25 September 2014

Empties Post #2

I've finished a lot of products during the past few weeks and the pile beneath my bed is growing at a rapid pace, so I thought now would be a good time to show you a few things.

Toni & Guy Cleanse Shampoo and Nourish Conditioner for Fine Hair

These sleek white bottles were on a 3-for-2 special at the time, so I bought them together with the Sea Salt Spray (which is amazing). I struggled with the lids on these bottles, as they don't twist off, nor flip open. You have to break a seal (but also not all the way) and then give it a little push....and yes, it took a while to get used to. 

The scent of the two products is amazing, and I don't think anyone won't like it. The shampoo cleansed my hair beautifully without weighing it down or leaving it feeling stripped. The conditioner felt nourishing and the combination of products left my hair feeling soft, glossy, and bouncy.

Will I buy it again? Maybe... I'm a bit of a haircare floozy; these days I rarely stick to a single brand since there are so. many. things. to try! That being said, the shampoo and conditioner are really lovely and I think when there's another 3-for-2 special at Clicks I might buy it again. Next time, however, I'll rather get one shampoo and two conditioners, since I always run out of conditioner first!

The Body Shop Blueberry Body Scrub

When it comes to choosing between the blueberry and the raspberry range at The Body Shop, most people seem to go for the raspberry, but I personally love the blueberry one! I know it might not smell like proper fresh blueberries, but I don't care. It smells sweet and fruity and just plain amazing. You can read my review of this yummy body scrub here.

Would I buy it again? I already have!

Lush Dream Cream

This tub of Lush goodness is a thick pale yellow cream that you apply to your body and hands. In addition to moisturising, it soothes and calms red itchy skin due to the camomile, lavender, and oat milk.

Will I buy it again? At R185 for a 240g? No. It's a lovely product but there are other, just as nice products for far less.

The Body Shop Shea Lip Butter 

I am not the biggest fan of the scent of the Shea range, but I picked this up on a whim when it was on sale. I love the little The Body Shop lip butters and found this one particularly rich, thick, and moisturising.

Will I buy this again? Maybe... But considering I'm also a lip balm/lip butter floozy, maybe I won't be buying this too soon!

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner

After reading about this on countless beauty blogs, I knew I had to try it. I've been using it in the evenings for months now, and can't see myself living without it. It also featured way back in my May favourites, which you can read here.

Will I buy it again? Yes! I'm already halfway through my second bottle...

Nivea Creme Coconut Shower Cream

Coconut has been making a serious comeback in the past year, and shows up in anything from cooking products to beauty products. This coconut scented shower cream came out at the start of winter and I really enjoyed using it. It's the typical white creamy Nivea scent, but instead of the lovely original "Iced zoo biscuit" smell, it smells like coconut. If you don't like coconut, you'll hate this. But if you like you go grab one or two bottles! This was also featured in my May favourites.

Would I buy it? If I didn't already have 20 shower gels to get through, then yes. I think the scent is more comforting in wintertime, but in summertime you can just pretend you're surrounded by coconut cocktails!

Please let me know in the comments section if you've enjoyed reading this, as I have a lot more empties to blog about!

Until next time!


18 September 2014

A Range to Love: The Body Shop's Vitamin E Range

I seem to have accumulated quite a number of products from The Body Shop's Vitamin E range so I decided to do a blog post on my love for this range! There are 18 products in the range, and apparently I have tried a third of them! The Vitamin E range packaging is a soft pastel pink and the scent is delicate and ever so slightly floral. It contains vitamin E and nourishes the skin.

Vitamin E Cream Cleanser

This cleanser has the consistency of a body lotion and a very soft fragrance. I like to apply it to dry skin and massage it in after which I remove it with a hot face cloth. This isn't one of my favourites, I have to admit, but it's good when you're in a pinch or if you don't like the whole oil cleansing or balm cleansing thing. This can be used day or night and costs R99.

Vitamin E Hydrating Toner

I started using this after finishing my Clarins hydrating toner. This toner is nice and hydrating, and does what it says on the bottle. I've decanted my toner into a non-efficient spray bottle (it doesn't distribute the toner equally and I end up getting a squirt in the eye) that I spritz onto a cotton wool pad every morning. This can be used day or night, but I prefer using it in the morning. It retails for R99.

Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet

The texture of this daily moisturiser is unlike any other facial moisturiser I have ever tried. If you've used The Body Shop's body sorbets in the tubes, you will know what the texture of this is like. I'm not a fan of it on my body, but on my face it sinks in very easily. The texture is difficult to explain, but the closest I can get is to say it's a pink gel cream that almost feels gritty. Smoothing it onto your skin leaves your skin soft, smooth, and quite matte. I can't seem to find it on The Body Shop's website now, but I think I paid around R135 for it.

Vitamin E Face Mist

I am in love with this rosewater scented facial mist! Firstly the spray bottle delivers the perfect amount of fine mist (no squirts in the eye here!), and I know it's not a fluke as I am on my second bottle and the nozzle is still fantastic. You can use this as a toner, but I prefer using it during the day when I'm hot and feeling dehydrated and generally "meh". It also wakes me up when the afternoon slump rolls around! This retails for R110.

Vitamin E Serum-in-Oil

I saw this being advertised on The Body Shop's twitter page, and when I saw that Caroline Hirons gave it a big thumbs up, I knew I had to get it. I've been using it for months and it's still not finished. It's basically the perfect combination of a serum and a facial oil, thereby eliminating the need to use two separate products. It comes in a (light pink) glass bottle with an eye dropper. I use about four drops every night: one for each cheek, one for the forehead, and one for the nose/chin area. I use this after my nightly toner, pat it in, wait a few minutes, and then apply my night cream on top. I assume you can use this both morning and night, but I prefer to use facial oils only at night. This retails for R140.

Vitamin E Serum

This is probably the newest addition to my Vitamin E stash. I was looking for a hydrating serum to take with my to Europe as the one I was using at the time was made of glass and quite big and bulky. I picked this serum up on a whim and this is the only daytime serum I've been using since. It's a small plastic bottle with a pump, it travels well, is very cheap for a serum, and it hydrates my skin well. What's not to love? You can buy this for R149.

Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask

I've had this mask for a long time but never used it until I received a sample packet in a box exchange a few months ago. It applies like a moisturiser, and after about 10 minutes you are told to tissue it off. Normally when mask instructions tell you to "tissue it off", it's basically code for "you can leave it on if you want to". Obviously if you use the mask in the morning you'd want to tissue it off before applying makeup, but at night it's fine to leave it on. I use this as a leave-on mask and it makes my skin feel soft, moisturised, and supple. This costs R145.

Have you ever tried anything from the Vitamin E range? Is there anything I've missed? Enable me!

Until next time!


15 September 2014

Review: Konjac sponge

I heard about Konjac sponges for the first time from my friend in France. At the time it was big news in Europe and shortly after it rippled across the waters to South Africa. When we went to visit in France, my friend gifted me a white Konjac sponge (the one for all skin types).

I have a bit of an obsession with facial cleansers, so I wanted to use up a few before starting out on the Konjac sponge. That resolve didn't last long, and before going away for a night I decided that the Konjac sponge was going to be easier to travel with than a decanted cleanser and a face cloth or two.

The sponge comes in clear plastic wrapping with detailed instructions. It does not look like a sponge at all: it looks like those air popped chips from Woolworths, except that it's harder and has its own string. You place it in hot water until it puffs up and starts to resemble a dome-shaped sponge. The texture is also unlike normal sponges, as it is made entirely of vegetable fibres. This also makes the sponge biodegradable and you can chuck it on the compost heap after you've used it. The sponge is good to use for three months, or until it starts looking a bit worse for wear. After using it you rinse it with clean hot water and squeeze the water out (don't wring it). You then hang it up on its string somewhere where it can air dry. I'm not sure if direct sunlight is OK, but I hang mine on a little hook in the bathroom that the hubby made especially for my Konjac sponge.

To use the sponge, you wet it with clean hot water, squeeze the excess out, and start washing your face in circular motions. I always remove my eye makeup beforehand, as I don't want my sponge to become too dirty too quickly. I also have sensitive eyes so I like to make sure I get everything off. They say you can use the sponge just with water, but if my face is feeling particularly icky after the end of a long day, I like using a bit of facial cleanser with the sponge. I like using the REN Mayblossom T-Zone Cleansing Gel or the REN ClearCalm 3 Clay Cleanser. I apply the cleanser directly to dry skin and massage it in, then go in with the sponge as I would with a face cloth. After everything is off, I rinse the sponge under hot water and clean my face again with just the wet sponge. In the mornings I normally just use the wet sponge on its own.

After using the sponge for about four consecutive days (twice a day), I noticed a vast improvement in my skin. Now, my skin was reasonably well-behaved to start with, but it was like my skin was glowing and much smoother and softer! It was incredible! That being said…after about 10 days I could see my skin starting to get slightly less-behaved, and it was as if my skin was suddenly more oily. I don't know if this was hormonal, environmental, or cosmetic, but I started going back to my face cloths and alternated them with the sponge, and things went back to normal. I can't see why you shouldn't use the sponge every day, in my opinion it has pretty much the same function as a face cloth.

The sponge costs about R200 in South Africa, which is extortion for a small sponge, but if it replaces your facial cleanser for three months, twice a day, that's a pretty sweet deal... Plus, it travels like a dream!

Have you ever used a Konjac sponge? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Until next time!


11 September 2014

The Body Shop does it again! Instablur All-in-one

The Body Shop is really bringing it in terms of new and epic releases. I am a massive fan of their Vitamin E range (blog post to follow!), and they just keep launching new and exciting products. I decided to try the Instablur All-in-one 5-action perfector, but then my eye caught a similar, but smaller tube: Instablur All-in-one Tinted Concealer + Primer for Eyes.

Both products are primers and have the same type of texture as the Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch primer. The Instablur for the face is a colourless silicone primer that glides onto the skin to smooth and mask pores. It doesn't feel greasy or weird, just smooth and soft. I've been using this under my Bobbi Brown foundation stick as well as BB creams and it works a treat.

The Instablur for eyes is a tinted product with the same consistency as the Instablur for face. The amazing thing about this product is that you can use it as both an eyeshadow primer, as well as an under-eye concealer. Yes, I also had to pick my jaw off the ground when I read that the first time. Granted, girls with very dark circles under their eyes will still need to use a concealer, but how convenient is it to use one product instead of two? I can definitely tell that it prolongs the wear of my eyeshadow, and it might even be *whispers* better than my Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potions.

The Instablur for face and eyes retails for R190 and R120 respectively. If, like me, you want to save a bit of money you can wait until The Body Shop has one of their cool sales where you either get 20% or 50% off, or 3-for-2 (might I recommend a Colour Crush lipstick or the honey bronzer as a third product?).

Have you ever used any of these products? Let me know in the comments section!

Until next time!


08 September 2014

Review: Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick

I've never tried any Bobbi Brown cosmetics before, but after being thoroughly enabled by fellow bloggers, I picked up the Corrector for dark circles under the eyes. When browsing the stand, this Foundation Stick caught my eye and it was love at first twist.

I'm not really a foundation wearer, so getting a foundation "stick" really appealed to me. I use it warrior style: swipe across each cheek, swipe across the forehead, small swipes on the chin and nose, and then I blend it out with my Real Techniques buffing brush. The texture is creamy and doesn't drag the skin when you apply it. It also blends out easily and isn't greasy or oily; it almost has a light powder finish. That being said, I don't think dry-skinned gals will like this, the texture is much more suited to us combination-oily/oily-skinned individuals.

The coverage is light to medium, but as with most products, it is build-able. With my "warrior" approach the coverage is quite light and I find that sufficient for my skin at the moment. I did however try applying it more heavy-handedly for the sake of this review, and it still looks good: not cakey or flat. I'm not sure how to describe the finish as it's not completely matte, nor glowy or dewy. I'd say it's sufficiently mattifying without looking flat, if that makes sense.

I love the sleek black and silver packaging and I think this will be perfect for travelling: it's small and compact and you never have to worry about explosions in your makeup bag!

I have it in the colour 2.5 Warm Sand and it's a perfect match for my slightly tanned skin. This retails for R465 at Bobbi Brown counters.

Have you ever tried anything from Bobbi Brown? What is your favourite? Let me know in the comments section.

Until next time!


04 September 2014

Monthly Favourites: August

August has flown by at warp speed and there were quite a few products I reached for more often than others. Let's get stuck in, shall we?

Suigo Ultimate Control Shampoo and Conditioner

On the haircare front I've been loving the Suigo shampoo and conditioner combo I received at the BWB event at the end of July. I wash my hair every day (well, six out of the seven days), and this is the combo I have used most of the time since getting it. You can read the full review here.

REN Mayblossom T-zone Cleansing Gel

As far as skincare is concerned, I'm having a bit of a love affair with REN skincare products. I bought this Mayblossom T-zone cleansing gel a few months ago, and have been using this a lot during the past month as a morning cleanse. It's a watery gel that produces a nice rich lather and leaves my skin clean, but without the tight dry feeling. It smells fresh and clean, perfect for mornings. One small-ish pump is enough for my whole face, and I use a hot cloth to remove it after massaging it into my skin.

Soap & Glory Hand Food

I've had this Soap & Glory hand cream for a long time, but have refrained from using it too often for fear of running out! Now that I have a backup mini for this mini, I am quite enjoying using this! I use this before I go to bed at night, and in the mornings before dashing out of the house to go to work. The sweet smell instantly lifts my mood, and the creamy hand cream nourishes my hands nicely. You can sporadically buy this from Rubybox.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick SPF15

When Clicks was running a special on an Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream travel case, I jumped at the chance. Five EA Eight Hour Cream products, two of which are full size, in a bright red round travel case for under R300? Bargain! This Eight Hour Cream lip protectant stick has found a permanent place on my vanity table and I apply it when I sit down to do my makeup. By the time I'm ready to put on lipstick, my lips are soft and smooth. It does have a light "Eight Hour Cream" scent, but it's very soft and not offensive in the least.

The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick in 15 Fuchsia Flirt

I read about the new colour editions to The Body Shop's Colour Crush lipstick range on Kissblushandtell, and went out to have a look for myself. I chose the shade 15 Fuchsia Flirt (it's so annoying that the name of the lipstick isn't on the actual lipstick!) and I absolutely love it. The packaging is modern and slick and the lipstick is nicely pigmented. Fuchsia Flirt is a bright pink but it's more of a tinted balm that can be layered, leaving the lips moisturised and with a nice colour. It doesn't dry out the lips and fades evenly. I liked it so much that I purchased another shade, 18 Sunset Romance (review coming soon).

Smashbox Eye Brightening Mascara (sample)

I got this a while ago when I purchased a few Smashbox goodies at Woolworths. It came with a mascara primer, but I've been using the mascara a lot on its own this past month. I'm rubbish at describing what mascaras do to my lashes, so I'll just say the mascara separates my lashes nicely, and isn't clumping. It's just a very nice mascara and I'm contemplating buying the full-size, price permitting.

Too Faced Natural Eyes Neutral Eye Shadow Collection

The last favourite is one that is unfortunately not available in South Africa. I bought the Too Faced palette in Sephora when I was in France in July. A few sites do however ship to South Africa, but the duties and customs are anybody's guess… The palette is housed in a tin with a magnetic closing mechanism. It contains nine shade and is divided into three "looks". I completely ignore the "looks" and have yet to try out the lookbook included in the tin, but this palette really is all you need for a weekend away. You can create anything from a smokey eye to a glitzy night time look, to an office appropriate day look. The shades are soft, buttery, don't have any fallout, and stay put for a good couple of hours. All in all, pretty much perfection.

And that was August's favourites! Have you used any of these products before? What is your number one favourite for the past month? Let me know in the comments section.

Until next time!


01 September 2014

#CityEscapes with City Lodge Hotel Group

I have always loved exploring small towns and as well as big cities. When my husband (then boyfriend) and I were at university we would always go away on camping holidays and explore parts of South Africa. I was super excited when City Lodge Hotel Group contacted me* and asked if I would like to be a tourist in my own city.

As I live in Pretoria East, City Lodge sent me to the City Lodge Courtyard Hotel Arcadia and I have to admit, I had my doubts. Moving to Pretoria four years ago, there were a few areas that I was told to avoid. Arcadia and Sunnyside were two of those... It's funny, and actually very terrible, how stigmas can influence your thoughts and views. While driving there everything looked safe and clean, and the hotel is situated in a quiet area dubbed "Embassy row" because of all the foreign embassies located close to it.

The main building of the Courtyard Hotel Arcadia is a renovated manor house and is absolutely exquisite. From the moment we drove through the gate we felt welcome and at ease. There was no awkward standing around or wondering where to go or what to do. The security guards told us where to park and even asked if they could wash our car! The lovely Ayanda at reception quickly checked us in and explained everything without me having to ask (take note, European hotels!).

The room wasn't a room, but rather a small flat! There was a reception area leading into the sitting area with a couch, coffee table, and a TV, and that was separated from the bedroom with sliding doors. The suite had an en suite bathroom with the usual amenities and also a large freestanding shower. There was also a second TV in the bedroom.

We were greeted with a fruit platter, a cheese platter, and a bottle of wine. On the bed were also little gifts to help us sleep better. They really paid attention to detail and that's what always gets the thumbs up from me!

At 17:00 we went to the lounge in the manor house for some snacks and complimentary drinks. There were a few people sitting around talking or watching TV. Afterwards we went to Geet Indian Restaurant in Brooklyn (about 2.5 km drive from the hotel) for dinner. It received very high ratings on Foursquare, but the service was extremely slow. We waited almost 20 minutes just to order, and then the main course took more than 30 minutes to arrive. The food was, however, delicious and if you have the time I would recommend at least trying it once. I ordered the coriander scented chicken curry with apricots, along with naan bread and rice and it was heavenly!

Breakfast the next morning at the hotel was a scrumptious affair, with everything from bread, cheese, and cold meats, to porridge and bacon and eggs. On our recent European trip I became quite the fan of continental breakfasts (basically cheese and cold meats), and this breakfast was no exception. I actually think they had a larger variety of condiments than most of the European hotels we stayed at.

Our waiter and the manager were very attentive and made sure we had enough to eat and drink. All the staff were also very friendly, always smiling and greeting you whenever you walk past.

As for activities and really exploring our city, there were a few standout activities that are worth mentioning.

Union Buildings

The Union Buildings are the official offices of the president of South Africa and form the official seat of the South African government. There is no entrance fee for visiting the grounds of the Union Buildings and the newly erected Nelson Mandela statue. Entry into the Union Buildings itself is however permitted as it is a fully functioning government building by day. You can pack a picnic basket and sit on the grass in front of the building and enjoy the view, but it can get busy on weekends as it is a popular spot for wedding photographs.

Distance from the Courtyard Arcadia: 2.6 km

Voortrekker Monument

This historic landmark is well worth the R65 entrance fee (there are different price options, go check out the website), as there is a lot to look at, and you can go really high up in the monument which makes for breathtaking photos. Top tip: use the elevator!

There is also a cafe where you can buy snacks and cold drinks as well as trinkets. Even if you don't give two hoots about the history, at least go for the architecture and the stunning view.

Distance from the Courtyard Arcadia: 10 km

Hazel Food Market

Every Saturday you can find this market at the Greenlyn Village Centre in Pretoria East. It's a small market in comparison to some other markets, but it is well worth getting up early-ish on a Saturday morning for. The market is very popular so get there early to get a parking spot and a table under one of the big trees. You can get anything from stroopwafels to curries, meringues, slushies, smoothies, and cappuccinos. There are also people selling fresh cuts of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as coffee beans. On the one side of the market (the main entrance: left) there are a lot of stalls selling cushions, belts, handbags, you name it. The market has a lively and fun atmosphere and you always walk away with something yummy to eat and drink!

Distance from the Courtyard Arcadia: 4.9 km

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my #CityEscapes experience! I really enjoyed doing this and I would encourage everyone to be a tourist in their own city from time to time.

Until next time!


*My hotel stay was paid for by City Lodge, but my opinions and reviews are honest and objective as always.