11 February 2019

Empties Post #14: Toners, Essences, and Thermal Spring Waters

This isn't a category that I thought I'd ever do an entire empties blog post on, but here we are. I love a good facial spritz/mist and recently I've been very into toners as a second step in my skincare routine.

Thermal Spring Water

I used up both the Avène Thermal Spring Water and the La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water. I honestly can't say if there's a difference between the two, but I enjoyed using both. I use thermal spring water as a toner and to refresh my skin during the day. Would I repurchase? Definitely (on both counts).


Oddly enough I have three products from The Body Shop in this category. The British Rose Petal-Soft Gel Toner is a favourite in my beauty cabinet. It's quite a thick gel toner that I apply with a cotton pad after cleansing. I have used this as part of my take on the 7 skin method (it's a K-beauty ritual where you put layers and layers of toner on your skin for optimal hydration, but I only do three or four layers) and it works beautifully. I have repurchased and I will again! The Vitamin E Aqua Boost Essence Lotion has a similar function but it's much thinner and doesn't smell nearly as nice as the British Rose one. I have repurchased it but next time I'd rather buy the British Rose one. The Drops of Youth Youth Fresh Emulsion is kind of a weird product and I'm actually not too sure if it fits into the essence category or the serum category. For the price I would have hoped for a bigger bottle and I honestly can't see a difference in my skin. I wouldn't repurchase. The Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is also perfect for the 7 skin method and is a really fuss-free product. It doesn't contain fragrance and it's very good value for money. I bought a small bottle on Glow Theory and afterwards repurchased the big bottle. I think I will repurchase this again!

Exfoliating Toner

The last product of the post is Pixi's Glow Tonic. This isn't available in the country but there are a few alternatives that I think would work just as well. One is the exfoliating toner from Clarins and I see REN also has one. Glow Tonic works well as a step between toning and moisturising at night, but I won't say it's groundbreaking. It's very gentle and that's probably why I didn't really see a difference in my skin. If I had the opportunity I'd rather purchase some of Pixi's other skincare products!

Which of these products have you used before? Let me know in the comment section.

Until next time!


04 February 2019

K-Beauty Haul

I am obsessed with K-Beauty (Korean Beauty) and I've just received my fourth Glow Theory order. Every time I order from them I think, I need to post my haul, and then I forget and end up using everything before I can get a chance to take photos. So what I'll do in this post is give a quick list of what I've bought in the past and then show you in detail what I bought this time. In future posts I will go into more detail regarding K-Beauty, but for now let's just stick to hauls.

My First Couple of Hauls

For my first haul I bought the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in "Berry" (it's nice and thick but I won't say it transforms my lips), J.One Black Jelly Pack (Holy Grail status pending, it's an amazing product!), A'Pieu Milk Sheet Mask in "Banana" (fantastic sheet mask, it left my skin so soft and plump), The Saem Natural Red Ginseng Sheet Mask (haven't used it yet), and the J.One Jelly Pack Vita 2-Step Mask (sheet mask and jelly pack - have only used the jelly pack and I absolutely love it for before makeup).

For my second haul I bought the Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner (love this), the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner (love this too), Leaders Amino Moisture Sheet Mask (haven't used it yet), A'Pieu Milk Sheet Mask in "Green Tea" (this is even better than the banana one), Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lovely Lip Patch (haven't used it yet, also not sure why I bought it...), and Cosrx Clear Fit Master Patch (haven't had a pimple to use it on yet!)

For my third haul I bought a bigger version of the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner as well as the "Glow-trotter Travel Kit" which I unfortunately can't find a photo of. It had a lot of travel sizes and samples which I took with me on holiday in December, but I will probably blog about that at a later stage.

For my fourth haul I decided on three products: Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, Cosrx One Step Moisture Up Pad, and Huxley Good Night Sleep Mask.

The Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a cult favourite under K-Beauty junkies. It promises to visibly repair and revitalise skin and it helps with acne scarring, dehydrated skin, premature aging, sensitivity, dry patches, you name it. I've only used it once and the slightly sticky gel texture is quite interesting. It did leave my skin nice and plump so I have high hopes!

These soaked cotton pads are like the exfoliating pads you get, except these are for exfoliation and hydration. They contain Propolis extract and hyaluronic acid to leave skin smooth and clear. Propolis extract is apparently an antiseptic that is good for soothing red and inflamed skin. Hyaluronic acid, as we all know, is for hydration as it attracts and retains water to keep skin nice and plump.

You know I love a good face mask so when I saw this I had to get it. The Huxley Good Night Sleep Mask contains prickly pear seed oil which is extremely rich in antioxidants. It's a nourishing overnight sleeping mask that hydrates and energises the skin. It comes in such cool packaging (a cardboard tube with a tin lid) and it smells delicious but not overpowering. I tried it on the back of my hand and it's not sticky at all and sinks into the skin immediately, so no ruined pillow cases! At R435 (for 120g - about the size of a full-size Origins tube mask) this was the most expensive item of the three, so yes, K-beauty is very affordable.

I also received a few samples to try out (samples are included in every order). I've received Pyunkang Yul samples before but more doesn't hurt! I also received a sample of the Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream which I almost bought in any case.

I wanted to buy more products (I am obsessed and I had a birthday discount code, why not?) but they were all sold out. I'll just have to place another order then...

Have you every used any of these products before? Which of them look interesting to you? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time!


28 January 2019

Current Favourite Netflix Shows

I was ill a lot during the last quarter of 2018 and one day when I was in bed, again, booked off sick, I decided to download Netflix and open an account. I mean, if you can't lie in bed on your sick days and watch Netflix, then when can you? I asked on Instagram stories (if you don't follow me yet, my handle is @hildegarde_k, same as on Twitter) for recommendations and I got a lot of good stuff! While looking for these titles on Netflix and scrolling through the offerings, I found a lot of other series as well. This extremely non-beauty, non-travel post list the shows I've been enjoying most. Who knows, you might find something here you like.

Two things I like about Netflix original shows (in particular) is that they're fresh and new in their themes, characters, storylines, and they make you think. Some of the series are also only one season which means that the storylines aren't drawn out until infinity (I'm looking at you, Grey's Anatomy).

Shows That I Would Recommend (Thus Far)

One of the first Netflix show I watched was Maniac starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Justin Theroux, and Sally Fields. It's a quirky series about two struggling strangers who both enter a drug trial for a dodgy new pharmaceutical. The doctor in charge of the drug trial has problems of his own as well as serious mommy issues, not to mention an emotionally complex computer. It's off-beat and not your typical predictable TV series which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. The show focusses on deep and meaningful issues but there is also plenty of humor.

Ozark is quite a dark show and if you liked Breaking Bad, you're going to like this. Financial advisor Marty Byrd moves his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. In a bid to save the life of his family he promises to launder $500 million in 5 years' time. Just like Breaking Bad kind of taught us how to cook meth, Ozark teaches us how to launder money. I still don't completely understand all the processes, but it's not something I would want to get into. The series also focusses on family issues to a lesser degree and most of the other characters are also equally messed up, from the gay FBI agent to the druggie lodge owner to the farming couple with their secret business.

On the other end of the spectrum we have The Good Place. I've heard lots of conflicting reviews on it but I personally love it. The show stars the charming silver fox Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. Kristen Bell's role is much more Jeannie Van Der Hooven from House Of Lies than it is Veronica Mars. Kristen plays the role of Eleanor Shellstrop who dies and wrongly ends up at The Good Place instead of The Real Eleanor. Ted Danson is Michael, the keeper of the neighbourhood in The Good Place. Tip: if you start off watching it and think it's a bit weird, give it a chance. There's a nice little twist at the end of the first season that's bound to have you coming back for more. What I love about the show is the fact that it's unpredictable and that they manage to write an entire show about heaven and hell without calling it that and without bringing religion into it whatsoever. I can't wait for the next season!

If you're looking for a hilarious comedy, look no further than Schitts Creek. The extremely wealthy Rose family fall onto hard times and are court-ordered to go live in a town, Schitts Creek, that Mr Rose bought for his son as a joke years ago. They have to stay in the town's motel and try to adapt to small-town living. Hilarity ensues. One of my favourite characters has to be the son, David, who is pansexual (Roland Schitt, "Pansexual? Does he have a pan fetish?"). I love researching series I am watching and an interesting thing I found out was that Schitts Creek is a real-life family affair: the father and son team on the show are father and son in real life! They also produce the show with the help of another family member.

I started watching Orange Is The New Black years ago when it first came out so I just continued watching it on Netflix. Piper Chapman lands in jail after her involvement in a drug ring comes to light. The woman she was in a relationship with at the time lands in jail beside her. The show focusses on different characters and why they landed in jail, as well as their relationships in jail itself. I've always loved prison stories (hello, Prisoner: Cell Block H and Prison Break seasons 1-2), so there was never any doubt that I would like this!

Another comedy worth mentioning is Grace and Frankie. This isn't my absolute favourite thing I've watched on Netflix, but it is watchable. The star-studded cast include Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston. Grace and Frankie find out that their respective spouses are gay and have been cheating on them (with each other) for the past 20 years. Stylish Grace and eccentric Frankie move into their joint beach house and try to make sense of everything that happened. I think I'm about 20 years too young to fully appreciate all the humor, but I like it nonetheless. The show is made a bit "younger" by the fact that both couples' adult children also frequently feature. My favourite by far is the feisty Brianna (daughter of Grace and Robert) who speaks her mind but is also absolutely hilarious and gorgeous.

One of the most talked-about shows recently is Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo is a Japanese "organising consultant" who has written numerous books about the subject, most notably her best-seller "The life-changing magic of tidying up". I read the book a few years ago and instead of inspired, I felt overwhelmed and bleak. The book comes across as very rigid and judge-y: throw away your possessions or else! But, this is not a book review, it's a TV show review! I find the series to be much more relatable and doable. After episode two I was ready to #KonMari my house! On the show she visits a different family in each episode and helps them to declutter their homes. She shows them what to do and then leaves them with their "homework" until the next week. The only problem I have with this method is that it relies on you having drawers to put your clothes in, while I (and most of us, I'm gathering) have shelves. That being said, I already KonMari-ed Olivia's clothes in her dresser and I couldn't be more chuffed! There's a lot of divided opinions on the show (my husband doesn't understand how I can watch something "so boring") but I personally really enjoy it as I've always loved anything to do with organisation.

The last two shows are the ones I've finished most recently. Sex Education is an absolutely brilliant British show (featuring the American actress Gillian Anderson of The X Files) about teenage sex and all the issues around it. It not only focusses on sex, but also on relationships between parents and children, relationships between friends, and relationships that the children have with themselves. Awkward teenager Otis lives with his mom who is a renowned sex therapist and his best friend Eric is gay and struggling with his own issues. Otis befriends alternative rock chick Maeve and they open a "sex-therapy clinic" at school where they charge their fellow students money for advice provided by Otis. The show is set in an 80s flashback and, apart from the great content, the scenery is breathtaking. Apparently the show was filmed in the northeastern part of Wales (note to self: book tickets to Wales).

Lastly is You, the show that's been on everyone's lips these past few weeks. Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl stars in this psychological thriller about a brilliant bookstore manager who falls in love with an aspiring writer and student. He stalks her and tries to insert himself into her life at any chance he gets. He believes he loves her and would do anything to protect her- with dire consequences for anyone who tries to come between them. I really, really enjoyed this show because I enjoy thrillers, the story was very exciting and unpredictable (I didn't read the books), but it also made me question my own morals and ethics. Joe is clearly the bad guy, but often I found myself rooting for him. And the leading lady, Beck, really worked on my nerves. I don't like her character at all. There are quite a couple of crazies in this show, be warned. I finished the series just as I was busy writing this post, and oh my goodness, what an ending! It wasn't the ending I had hoped for ór expected and now I don't know how to feel about it. Hopefully the second season will clear things up.

Other shows that I'm busy watching with the husband are Narcos and Godless. Both received excellent rating but I'm struggling to get into them. Narcos is very good but it's dark and there are a lot of subtitles, which makes it difficult to do anything else while watching (eating, playing on my phone *ahem*). Narcos documents the rise and reign of Pablo Escobar's cocaine trade in Colombia and it's very interesting to see how and where it all started.

Godless is a short one-season show but the episodes are very long and I find that I lose interest after a few minutes. It's a western but there are a lot of characters and I find it confusing. Some parts are very watchable but currently I'm just watching it to finish it.

The One Show Thus Far I Didn't Like...

I heard average-to-good things about Santa Clarita Diet, and because Drew Barrymore stars in it (what a babe!) I decided to watch it. Now, you have to know this about me: I have issues with starting something and not finishing it. I have to really dislike a TV show to stop after a season or three (case in point: I watched all six seasons of Desperate Housewives even though I only really enjoyed the first few. I stopped watching Prison Break after they broke out of prison, I mean, wasn't that the point?). So I gave Santa Clarita Diet three episodes chance and I honestly don't like it. I love Drew Barrymore and it is quite funny, but I found the whole blood and flesh-eating thing gross. Plus, I'm scared of zombies (even though I watch and enjoy The Walking Dead).

And that's my Netflix picks thus far! Do you have any recommendations of what I should watch next? Please leave your suggestions in the comment section.

Until next time!


*All images are courtesy of Netflix

14 December 2018

My Spring 2018 Favourites

I haven't blogged in ages and I haven't done a favourites post in even longer, oops! I thought that I'd combine the previous months' favourites post into one and then it hit me: I haven't done any favourites posts during the past three months, so this is now my spring favourites post.

I've pretty much used the same products for months because that has just been the easiest. Between working full time, taking care of a baby, and running a household, there hasn't been too much time or energy for blogging or trying out new products! In today's post I'm only mentioning skincare and makeup products that I haven't mentioned in a favourites post before.


I've placed three orders on Glow Theory (let me know in the comments if you'd like to know what I bought) and I've been trying to incorporate more Korean Beauty skincare products into my routine. The K-Beauty rituals absolutely fascinate me and who wouldn't want glass skin? My K-Beauty favourites of the past three months include the Pyunkang Yul Mist Toner, J.One Jelly Pack, and the J.One Black Jelly Pack. The Pyunkang Yul mist toner comes in a spray bottle (obviously) and I spritz it onto cleaned and exfoliated skin. It gives my skin a nice burst of hydration and everything just feels nice and plumped and refreshed afterwards. I don't like the smell, but luckily it goes away very quickly.

The two J.One products are, however, the stars of the show! At first I was a bit hesitant to use the J.One Jelly Pack (white tube) as the consistency is very weird: it's a clear gel but it's extremely tacky. When it comes into contact with your skin it almost turns into superglue. You can't rub it in, you have to pat it in. It creates a sticky base for whatever you put on afterwards. It is to be used as the last step in your skincare routine so it makes an excellent base for your foundation or BB cream. My makeup goes on beautifully and it stays put all day long. It really is quite an amazing product! I love the J.One Black Jelly Pack as a sleeping pack (at night, obviously). The product comes out as a blue-gray jelly and it smells good too. It almost feels cooling on the skin and it leaves my skin plump, juicy, and hydrated. I honestly don't know what else to write about it - just go and try it!

Other skincare favourites include the Nivea Q10 Plus C Anti-wrinkle + Energy cream and La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50 sunscreen. I was skeptical about the Nivea Q10 cream because if I'm being honest I'd much rather slap Nivea on my body than on my face. That being said, I did read a few positive reviews from bloggers I trust so I decided to try it. I can't say that this has revolutionised my skin, but I can say that on nights where I've used this, I wake up to clear and smooth skin the next morning.

I've been a bit slack with applying SPF to my skin, especially my face, so now I'm making a concerted effort to protect my facial skin at least. Some recommended the La Roche-Posay and I have to say, I quite like it. It's a little bit more tacky and greasy than, say, the Kiehl's SPF50, but it's a lot less greasy and sticky than what I used in previous years. Makeup goes on easily afterwards and I don't experience more shininess than usual.


I've heard lots of overseas bloggers rave about the Catrice Prime and Fine Multitalent Fixing Spray and I'm really enjoying it. I haven't used it for the full three months, but for as long as I've used it I've like it. I like this more than the Catrice mattifying fixing spray (it smelled weird and made my lips tingle). I've used this both as a primer and as a fixing spray and I like it both ways. It makes my skin dewy without making it look oily.

At long last we have the Maybelline Instant Anti-age Eraser concealer in South Africa! When I saw it in my local Dischem I nearly fainted. I have it in the shade "Light" which I thought was going to be too light for me, but in actual fact is a good match. I apply it on my undereye area (on top of a bit of Benefit Erase Paste) and blend it in with a damp Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. I absolutely adore this concealer and will definitely repurchase.

Next up are two mascaras, Smashbox Full Exposure mascara and essence I Need A Miracle Volumizing & Strengthening Mascara. The Smashbox has a cone-shaped brush and I find that it does a great job at adding length and volume to my lashes. It's very black and it's not too wet so that it smudges everywhere. The essence mascara has an odd almost hourglass-shaped wand that also adds a good amount of volume to my lashes. It's supposed to tint your lashes over time but I can't say that I've experienced that (I don't use the same mascara each day). I love the packaging and since it's essence, it is super affordable.

My final favourites for spring are two eyeshadow palettes that look quite the same but aren't in the same price bracket: Smashbox Cover Shot: Neutrals eyeshadow palette and Makeup Revolution Reloaded Iconic Fever eyeshadow palette. The Smashbox eyeshadow palette is small and compact and contains eight shadows and a mirror. There are three matte shadows and the rest are gorgeous subtly shimmery shades. It's very warm toned and ranges from a rich camel brown to a deep dark chocolate brown, with bronzy red shades in-between. The Makeup Revolution palette contains 15 large eyeshadow pans and no mirror, but the price point is fantastic (R130 at selected Clicks stores). Nine of the shadows are matte and the rest are shimmery. This palette is also very warm toned but I feel that the difference between the different shades aren't as pronounced as in the Smashbox palette. Both palettes' shadows are buttery and soft, but I find that the shimmery shades in the Makeup Revolution palette don't layer as well on top of the matte shades as I would like them to, but maybe I should use it with Mac Fix+ spray or something.

And that's a wrap for my spring 2018 favourites! Which of these products have you used? Let me know in the comment section.

Until next time!


20 August 2018

Empties Post #13: Cleansers

Over the past few months I have accumulated a lot of beauty junk and I think it's time that I start blogging about them so that I can finally throw the empties away! Today we'll start with cleansing products, both facial cleansers and micellar waters.


I really enjoyed the Neutrogena HydroBoost water gel cleanser. It's a gel that foams up but it doesn't leave my face feeling squeaky clean - my skin feels nice and clean but still comfortable. It also smells nice, comes in a pump bottle, and is very affordable. Would I repurchase? Definitely.

I think as far as cleansers go, the Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel is by far one of my favourites. It might even hold the number one spot. It's very expensive, but the larger the bottle you buy, the cheaper it works out. I started with a few travel sizes, then this medium size (250 ml), and last year I bought the gigantic bottle (500 ml). It's also a gel that foams up and doesn't strip your skin. Compared to the Neutrogena one, my face feels even more comfortable after using the Dermalogica. I started using the special cleansing gel on holidays and found that my skin looked really great after using it once or twice: it's as if the cleansing gel "balances" my skin out. It smells very medicinal and on some weird subconscious level I feel as if that makes it work better (it doesn't). Would I repurchase? Well, I have already.

This Melvita milky cleansing oil for face and eyes is very, very old. I bought it overseas a few years ago and I don't think you can get it here. It's a very liquidy oil and it does remove every last trace of makeup. It's quite heavily perfumed but I don't mind it as it smells like roses. Scent is an important part of skincare (well to me at least) so I associate the rose scent with nighttime and winding down for bed. I also like the fact that it comes in a pump bottle. Would I repurchase? Yes, but sadly I don't know where.

Micellar Waters

The Nivea Perfect & Radiant 3-in-1 Micellar cleansing water is good, but I've used better. The gigantic bottle is good value for money (around R100 for 400 ml) and the micellar water itself is good, although I struggled to remove mascara with it. I'm glad I tried it out but I'd rather use one of the Garnier micellar waters.

Speaking of which...this green Garnier Fresh micellar water is still not available in SA as far as I know (I bought it in Italy). I was quite disappointed with it as I found that it didn't do much. Out of all the Garnier micellar waters, this one is my least favourite (my favourites: yellow, then pink, and then blue green). If it launches in SA I won't be repurchasing it.

Have you ever tried any of these products before? What did you think? Leave me a comment down below.

Until next time!


16 August 2018

Personal Post: When Things Don't Go As Planned

After a four month hiatus, I'm back. Well, sort of. Four months ago I had this grand idea of starting up the blog again whenever I wanted to, but these days I can think of 100 more important things to do than to blog. I have missed blogging, though, I just don't know if I'll be able to dive right into my usual schedule of posting twice a week.

For those of you who've been following the blog for a while, I had my baby girl on the 12th of April. Now I know this isn't a mommy blog but I thought I'd share with you where I've been these past four months and what happened on THAT day.

The baby's due date was 1 April 2018 (Easter Sunday) and I hoped and prayed that she would either arrive a few days early, or very late. You see, my doctor was away on Easter Holiday and I was dead scared of having the baby while she was away. But my baby apparently enjoyed her warm and cosy home because she wouldn't budge, despite being in the optimal position to be born and laying very low for weeks. The due date came and went, my doctor returned from her holiday, Granny flew up from Cape Town because "surely she'll be here by the 6th?", and our neighbours with whom we are great friends also returned from their holiday. Still no baby. That following Tuesday when I was 41 weeks 2 days pregnant I went to the doctor and she said that the baby has to be born before the end of the week as my amniotic fluid was starting to get less and the placenta was beginning to calcify. The doctor wanted to schedule me for an induction and I asked her to please give us two more days. My induction was scheduled for Thursday the 12th of April and so I went home with a knot in my stomach as I've not heard great things about inductions. The labour pains after an induction are apparently worse than they normally would be and most inductions end up in C-sections: something I didn't want unless absolutely necessary.

The Thursday morning we arrived super early at the hospital and I was hooked up to machines measuring my heart rate, the baby's heart rate, as well as a machine that measures the strength of contractions. At 06:00 the machine started registering contractions: the baby had decided that she won't be induced, she's coming out on her own. I was so relieved that I didn't have to be induced and I was also chuckling at my headstrong little girl who decided that she'll come into this world on her own time.

The labour got progressively worse (as all labours do) but I was completely zoned out. The hours flew by and halfway during the morning I asked for an injection. I can't remember the name but it doesn't really take away the pain, it just helps you cope better. They told me that it would wear off at around 13:00 as I was very anxious that it would harm the baby (it wouldn't). At 13:15 the doctor said that I could start pushing and at 13:40 my baby was born. The baby was big, much bigger than anticipated (4.2 kg!) and the doctor had to make small cuts so that I wouldn't tear (sorry for the overshare). When Olivia Isabella was born they put her on my stomach for about 30 seconds before towelling her off, cutting the umbilical cord, and whisking her away to the other side of the birthing suite. I slowly came out of my zone and alarm bells started ringing. I know babies aren't very pretty to look at when they're born, but why is mine so swollen and purple? When they took her away I asked, "Is my baby ok?" and nobody answered me. When we discussed my birth plan weeks before the birth, the doctor convinced my husband to cut the umbilical cord himself. Their deal was that he would cut it only if everything goes according to plan (we were going to delay the cord clamping to ensure the maximum benefit for the baby). So when the doctor cut the cord within the first minute without hesitation, we knew something was wrong. Nobody spoke to me and I could sense panic. I was still too zoned out to freak out, but the next moment a nurse (an NICU nurse, I would find out later) rushed in, didn't even greet us, just took the baby in a towel and stormed out again. My baby had somehow inhaled her meconium (first poop) and it went into her lungs rendering them unable to circulate oxygen. Nobody knows for sure if it happened in utero or during the birth process, but they assured me over and over again that none of it was my fault. It's uncommon, but it does happen, usually in overdue babies.

I tried to eat something: it was 14:00 and the last time I ate something was at 05:30. The nurses encouraged me to take a shower and standing between the shower and the basin, I fainted. The shock and the lack of sustenance was just too much. I woke up in my husband's arms with the midwife checking my pulse: my husband had seen me turning pale and called out to me and when I didn't respond he knew what was going to happen and ran into the bathroom. They put me back into bed and connected me to a glucose drip to replenish my sugar levels. I wasn't allowed to shower after that... By 17:00 I still haven't seen my baby and I cried every time a nurse came to check my blood pressure and asked how my baby is doing. One nurse felt sorry for me and said she promises she'll get a porter to take me to my baby. The husband went in first and took photos of little Olivia. He showed me the photos with the disclaimer to "not freak out". I did freak out. My baby was on a ventilator and full of wires and tape and stickers. I couldn't believe that after an amazing pregnancy and a natural birth, this was how everything turned out. We went to the NICU and I cried so hard when I saw her. Everything felt very real and in that moment all I wanted to do was hold my baby. All the books talk about how important skin-to-skin contact is, especially in the first few hours, and there I was, unable to even touch my baby, let alone put her on my chest. Being discharged on the Saturday was bittersweet because I looked forward to sleeping in my own bed and using my own bathroom, but heartbroken that I had to leave my baby behind in hospital. This wasn't how things were supposed to be!

The NICU is a scary but a wonderful place. The first time you go there it's just wires and incubators and beeping, but the more I went there, the less wires I saw. The people working there are absolutely incredible. I am so fond of those nurses. Sure there were one or two who I didn't want near my baby, but the rest of them are incredible. They limit the number of visitors in the NICU (each baby is only allowed three non-parent visits, except on Sundays when it's "Grandparents Day"), but parents are allowed any time and all the time. We tried to go as much as possible but it's hard to keep up. Luckily the hospital is only a 5 minute drive from our house, but the constant back and forth really got to us after a few days.

Olivia improved remarkably as the days went by and after a few days they took her off the ventilator and eventually she cried for the first time. A hoarse sound, but it became louder and clearer as the days went by. Every day they would remove more wires and stickers and she started to look more like a baby. I felt such intense loss: yes my baby would be ok, but I mourned those missed first hours and first days that we would never get back, and, never truly recover from. After about five days I could finally hold my baby. She was so small and so different from the big swollen baby they had put on my stomach five days earlier. Breastfeeding got off to a good start and on the ninth day I slept over in the hospital so that I could breastfeed her on demand. It was so weird staying in the hospital without actually being admitted! I only had to pay for my meals (it was something ridiculous like R35 per meal) and I got tea and snacks along with the other patients. The NICU staff would phone me when it was time to feed Olivia. On day 10 they discharged Olivia and we were scared and excited to finally go home. I was relieved to be taking her home but I also felt a bit of Stockholm Syndrome towards the NICU as it had become my second home during that week and a half.

Olivia is now four months old and retains absolutely nothing from her ordeal. There is nothing wrong with her lungs, she was born with severe pneumonia. It's been a rocky road up to this day (all new parents will agree), but it's been so worthwhile. 

As for me: I'm in good health and everything healed perfectly. I just need to accept my new body which is a bit of a struggle, but I'm getting there. As I type this Olivia is snoozing next door (today was her second day at creche) and I'm wondering what to wear tomorrow on my first day back at work in over four months. I hope my work wardrobe still fits...

Until next time!


09 April 2018

What to do when a Skincare Product Causes a Breakout?

Recently I tested a drugstore serum which broke me out in such a bad way that it necessitated the writing of an entire blog post. I'm not going to slam the product (it's the Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-wrinkle Replenishing Serum Pearls if you're wondering), but I will tell you what to do when you're in a similar situation. Different skin types respond differently to products and ingredients, so what worked for me might not work for you, and vice versa, but I do believe the approach will still be the same.

The Backstory

My first impression of the serum was that I really liked the packaging, but that the product itself was a bit weird. When you press down on the pump, the yellow pearls are squished together and dispensed as a bright yellow cream (it looks a bit like mushy peas), and it smells exactly like men's shower gel, which should probably have given me my first clue. I used it morning and night for about two or three days and everything seemed fine (I didn't change anything else in my skincare routine). On the evening of the second or third day I saw that my skin looked a bit lackluster and bumpy so I decided to use a clay mask that I have used many times before (the green L'Oreal clay mask). I rinsed it off and everything was fine. The next morning when I woke up the skin on my cheeks was a bit red, but nothing out of the ordinary. I applied the serum and my usual skincare products and put on makeup. When I arrived home about two hours later (we had a doctor's appointment the morning) my skin was an absolute disaster. I immediately washed my face and saw that my skin had the texture of the moon landscape: my cheeks were red and inflamed and I had white bumps (that looked like pimples) dotted all over my cheeks. There were a few white bumps on my chin and even down my neck (I always take the excess serum down my neck). I was shocked and upset that my skin had taken a turn for the worst so quickly! After some TLC my skin recovered after about four days and today's post will explain how I did it.

Tips on How to Recover

The first thing to do is: stop using the aggravating product. As a beauty blogger I've learned (the hard way) to not just jump in and try lots of new products at once: you will mess up your skin in a bad way. If you're using new products, introduce them one at a time to give your skin a chance to acclimatise to the new product(s). This way you will also know which one is the offending product if anything goes wrong. 

The next thing to remember is do NOT exfoliate your skin! It can be very tempting to just go to town with the exfoliation in the hopes of removing every last bump and "starting over". Exfoliation will definitely make things worse, so don't do it!

Return to the basics: your skin is in a very fragile position and you need to be very, very gentle with it. Stick to your old routine and try to pare it back if you're a bit on the heavy side with the skincare steps. For me this meant using a gentle face wash morning and night (and not washing my face in the shower in the mornings) - I recently repurchased the Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel which is a fail-safe to me. My skin always looks good when I use it and I know it won't break me out. After that I applied The Body Shop's British Rose Petal-Soft Gel Toner on a cotton pad (very gently) to my entire face, and I spritzed on some La Roche Posay thermal water, and when I ran out, the Avene thermal water. After letting that sink in I applied a few drops of the Dermalogica UltraCalming Barrier Oil (only from the second day onwards), and then lastly some of the Dermalogica UltraCalming Water Moisturiser. The reason I applied these products is because that's what I've been using in the weeks before messing up my skin with a drugstore serum. You can use anything that's been working for you before the mishap. Luckily for me that meant two products from the Dermalogica UltraCalming range! You don't need to spend thousands on products claiming to solve your skincare problems: the main thing is just to not upset your skin any further.

Go for gentle products. I'm a firm believer in using thermal water (Uriage, Vichy, Avene, La Roche Posay) to calm down irritated skin. I've used it on sunburnt skin, shaving rashes (on the husband), insect bites, you name it. It cools down the area and gently calms the skin.

I've been lucky in that I could stay home those few days while my skin was recovering, so I didn't wear any makeup. When I did go out I just applied a BB cream, concealer, and powder and tried not to faff too much with my skin. Now would also be a good time to tell you to not touch your face! By touching your face you can spread bacteria from your hands to your face, and goodness knows, this is the last thing you need now!

At night I would gently double cleanse if I've worn makeup, or else do a gentle single cleanse. Hot cloth cleansing proved to be the most effective way at cleaning my skin while soothing it. 

Patience. I know, I know. I do not have patience but trust me when I say, you can't rush this process. You just have to be gentle with your skin and give it time to heal. It took me four days but my skin is back to normal.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting your skin to get back to looking its best? Let me know in the comment section.

Until next time!


* Image with thanks from Pixabay