Life Lessons from the Floral Kingdom

I was lucky enough to visit Cape Town on my recent trip back to South Africa and I have to say, if you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.  Since this is primarily a beauty blog I can’t help but write about this beautiful place, there is the gorgeous coastline, the absolutely delightful wineries, the beautiful “Cape Dutch” homes and of course the breathtakingly stunning mountains. It is on these mountains that I came across the Fynbos, Fynbos is an Afrikaan’s word which describes a particular type of vegetation- the plants and flowers that grow in the Cape region, including all over and around these extremely steep cliffs and mountains, including Table Mountain itself.

The rocky cliffs the fynbos grows on and around

The rocky cliffs the fynbos grows on and around

The Fynbos, pronounced (F/Vien- Bos) includes over 9000 species of plants, of which just over 6000 grow nowhere else in the world- they are entirely unique to the region.  Their uniqueness also extends to their appearance, many of the plants have fairly small and rather delicate looking leaves and flowers, yet if you touch them they are very tough, spikey and strong. Strong enough to withstand the extremely heavy winds, the rains and pretty much whatever Mother Nature throws at them.

Not only do these plants survive, (and look fantastic while doing it) they actually THRIVE.  Nutrient poor soils on rocky terrain, extreme winds and the long, dry summers which often result in fire are no match for these babies. The Fynbos are often referred to as the original phoenix, many actually use the heat of the fire to re-germinate- meaning that burning in a fire is actually a necessary part of their life cycle. They literally rise from the ashes only to grow again and flourish.

Some of the small, delicate flowers that belong to this botanical family

Some of the small, delicate flowers that belong to this botanical family

It is impossible to see these plants in all their strong beauty and not see Africa itself. At times very delicate, intricate and colourful yet extremely tough and resilient, with the ability to withstand even the harshest conditions.  A devastatingly beautiful country which has withstood devastating circumstances yet still continues to grow and in some ways appear as untouched and as wild and natural as it was before. It is also impossible not to be inspired by this, to take home some sort of life lesson. That perhaps we can withstand more than we think we can, perhaps we can hold onto our delicate beauty throughout even the toughest conditions, the harshest seasons,  perhaps we can be burnt in this life yet still re-germinate and continue to grow.

A Protea, a fynbos plant and also the South African national flower (and the rather pretty name of their cricket team!)

A Protea, a fynbos plant and also the South African national flower (and the rather pretty name of their cricket team!)

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Hello, again.

To all who follow me here! Just a quick post to let you know I am still alive and healthy (despite severely neglecting my skincare routine…) and have been on holiday in stunning South Africa for the past 2 1/2 weeks. I have lots of ideas for future posts but just need to kick the jet lag and get my head on straight first!

So where have I been? Just making some very tall friends, that's all!

So where have I been? Just making some very tall friends, that’s all!

Thank you to everyone who followed and commented while I was away. In hindsight this would have been a better post to write BEFORE I went on holidays.

Holidays are magic and like a breath of fresh air for the soul- but I loved coming home to my husband, who quite happily passed the time with a foxtel subscription and having no one to tell him the kitchen is NOT an appropriate place to store a deodorant can, and my baby girl Penny who was definitely quite spoilt with 2 walks a day and a lamb roast for her birthday dinner!

Visiting South Africa was a wonderful experience. It was an extremely busy two weeks so I pretty much stayed off the internets. My time over there consisted of catching up with my family, seeing some beautiful sights (Who was in Cape Town the same time as the Obama’s? Me!!) eating some (too much!) beautiful food and going on no less than 7 flights!

Me and another "tall" friend

Me and another “tall” friend

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts 🙂

On a tight budget?? Your skin NEEDS you to read this!!

It always bothers me when magazine’s boast “Budget Beauty Product” articles but when you actually read them the cleansers are $50 and the moisturisers just squeeze in under the $100 mark. Sorry beauty editors, but I’m on a UNI STUDENT budget- you know the one where the main meal is chicken noodles in a cup! The alternative option is that they show a wide variety of lovely, but not so functional ‘beauty’ products like candles, lip balm and bubble bath- I mean, I LOVE those things but I am on a serious budget here…..and it’s kind of depressing to think that my only skincare option is a tub of Blistex!

Working in a beauty salon and selling a wide range of absolutely beautiful, but pricey skin care products I see firsthand how many people would love to take care of their skin at home but can’t justify the exxy price tag. So as much as I would love to provide every woman with access to high quality retinols and lactic acid peels, I get it! Sometimes you just want something that will work for you that won’t make you feel guilty about the price.

Here are a couple of seriously low budget skincare products (seriously, there is nothing under $30!!) that I have tried and tested myself. This is the “Winter Skin” edition so these products are suitable to use over the cooler months.

CLEANSER:  Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil-Skin-Cleanser-500ml_5

For just $12-$15 for a 500ml pump pack this cleanser is an absolute steal! And it is also fantastic at removing makeup without stripping the skin. I had a client who suffered from acne who switched her foamy, stripping cleanser for this stuff and her skin improved SO MUCH! This is a beauty staple at my house and the perfect “back up” cleanser if you prefer the more exxy stuff!

DAY CREAM: ASAP Moisturising Daily Defence 50ml size

moistdaydefence

$29 for a 50ml size- although at this price this is the smaller, travel size for this product(150ml is $49)- this should still last you 12 weeks (or 3 months) which is pretty good for any moisturiser that you use every day. This has a 30 plus sunscreen- yes, even though it’s winter you still need to use a SPF to protect against sundamage, aging and pigmentation.

NIGHT CREAM: Moogoo Full Cream

full-75g-box-front_mg_5440_1

For just $13.50  I can’t go past MooGoo Full Cream as a nourishing and protective night cream. The packaging (a tiny milk carton) is to die for too! This Australian brand is well worth checking out, they have a variety of different high quality products at seriously affordable prices. If you need an extra hydration boost over winter, why not check out their Rose Hip Oil.

EYE TREATMENT: ASAP Soothing Gel 50ml

Soothing-gel-50ml-LR

I don’t quite know why, but I seem to get puffy eyes in winter. It might be because they want to keep sleeping instead of getting up in these cold mornings!  I keep this Soothing Gel in the fridge and apply it like an eye mask at the first sign of puffiness. It works a treat! It can also be used as an eye gel and is wonderful for scaly or flaky skin around the eyelid.  I have also recommended this as a moisturiser for those with very oily skin or inflamed acne. RRP $20 for 50ml.

EXFOLIATE: ASAP Daily Exfoliating Scrub 50 ml…..OR.. Good old baking soda!

exf

I know I’m not being very inventive with all my ASAP products here but I really only wanted to recommend products that I had used myself AND that really, really work. This is again, the travel size of this product but when used just once or twice a week to exfoliate it should really last. RRP $29. On a serious budget? Why not try baking soda? (I have tried this and still use from time to time!)

TINTED MOISTURISER/ALL IN ONE PRODUCT: Garnier BB Cream

Garnier-BB-Cream-Miracle-Skin-Perfector

This is the only product I have not tried and tested yet but I have heard so many positive reviews about it that I am going to be using it over the next few weeks when I travel to South Africa. I love the idea of an all in one, easy to use product while I travel but that also one that won’t break the bank or make me sad if it gets lost or stolen in my travels! I think this retails at about the $12 mark.

So, what are your favourite budget beauty products? I would love to hear about them!

 

 

Hair’s to the Hormones!

Hormones. Those little buggers sure have a lot to answer for. Our moods, our skin and basically our lives are all affected and left changed at some time or another by these natural menaces- not to mention their effects on unwanted hair growth!

Believe it or not the most popular treatments I do at the salon are those related to unwanted facial hair. In fact, if I got but a mere 50 cents for each chin hair I have plucked, ripped or whipped out I would probably be writing this from my mansion in Aruba! Now before you ask me why on earth I have been missing out on such enormous financial opportunities I am going to blog a little about Unwanted Hormonal Hair Growth or acronym that will never catch on but is sort of like the sound women make when they find said unwanted hairs- (UHHG).

While there are many different reasons for our hair growth (such as genetic, hereditary or medical) there is no denying the factor which has the biggest influence on unwanted hair growth- Hormones!

Hormonal hair growth can occur at pretty much any age, while it is definitely most common to see the thickening of the moustache, or the rouge chin hairs sprouting out as a woman ages and begins to head towards menopause it is also not uncommon to see unwanted facial hair on young women as well. Polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, obesity or fertility treatments can all be catalysts for unwanted hormonal hair growth. You may not talk about it with your friends but you are not alone in this hairy situation- in my experience, unwanted hair growth is very, very common!

Pet beards are in. Real beards are not.

Pet beards are in. Real beards are not.

So, what is the best way to deal with UHHG?

First port of call would be to see your doctor. There may be absolutely nothing they can do. Or, they may decide refer you to an endocrinologist, suggest Hormone Replacement Therapy or give you a prescription for a new contraceptive pill. Obviously, I’m not a doctor! As a beauty therapist there are many other ways I can help you with unwanted hair growth but the reason I suggest seeing a doctor first is so that you can establish that the reason behind your hair growth is definitely hormones.  If the underlying cause can be treated, then you are one step ahead of the game!

I recently had a client who told me she had spent over $1000 in laser treatments. She had a hair free chin and top lip for about 3 months, but then the hair grew back. She was understandably upset and asked me why the laser treatment hadn’t worked on her. The fact is, the laser treatment probably did work- but this lady’s hair growth was caused by her hormones,  even if the laser had successfully killed off the hair follicles it had zapped, there was nothing stopping a couple of neighbouring hairs from popping through. This really should have been disclosed before the lady had her treatment. Laser can be a fantastic tool against unwanted hair growth- but a client’s expectations should always be addressed.

It’s not all doom and gloom though- unwanted hair growth can be managed. The point I am trying to get across is that when it comes to hormonal hair growth there is no quick fix, as long as we have hormones and until they develop a miracle “anti-hormonal hair” cream, we are going to have to fight to stay on top of it. Here are your weapons of choice:

Electrolysis– Tiny needle inserted into your hair follicle- little zap of heat caused by an electric current is given to gradually kill off/damage the follicle. Old school version of Laser. Painful, yes but also reasonably effective.

Laser/IPL- Tagged as a “more permanent” method of hair removal- clients often need multiple treatments to reduce hair growth.  Bright light therapy causes a heat reaction inside the hair follicle destroying the papilla (like a seed which germinates hair growth).  Like having a controlled, medical burn. Quicker than electrolysis and much better for larger areas of hair growth.

Waxing/Tweezing/Threading/Sugaring– Rips out hair while keeping the root attached which means it takes longer to grow back. Effectiveness relies on getting the hair in the ‘right’ stage of hair growth (when root is still attached). Reasonably cost effective and can result in ‘finer’ hair growth.

Shaving/Depilatory creams– Cut’s off hair at the surface of the skin. As hair is not removed by the root it will grow back quickly. Quick and easy to do yourself.

Bleaching– Bleaches the hair, it is still there but much lighter and therefore less visible. Can irritate and burn skin.

Many beauty therapists will tell you to stick to one method only (ie waxing) to get the best results for your hair removal. I disagree. I have found many clients have had success trying multiple methods and have had different methods work better for some than others- we are all different!

Laser often works really well on dark hair, while electrolysis can be used quite successfully on grey or colourless hairs. Tough, stubborn or coarse hairs can benefit from both these treatments as they tend to slow the hair growth and make it more fine in texture. Many clients are happy to stick to waxing, but often will need to tweeze between appointments or may choose to bleach the darker hairs on their top lip from time to time. In my opinion, all this is fine! With perhaps the exception of shaving (probably not my top suggestion, however I have clients who trim longer facial hairs between appointments) I believe the key to staying on top of unwanted facial hair is finding what works for you in your lifestyle.

There are methods out there for your disposal and while getting rid of unwanted hair growth will always be an extra hassle to add to our “to do lists,” remember that there is probably a good beauty therapist just around your corner waiting to help you with a hair removal plan that will work for you! Also, don’t be afraid to keep a pair of tweezers in your glove box (as a client of mine does) you will be amazed at the amount of hair you can find at a traffic light on a sunny day!

Red light? Where are those tweezers....

Red light? Where are those tweezers….

Please Note: Inexperienced tweezing with a poor pair of tweezers can lead to the hairs snapping off, which is a little like shaving and can result in unsightly in grown hairs. Also, your beauty therapist will struggle to try and grab these super short little suckers, but she will totally understand why you did it- whatever gets you through another hair free day!

Also Note: For anyone disappointed that I didn’t use Penny as a pet bearding model. I tried. I failed.

 

 

What’s standing between you and great skin? The top 3 Skincare mistakes we ALL make!

Most women I know have invested both time and money into their skincare over the years, maybe it began as a teenager with the $12 bottle of Clearasil- hoping to achieve “Dolly model” smooth, breakout free skin and has continued with the $150 serum you now buy in hope that it stops the clock, freezes time or becomes the botox in a bottle it claims to be!  Unfortunately there are so many skincare products out there making so many wonderful claims that it’s pretty easy to become jaded about them when we don’t see results.  The problem is not that there aren’t great skin care products out there- in fact, there are many! It’s just that we keep repeating the same mistakes when it comes to buying and using our skincare. Here are the three I have found to be most common…

1. Good Marketing = Good Product??

I admit it. I’m such a sucker for a good advertising campaign, just flip though any of the popular women’s glossies and they will sing out to you from the colourful pages. They promise to smooth, to soothe, to boost, and to bounce. They promise to lift and revive with a simple squirt of a scientifically proven solution- and the pictures look so pretty to! But these beautiful advertisements are a little like the beautiful, charming man who tells you everything you want to hear but disappears with your heart when the thrill of the chase has worn off!

What many don’t stop to think about is that the skincare brand with the best marketing department does NOT always equal the skincare brand with the best scientists. In fact, I expect many well known beauty companies spend a whole lot more on their yearly advertising than they do on their skincare research!

Beautiful Lies?

Beautiful Lies?

So how do we learn to look past the advertising campaigns? A good place to start is by looking for products that are classified as a Cosmeceutical. A cosmeceautical is the combination of a cosmetic product with a pharmaceutical one, this means these products have higher quantities of active ingredients and have to be sold by a qualified beauty therapist or a skin specialist. Pay a visit to a beauty salon or a day spa with a good reputation and don’t be afraid to ask questions, research and look into brands that you may have never heard of before. Professional skin care ranges often don’t have the same exposure as the products that come from department stores or chemists but they are developed by smaller skin care companies who have a real passion for what they do. These companies prefer to spend the money on the best quality ingredients and scientific research rather than on the fancy packaging or marketing campaigns. In other words, when it comes to skincare you want to date the science geek NOT the handsome liar!

In one sentence? Stop falling for advertising hooks and  look for advice and evidence based research on some lessor known brands.

 2. Shelf Sitters

You know that $90+ bottle of serum you brought? Well, if you opened it over 12 weeks ago and it’s still sitting in your bathroom cupboard, I hate to break it to you but you might as well be slathering on a $6 tub of Ponds. So many of us are guilty of purchasing beauty products with the best of intentions but then life gets in the way and they end up all lined up in the bathroom cupboard with your other skin care products like worthless soldiers in the battle against bad skin. If your product contains active ingredients such as vitamins, peptides or anti-oxidants these start to die almost immediately once exposed to oxygen, that’s why it’s best to use your good skincare in the first 3 months. It might make sense to try and make expensive products last but good skincare offers the best results if you use it EVERY DAY- not just on special occasions or when you remember. To get the most out of your skincare look for products that are packaged in airtight packaging or those with airless pumps. Also, if the temperature is regularly over 30c where you live, you may want to consider storing your good skin care in the fridge.

What's sitting in the back of your bathroom cupboard?

What’s sitting in the back of your bathroom cupboard?

In one sentence? Don’t let your beauty products sit in the back of your bathroom cupboard- Use it or Lose it!!

 

3. Baby got Back: Appreciating the Behind!

It’s time to literally flip your thinking and turn it right around. The important words on your daily moisturiser are NOT the ones displayed on the front in big, bold lettering. Words such as “anti-aging”, “vitamin enriched” and “oil free”.  Unfortunately, these words can often be misleading as it is the back of the product holds the truth in how your product works.

So, you might want to invest in a bigger handbag because from now on you will be taking your reading glasses skincare shopping with you, to read the tiny writing on the back of the bottle- the totally underrated and extremely important SKINCARE INGREDIENT LIST!

If you want to start using skincare that works I can’t stress enough how important it is to read the ingredient list on the back of the bottle. You will find that many of those “Vitamin Enriched” creams contain one vitamin.  Just a minuscule amount of one vitamin.  So, from now on, it doesn’t matter what it say’s on the front of the packaging, it’s the back you are going to be interested in. And lucky for you I have written a handy little post on how to begin deciphering the tricky chemical speak- Click here!

Learn some "chemistry speak" and you will be on your way to fabulous skin...(Not furry like this dude!)

Learn some “chemistry speak” and you will be on your way to fabulous skin…(Not furry like this dude!)

In one sentence? Learn the lingo and never get sucked into buying the wrong product again!

Thank you for reading, I wish you a lifetime of happy skin!

xx

 

 

A Rotten Cold. Also, a Penny update.

I still have a cold. It’s a rotten one. When my siblings and I were little my Mom would always refer to horrible colds as “Rotten Colds”, she would say this so seriously that I am slightly ashamed to admit that I was over 18 years old before I realised a “Rotten Cold” was not an actual medical term.

My Rotten Cold and I had a sick day today and I wish I could say that I enjoyed it more.  I know that makes no sense because obviously I wouldn’t be HAVING a sick day unless I was too sick to go to work (I know some people do, it’s just that I work with like one other person so when anyone’s sick it’s a BIG deal. And you know, guilt). But the thing is, I always wish for a day where I can do things like read in bed, watch TV on the couch, stay in my pajamas and neglect all house jobs. These are things I never get to do unless I’m sick- in which case I do not enjoy them at all because I’m too busy blowing my nose and shivering under my doona.  I suppose I could do all of these things on one of my days off but I probably never will because, you know, GUILT!

The one amusing thing about today was how my dog Penny handled it, it’s probably the very first sick day I have had since she has been in my life. So, when after breakfast I padded my little sock encased feet back into the bedroom and curled up under the covers she was like “WHAT??” After sitting on the bed with her head tilted in that oh so adorable way that dog’s have when they are confused about something, she began pawing at my head and trying to lick my face. I think she was semi-concerned but also in her puppyish way thought we might be playing some new game- Wake Mama. I’m not going to lie, it was a little annoying but after a few rounds of the new game she seemed to get the point and curled up at the end of the bed to take a nap with me.

Penny loves sick days!

Penny loves sick days!

I don’t know how I’m going to break it to her that I have to go back to work tomorrow because she now thinks sick days are A for Awesome! (also she tries to grab my used tissues and shred them….gross, I know.)