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Currently Using: Skincare (March 2014)

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BEAUTY, Beauty Articles, Featured | by — March 31, 2014

Currently Using - Serums Mar 2014

It’s with mixed emotions that I wrap up my final skincare post for 2014 as I prepare to say goodbye to Beauty Swatch and the beauty blogosphere.  I have been very fortunate to be at the forefront of trialling new skincare products before they release, and thanks to beauty blogging I have found the perfect customised skincare routine that I know works for me, regardless of whatever hype I see.  For my skin type that’s prone to dehydration and dullness, it’s a cocktail of AHAs, nourishing serums and masks, rich moisturisers and cream cleansers. I now know that eye serums suit me better for day time, and I have also come to terms with graduating from starter serums to needing a bit of oomph to look alive and well rested.

I hope you have enjoyed my skincare posts over the past 5 years! If you ever feel like browsing through my old skincare posts, I’ve saved them under the “Popular Posts” section (the link is also located on the top right hand corner).

La Mer The Lifting Contour Serum* & Lifting and Firming Mask* ($410 / $300 AUD)

La Mer has been one of those products that have taken years off my mum’s visible age before, so when I got the chance to try The Lifting Contour Serum and Lifting and Firming Mask I shipped them to mum to trial on my behalf.  The Lifting Contour Serum was a winner, with the cell renewing properties visibly softening her wrinkles and sculpted her skin into a smoother, softer and well rested finish.  The other most striking result mum experienced was how moisturising it was and kept her dry skin soft throughout the day.   This is thanks to the Listing Ferment™ ingredient, made from a combination of Perennial brown algae, copper-rich blue algae and marine peptides, to increase the skin’s natural collagen production for a more refined silhouette.

As for the Lifting and Firming Mask, the keyword mum repeated when she described this mask was how nourishing it was, improving her skin density and elasticity and rejuvenated.  Mum was also surprised by how well this “leave on” mask absorbed into the skin, and how easily it was to apply her skincare on top of it.  As for me, with the dollop that I saved for myself, my skin was more refined, also nourished with a “post facial” glow.  The key ingredient in this mask is a blend of brown algae, marine peptides and active marine plant stem cells, to enhance the skin’s support structure and increase density and elasticity.  A great gift idea for mum’s birthday, mother’s day or any special occasion.

Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Lift Perfecting Serum* ($72 AUD)

This morning eye serum does an fabulous job of de-puffing and firming the under eye area, thanks to Albizia extract, Caffeine, Escin and organic oat sugars, which together provide a lifting effect, encourage micro-circulation, elimination of glycated protein build up and release of fats under the eyes.  The serum also contains corrective pigments to illuminate the eye area, and on my very dark circles the results were subtle, requiring slightly less concealer than before.  I find it hydrating enough to use it on its own during the day in mild weather, but for more mature skin or winter weather I’d recommend topping off with an eye cream.  Works a treat for refreshing tired eyes.

Clarins Extra Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream* ($48 AUD/200ml)

Imagine a buttery cleanser that applies like a massage cream with water, that’s what I felt Clarin’s newest cleansing cream, which is designed to protect and calm the skin from pollutants.  It not only gently cleanses, but also contains Moringa Seed Extract to cleanse the pollution particles, Camomile extract to soothe, Bioecolia to restore the skin’s biological balance and Jojoba oil / mango and shea butter to prevent dehydration.  My favourite thing about this cleanser is that it doesn’t lose its creaminess even with water, smells of delicious mango and leaves absolutely no residue whatsoever. Best of all, skin has never looked better after cleansing than before, it looks smooth, bright and kinda peachy.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment w/ 5% AHA ($39 AUD/50ml)

Say hello to my new favourite AHA daily treatment.  It contains 5% glycolic acid plus pore-penetrating salicylic acid0 of 5%, which together renews skin texture, evens skin tone, smooths fine lines, and stimulates healthy collagen production via daily exfoliation.  Even though I already use AHA’s on a regular basis, the results are still immediate, with a noticeably more radiant, firmer and smoother complexion in just the first few days.  I recommend avoiding layering other serums on top of this, as it will cause other skin products (Eg. foundation) to ball up.

RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum ($43 AUD/30ml)

This is my first foray into Retinol & boy am I hooked.  Best applied at night time, it has a silky oil-like gel consistency that’s best massaged into your palm & finger tips and pressed into skin.  The morning after, my skin was noticeably less tired, tighter, firmer and dare I say it – younger.  In my long list of beauty products that are mandatory before I walk out the door (eg. concealer, sunscreen, brows), Retinol is definitely one ingredient I won’t go to bed without. For the amazing results it delivered, it’s very affordable & even better still –  Paula’s Choice is stocked in Australia via their website.

AHC Vital Complex C-15*

Having experienced amazing results with the AHC Hydra B5 Soother 6 months ago,  this time I decided to try the Vital Complex C-15.  Unlike the Hydra B5 Soother which was really viscous and clear in appearance, the Vital Complex C-15 was runny and dark amber, making it easier to pat into the skin without needing to massage.  The results on my face was not really noticeable as I have been using my fair share of skincare, but when I tested it on my arms I noticed it was immediately smoother, more supple and looked renewed.  Therefore I recommend this as a starter serum for anyone that is still relatively new to introducing serums into their skincare routine.

Elemis White Flowers Eye & Lip Makeup Remover* ($49 AUD / 150ml)

This makeup remover will appeal to those that love to unwind their day with a touch of luxury, with soothing white peony extract and cooling white tea to refresh and hydrate whilst removing even the most stubborn of makeup.  It’s gentle on the eyes and leaves the skin feeling fresh and comforted without much residue.  A little goes a long way & removes even the most waterproof eyeliner & mascara.  Simply shake before use.

 Hope you enjoyed my last skincare round up!

 

Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration.  All other items were purchased by me.

My 5 most successful SEO tips for beauty blogging

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BEAUTY, Beauty Articles, Featured | by — February 22, 2014

My 5 most successful SEO tips

Now that I have finally prepared myself for saying goodbye to Beauty Swatch,  I suddenly have this urge to share things about my blog that one usually keeps pretty close to their chest.  Now that I have shared how I prepare my lips for swatching, next on my “blog bucket list” of things to share is  SEO – short for search engine optimisation.  Also known as the mystical 3 letter acronym that supposedly holds the keys to a blog’s success.

I have read countless SEO articles over the years, and if you have too I’m sure you know what I mean by how generic they are and often difficult to relate to as a beauty blogger.   The SEO tips I’m about to share with you are the backbone of the top blog posts that drive the majority of the traffic to my blog.  Such that even where I don’t post any new content it doesn’t  make much of a dent to my traffic, as these top posts are so successful that they keep the traffic coming even a year after the post was published.  That is as long as Google doesn’t change things with yet another Panda, Penguin or whatever the next animal is (Parrot? Peacock? Piranha?) that causes much grief to the blogosphere.

For those whose blog traffic have been dealt a heavy hand by Google, I hope these SEO tips will inspire you to keep going with your blogs and continue to create great content.

1. Secrets that have the world searching

It became apparent to me that the way people search for lipsticks on the internet is heavily focused on product reviews, and most articles about lip products are so cliched with little creativity.  I decided to take matters into my own hands and talk to people about lip products to see what they look for in making purchasing decisions, and address their lip concerns via blog posts.

Whilst my best ideas have come from conversations with people, the best thing I ever did for my blog traffic was to translate a Korean beauty book in my post “Beauty Secrets from Korea’s Skin Goddess Go Hyun Jung“.  I did it out of my own personal fascination with her beauty regime and took the opportunity to get my mum to help with translating the beauty tips from Korean to English during my trip home for Christmas.  As it turns out, the rest of the world is just as fascinated as I am with Korean skincare secrets and it is the number 1 performing post that trumps all other articles on Beauty Swatch.

2. Repetition works

I have many keywords repeated on Beauty Swatch (for obvious reasons being a lip swatch library), but all my deliberate attempts were trumped by a single keyword phrase that I used coincidentally.  In my earlier years of blogging, I would always include the name the lip balm that I used to prep lips for swatching and for a long time it was Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm.  By repeating this lip balm name over and over again in multiple blog posts (sometimes with back links added but after a while I gave up out of laziness), this lip balm is one of the highest drivers of traffic to my blog.

3. Tutorials work a treat on Pinterest

If you search for lipstick on Pinterest, you’ll find an abundant supply of lip art and stock images, with a noticeable gap in engaging content.  People love tutorials – be it for hair styling, DIY craft ideas or recipes –   so I decided to take a leaf out of their books and add my tutorials and selected swatches to Pinterest.  My best performing lip tutorial is the The Great Gatsby Inspired Lip Tutorial.

4. Masstige outperforms luxe

If you’ve ever felt that your blog is at a disadvantage due to the lack of content featuring luxury brands, you will be pleased to know that the swatches that I get the most traffic are from masstige brands that offer great quality and pigment at an accessible price point.  No surprises then that the top performing swatches are Revlon Lip Butter, Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Lipsticks and L’Oreal Shine Caresse Lip Colours.  Another highly successful post is where I swatched a significant number of shades in one post – the Clinique lipstick swatches for the “find your perfect lipstick” event I hosted.

5. Choose post titles wisely

Choosing the best SEO friendly post titles for your blog needs to be tailored to how your readers engage with your blog.  For Beauty Swatch, I know that most people search for keywords, get distracted and browse around 10 other related posts then head off on their merry way, so my post titles are structured based on the keywords that are most likely to be searched for.  I do however like Paris B and Tine‘s choices of engaging titles for their blog posts which works for a readership-based blog.

* * *

I hope you found this insightful!

xx

Great skincare minus the hefty price tag (Part 3)

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BEAUTY, Beauty Articles, Featured | by — January 25, 2014

Great Skincare Minus the Price Tag - Part 3

LUSH Dream Cream ($29.95 AUD / 240g)

Dream Cream is Lush’s best-selling product that’s particularly soothing for trouble skin.  My skin tends to break out in a rash from UV exposure which turns into a blotchy patch for days that takes ages to heal.  After applying Lush Dream Cream to the affected areas, my skin instantly felt calmed and comforted thanks to oat milk, chamomile and lavender, and my skin is left softened without any greasy residue.  I’m in two minds about the tub packaging – on one hand it’s convenient but at the same time it’s not that hygienic.  Since it’s more expensive than the supermarket brands, I tend to use this only on the areas affected by sun exposure.  It’s also a great gift idea if you know anyone that has sensitive skin.

LUSH Ro’s Argan Body Lotion ($32.50 AUD / 225g)

Lush Ro’s Argan Body Lotion is to body as hair conditioner is to hair.  When you’re almost done with your shower, slather this creamy concoction all over your body, rinse off and towel dry, and your skin will not only be moisturised without needing to apply body lotion, but also leave a lingering scent  of delicious rose jam.  I’m impressed by how moisturising it is, and it’s thanks to a concoction of oils (cypress, Brazil nut, almond and Argan) and butters (capuacu, cocoa, shea), Vitamin E, plus 20% glycerine to lock in all the moisture leaving it soft and smooth.   Whilst it does take dedication to remember to add it to my shower routine, I like that it’s faster to apply than body lotion (no blending required), and you can get dressed immediately without worrying about any residue.

KOSMEA Apple of My Eye Cream ($44.95 AUD / 15ml)

The key ingredient in this eye cream is derived from a rare Swiss apple that helps turn back the signs of aging.  Fans of Kosmea skincare will be pleased to know that this cream features Kosmea’s signature rose scent, certified organic rose hip oil and White tea extract to brighten dark under circles and reduce wrinkles.  It’s really rich and buttery, leaves the eye area soothed and soft by the next morning.  The rose / rose hip oil scent is quite strong – I find it relaxing when I apply it for bed but generally speaking I prefer my eye cream to be unscented.

URIAGE Creme Lavante Cleanser ($39.95 AUD / 500ml)

This is my holy grail cream cleanser for sensitive skin, as it stays creamy even when you massage it, rinses easily without any residue,  doesn’t strip the skin of moisture and actually leaves the skin feeling softened as it contains 1/3 milk and 10% anti-free radical Uriage Thermal Water.  It can be used on the body, face and scalp, but I prefer it as my morning cleanser especially during winter. Soap-free, paraben free and hypoallergenic.  I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin.

CLINIQUE Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+ ($29 AUD / 50ml)

Clinique DDML was my first “department store” moisturiser and was my staple moisturiser for several of my university years.  The newly formulated DDML+ contains new ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea to provide extra hydration and moisture, with extracts of sunflower seed cake, barley and cucumber fruit to strengthen the skin’s barrier and improve its resilience against environmental stresses.  It absorbs quickly and skin feels softened on immediate application.  What’s also new about DDML+ is its price point, now starting at $29 AUD for 50ml making it as affordable as some pharmacy / supermarket brand moisturisers.  Its refined texture and formula makes it a pleasure to use, even a decade on since I left university.  Since my skin is a lot drier now, I use this during hot summer weather or before I head to the gym for a sweaty workout.  Works best on normal or combination skin.

PALMER’S Cocoa Butter Formula Fragrance Free Lotion ($7.40 AUD / 250ml)

It claims to be as rich as the original formula minus the cocoa scent thanks to added botanical extracts that mask its scent.  To be honest, the cocoa scent is subtly noticeable upon application but disappears once absorbed.  It absorbs quickly on my dry skin, leaving my parched skin feeling comforted and nourished without any residue.  The squeeze tube is a bit hard to squeeze once you’ve used half of it, but the problem is solved if you leave it standing upside down as the weight of this cocoa-butter rich formula will bring it down with ease.  Best for dry skin.

These products were provided for consideration.

Purple eye palettes: Two favourites & one on my wish list

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BEAUTY, Beauty Articles, Featured | by — January 18, 2014

There was a time when I avoided purple eyeshadow like the plague, for it was renowned to make one look bruised in the eyes if not done well.  If it weren’t for Dior introducing me to the deep purple liner shade in my Mystic Smokys palette that I was gifted for my birthday in 2011, I wouldn’t have discovered just how alluring deep purple is for accentuating the eyes, nor would I have come to the realisation that purply taupes is the best transition shade for my skin tone, and I certainly wouldn’t have reached the point of using lilac as a highlighting shade and shimmers to complete the look.

In my journey of searching for my favourite purple eyeshadow palettes, I came across some hits and misses (eg. Chanel Les 4 Ombres Quadra Eye Shadow 08 Vanites didn’t suit my skin tone) and acquired some single shades that showed potential (like Bobbi Brown Shimmer Wash Eyeshadow “Heather Mauve” and Estee Lauder* limited edition “Untamed Violet” single shadow from the Underground Violet Collection).  But I have concluded that when it comes to purples it’s much better to spend one’s energy finding the right palette rather than on trying to piece together various single shadows from different brands.

My two favourite purple eyeshadow palettes share similarities in that it has a transitional taupey purple shade, except that the Estee Lauder has the shimmers integrated into the transitional colour, whereas the shimmers in the Dior palette is in the gold shade and there are more shades to work with as tranisitional colours. Both have an intense purple liner shade, and the highlighter shade in Estee Lauder is lilac, whereas Dior‘s is pink.

Estee Lauder The Metallics – Pure Color Instant Intense Eyeshadow Trio – Steel Lilac*

This is my go-to purple palette for work when I want something quick and easy with just 3 shades.  The key tip is to use a blending brush to fuse the colours together.

ESTEE LAUDER The Metallics - Pure Color Instant Intense Eyeshadow Trio - Steel Lilacs 03 1  ESTEE LAUDER The Metallics - Pure Color Instant Intense Eyeshadow Trio - Steel Lilacs 03 3

Dior 5 Couleurs Mystic Metallics – Constellation 864*

This is one of the few palettes that I can actually easily use all 5 shades in the palette.  I use the deep purple as a liner, the darker purply taupe on the lids, the light mauve as the transition colour, gold accents on the centre of the lid, and shimmery pink for the brow bone.

Dior Mystic Metallics - Constellation 1b

Dior Mystic Metallics - Constellation 2

Tom Ford Eye Color Quad – Violet Dusk

The other purple eyeshadow that is on my wish list is Tom Ford Eye Color Quad in “Violet Dusk” which my mum purchased to match her deep purple evening dress.  The palette has more violet in the mid tone shades, and I was impressed at both how this palette instantly brightened my mum’s sallow complexion and made her eyes look more vibrant. Must acquire this palette by 2014.

TOM FORD Violet Dusk-500

Do you have a favourite purple eyeshadow palette?

Did anyone else also avoid purple shadow like the plague?

 

Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration.

Currently using: Sunscreens for face & body

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BEAUTY, Beauty Articles, Featured | by — December 14, 2013

Currently Using - Sunscreens Oct 2013

I know 5 sunscreens seems excessive, but there is a reason for it! These days we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to a variety of textures and we no longer have to put up with the rich greasy texture that we’re familiar with but is now a cliché.  If you look at the picture above & tried to guess which sunscreen I use for which part of the body I bet you’d only guess half correctly.  It’s because my favourite sunscreen for my neck and decolletage is different to the one I like for my face, and my sunscreen of choice for my face is probably considered unusual to you.  But as they say – “if it works, stick to it”.

FACE

INVISIBLE ZINC Face & Body Sunscreen SPF 30+

If you knew how moisturising this sunscreen is, you’d be wondering why this is my sunscreen of choice for my face.  The first reason is because my skin type is dry and sensitive to chemical sunscreens, and the second reason is that this double as a moisturising primer that helps base makeup blend more easily onto my skin.   Despite the thick white appearance, it’s actually reasonably lightweight (on my dry skin) and absorbs easily just like skincare.    This multi award winning mineral sunscreen features micronised zinc oxide that is a low irritant for sensitive skin whilst providing high UVA and UVB protection.  No parabens, mineral oils or PABAs.

RRP: $19.95 AUD (75g) or $32 AUD (150g)  available at supermarkets, David Jones, Myer, Priceline, Terry White and all good pharmacies nationally.

BIORÉ Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+

This is my favourite sunscreen for face & body in terms of texture, for its water-based silky consistency that’s rich in hyaluronic acid that absorbs completely into the skin without any residue.   The scent is a refreshing citrus, featuring notes of orange, grapefruit & lemon.  Unfortunately since this is a chemical sunscreen, it didn’t agree with my sensitive skin on my face so it’s now my husband’s facial sunscreen.  His skin type is extremely oily, so the lightweight and refreshing texture of this sunscreen won him over, and I successfully convinced him to wear it on weekends when we’re out and about.

RRP: Approx. $13 USD (50g) + shipping from ebay sellers such as Alpha Beauty UK

NECK AND DÉCOLLETAGE

MOLTON BROWN Facial Sunshield SPF 30*

I got excited when I heard this sunscreen was made with plant-based sun filters, with hero ingredients of Indian karanja tree seed oil and pongamia extract to that create an age-defence barrier that avoids the use of harsh chemicals or heavy formulations which clog the pores.  The texture is lightweight and milky, applies like skincare and absorbs quickly.  I love the sleek white packaging that’s travel friendly, but  I’ve since lost the lid while travelling, which had a chic “Molton” logo on a silver backing.

The reason this “facial” sunscreen is down in my “neck and décolletage” section is because it turns out that despite the plant-based sun filters, it still is a chemical sunscreen with tell-tale ingredients like Octocrylene, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Octyl Salicylate and Oxybenzone.  My neck and décolletage don’t react to these ingredients, so I use it mainly for my neck when I don’t want sunscreen to rub off on the neckline of my clothing.

RRP: $59 AUD (50ml) available at David Jones & www.moltonbrown.com.au

CLARINS Sun Care Cream for Face*

I was so pleased when I learned that this product has since been re-branded and re-packaged into “Sun Wrinkle Control Cream Very High Protection For Face ” available in SPF 30.  Mine is SPF 15 which is too low for my personal preference, but I still use it neverthless as my “back up” sunscreen which I keep in the office for days I rush out the door forgetting to apply sunscreen on my neck, décolletage, arms or legs.  The best part about this product is the creamy texture that has a “skincare scent” and absorbs easily without any residue.  Unless they’ve changed the sunscreen ingredients, this contains a combination of both chemical UV absorbers and Titanium Dioxide, a physical sunscreen ingredient.

RRP: $35 AUD(75ml) available at leading department stores, select pharmacies nationally and online at Adore Beauty.

ARMS & LEGS

REEF Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30*

Velvety smooth in texture with a dry-touch powder-like finish, this sunscreen is scented with Reef’s signature coconut fragrance.  This my favourite sunscreen for protecting large areas such as my arms and legs as it’s applies easily like a body moisturiser, absorbs quickly and is also the most affordable sunscreen I have, so I can apply dollops of it without needing to worry about hitting pan.   The coconut scent is very noticeable and lingers on for hours, so I use this only when I plan to spend the day outdoors.

RRP: $10.99 AUD (150ml) available at supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores nationwide.

What are your favourite sunscreens for face & body?

 

Products marked with an asterisk were provided for consideration.  All other products were purchased.