Wednesday, 30 December 2015

REVIEW: REF. Natural Hair Care Products...

Another post that is long overdue, and what follows is indeed a major rave. I was converted to this brilliant Swedish range after witnessing the transformation of my tresses after only a few applications in the salon. Given that I was purchasing what I regarded as quality products, and dousing my hair with regular treatments, I had thought it was in fairly good condition, although I admit I had a major problem with frizz control and overall dryness on the ends. My hair is thick and course (that's not a complaint by the way), and prior to switching to these products, the particular short bob style I wanted to maintain required a silky smooth finish that only an experienced hairdresser could conjure up after a full-on sweat-raising blow-dry...
My local salon uses these products on all their clients, and after a couple of shampoo, conditioner and treatment sessions over two visits, I was totally sold, and gradually bought pretty much the whole range. I've been using all of the above for just over 12 months, and I wouldn't dream of caring for my hair with store bought products ever again*  Everything is paraben and sulfate free, enriched with linseed oil and Tamanu oil, and each one of them smells fantastic! All products are numbered using a simple reference system of 1 to 5 (hence the name REF) covering Hold/Care, Shine and Volume, which makes it super easy for you (and your stylist) to work out which particular product you need...

For example, below is the label from the Repair shampoo I use. The reference number is 551, which means it delivers maximum Care (5), maximum Shine (5), and minimal Volume (1) - exactly what my particular hair type and condition requires!
But enough of the technical stuff, let's get onto the individual product reviews...

Repair Shampoo Sulfate Free REF.551

I declare this to be the BEST shampoo I have ever used. I can't believe how incredibly soft my (usually straw-like) hair feels even before I condition. With the first application, I don't get much of a lather, but my hairdresser advised me this is often a characteristic of sulfate free shampoos, and all I need to do is add more water - voila! Problem solved. It cleanses magnificently without stripping any of the natural oils, and I have very little colour-loss (I can tell by the teeny amount of pigment in the bubbles). With a fabulously fresh fruity fragrance, the shampoo is thick and rich, and looks like liquidised pearls. There are no less than eight oils in the formula along with a stack of botanical extracts. As you can see I now buy the giant salon-sized bottle (RRP is $58) - this will last me around eight months ...

Repair Conditioner Sulfate Free REF.551

Similar fragrance to the shampoo (but not quite so crisp and tangy), this conditioner makes my hair ridiculously soft. I use a couple of squirts and leave it in for about two minutes. There's absolutely no chance of tangles or knots, and while it is incredibly rich, it doesn't weigh down my (oily at the roots) hair at all. I bought the big daddy bottle in July and I'm barely half way through it, so I expect this to keep me going for another five months. RRP is $58...

Repair Treatment Mask REF.550
This mask was a big game changer in my hair condition - I colour every two weeks, and while my hair is trimmed every five, the tips were still showing the effects of the chemicals. No split ends, but I was experiencing a fair amount of breakage, frizz and overall dryness. All fixed now! It's a thick creamy paste that I apply every other time I dye my hair - I leave it on overnight (under a turban), and rinse out the next morning. It doesn't technically need to be on that long in order to work its magic, but that's just my preference (and obsession lol). I've had this jar for 9 months, and haven't even used a quarter of it. Same fragrance as the conditioner, RRP is $38...

Leave in Treatment REF.532
I'm almost at the end of this bottle of orange gel - adds another layer of nourishment, a wee bit of volume and shine, and helps reduce static. It has a very faint orange smell, and in the early days, my hair sucked it in like a thirsty traveller who's just emerged from the desert! I bought it originally to maximise the repair process, but my tresses are in such good nick now, I doubt I'll repurchase. RRP is $32...

Get It Straight REF.241
My first tube of this amazing smoother is still going strong after almost a year, but I've bought another already as I don't want to ever run out. I comb my hair into it's basic shape, then apply this clear faintly fragranced gel to the outside of my hair from the top down, and to the annoying bits on the side that always seem to curl and frizz more than anywhere else. This is fantastic for controlling flyaways (it's antistatic), contains a heat protectant, is moisture-resistant, and keeps my hair kink and curl-free. I've tested it out by NOT using it, and the difference it makes to the overall finish is remarkable. RRP is $32

Shine Spray REF.050

Absolutely in love with this product - totally weightless finishing spray that cranks up the gloss factor, and gives my hair even more of a mirror shine. Simply cannot live without it. About 6 months ago, there was a delivery delay at the salon, and I was out of it for 2 weeks - quelle horreur! Since then I've kept a spare on my shelf AT ALL TIMES. Has a stunning musky rose fragrance, and the can lasts about four months. RRP is $34...

Ok so if you're doing the maths, yes - all these items add up to considerable $$$ outlay. BUT I bought them gradually over a three month period so I didn't feel any financial drain, and I consider them an investment - my hair is most definitely a focal point of my appearance, so I'm not even blinking at spending a bit more to keep my tresses in tip top condition. Plus, when I do the sums over a year, it works out to be $27 a month, which is a mere drop in my beauty bucket budget 

You'll find more details of all products at Luxury Beauty Concepts - this range is ONLY available in salons, but you can call (03) 9510 6051 to locate your nearest stockist.

Take care of you,
kats xxx

* I use one other product on my hair, reviewed here 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

SPOTLIGHT: Favourite LOTD's of 2015...

I rarely post LOTD's on my blog (except when I'm reviewing a lip product of course), but I upload one just about every day on Instagram. Of course not everyone has Insta access, and I find the colours don't come out as true as they do when they're up here, plus the pics are always skewed so my lips look all thin and mean, so...I thought I'd do a mammoth picture-heavy post of my personal favourites for the year, culled from a collection of over 200 photos. As any lip product lover knows the market is MASSIVE, and only certain shades are flattering on my warm skintone, but here are my top 30 picks of 2015...


There's quite a wide variety of hues and manufacturers, prices from as little as $2, vast differences in my product application and photography techniques (practice practice!), and more reds than anything else lol ...

   LOL - Bronze Age                                                   BOE Beauty - Primped
           MBA Cosmetics - Violetta                                  Chi Chi Viva La Diva - Lady Bump 
      Color Theory - Siren                                             Maybelline - Peach Poppy
MBA Cosmetics - Jail Break                                          DB Cosmetics - Bronze
       Covergirl - Romance Mauve                                      Covergirl - Succulent Cherry    
   Covergirl - Ravish Raspberry                                     MBA Cosmetics - Heliotrope 
            DB Cosmetics - Currant Kiss                          Maybelline Velvet Lip Pencil - Fab Orange
  Maybelline Velvet Lip Pencil - In With Coral                            Rubi Shoes - Ruby Red                  
              BOE Beauty - Shocking Matte Pink                Shanghai Suzy - Miss Georgina Pink Plum     
Maybelline Velvet Lip Pencil - Red Essential                            Revlon - Bronze Beauty                
Max Factor Giant Pen Stick - Intense Plum                       Chi Chi Viva La Diva - Hot Mamma     
Mirenesse Lip Bomb #6                                                 W7 - Matte Ruby         
     Too Faced - Melted Nude                                    Face of Australia - Many Moons
Chi Chi Viva La Diva - Glamazon                            Mirenesse Glossy Kiss - Angel Kiss
Makeup Revolution - Looking Ahead                                   Maybelline - Fatal Red            
Phew - well if you made it to the last pic without crashing your device, well done! My #1 fave? Can't possibly choose just one, but I've put a next to the ones I absolutely adore...

Do you have a favourite lippie you wear over and over?

Take care of you,
kats xxx

Monday, 28 December 2015

EOTD: Maybelline Hyper Diamonds Blue...

Been too long since I did a soft and sparkly blue look, and when I'm in the mood, there's only one palette I reach for - Maybelline Hyper Diamonds BU-1 (I call it Sapphire). It's been on the market for many years, and still available I believe. I have a heap of turquoise and aqua blue shadows (which I love), but when I have a hankering for a more powdery purpley blue, then this is the one...


Apart from the shimmery white V pan, all the others are chock full of sparkles, which my camera simply can't deal with, but you can see a little bit of the glittery effect in the eye pics. I adore glitter, but it all gets too messy and involved when I have to use glue and wait for it to dry, so this collection is terrific because the sparkles are built-in, and there's actually very little fallout 


I used Chi Chi Waterproof Gel Eye Liner in Boys Boys Boys (which is a pale blue) as my base, and then added both blues over the top, with the lightest brightest one in the inner corner. The gorgeous deep blue went along the lower lashline, and for my waterline I used ModelsPrefer matte black kohl...


In the below pic I'm wearing DB Longwear 24 Hour Foundation, DB Lip & Cheek Rouge in the shade Irresistible, bhcosmetics Iris blush, and DB Longwear Lipstick in Shocking Pink...


Hope you survived the sales, and scored some brilliant bargains!

Take care of you,
kats xxx

Sunday, 27 December 2015

SPOTLIGHT & REVIEW: Maybelline Dream Wonder & FIT Me Foundations...

One good thing about this review is that more than six months have passed since I started wearing these Maybelline foundations (in the case of the Dream Wonder it's almost nine!), and therefore my assessment is based on long term usage, and they've been put through their paces in quite a few seasons, as well as my varying complexion conditions...
In general I'm a HUGE fan of Maybelline products - safe to say it's my favourite drugstore brand for quality, price, colour range and innovation. I'm always impressed when a company repeatedly comes up with something new, either formula-wise or the way it's delivered, and MNY seem to have an unusually high success rate, well at least with products that suit me to a T 

Dream Wonder Fluid-Touch Foundation
Loved this little gem from the very first application. There are two interesting things about this liquid - a) it's one of the most "runny" foundation I've ever used, and 2), it has no moisturising qualities. For someone that needs full coverage, and who's just hit 60, both of those features might seem to be negatives, but not so - in fact for me, they're actually pluses. Because the formula is so thin, it spreads in a flash with no tugging (big hit with my 87 year old Mum), and magically fills in just about all my pore craters and fine lines. I admit I was super surprised because my brain says "you need something thick and dense to cover your flaws", and yet this light-as-a-feather foundation gives me pretty good coverage for something so sheer (see below), the colour match of Sandy Beige is brilliant, and it's literally undetectable on my skin...

While my skin feels silky soft and not the least bit tight after applying it, Dream Wonder has no hydrating power, or at least none that I can detect. But that suits me just fine as I use enriching high SPF content day creams that invariably create shine issues, especially on and around my nose. With DW, I have no such problems, and I'm left with a velvety soft semi-matte finish that's really quite flattering for someone my age...

Left - moisturised bare skin. Right - Dream Wonder with no primer or finishing product

Initially I wondered about the effectiveness of the funny little bulb-tipped applicator (I've noticed that some gals loathe it), but given the formula is so liquid, I figured with a standard pump or even no applicator at all, the product would run through my fingers before I had a chance to apply it. What I do is swipe the loaded applicator onto the back of my hand, and then dab it onto my face with my fingertips, spreading as I go. It dries quickly, but there's enough time to even out the application before it sets... 

Scent-wise, it has quite a strong chemical smell in the bottle, but it doesn't bother me at all because it dissipates in seconds. Ingredients-wise, top of the list is dimethicone (a silicone) - while this formula has not given me one spec of trouble, I've read that it may not be ideal for those with drier complexions, or skin that is acne-prone...

At the end of the day, the coverage isn't as full as I'd prefer, but for more casual days and weekends, this is my go-to base. The bottle is only 20ml but I find it lasts the same amount of time as other (standard) 30ml containers. As you can see in the first pic, I've already stocked up (at half-price sales) which is a fairly good indication of how much I love this foundation SPF 20, RRP $21.95...


FIT me! Matte & Poreless Foundation
With an oily T-zone and enlarged pores, I had high hopes for this foundation, especially with "Matte + Poreless" on the label. However I must say I was disappointed with both the coverage and the finish. In the before and after pics below, you can see there's not much difference between my bare skin (left) and after applying the product (right), except for a more even skintone - my pores look just as big, and the finish isn't what I would call matte at all. Colour-wise, 220 is a beaut match (albeit a tad yellowy) and blends in my freckles well, but I reckon the coverage isn't quite as good as the Dream Wonder, which is interesting given this formula is so much more dense...





Left - moisturised bare skin. Right - FIT me! with no primer or finishing product

I've read some rave reviews extolling the virtues of this foundation, but it doesn't cut the mustard with my particular issues. It just goes to show how different complexions are, and how our needs vary  I will use it up of course - with a primer, setting powder and a second layer, it improves considerably and in fact looks quite good, but I won't be repurchasing. No SPF content, RRP is $18.95...


*The above ratings are based on my own personal criteria, set out here 

Have you tried either of these foundations?

Take care of you,
kats xxx

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas EOTD: Lime Crime Red & Eye of Horus Emerald...

Ahh Christmas Eve - love it! I usually spend at least half the day (and night) wrapping gifts and making them look as pretty as possible. I have quite a large extended family, some of whom I only see once a year, so there's a stack of birthday gifts to parcel up as well. I breathe a huge sigh of relief once they're all done, and then I can relax and enjoy the rest of the evening at home. Most times I'm makeup free (including tonight), so here's an EOTD I created a little while ago to get me in the mood for this special time of year...

Chi Chi Like A Virgin (white) Waterproof Gel Eye Liner was my base, and I patted down Lime Crime Muse and Rebirth from the Venus The Grunge palette, concentrating the lighter shade (Rebirth) close to the lashes. Just adore the bricky reds in this palette - I have absolutely nothing even vaguely like them in any of my other collections  I softened the black eyeliner along my lower lashline with Icon from the same palette, and then lined the waterline with Eye of Horus Emerald Tabula Goddess Pencil. Trust me gals this is THE eyeliner, and I'll be getting my mits on the whole set eventually. Actually tragedy struck last week and I lost my Jewel Amethyst pencil - I reckon it rolled off my bench into the bin (which has now been moved) and it went to the tip. A sad day...


For my Santas-Little-Helper face I used Mirenesse Liquid Silk Foundation, cheeks were DB Cosmetics Desire Lip & Cheek Rouge dusted with the brightest red from the bhcosmetics Glamorous Blush palette, lips were W7 Ruby Lipstick topped with Chi Chi Money Bags Chandelier Gloss...


How do you spend your Christmas Eve - do you do anything special?

Take care of you,
kats xxx

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

CONFESSIONS: Of a Body Washaholic (Part 14) - nspa...

I doubt I'm not alone in loving beaut body washes containing at least some natural ingredients, are not tested on animals, and that I can pick up for under $8 at the supermarket - nspa is one such brand, a UK company that sells exclusively (?) through ASDA stores, and yet I found these at Coles...
Available in a standard 500ml plastic container with a flip top lid, the formula contains no parabens, lathers well and I haven't found it to be at all drying on my skin. The "natural vitamins" are not identified anywhere on the label, but there's quite a few strange sounding ingredients listed on the back, and three of them translate as Pro-Vitamin B5, Vitamin E and Vitamin A ...

Peach...
My personal fave, and starred in last month's empties - I mentioned it smelt exactly like freshly cut peaches, and it still amazes me how realistic the fragrance is. I know it says "real fruit goodness" on the label, but that doesn't always mean that the smell is spot on after all the processing, but in this case it is. Bellissimo. Truly this totally fools my brain into thinking it's the real deal, and my mouth actually starts to water whenever I sniff it! Nice thick consistency too so it won't slide off your loofah before you have a chance to lather up ...

Raspberry
Not quite so ecstatic about this one - smells more like raspberry cordial to me, although it isn't at all sickly or lolly sweet. Having said that I don't think I've actually stuck my nose into a punnet of raspberries (too busy eating them lol), so it may actually be close to the original. Gorgeous colour though, and I'll definitely finish it up because it's a nice fresh scent, just probably won't repurchase as there are lots of other shower fragrances that ring my bells a whole lot louder...

Coconut
Not a massive fan of this particular fragrance, but it's most definitely coconut - creamy and subtle, I'd prefer if it had a bit of something else mixed with it, like banana or mango, but that's just me. Still it's nice to have a change from my other flower and fruit varieties, and with any body wash that I'm not overly excited about, I can always use it as a hand wash. All these shower gels can be used as bubble baths as well - according to the blurb, they make masses of bubbles..

On their website (here) there are 13 flavours in the range, and I can only hope that Coles decides to stock more varieties - personally I'd love to try the passionfruit and apple ones (pretty please?) 

Take care of you,
kats xxx