• Link love (Powered by bare naturals and email drama)

    link love nzmuse

    On a normal day, my beauty routine consists of two things: moisturiser and a swipe of lippy.

    Lipstick is a must, because I need a little colour in my face. Maybe a dash of powder on my nose to hide my elephantine pores, though it’s a terrible waste – it invariably wears off quick smart due to sweat or blowing my nose (if I don’t have a cold, then I have hayfever. Year round).

    The thing about makeup, for me, is that one thing invariably leads to another. Since starting to wear contacts again, I basically have to wear a bit of eyeliner to look presentable. This leads to some up close and personal time with my bathroom mirror, and far too much time spent scrutinising every detail of my entire face. I start to agonise over every flaw. My wide, flat nose. My blotchy cheeks. My hateful, stubby, stubbornly straight Chinese lashes (however, I hate mascara and you will never find me wearing it). Then this opens up the door to all sorts of criticism – my toes, my feet, my hands and nails. I start thinking about all the things I could (SHOULD!) be doing to better my appearance. None of which I really want to, and none of which you can convince me is so vital that I should be doing on a daily basis. My skin is happiest when I do as little as possible to it, and I’m far too lazy to do much anyway. (This made my year of no shopping pretty easy.)

    I’ve come to realise I use my glasses as a sort of shield. The strong frames draw focus away from the rest of my face.

    I once read that you should focus on your eyes, too, when looking at your reflection. When people talk to you, that’s where they’re concentrating. This helped immensely during my younger and more self-conscious days – realising that others (probably) don’t pick me apart like I pick myself apart. Because I used to be the kind of girl afraid to be seen without her ‘face’ on. I was terrified of anyone seeing me un-made up. If I was going to be out overnight, I would pray for my makeup to stay well and truly on until the morning. Thankfully, none of that applies today.

    Weirdly, I think I often look at my best in the morning. Bare faced, au naturel. Skin plump and full after a night’s sleep. Hair (usually limp and lifeless) with a bit of body to it.

    A little housekeeping and shoutouts

    Kelly nominated me for a blog award, and I’m in good company! Hopefully I’ll get around to doing my bit to pass it on soon.

    I’m in the carnival of money pros explaining why your website needs a price list

    I’m also in the lifestyle carnival with my recipe for sweet chicken stirfy

     To the links!

    MONEY

    Amanda ponders the ethics of holiday spending (I too would rather support local businesses than big chains)

    Heh. Our Freaking Budget lists a bunch of things you couldn’t pay them to do

    TeacHer Finance on the value of maintaining your status quo

    FOOD

    $120 Challenge has a simple recipe for lamb koftas and tzatziki

    At Smitten Kitchen: Lentil, chard and garlic soup

    And a pad thai inspired soup from Kevin at Closet Cooking

    LIFE

    Wealth Informatics lists 9 reasons you’re not making more money

    Suburban Sweetheart talks body image and societal norms

    Pushing Thirtyy on age gaps and the changing nature of friendships

    As StacFace writes, it’s weird when your online and offline worlds collide and the digital one closes in on you

    What is the point of goals, asks Stacking Pennies?

    Some good reasons to consider eloping via the PoPs, over at Mo Money Mo Houses

    Finally, I absolutely loved Dinner: A Love Story’s rules of blogging. A must read.

  • The water-only method

    More miracles in the skin department!

    Sometime last week I ran out of face wash, and decided to try going a few days without it. I did not turn into an oil slick, as I KNOW I would have just a few months ago. I was a tiny bit oilier – around the nose and such – but my skin stayed relatively normal. It’s been seven days washing with only water, and although I have had one pimple on my cheek crop up  two days ago, I’m looking fairly smooth, less red and blotchy, and the dry patches aren’t as bad as they were. (I also haven’t been wearing foundation, which probably plays a role.)

    Verdict: Water only won’t kill me – it might even be good for me. I’m definitely going back to using a cleanser, though – breakouts suck! What I will try next is only washing once a day.

    Today’s work outfit, taken in the bathroom at work for variety:

  • A delicate question

    I have a question to put forth to all you females.

    I don’t grow a lot of hair (this is true of my head, and the rest of me) and it’s thin and sparse. I actually use T’s castoff safety razor, which he says go blunt after he uses them once or twice, and it suits me fine as I only do my arms a few times a week and my legs a lot less often.

    I’ve never tried waxing, or in fact anything else in that department.

    So, just what do you do for hair removal, and especially in, shall we say, other body areas?

  • I just wanted normal skin

    I’ve been cursed with oily skin for as long as I remember – or at least since the onset of puberty. Once I realised just what a grease pit my face looked like during the day, I got intimately acquainted with oil-absorbing sheets and foundations to control the slick. (The Maybelline makeup worked well, as did the Body Shop blotting sheets. I only ever used the powdered version, although the purple one also looked like a goodie).

    But something changed this year. I’m a lot dryer, a lot flakier, and even itchy at times. It’s so uncomfortable, I actually kinda miss my old skin.

    Result: new routine. I’m focusing on moisturising, rather than mattifying. I carry a sample size moisturiser around with me everywhere, have given up on mud masks, and worst of all, the permanent pinkness in my cheeks is spreading across my face. Now I’m slathering on Vitamin E cream at night, a rich Nivea with SPF by day, even the aqeuous cream I use for eczema in spots. I’m contemplating trying Bio Oil as a moisturiser next.

    Of course, I still have really reflective skin, so most of my face still LOOKS oily sans makeup anyway. I just can’t win 😛

  • Getting the chop

    Confession: I haven’t cut my hair since the start of the year.

    Honestly, I like low maintenance styles; I want to be able to get up, brush my hair and go. No six-weekly trims for me, no colouring, no curling, the less fuss the better IMO.

    Did I mention that I’m completely unable to do anything with it? I can’t style my hair to save my life, I would have to go to the Best spa Manhattan. I stopped trying sometime in my school years when braids went out.

    I first got short hair early last year. It was a long bob, and I was absolutely petrified. a) because my mum has always had short hair, and I associate short hair with, uh, older people and b)well, I’d always had long hair and never knew any other way.

    But you know what? I loved it and now I’m a convert. I managed to put up with my growing locks all year, telling myself I’d get around to it when I was less busy, or when Rodney Wayne was advertising for hair models, but neither ever happened. I couldn’t take tke split ends anymore, or the flat, manky strands that just hung around my face. And there’s only so long you can keep wearing a ponytail every day.

    I don’t have a regular hairdresser (my entire family used to go to this man in New Lynn, and then I managed to score a string of free haircuts from random trainee hairdressers, and most recently from a friend at hairdressing school. She’s graduated now, though and works at a swanky place by the beach). So I was pretty pleased to spot a sign for a salon called Ocean Blue on Elliott St advertising $25 cuts!

    I’m pleased to say that they were pretty good value for money. (They do charge extra for shampoo, though). They seem to cater to a lot of immigrants, as one of their sales points is the multiple languages the staff speak, and seeing as most of them are Asian, they understand my hair (woohoo!). And they don’t try to make small talk with you – never been a fan of having conversations while my hair is being lopped off. It’s traumatic enough being in the chair as it is.

    So I’m back to cropped hair – it’s not as good as my last cut, which had longer bits at the front to soften up my jaw, but it’ll do. Nothing worse than long heavy hair weighing you down in the heat!

  • Scars and stretchmarks

    I really need to get my hands on some rosehip oil.

    It’s the dead of winter, and it’s bloody freezing. (According to WHO, the minimum temperature indoors is 18 degrees. Pretty sure it’s colder in here – I can see my breath in front of me from time to time.) So although it’s not like I’m showing off skin on a daily basis, I’m not exactly taking care of my skin either. But I have a ton of scars from old eczema and insect bites – mainly on my legs and around the hips and torso – which I really need to do something about.

    I have really thin, delicate skin which bruises and scars easily; all the spots where I get eczema have thinned out my skin and are still extremely prone to itching (NOT good, as you can imagine!) Having thinner skin there also means I flush more easily when I’m drinking – quite scary to get home half cut, try to undress yourself and fall into bed, only to catch sight of scary red blotches scattered over your torso.

    But it beats my high school days for sure. I had bad acne for a couple of years, and it was AWFUL. My forehead was dotted with purplish scars (one brilliant guy made the insightful comment to me, “Your forehead is speckled!”) and I tried to cover it all up with makeup – not very well. I remember being out shopping and browsing through the makeup department in Farmers, and my friend gently pointing out that my current foundation “wasn’t very good”. I still haven’t found my holy grail foundation; with oily, sensitive skin, it’s really hard to find a balance. Thankfully the facial scars have since faded, and with gentle skincare and makeup, my face isn’t totally ravaged by the elements anymore.

  • Cleansers

    cetaI’ve been using Cetaphil on my face for a few weeks now, and will probably continue to do so. People seem to either love it or hate it. I can’t say I love it, but it does what it’s supposed to, and doesn’t aggravate my skin!

    It certainly is gentle. I still don’t understand how such an artificial formula can be so non-irritating. But it is! It even makes a good body wash for rashes or otherwise irritated skin, which is handy. The downside: it doesn’t always feel like it’s cleansing. It won’t deal to heavy makeup, but luckily I don’t wear much, and it’s usually worn off by the end of the day. Sometimes I feel like it’s leaving residue behind. Maybe that’s just because it’s not stripping my skin, but my Sukin organic wash was super gentle without feeling icky.

    Then again, when using Cetaphil, I actually don’t feel like I need a moisturiser afterwards, which is in theory a good thing. I usually do massage in just a little moisturiser, because after awhile my skin feels a tad tight, but I could live without it, which is something I’ve never experienced with any other facial wash. My skin is moisturised, calm and POSSIBLY ever so slightly less red in the cheeks. Seriously, when I can afford it, I’m going to see a dermatologist. I’m pretty sure I have rosacea, and surely there’s something I can do about it. I mean, it’s not terribly extreme, but it’s noticeable, and it would be nice to have an even skin tone rather than permanently pink/red cheeks (though at least I’ll never have to buy blush, haha).

    4.5/5. It’s more substantial than my Sukin cleanser, comes in a much larger bottle for the same price, and is nonirritating. Plus you can use it on the rest of your body, especially if you have eczema or anything like that.

    sti

    The other new thing I’ve been using is St Ives Apricot Scrub (the blackhead version). I like it as a scrub: it’s gentle, smells nice and is a pretty orange colour. The granules and walnut shell irritated a lot of reviewers, but as long as you’re gentle and aren’t scrubbing hard on your face, I haven’t found any problems with it. You do need to make sure you rinse thoroughly, though.

    I don’t normally leave it on for a whole minute as suggested, although the longer it stays on my face, the more likely the salicylic acid starts to tingle. Which means it’s working….only, I haven’t actually seen a difference. WAHHHH. My blackheads haven’t budged, although my skin feels nice and smooth and hydrated. I may as well have bought the normal formula.

    3/5. It’s a nice exfoliant, but doesn’t do the blackhead removing thing it claims to do.

  • Skin non-sense

    Summer’s brought out my elephantine pores. The ones on my nose are especially heinous. And I officially now know what a blackhead is. Because I have them. By the truckload. ARGH!

    Hereby, my skincare wish list:

    Body Shop pore perfector

    Cetaphil gentle cleanser – the HG for many people; I’m wary given that it actually contains sodium lauryl sulfate, but it’s fairly cheap and given all the success people have had with it, sure it’s worth a try!

    Trilogy balancing gel cleanser

    Neutrogena pore refining cream and extra gentle cleanser

    St Ives apricot scrub

    I have the most difficult skin imaginable. It’s super sensitive, so I am paranoid as hell about what I put on it. I don’t want to blow money on something that’s going to burn my poor cheeks. Hence, pretty much everything I use has somewhat natural ingredients, but my pore problems and blackhead bane is pushing me to look at trying other things for my T zone.

    It’s also super oily. This varies from day to day, depending on the season and on the humidity (if it’s dry, my skin oils up to make up for the lack of moisture). I love my Body Shop powdered blotting papers. So I can’t really use dry/sensitive moisturizers, because they leave me shiny and looking like a grease pan. I want matte! But I also want moisture. It’s a paradox in the world of skincare. Right now I’m using Nivea Young mattifying moisturiser. It’s great – thick and nourishing but leaves me matte at promised. However, I’m starting to worry that it’s keeping my cheeks red and doing me no favours. I’m thinking of asking for a sample of the Body Shop seaweed matte day cream.

    Third problem. I’m fairly sure I have mild rosacea. I get flushes like no one else. They flare up randomly, usually when I’m feeling nervous, self conscious or under pressure. I resemble a tomato after half a drink, and a beet after one. And in terms of day to day life, my cheeks and chin are always pink and fairly blotchy. I think a lot of the sensitivity is due to using harsh crap (Clean and Clear, I’m looking at you) when young. It’s much, much worse in extreme weather.

    My skin is also really thin and delicate. And like I said, I have massive pores, at least during the summer. It’s mainly on my nose and cheeks, less so on my forehead.

    I’m keen to revamp my whole skin routine. Right now I’m just using a cheap cleanser (Sukin, an organic  line – used to use Body SHop Vit. E wash, but this is probably about as effective for half the price and far, far more natural), my Nivea for day and Body Shop aloe night cream. I occasionally use my Dr Hauschka calming mask, but to be honest I don’t think it does anything for me, apart from make me feel like I’m pampering my face.

    Oh, to have an unlimited budget…

  • drlewinns_selftanner

    My HG self tan; pity bout the price tag, (goes for around ($35) but this was a freebie, and should last me an age! Also have the sunscreen – it’s super dry but seems to be super potent.

    LOOOOVE this self tanning lotion. It smells divine, a sort of tropical coconutty goodness, and contains aloe vera. Builds a nice even golden colour, it’s not too dark and looks really natural.

  • Beauty roundup

    Hisysfit Saving Face – 2/5

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    Disappointing. Hailed as a 3 in 1, tinted moisturising sunscreen, it fails on 2 out of 3 counts.

    I was really excited to try this out, thinking it would save my summer skin routine! Let’s start with the good. It’s an excellent sunblock. It’s super dry (I have never found a sunscreen that wasn’t greasy or goopy, which i can’t tolerate on my face!) and fairly thin as a liquid. However, it’s dry to the point it’s impossible to rub in. I blended it in as best as possible but still looked chalky, although it evened out my skin nicely.

    I don’t know what was up with the moisturising properties promised. My oily, sensitive skin was barely quenched by this (I almost applied a layer of moisturiser over this, but decided against). I can only imagine what normal or dry skin would feel like. Definitely do not use as a moisturiser alone.

    I don’t know how it evened out my complexion (maybe the white ghostly layer simply masked my imperfections?) but I saw NO sign of the promised tint. Nada. Zip. Come on, the stuff came out of the tube almost pure white. If it really was tinted, there would be some hint of colour there. Blatant letdown.

    Maybe I just got a bad tube. Gets two stars as I’ll kepe it around as a facial sunscreen – it did well on that count at least.

    Revlon Mineral Makeup – 4/5

    rev

    I’ve been using Loreal Bare Naturale, which has the brush built into the lid – it’s a mini kabuki and it’s quite big and a little stiff, making it somewhat unwieldy. The foundation is nice enough, good texture, good coverage, but I can’t really tell at the moment because it’s too light! It’s just a smidge too pale for my summer skin but the next step up was too dark. So I’ll write it up later in the year.

    For now I have my Revlon mineral makeup, which I find easier to apply. The brush is inside the lid, and you have to twist it to bring it out to its full size/length. Yes it’s annoying, but you get used to it, and the brush is nice and small for my little elf hands – I actually have control over it, rather than vice versa. I get good coverage and a nice polished look, without being chalky. I guess the best way to describe it is, my skin looks much more evened out but not overly made up, and the powder formula keeps the oil at bay.

    Estee Lauder Signature lipstick in Rich Red 4.5/5

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    Man, I love the sleek, slick and flashy sites that Clinique and Estee Lauder do (like, rolling your mouse over the different shades to see what the colours look like properly) but they are a PAIN to capture. You can’t save a pic, as the colours don’t come out. I had to screengrab this shot and edit it 🙂

    I’m using this lipstick, and it’s a big departure for me. I wear glosses. In berry shades. My staple has been a random $4 NYX deep pink and Revlon Colorstay Gloss in some kinda red wine type shade.

    So to have non sticky, non shiny lips is weird for me. Instead I have matte, creamy lips in a very vamp, movie star red. I always thought a red would suit my colouring, I’m pale with dark hair (very vampy) and tend to play up my lips as I have no eyelids or lashes to speak of. I like a strong lip with some black eyeliner.

    I don’t know if I just need to get used to the texture and colour of this lipstick (it feels wonderful, goes on creamy and just the right amount, AND smells amazing). It’s a beautiful true red in the tube (blue based, of course, but still comes out so very properly red) and I’m just not used to a real red lip!