Thursday, August 27, 2015

New York

Well this post has been a long time coming. It's literally been a year since I was in New York and I'm only just getting around to posting about it (oops.) In case you weren't a reader of my blog a year ago I took 5 months off life and went around the world. If you're interested in seeing any photos from my time in Iceland, Europe or Egypt you can check out my travel tag. I spent an incredible two and a half months in the US so there'll be a couple more posts coming after this one - and no, it shouldn't take me another year to get to them!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

In My Secret Life #3

Seems it's time for another round up of things I've been enjoying lately and the first thing I have to talk about absolutely has to be baths. I've been obsessed with having baths about 4-5 times a week and have been telling all my friends how great they are. Of course I've had them before but as an adult they've been few and far between, and mostly only when I'm really tired or not feeling well. The first one I had at the start of this obsession was a bit weird - like how long am I supposed to stay in this bath for? What am I meant to be doing? I was kind of bored. For my next bath, however, I brought my laptop with me, set it up on the vanity and watched a couple of YouTube videos. That's probably not a revelation to anyone else but it changed the game for me. I've also been trying out lots of bath salts and bubble baths from iHerb and my favourite one has to be the Deep Steep Rosemary & Mint Bubble Bath. I've not tried any of their other scents yet but I can assure you I will.

Speaking of things that smell good, I recently picked up a bottle of Jo Malone's Amber & Patchouli Cologne Intense and it's EXACTLY what I'm into scent-wise. Dark, warm, heady and completely beautiful. I urge you to smell this and you'll see what I'm talking about. It's quite masculine and actually as with a lot of fragrances right up at the higher end, it's unisex, and I think it would smell amazing on a man too. I hadn't heard of this scent before but I came across it for around half price in the Estee Lauder outlet and fell head over heels for it. I believe it's a permanent fragrance but because it's a cologne intense (in the black bottles) it's not usually displayed with all the standard fragrances so I guess I just hadn't noticed it before. But my god I'm glad I found it and also that I managed to get it at a discount. If you've smelled this and know anything that's in a similar vein please tell me because this is what I want ALL my perfumes to smell like. And one more thing on the topic of scents, I burn candles like nobodies business but lately I've been going through a bit of an incense phase. I tend to swap between the two every so often at at the moment it's incense. Although I have boxes and boxes of different scents there's nothing quite as good as old fashioned nag champa. Maybe I should just buy a nag champa perfume.

I don't own a lot of jewellery but when Happiness Boutique reached out to me and asked if I'd like to try something, I saw this necklace and immediately got Breakfast at Tiffany's vibes. It's very sturdy and well made, and they have a huge array of jewellery as well as some clothes and accessories on their website. They also offer my fave thing ever - free worldwide shipping, and have a rewards program where you can accumulate points and exchange them for more jewellery! I love this necklace with my hair up in a beehive and an off the shoulder or bardot neckline top, which has been another favourite for me lately. I've already picked up the one I'm wearing as well as this(!!) and a white one from ASOS and I can tell it's going to be a major thing for me this summer.

I've been meaning to post about some of my favourite teas for a while but didn't think it was enough for a post on its own. I'm a big fan of fruity iced teas but when it comes to hot tea I'm an english breakfast with milk kinda girl, and flavour wise I prefer the warm vanilla/chai area of things. I grew up drinking Madura so even though it's just standard black tea (Ceylon actually, as I've just found out) I can't write about my favourite teas without mentioning it. A bit of Twinings is alright too though, especially their honey & vanilla English breakfast and the pumpkin spice chai flavours! I also really like the Yogi perfect energy vanilla spice and the Celestial coconut chai red tea. And I'm a big fan of the Dilmah vanilla rose tea too, because it tastes just like musk sticks! I find personally that flavoured teas tend to taste a bit more exciting with half a spoon of sugar or a bit of honey, and of course milk. As an aside I get a bit put off when teas have really overstated flavours like red velvet cupcake or chocolate caramel brownie - c'mon, you're a cup of hot water not a dessert buddy, you're not fooling anyone.

For music lately I have been obsessing over the three new The Weeknd songs - The Hills, In The Night & Can't Feel My Face. That last one seems to be blowing up absolutely everywhere, and having been a deeply obsessive fan of his since I first heard him in early 2012, it's interesting that it's such a departure from his normal vibe, but it's still very much him underneath. It's just him channeling Michael Jackson in 2015, and as a lifelong fan of MJ I couldn't be happier about it! I've also been really into Dr Dre's new album, Compton, which is also the soundtrack for the movie Straight Outta Compton which I'm really looking forward to seeing. It's got some incredibly potent songs on that soundtrack, especially post-Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly (which is my favourite album of the year so far) and I think it's going to be an incredible accompaniment to the film. I also really enjoyed this article and video of Kendrick interviewing NWA.

I've picked up a few records lately that I have wanted for years and that, luckily for me, have been re-issued so I didn't have to pay crazy prices for an older copy. So those records are Air's The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack and Talkie Walkie, Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space and Brand New's Deja Entendu. I've also been loving the new Tame Impala album, Currents, and have been on a bit of an Elliott Smith kick after reading Pitchfork's Elliott Smith oral history. I've also been listening to Nirvana a bunch lately after seeing the new documentary Montage of Heck, which was co-produced by Kurt & Courtney's daughter, Frances. It didn't reveal anything major that I didn't already know but it's well worth a watch if you're fan or even if you're just curious.

A couple of other small things, you may have noticed my amazing 100% Boy's Tears phone case up above. I've had all manner of ridiculous phone cases over the years and this one has got to be my absolute favourite. If you're not entirely sure what it's about, this article should answer all your questions. I also loved my lil lady Tenneil's post on blogging & staying true to yourself. It's something she and I have talked about a lot and having both been bloggers for years it's been really interesting to see how it's changed over time. From being purely a way of expressing yourself and connecting with people around the world to becoming a fully fledged industry, it's increasingly hard to avoid feeling like there is a "right" and "wrong" way of blogging and that there are things you should or shouldn't be doing in order to be "successful". I could write a whole post on the topic myself but the summary of my feelings is that blogging can still just be purely for the love of it and no one should feel bad if their blog isn't anything more than that. There is nothing at all wrong with being a professional blogger, or with not aspiring to that either.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

International Beauty: Best of British

For the final part of my International Beauty series we're heading to the UK. Most brands that are available in the UK are also around in Australia these days, but annoyingly there are a handful that manage to elude us unless we take the long trip across the pond (not just for concealer and dry shampoo, mind you.) If you're lucky enough to find yourself in the motherland, here are some brands and products that are worth keeping an eye out for.

Soap & Glory
We've been able to get Soap & Glory's bodycare products in Australia for quite a while now, but for whatever reason their makeup line (bar a lipgloss or two) hasn't been made available to us yet. Which is really annoying because their products get so much praise in the beauty blogging world and I would love for Mecca/Kit Costmetics to start stocking it. One product I did get my hands on while in the UK was their One Heck of a Blot Powder which is one of my favourite powders as it's not at all cakey on the skin and it does a great job of controlling oil. I've actually done some lengthy research on oil-controlling ingredients in makeup and this bad boy comes in at the top of my list of powders for including the most of them. I also picked up their Lid Stuff Palette in What's Nude which contains three neutral matte shades and a taupe-y shimmer. Good quality, affordable matte shades aren't easy to come by but these fit the bill and it's a really versatile little quad. I've also heard millions of people go on about their Supercat Liquid Liner and their Brow Archery Pencil, so much so that no matter how many Boots I went into in my 10 days in the UK I never even managed to find working testers.

Kiko is actually an Italian brand but you can buy it in the UK, and since I'm not doing an Italian or European post in this series I thought I'd include it here. It seems that after I left the EU last year I kept hearing more and more about Kiko's products and it made me wish I'd picked up some more things. But what I did get and love are a couple of their Colour Shock Long Lasting Eyeshadows which have a lovely mousse texture, but unfortunately appear to have been limited edition (sorry), a couple of their cream eyeshadow crayons and a few different lipstick formulas. They're affordable, very nice quality, have a huge range of shades, and they seem to be really keeping up with trends with their new releases, which have gotten good feedback online too. They have lots of standalone stores all over the UK and Europe so they're well worth popping into if you see one.

Una Brennan
Una Brennan is a great, affordable skincare brand found in Boots and she has a really highly praised and throughly talked-about line. I picked up a couple of things while I was there and have really enjoyed them. I got the Teaflower Cleansing Wash which has since been renamed & reformulated to include salicylic acid, but it's basically a gentle, SLS/sulfate free, non-foaming gel cleanser which is lovely and refreshing as a morning cleanse. I also picked up the Salicylic Acid Clay Mask which contains, you guessed it, salicylic acid for fighting acne, as well as hydrating ingredients like shea butter and avodaco oil and a range of lovely-smelling plant oils. The third product I picked up was the Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Serum which contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C) which is a proven antioxidant that, amongst other things, increases collagen production (i.e. fights wrinkles) and reduces skin discolouration. It also contains algae extract which is another antioxidant and ol' faithful hyaluronic acid. I'm thinking about doing a post on antioxidants/skincare ingredients to go into this kind of thing further so do let me know if that's of interest to you! Sidenote: I've actually tried the Ole Henriksen Vitamin C Truth Serum as well and I prefer the Una Brennan.

A few other bits and pieces to keep an eye out for inlcude the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer which has been talked about to death, and which you kind of just have to buy out of curiosity. I don't find it that wonderful for under my eyes but it's a decent spot concealer and if you can track it down in your shade it's worth picking up. I also quite like the 17 Phwoarr Paint Concealer as an undereye corrector; it's quite peach-y coloured and works really well when combined with a highlighting pen concealer and it doesn't make my undereyes look dry or cakey throughout the day. I'd also recommend the Max Factor Creamy Blush as although we have Max Factor in Australia we don't have their cream blushes, and even though you can get Sleek online, it's nice to have a play around with their products in person, and I'm still a big fan of their blush palettes.

I made a point of popping into Pixi Beauty (around the corner from Dahlia & Liberty in London) to buy their Glow Tonic that everyone and their mother has raved about if they've been able to get their hands on it. This still isn't widely available internationally, but I have seen it flit in and out of stock on ASOS so hopefully you can pick it up there, or if you want to pick up a few other things you can get it from Cult Beauty with free shipping over £50. I really enjoy it and if I see it on ASOS again myself I'll definitely be picking up another bottle, or I might end up splashing out on Cult Beauty. I wasn't into nail polish back when I was in the UK but now that I can't get a hold of them due to shipping restrictions I wish I'd tried a few of Barry M's nail polishes because they're meant to be fantastic. If you're from the UK and think I've missed anything crucial I'd love to hear what it is! :)