detoxifying Facial Mask

This is described as a naturally absorbent facial mask, formulated to purify and detoxify the skin while leaving it feeling smooth and hydrated. It should apparently suit congested and blemish-prone skin so I was hoping to get some benefit from it because I've been getting hormonal breakouts lately and need something to target them.

I haven't had much luck with Swisse and it's a brand I've learned to avoid (at least as far as its skincare is concerned) and while I don't think this was awful, I didn't love it either. It's a standard clay mask that dries down as you wait, and it made my skin tighter and more uncomfortable during the drying process than other clay masks I've tried so I didn't enjoy it. Plus it did nothing for me, and I got three uses from this sachet so I'd hoped to see at least some effect. Perhaps it's just not for dry skin.

Nars Laguna Bronzer

I've had this bronzer applied to my face a few times so I have tried it before, but I've never applied it to myself so I was interested to see whether I'd understand all the fuss about it.

While it did apply and blend well, it was quite dry to the touch (many Nars powders are) and I didn't love the colour on me. I can understand why many people love it because it's not too warm, but I need something a hair warmer because otherwise bronzers can look flat on me, as this one did. Plus I only got one use from this sachet and I'd hoped for at least two so I don't think the sample is big enough.

Hourglass Hyaluronic Skin Tint SPF 15 in Nude

This is a reformulated version of the old classic and in the past I remember feeling that the product had too much coverage for my personal tastes so I didn't love it. While I still feel that's true of this reformulated version, I found that this one sheered out with less effort so I could get a light coverage very easily but build up to a medium if I wanted to.

I still wouldn't call this a tint (it's more of a foundation) and it has a mousse-like texture that isn't my favourite, but the result on the skin is very natural. 'Nude' isn't my shade so I needed to darken it with Becca Topaz, but I did like that the product didn't sit in pores around my hairline and it looked dewy on the skin without being too shiny. I got three to four uses from one 1ml sachet so the full size would last for ages (much longer than my tinted moisturisers), so I'll keep this in mind and see if I can't find a shade match. If I can, I may well buy it.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil and 100% Pure Argan Oil Light

I've used both of these before but this is the first opportunity I've had to test them alongside each other, so it was interesting to apply each one to one half of my face and compare them. 

The light one definitely isn't hydrating enough for my dry skin and this was extra apparent when comparing it to the original version, which is much better suited for my skin. The light one might be great for oily skin, but it doesn't do nearly enough for me and I needed to go back in with another product after use because I'd just used the Swisse mask (above) and my skin was feeling pretty parched after that.

As for the original version, it's not the best oil I've tried - not by a long shot - and I've used cheaper oils from the chemist that feel more hydrating than this does, so it's not one I would buy and I don't think it has enough punch for my dry skin.

Tocca Emelia EDP

This came in a Mecca Beauty Loop box and I was pleased to see it because I've been spraying myself with the fragrance when I go into Mecca ever since it came out. It's one of those scents that I wouldn't normally buy but something about it just works and it lasts well so it's one I've considered purchasing - although in small size because I'd never get through a large one.

It's a fig fragrance but it's not as full-on as other fig scents I've tried and it also contains geranium, magnolia and amaryllis. What I'd hoped to learn from this sample is whether or not I want to buy myself a travel-size, and I've decided that I don't. While I do like the fragrance, it's not love for me and I'm pickier with scents than I am with most things so I'd rather wait and see if I can find something that really grabs me.

Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser

This came from Adore Beauty and while I like the look of Aesop products, I'm yet to find one that I really like and this one wasn't it. It's meant to offer a thorough yet gentle cleanse and contains lactic acid for a mild exfoliation to boot. If you read the instructions, it tells you to apply the product and then leave it for 'several minutes' to allow the lactic acid to work. Who can be bothered with that? I'll do it for a mask but not a cleanser - ain't got no time for all that!

As for the product itself, it cleans ok but not brilliantly and I didn't notice any exfoliation on the few occasions I used it, plus it stung my eyes so this is a no-go for me.

In sum

This wasn't the best bunch of sachets unfortunately but I'm pleased to have knocked off a few more items and it's inspired me to finish another lot in February because I do have quite a few sitting around. 

The best item in here was probably the Hourglass tint, although I'm not completely sold on that and I'd need to test it in the right colour for me before putting it on the list of potentials.

Do let me know if you've sampled anything amazing this month - I'm always up for ideas!

I received this cream in my Maslow & Co Korea box: from memory you could have received one of six different items, and I wound up with this one. 

On my Maslow & Co profile I've noted that my skin is dry and dehydrated, so I suspect that's why I was given this product instead of anything else - and at the time I was happy to see it because I was running low on 'standard' face creams (I had too many that contained active ingredients or were better used overnight).

While I have been enjoying this product, unfortunately it hasn't been a standard face cream for me because it coats the face so it's taken a position on my bedside table to be used overnight. More on that in a sec.

Cremorlab claims/product details:
  • Specifically whipped up to restore vitality to the skin
  • With glycerine and squalene added to form a barrier and lock in moisture, it protects from moisture loss and environmental factors
  • Cremorlab's special TEN water is a hero ingredient and is known to be high in mineral content, helping to nourish and hydrate the skin
  • Best for those who feel their skin is losing moisture and becoming tight and uncomfortable throughout the day
  • Melts into a creamy texture when massaged onto the skin
  • Keeps skin well-hydrated for over 24 hours
  • To use: as the last step of your skincare process, scoop out an appropriate amount using the spatula; massage gently onto the skin, starting from the centre and working outwards in a circular motion; use daily for a major boost to your skincare regimen
  • RRP $55 AUD for 60ml (see eg Maslow & Co's website)

The product is white and fluffy - indeed it does remind me of snow - and it  comes with a spatula (not pictured) that you can use to apply the cream.

While I did start off using the spatula, I quickly got over that and now I just whack my finger in there because, well, who can be bothered ; )


If nothing else, this is an enjoyable product to use and I do think it's well-suited to those of us with dry/dehydrated skin because it creates a barrier on the skin's surface that really locks in moisture. Great if your skin is parched like mine is but probably not great for those with oily or combination skin.

The product is a light, fluffy white cream that's more on the solid side when you scoop it out, but as soon as you apply it, it melts into the skin and feels wonderfully cooling and soothing as you massage it in. Indeed, it's one of those products that's so enjoyable to use and feels so nice in texture that it's almost worth using for the experience alone. 

I also think that 'Snow Falls Melting Cream' is the perfect name for it because it does remind me of snow and it does melt, plus there's something whimsical about it that appeals.

Note the product has a scent that's quite sweet and fresh, and while I don't mind the fragrance, it's definitely there and it lingers after use so that's something to keep in mind if you don't like scented products because I'm aware of the smell for a while after use.
The first time I used this, I decided it would probably fit in the night cream spot because the product description made it sound like a heavier cream that's best suited for night use. While I do think that's true, as soon as I used it I knew that it wasn't a good night cream because it coats the skin too much and I'd be better off using a different night cream and then using this at the end of the evening, just before I turn the lights out.

And that's the thing. You know how some creams coat the skin and make it look plump and hydrated but don't actually feel like they're sinking in completely and providing nourishment where you need it most? This is one of those for me, so even if I didn't use an overnight cream, I still wouldn't use this as my dedicated night cream because my skin feels dry underneath the product, even though it looks moisturised and feels hydrated to the touch.

As for product claims: I don't think this restores vitality to the skin (although it does make the skin look healthier while you're wearing it); it does form a barrier and seal in moisture; it does have a protective element, due to the film it leaves behind; and although it doesn't hydrate and nourish the skin on its own, it does help seal in other products.

The last thing to note is that you'll need to wash this off in the morning (or at least I do), so if you're not someone who double-cleanses in the morning as a matter of course, you may need to do so with this product because it hangs around and needs a good cleanser to wash it off. I also wouldn't use this during the day under makeup: I have a feeling that things like primer and foundation would 'ball up' over it because your skin will be at saturation point. I haven't tried it as a day cream, however, so I can't say this for sure.

All in all, while I enjoy using this product and I've found a place for it in my collection, it's not something I would buy or recommend because it doesn't do enough for me on its own. What it does do is really seal in other products so they can do their work overnight and won't rub off on my pillow, but that's not reason enough for me to call this product an essential.

A pleasure to use but not effective enough for me.

Hello and welcome to my first full Pan that Palette update for 2017!

I'd like to keep things short and sweet since I have a few things to knock off this morning while my daughter is in childcare, so forgive me if I speed through this little post.

First, here's my Pan that Palette intro post if you're interested in seeing that.

Second, here's where my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit was in my intro post:

And here's where it is now:

Huzzah! As you can see I've made some good progress and I won't be surprised if the middle shade (Incandescent Light) is gone by the end of February because what's left is very thin. 

As for Radiant Light, the ring that's hanging on from the top to the bottom (right) of the palette is quite thick so I'm not sure whether I can finish that in February too. It may be that I'm left with this shade to work on alone in March, but I expect it to be gone within two months. After that I'll be replacing this palette with another product so I'm looking forward to that.

Here's where my Z-palette was in my intro post:

And here's where it is now:

Let's start with the Stila shadows, the twelve pans on the left of the palette and the Lancome and Costal Scents shades beneath them:  

As you can see, I've widened the pan on all four shadows that already had pan showing in my intro post.

The yellow Stila shadow I use as a base to set my eye primer, but not if I plan to use other Stila shadows from the Eyes are the Window Palette in Mind - this is because most of those shades are chalky and drying on the eye so they make me look older than I am. The other thing I use this for is to dust over any red patches showing through on my face after lunch when my tinted moisturiser has faded a bit - this covers them just enough to make my face look more even again.

As for Wit (the caramel shade) and the marsala shade beside it, I sometimes use Wit in the crease and use the other shade for darkening up the outer v, but I also use Wit as a 'detailing' shade to patch up any holes in my blush that have appeared during the day (that's the thing about having kids: there's lots of kisses and cuddles and hands all over your face, so your makeup doesn't stay looking as you want it to for very long! Not a bad thing where Pan that Palette's concerned of course...).

As for the two shades above those, I often use them for detailing after lunch (as with Wit) and I'll occasionally use either as crease/transition shades if I haven't used any other Mind shadow on my eye that day: I can do one layer of these dry shadows but no more if I want my eye area to look ok.

Stila Sandstone (the brown) I mix with the bronzer (below) to make a shade that works for my brows and I also use the same combo on my lower waterline.

As for the other shades in this section of the palette, I've used all of the mattes at least once, and all the shimmers a few times each on my lids - I'll focus on those later on in the year but for now I'm keen to get some of the mattes out faster, plus this means I can reach for shimmers from other palettes so I don't get bored.

The big news in this section is that I finally hit pan on the Nars shadow I've been using to mix with theBalm's Bahama Mama to make a warmer bronzer. I hit pan on this the day after my intro post and the reason we're seeing such progress in terms of widening the pan is because I've used a bigger brush in there so what's left in the shadow is quite shallow (except along the sides). This may well be the first shadow I completely finish (that or the yellow) so I'm looking forward to that.

As for Bahama Mama, you'll see there's lots of progress along the top especially. This is because a small chunk of the powder dislodged itself one day (it's getting old and a touch crumbly), so I decided to take that and press it into a small pan and it's now sitting in my franken-palette of popular shades I plan to keep for comparison swatches in future. You may remember that I mentioned doing this at some point, so that's now done and there's only about 0.5g of powder in the pan I'm retaining. The rest I'll use up completely.

As for the Croquis highlighter, I've hit pan in theory in the gold dot (top row), because I use that shade the most when it comes to inner corner and lashline highlighting. I can't see myself getting through the whole highlighter this year, but I don't mind that because I really like the product and it's so versatile because you can use each of the four colours in the pan either individually or together.

Now, the final section. I use the So Susan lavender shade on the lid often enough because it's a soft colour that suits my brown eyes, and I use the Nars apricot shade on my lips to make a shimmery gloss.

The Nars dirty pink/plum shade I often use as a base all over the lid/crease because it's one of those 'nothing shades' that works well as a base. I can't however use too much of it because, like the Stila Mind shadows, it's drying on the eye (many Nars shadows are unfortunately).

Stila's Night Sky (the silver shade) I haven't yet touched and I may end up mixing it with another shadow and re-pressing it to make a colour that suits me better.

Nars Portobello I often use for a soft eye look (paired with a shimmer from another palette) because it's one of the few Nars shadows I've used that has a softer formula that's not too drying on the eye (although I can't use it under the bottom lashline unfortunately because it emphasises wrinkles there terribly).

As for Nars Sin, I only ever use it as a shadow because I don't like it as a blush on me, so suffice to say that I'll likely never finish it! I've used it often enough over January though because it makes a good pair with the Coastal Scents shade.

In sum

That's all from me! It's been a pretty good start to the panning year so wish me luck for February and let's see if I can't knock out at least one shade in the coming weeks.

Do let me know how you're going with Pan that Palette 2017; I'd love to hear x

Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face SPF 50+

I'm sure you've heard me go on about this product more than enough by now, but I'd be lying if I said this hadn't been a favourite for the whole summer because I reach for it daily and I couldn't live without it. It's been especially important during January because we've been out in the sun quite a bit and I've kept this handy for top-ups during the day, as well as slapping some on after my moisturiser each morning.

If you haven't tried this yet, I urge you to grab a sample because I'm yet to find a facial sunscreen that's this good and that never fails me. I also love that I can pat it on over makeup without risk of disturbing my face or leaving a slick finish. Just a sensational product. Full review here.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+

I'm sure I've included this in my monthly favourites before but I'm including it again because it's been my go-to base ever since I knocked off the foundation I was using as part of Project Pan 2016. Why? Because it's easy to use, it's a good colour-match and it boosts my sun protection so I know that if I haven't put on quite enough of my Mecca sunscreen, this will fill any gaps. I've reviewed it here.

While the product didn't quite make my yearly favourites because it's got a little too much coverage for my personal tastes, it's still a product that I may well purchase in future (this deluxe sample came in a sub box) because I can sheer it out and make it work with a little extra blending and a drop of oil. A hyped-up product for a reason.

Alpha-H Gentle Daily Exfoliant

Full review here. I need to re-shoot my photos of this product now that I have a full-size I'm using, but this old photo will do for this post. I realised after posting my 2016 skincare favourites that I'd forgotten to include an exfoliant, but if I had, this would have been it.

It's a white powder that you mix with water to make a paste and then rub across the skin. It's hard to describe just how good this is, but suffice to say that it's a great product to use if you have sensitive skin or if you've eg been overdoing the glycolic treatments and you want something that won't rub your face raw but will still do the job. It resurfaces and brightens the skin beautifully and I've repurchased it twice now so that's saying something!

Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder in Candlelight

Full review here. There's a reason why this highlighter has been a favourite in the beauty community for years: it adds a beautiful, believable glow and it's a soft golden colour that should suit a variety of skintones.

If you've seen my makeup inventory, you'll know that I have a whopping sixteen powder highlighters in my collection, and if I had to start over and buy only five, this would be one of them. Reason being, it always looks good, it doesn't emphasise texture and it works beautifully on both the eyes and the face. Some people also use it as an all-over finishing powder, so it's one of those highlighters that does more than others because its subtlety lends it flexibility. A favourite for good reason.

Natural World Moroccan Argan Oil

This is the second bottle of this oil that I've been through, and after having tried a few more expensive ones last year, I've realised how good this one is. Indeed it wound up in my 2016 favourites, but I'm including it again here because I've used it so much throughout January. Full review here

Not only is it cheaper than many, but it also comes in this handy little handbag-sized bottle that's perfect for touching up on the go. It nourishes, repairs, tames frizz and adds shine and moisture - exactly what my locks need. Plus I prefer it over more expensive oils that I've tried because I can use it liberally and it doesn't weigh my hair down - even if I apply it throughout the lengths and not just to the ends. Definitely one to test.

In sum

That's my first monthly favourites post for the year! I hope you've had a good start to 2017 and have already found yourselves some fantastic products to use and love.

In the next few days I'll also post my monthly Project Pan and Pan that Palette updates, so do stay tuned for those because I have some good progress to share.

Speak soon x

Normally I have some idea of when the Mecca Beauty Loop boxes are coming out because I look forward to them, but this month I'd totally forgotten they were due so receiving the notification email from Mecca was a nice surprise.

As you can see below, it's a good-looking little box this month and I'm really pleased with mine - although if I had to be picky, I could have done without the Ren product because I already own the full size and I've just cracked it open so I won't need this deluxe sample any time soon. Still, it's better than receiving something I wouldn't use.

In the box we received:
  • Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial 15ml
  • Tocca Emelia EDP 1.5ml
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer 7.1ml
  • Urban Decay Perversion Mascara 3ml

I'm pleased with all these inclusions because I use and love the Ren product and I've been wanting to try the other three items, so it ended up being a great box : )

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

This is apparently an award-winning primer that delivers a silky finish, creates a smooth base and increases the wear of your foundation.

I've seen a lot of beauty-lovers rave about this product so it's been on my list of items to test for a while, and I'm super glad that I'm now able to try it without having to travel to Mecca Maxima or blind-ordering the smaller 14ml tube online. I have too many primers open at the moment so I'll have to wait to test it, but hopefully I'll get to it within the next few months.

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

This is another product that's been raved about online so I can't wait to try it: it's designed to deliver bigger, badder and blacker lashes, and it should give you plenty of volume and length.

I do love receiving mini mascaras because I always get through them within about three months of daily use, so they make much more sense to me than larger mascaras since I can't hope to get through those before you're meant to turf them. Fingers crossed that I like this as much as others seem to!

Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

Full review here. This product is described as a transforming treatment that instantly revitalises and visibly rejuvenates the skin. Formulated with potent water-activated vitamin c, this one-minute facial gives immediate spa facial results, leaving skin firm, toned and smoothed.

Having used the product for a couple of years now, I can say that it does what it says it will do and it's a fantastic little product. While I certainly didn't need another tube, I'll happily use this once I finish my large one so it's probably prolonged a purchase for me. Woot woot!

Tocca Emelia EDP

I've been spraying myself with this fragrance when I go into Mecca ever since it came out. It's one of those scents that I wouldn't normally buy but something about it just works and it lasts well so it's one I've considered purchasing - although in small size because I'd never get through a large one.

It's a fig fragrance but it's not as full-on as other fig scents I've tried and it also contains geranium, magnolia and amaryllis. What's good about receiving this sample is that I'll be able to work out whether I want to buy the travel-size bottle, so hopefully the sample is big enough for me to decide whether or not it's a keeper.

In sum

Not a bad little box, yes? I've seen that three of the products are the same for all the Level 3 boxes, while one item (the Ren product in mine) is interchangeable so you may have wound up with something else.

Do let me know if you received this box and what you think of it if so.

After the festive season and having house-guests for a couple of weeks - plus having two kids under two - my hopes for getting my all yearly favourites posts up by the end of the year were quashed, but I'm pleased to be bringing you the last one now, just before January comes to a close. 

Look, I could have done a lot worse and it's still the first month of 2017, yes?!

Anyhoo. If you'd like to see my makeup favourites from last year, see here. Only one item is a repeat (Hourglass blushes) and the rest are all new to my yearly list.

One thing to note before we get started is that I'm not someone who has truckloads of makeup, nor do I get sent all the latest things from various companies - but I do certainly test a lot of the stuff that comes out, it's just that I don't buy it all. So while I can't compare every item of makeup I own to all the newest releases, what I can say is that each item was bought after having decided it was the best of the best before I bought it, meaning my yearly favourites are the best of those things that I did buy. So hopefully that's saying something!

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes and Bronzers

I'm yet to review the Hourglass bronzers but my blush review is here. Blushes and bronzers are my favourite two makeup items (yes, I think they even beat highlighters) so I do own far too many of them and these two formulas from Hourglass have been my favourites in their respective categories ever since they were released. Indeed, if anything ever beats Hourglass blushes and bronzers for me, I'll be surprised.

Why are they so good? Because they're pigmented without being too much (so less chance for error), they blend without effort and they make your skin look like it's been kissed by angels. As an example of how good these are, I've been panning my Too Faced Shadow Insurance and it's become gunky so I can't use it as an eye primer and instead I've been mixing it with oil to use as a face primer. Problem is, the mix is so 'grippy' that nothing blends properly over it. Except these. Even some of the best formulas in the world have skipped over this primer mix and left me with patchy makeup, but not Hourglass. 'Nuff said.

Becca Ombre Rouge Eye Palette and Shimmering Skin Perfector (Pressed) in Champagne Pop

I would love to be an eyeshadow palette fanatic like so many beauty-lovers, but alas I am not. Why? Because I have hooded eyes that are difficult to work with, and to add insult to injury I have dry/dehydrated skin and I'm in my thirties, so I can't just wear any old shadow because so many formulas make me look older than I am.

Enter the Becca Ombre Rouge Eye Palette (reviewed here). While it mightn't be the prettiest palette I own - nor does it offer the most variety because it only contains five shades - it's the one I reach for the most because it works. It blends, it lasts and I can go for a subtle or dramatic look, depending on what I'm doing that day. Never once have I buggered up my eyeshadow when I've used this, and believe me, that's saying something.

As for my highlighter pick of the year, I had to think about this one a bit because Becca doesn't make my favourite highlighter formula - the pressed powders tend to emphasise texture and I have to be careful with them because they're too pigmented for my personal tastes - but in the end I just couldn't go past Champagne Pop due to the colour. It's perfect. And happily Hourglass has duped it in its Holiday 2016 Surreal Glow Palette, but I've only just started using that so I had to give top highlighter spot to Becca for 2016.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara and Colour Sensational Lipsticks

This Maybelline mascara and the lipsticks are the best I've tried in their respective categories this year - whether budget or high-end.

While I do love Too Faced's Better Than Sex Mascara, this Maybelline one (reviewed here) easily beats it because it's not prone to clumping and the brush isn't too fat, so it's much easier to use - at least for me. On top of that, it gives me big lashes that still look natural and it doesn't smudge or flake throughout the day. Honestly, it's brilliant - and if you can pick it up at half-price, even better.

I've been a Shanghai Suzy Lipstick fan for years now, but in 2016 these Maybelline lipsticks overtook them and they're now my favourite formulas - budget or otherwise. I've reviewed the matte formula here and the cream formula here, and if I had to pick between them I'd go the creams because I prefer the look and feel of cream formulas, but they're both great and I recommend them equally. They apply well, they're comfortable to wear and they last well throughout the day. On top of that, they don't cost the earth so they're a wallet-pleaser to boot. Sensational indeed.

In sum

Hooray for finally rounding-off my yearly favourites! I hope something caught your eye in this post and that you have some new ideas about which products to test next.

If you'd like to check out my top makeup (complexion) products for 2016, see here - in that post you'll find things like primers and foundations.

I hope you've had a good start to 2017, and here's to many more great makeup discoveries in the year ahead.

January is coming to a close now, meaning it's time to write the usual month-end posts - and I'm going to start with this one. 

If you live in Melbourne like I do, you'll know that January has been a month that's swung from the thrills of the tennis to the terrors of what happened in the CBD only last Friday, and for many people 2017 has already left its mark. 

In such times it can be hard to see the positive of life, but these are also the times that make us realise what's really important. Everything else fades away to nothing but noise. 

If there's one thing to take from last Friday, it's the lesson that you never know when your number's up and you have to grab each day while you can. This is something we can face both alone and together, and I know nothing else to say but that.

The tennis has filled our house each day

One of the things I struggled with most after having kids was the loss of silence: in this house, silence has been thin on the ground ever since my daughter was born almost two years ago, and it's even thinner now after the arrival of number two, coupled with the tinnitus I wound up with during my second pregnancy that doesn't want to lift.

Given there's little you can do to make your home a quieter place when you have young children, it's been nice to have the tennis on constantly so I'm not only listening to endless chatter and tantrums, but also to the sound of whacked balls and resounding cheers. 

I mightn't have been able to watch many points during the day because I always have one eye on on each child, but at least the tennis has brought a measure of normality to this household that I've really enjoyed. It's also given my husband and I something to watch together in the evenings, and even though I'm often feeding my son during the evening matches or Mex is rocking the pram, at least we're pretending to watch it together. It's almost felt like a break.

The festive season is over

If you know me personally, you'll likely know that January is my favourite month of the year. Why? Because Christmas is over so life feels less stressful, and there's less people on the roads because so many are still away. 

January is the most peaceful month of the year, and I love it for that. I can go to the supermarket any time I feel like it and know it won't be crowded, and I can throw the kids in the car at any time and know that the traffic won't be too bad.

It's probably only now as we're coming into February that the world starts waking up again, but I've enjoyed sleepy January for its slowness and I look forward to it every year.

We've passed the magic three-month line

If you've had kids you'll know that the first year of their lives can be the toughest, and the toughest part of that is the first three months. 

My son was nocturnal from birth, so until recently he's been up all night feeding and then sleeping during the day. Plus his sister sleeps at night but runs around like a tornado during the day, so there's really been no relief from it and the last three months have been something of a blur.

Though I hesitate to write this because I don't want to jinx it, I'm pleased to report that my son has finally realised that night is night and day is day, so my husband and I now have more chance of getting some rest overnight. My own ongoing insomnia is another story, but at least I can't blame any sleeplessness on the kids these days ; )

I'm facing a streamlined makeup collection

Although I've never had as much makeup as many beauty-lovers do, I've still had more than anyone needs and there was a time when I had so much that it overwhelmed me. Happily, panning projects and a few small declutters have brought my collection down to more manageable levels, and although there's still work to be done, there's not as much work to do as there once was. 

What this means in practice is that I don't need to pan as aggressively as I once did, so there's more scope for me to just use what I want to. I've also given myself an easy start to the panning year so throughout January I've been happy to reach for whatever I want to on most days, rather than feeling tied to particular products that I want to finish. Yay to that.

The pregnancy is over

Pregnancy takes a huge toll on the body, and there's a sting in the tail: after childbirth there's a recovery period during which you feel like your pelvic floor is going to blow out each time you sneeze; you're restricted from doing certain things physically for at least six weeks; and you're likely carrying around some extra weight that slows you down even further. And that's just the start of it.

Fourteen weeks on and I can happily say that my body has (mostly ; ) ) re-entered its old state, and I know this because the post-partum hair loss has started (happy days?!) and my son has breastfeed my body back to its old self. All that's left now is to see if my thyroid goes haywire like it did the last time, but that hasn't happened yet and it's around now that it likely would, so fingers crossed.

They say that you forget but I say that's rubbish, and I can now say that I'm no longer pregnant or feeling the effects of pregnancy, and for me that's a huge cause for celebration.

In sum

I hope you enjoyed this little post! Today I also hope to round-off my 2016 makeup favourites, so do stay tuned for that.

Let me know your positives for the month: I'd love to hear : )

Speak soon x

We received this face serum in one of our boxes from The Parcel, and I must say that I wasn't too excited to see it because I haven't had great luck with skincare from brands like L'Oreal and Garnier in the past. In my opinion, L'Oreal does better with makeup and it's rare that I'll come across a skincare item from the brand that I like.

Fortunately this is one of them, and while I don't think it's done anything amazing for my skin over the six weeks that I've used it, I still enjoying it and it seems to prep my skin well for my moisturiser so that's saying something.

L'Oreal claims/product details:
  • Discover a serum formula, ultra concentrated with anti-ageing actives for immediate and intense action
  • This formula is enriched with adenosine and fibrelastyl for anti-wrinkle and firming action
  • Immediately, skin is moisturised and toned
  • Day after day, wrinkles appear reduced
  • To use: apply morning and night, alone or before your moisturiser
  • RRP $32.99 for 30ml, but do shop around


As mentioned above, this is one of the few L'Oreal skincare items that I've tried recently and actually liked, so I'm pleased about that because the serum has saved me a purchase (I've been running low on them) and hasn't been sent straight to the body cream section, which is what I've had to do with the other stuff I've tried from L'Oreal of late.

It's a lightweight, cloudy but transparent fluid that's very thin so it spreads and absorbs well. It has a soft, fresh scent that doesn't smell too unnatural to me and it's not overpowering so I quite like it.

When applied, the product feels like a runny gel and it spreads and absorbs beautifully into the skin, making my face look and feel brighter and more toned to boot. It also does have a temporary effect on fine lines because it makes the face look more plumped, so it's not a bad product to wear under makeup because the plumping effect lasts at least a little while.

On the claims: this does have an immediate impact on wrinkles because it plumps the skin; it does moisturise and tone the skin so my face looks and feels firmer after using it; but what it doesn't do is have any lasting effect so I haven't noticed any cumulative benefits from using the product over time. What it does is temporary and I've used skincare before that achieves more than this does, but I think you could do a lot worse than this if you don't need your skincare to perform magic tricks.

Overall, I do like this product and I'll happily use it until my bottle is done. It mightn't be the nicest or most effective serum I've tried - whether in this price range or above it - but my skin does like it and it's one to try if you can find it on special because it's not expensive and it should suit a variety of skin types.

A nice product.

I introduced this post at the very beginning of 2017, and it's my first 'declutter' post of the year. Somehow I'd wound up with another bunch of samples that were too big for sachet posts and too small (mostly) to warrant full reviews, so I wanted to encourage myself to get through them and my yearly declutter posts are the best way to do that.

So without further ado, let's see what I thought of these deluxe samples.

La Mer samples

Interestingly - and perhaps happily, given the price-tags - these samples didn't do much for me at all. I'm not sure why La Mer products are so highly priced but there must be a market for them, and I'm pleased to say that I'm not in that market (financial situation aside!) because they just didn't do it for me.

In brief:

  • The Cleansing Gel: This was a nice product that got even better once I started using it in the shower and not just over the bathroom sink. Reason being, the foam went absolutely bananas in the shower (I guess from the extra water involved) but it wasn't quite as impressive when I used it over the vanity. You only need the tiniest bit and the foam is so rich and velvety that it was just a pleasure to use because it felt so nice on the skin. Nevertheless, I've used similar cleansers that cost a fraction of the price so I personally wouldn't bother with this one. 
  • The Regenerative Serum: This was my favourite of the La Mer samples I tried because it was the only one that I felt might be doing something good for my skin each time I used it. It absorbed beautifully and left my face looking plumper and brighter, and a little went a long way so it would be better value on a price-per-use basis than the creams below. Having said that, it's not the best serum I've tried and I really couldn't see anything about it that warrants the hefty price-tag.
  • Crème de la Mer (The Moisturising Cream): I received two of these and I didn't like this at all unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately because the stuff is so damn expensive. It's so thick and white that it feels like you're putting barrier cream on your face (like Sudocrem for nappy rash) and for this reason it didn't feel like it absorbed and it somehow left my skin feeling dry but coated at the same time. It might work as an overnight mask to seal in other products - and indeed that's how I used it - but I personally wouldn't use it as my moisturiser because it doesn't sink into the skin like I need it to. Blurgh.
  • The Moisturising Soft Cream: This was better in texture than the cream above but I still had the same issues: it didn't feel like it absorbed so it left me feeling dry but with a film on my face, and it also performed better as an overnight product for the same reasons. Perhaps these products aren't geared towards dry-skinned lasses who wear makeup (because these creams don't work well under makeup, at least for me) but instead are for those who don't need hydration but want their skin to look a touch more radiant - which happens with these, due to said film.

Zelens Transformer Instant Renewal Mask

This showed up in a Maslow & Co box and I expected to enjoy it because I've used Zelens skincare before and absolutely loved it, it's just that I didn't go out and buy the full-sized products because I couldn't afford them.

Unfortunately, though, this hasn't done anything for me on the three occasions I've used it. Ren's Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (reviewed here) works light-years better than this and also costs less so I would recommend that over this product any day since they're meant to do the same things: make your skin look better, brighter and plumper. I'll review this eventually because there's enough in the sample to do that, but I don't think it's going to be a very positive review!

Asap Soothing Gel

I wasn't expecting to like this because I'm not big on gels since I have dry skin and usually need something heavier, but this ended up being my favourite product in the whole bunch!

Indeed I liked it so much that it's on my radar now and I'd love to buy a 15 to 30ml tube for occasional use. The product claims were met because it did reduce inflammation and soothe damaged (dry and dehydrated) skin like mine; and it did feel healing and calming on the skin and also reduced the appearance of redness. It's designed for oily skin but it worked for me too.

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. 

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. While it does do all of those things, it doesn't do them well and I much prefer Alpha-H's Liquid Gold, which you use in the same way. This might be a good starter product if you're sensitive to glycolic acid or haven't tried it before, but it doesn't have enough punch for me.

Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads

In short, I didn't think much of these but I'd say that's because, while these are meant to be radiance-boosting pads soaked in exfoliating glycolic acid (2.8%), that's far too small an amount to do much for my skin, which is used to stronger glycolic products.

So for me, these didn't restore texture or resurface the skin and they didn't tone much, but they did feel reasonably moisturising so that's something at least. Again, this may be an ok starter product if you're new to glycolic acid but otherwise I'd steer clear.

Beenigma Face Cream 

I received this in a recent Maslow & Co box and I was super excited to try it because I'd heard Tati (beauty youtuber) rave about it to no end. Unfortunately, the product just didn't grab me but looks like that puts me in the minority because a lot of people seem to like it.

The cream was quite thick and while it did plump up fine lines, it didn't hydrate that well and I just felt that it wasn't nourishing enough so I needed to use an oil underneath it to keep my skin feeling comfortable. I'll be interested to hear what other subscribers thought of this - maybe it just doesn't mesh with my skin.

In sum

Here's to a good start to my decluttering for 2017. For me, the best way to declutter is to use things up - as opposed to passing them on or throwing them out because they're too old - so I'm pleased that I've done that with these and I hope to go through the sachet pile next because those are stacking up again.

Interestingly, I reckon the best thing in this lot was the Asap gel. Surprising, especially considering the La Mer samples!

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

Welcome to my next empties post for the month! I'd really hoped to sneak in three empties posts for January because the empties box is so overloaded, but looks like I won't have time so we'll have to be happy with two unless something changes.

Good news is, it's indeed been a great month for empties and I've finished a truckload of stuff, including many full-sized items that I've had open for ages. That means I've been able to get stuck into new products throughout January, which is always a good thing : )

Let's have a look.

La Mer samples

I'll keep things brief because I plan to do a separate post with more detailed reviews of the minis I've gone through recently, but just for completeness:
  • The Cleansing Gel: This was a nice product that got even better once I started using it in the shower and not just over the bathroom sink. You only need the tiniest bit because it foams unbelievably and the foam is so rich and velvety - it was just a pleasure to use because it felt so nice on the skin. 
  • The Regenerative Serum: This was my favourite of the La Mer samples I tried because it was the only one that I felt might be doing something good for my skin each time I used it. It absorbed beautifully and left my skin looking plumper and brighter, and a little went a long way so it would be better value on a price-per-use basis than the creams below.
  • Crème de la Mer (The Moisturising Cream): I didn't like this at all unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately because the stuff is so damn expensive. It's so thick and white that it feels like you're putting barrier cream on your face (like Sudocrem for nappy rash) and for this reason it didn't feel like it absorbed and it somehow left my skin feeling dry but coated at the same time. It might work as an overnight mask to seal in other products, but I personally wouldn't use it as my moisturiser because it doesn't sink into the skin like I need it to.
  • The Moisturising Soft Cream: This was better in texture than the cream above but I still had the same issues: it didn't feel like it absorbed so it left me feeling dry but with a film on my face, and it also performed better as an overnight product for the same reasons.

Would I buy any of these? No. Thank golly - my wallet couldn't handle it!

Sierra Bees Organic Lip Balms in Creme Brulee and Unflavoured

I've reviewed these here. What I liked about these products was that they're not waxy like some balms can be so they felt comfortable to wear and I wasn't aware of them once they were on. 

They kept my lips feeling moisturised (although I did need to keep applying them) and they worked better for me than many other balms I've tried of late. Plus they come in some fun flavours and, best of all, they cost 50 cents a pop! Purchase? Maybe.

Lanolips Lovely Lanolin Antibacterial Hand Cream

This came in a sub box and it's one of those products that ended up being more useful than I first thought it would be. I've reviewed it here.

If you've had kids you'll know that you're forever applying sanitiser before handling them in the first few weeks of their lives, and sanitiser can be so drying that it really changes the skin of your hands and makes it constantly thirsty for moisture. That's where this product came in: it wasn't the nicest hand cream I've used but it did save me a number of sanitiser applications and my hands thanked me for it. Purchase? Maybe.

Malin + Goetz Clarifying Clay Mask

Full review here. This came in a Mecca Beauty Loop box and I ended up quite liking it. Not only did it work well as a clarifying mask, but it also contains very fine grains that you can choose to rub gently (or roughly!) over your skin when it comes to washing the stuff off, so it doubles as an effective exfoliant. 

I don't need any more masks in my life right now but this was definitely a good one and it's extra good if you're time-poor because it does two steps in one. Worth trying. Purchase? Maybe.

Natura Siberica Softening Cream Soap

This was one of those items I bought from the chemist because it was on sale and we needed a hand wash for the bathroom, and both my husband and I ended up being quite pleased with it. I've reviewed it here.

It's nothing fancy but it lasted almost 18 months of frequent use, but it cleans well without stripping the skin because it's quite creamy and gentle, and it has a light floral scent that I liked and that wasn't overpowering. Definitely one to consider if you need a cheap hand wash and don't care if it's not special - this one's a workhorse. Repurchase? Yes, but I'd like to try something else first.

Nivea Sensitive Caring Micellar Water

Full review here. This came in a sub box and while I wasn't thrilled to see it because micellar waters have been done to death, I was ok with it because makeup remover is something I use on a daily basis so in theory this saved me a purchase.

However I reckon this might be the worst micellar water I've tried and it was only when I stopped using it and switched to something else that I realised just how bad it was. It didn't remove makeup well at all (I may as well have been wetting the cotton pad with normal water) and it didn't feel refreshing or cleansing in the slightest. Purchase? No.

Alpha-H Micro Cleanse with Glycolic Acid and Rice Bran

Full review here. If you read this blog, you'll know how much I love Alpha'H products - but unfortunately this is one of the few that doesn't wow me.

The grains aren't fine enough to really polish the skin so I don't think it's effective as an exfoliant, and on top of that I find it a bit harsh for my face so I often used it mainly on my neck and dec since those areas can tolerate a rougher scrub better than my face can. There's also something minty and irritating in it that doesn't agree with me, so it's not something I would use again. Repurchase? No.

Urban Decay All-nighter Makeup Setting Spray

This is one of those products that's been hyped up for good reason. While it's not the most effective spray when it comes to hydrating the skin (so if you're dry like me then you might need to use something hydrating underneath it), it absolutely does make your makeup last a lot longer than any other spray I've tried to date. 

While I don't need my makeup to last forever at the moment because I'm not in an office all day or going out all night, it's one to keep in mind if you find that your makeup isn't lasting as long as you'd like. Purchase? Probably, but in the future.

In sum

Well this wasn't a great bunch of empties, was it?! I didn't realise until writing this post that this just wasn't a good lot so I'm obviously glad to say goodbye to many of these products and I hope the next post contains more of the good stuff.

Do let me know if you've finished anything amazing recently - I'd love to hear.
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