Things I love #17.

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Before I had a blog I was such a simple person. I didn’t while away hours¬†on my computer, I never double cleansed and I didn’t get sucked into lusting after every second product because someone else said it was amazing. I can’t for the life of me remember where or when I first heard about Alpha H Liquid Gold except I know it was on a blog. Or, more likely, blogs plural. Things have a way of catching. In any case I was sufficiently intrigued enough to buy a bottle from Adore Beauty and for the past two years I’ve been hooked.

It’s been a novel experience trying to push this stuff on my real life friends. Conversations generally run along the lines of, “Oh it’s an acid and you put it on your face and it kind of tingles and you can’t use it too often or you might burn your skin.” Not very comforting. But the stuff genuinely is liquid gold as it leaves me fresh faced like nothing else and my skin always feels incredibly smooth after using it. I really notice when I have some time off it.

Alpha H Liquid Gold is a skin resurfacing treatment which uses glycolic acid to exfoliate. It also works to diminish wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage. I use it every third night on my normal-bordering-on-oily skin and I don’t follow up with any cream or serum, which increases the potency. Because my applications are spaced out I’ve never had an issue with my skin reacting to it but I don’t underestimate the fact it’s powerful stuff and it’s worth a test drive before committing to a set routine. You apply it like a toner on a cotton pad, avoiding the eyes, so it’s really simple to use.

The product is now one of my non negotiables in my skin care routine. I tend to pick mine up via Adore Beauty which has the 100ml bottle for sale round the $50 mark. And trust me, it might be the best $50 you ever spend.

Things I love #17.

Santa soap

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There are people I know who are full on, certified ‘Lushies’. The kind of people who count down the days until the Snow Fairy shower gel is released, who use that weird in shower body conditioner, who don’t sneeze every time they so much as go past a Lush store. I am not one them. Case in point: I actually have two full bottles of Lush shower gel, including one of Snow Fairy, that have sat patiently in my bathroom cabinet for over a year. Aside from a deep and meaningful obsession with the Big shampoo, Lush really isn’t my thing.

I did pop in store a couple of weeks ago though to check out their Christmas range because I do appreciate festive toiletries. After sniffing the various things I settled on picking up a chunk of the Reindeer Rock soap. This is my first Lush soap and it smells amazing, really sweet¬†like berry lollies (Lush seem to be big on lolly scents). It’s a deep red colour and has reindeer imprints on it with a metallic silver finish – I reckon this would be a really cute stocking filler.

However I’m not totally convinced on the product itself. It’s not bad per se however I find the soap just doesn’t foam up. I’m sure that’s because it’s made from all sorts of more natural stuff but it makes for hard work as you have to rub the bar over every single part of your body rather than letting the foam do the work. It’s just a little time consuming. That said, it does appear to clean reasonably well, is non drying on the skin and smells great so if you’re up for a bit of elbow grease, this could be the soap for you.

Santa soap

Things I bought #139.

Birkenstocks

Oh here’s a picture of something I never, ever thought I’d buy – Birkenstocks. I even said so here. I have never been a fan of them because my style runs a little sharper and more feminine than they imply, but I’m guessing after seeing them on a hundred blog posts and increasingly on stylish young things that my defences were worn down. For me it was the bright aqua colour that seduced me and I wouldn’t have bought them in any other shade. After seeing a pair in a photo a quick Google showed that ASOS were stocking them they went straight on my wish list. At the end of November the site had a 20 per cent off code and into my cart they went. Totes bandwagon.

I tried them on an immediately knew I was keeping them because that colour is just plain gorgeous. I was walking through Doncaster Westfield checking myself out like a boss in every mirror the first time I wore them. Here’s the thing that surprised me though – not as comfortable as I expected. The actually hurt quite a bit. I suspect that’s because of the moulded sole and arch support – my poor feet have probably been splayed by years of Havianas and ballet flats and other flat shoes. For that aqua hue though I’ll keep persevering.

The style is called the Arizona and they are regularly priced at $125 on ASOS, plus they have a range of other styles and colours if this isn’t quite your thing. As always it’s worth sticking them in your wish list and waiting for a code to take a little bit of money off them.

Things I bought #139.

Thoughts of the week – 14/12

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1. Taylor Swift tickets bought! Will be off to see her at AAMI Stadium next December and the bonus is that it’s my brother’s Christmas present to me.

2. I went to see the latest Hunger Games movie on Tuesday and consider me underwhelmed. I thought it was pretty ordinary and would have happily left halfway through. I hate this splitting of the final book that seems to always happen, stop dragging it out for money.

3. A friend has been lending me her second car for the past fortnight and it’s been a God send. My insurance money should come through soon and then after Christmas it will be new car time.

4. Marsala is the Pantone colour of the year for 2015 and it’s also something I would consider underwhelming.

5. I’ve done pretty much all of my Christmas shopping except mum and dad, who still cannot tell me what they would like. Though to be fair, I haven’t told them anything I would like. It’s so hard! I just had a birthday!

6. Titus O’Reilly is my hero and his take on the office Christmas party is hilarious.

7. Warner, Smith¬†and Clarke’s centuries in the cricket¬†test v India were superb and their tributes to Phil Hughes at various points during the innings made the tears flow again.

8. I am obsessed with Erdem’s latest collection, especially this dress and this top. The colours and print are beyond gorgeous. Sadly neither fall anywhere close to my budget.

9. Is there anything sadder than Sephora sending you an email saying “we miss you” and¬† a $15 voucher? God damn it.

10. One of the great joys of my life is making mix tapes/CD for other people.

11. I have to admit, watching the Victoria’s Secret show each year is my guilty pleasure. I love the over the top drama of it all and as the Fug Girls pointed out, it’s always great watching models who smile.

12. I only have one week at work left before a week’s leave. Bring it on.

Thoughts of the week – 14/12

Washed out

maybelline bleached neons

I’m a sucker for pretty nail polish and though I struggle to be bothered painting my fingernails regularly, my toe nails are done religiously every Sunday night. Now that summer has (apparently) arrived I’m all about sandals and thongs so out come the bright colours, like this Maybelline Color Show polish in Tropink from the Bleached Neons collection.

I liked all the polishes in this range but in the end settled on this one during Priceline’s 40 per cent off sale. It’s a creamy, salmon pink with just a subtle touch of neon and a white undertone to make it pop. Honestly, I was surprised by just how much I loved this – I kept looking down at my toes thinking how great this colour was. The wear was good over the week and come Sunday night, it seemed such a shame to take it off that I waited a couple of extra days.

Washed out

Toledo

Toledo view

Where I went: Toledo, Spain

How long I stayed: One night, two half days either side.

How long I should have stayed:¬†I found that to be pretty much spot on – Toledo isn’t a big place and you can easily cover it in a day.

Where I stayed: I stayed at the Hotel Carlos V which was pretty average to be honest. I arrived half an hour before check in and was told my room wasn’t ready and I can’t say the staff were particularly friendly. The d√©cor was super dated, the bathroom was an awful squeeze, my TV didn’t work and the walls were paper thin. The location of the hotel was good though and easy walking distance to all the appropriate sights and Plaza de Zocodover, which is the main city square.

Toledo catedral

What I did: A lap of the city in the open air motorised tourist train, Catedral de Toledo (above), Plaza del Zocodover (below), lots of wandering about. It rained while I was there so I spent a bit more time indoors than expected.

Getting around: Toledo is pretty tiny so walking is an easy option, though it’s quite hilly. If you arrive by train you’ll likely need to get a taxi to your hotel/the city because the station sits a little way out of the main part of town. I also highly recommend the little motorised train because they do a whole lap of the city with commentary and stop at different places to let you take photos (like the first one above with the view across town).

Toledo street

What I thought: A friend had recommended Toledo as a bit of an interesting and quirky place to visit after Madrid. It’s only 45 minutes south¬†by train and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its religious history – it is a place of significance for Christians, Jews and Muslims. The city itself is gorgeous, with tiny cobblestone streets and it reminded me a lot of Italy. It’s not a big place either by any stretch so it’s possible to do as I did and stay the single night, or even visit as a day trip from Madrid.

It rained while I was there which curtailed the amount of time I spent outdoors but again, I highly recommend the little motorised train which does a lap of the city. There’s lots of photo opportunities along the way as it takes you through the oldest parts of the city. I visited the Catedral (hey! More churches!) which was fantastic, though I didn’t make it to the Synagogue which is also meant to be great. The Alcazar is the other main building and it now houses the military museum – I walked a lap of the outside but didn’t go in.

Toledo is a place made for wandering and eating ice cream and I did plenty of both. While I enjoyed my short visit, I’m not convinced it’s an absolute must-do if you’re visiting Spain and there’s a few other places I’d put ahead of it. That said, if you have a longer itinerary like I did then it is worth adding a night there for something a bit different.

Toledo

November empties

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Frizz Ease Dream Curls Shampoo – This came in one of those Priceline bags you can get a couple of times a year packed with stuff after you spend $40 on hair care. I just have so much shampoo stockpiled I don’t need it and am giving it to a friend.

Garnier Fructis Style Gel – This is from an old Garnier show bag at the tennis back in day. Gonna give it to my brothers.

VO5 Defining Gloss – I’m not sure in what lifetime this would ever suit my hair. Also I’m fairly sure I bought it when I lived in Canberra, which is 10 years ago now, and it smells really bad. Chucking.

Schwarzkofp Ultime Crystal Shine Shampoo and Conditioner – This is the second time I’ve given the Ultime products a go and have hated them both times. I took a travel set to Hawaii and thought maybe it was just the water there that made them perform poorly but no, they’re just as crappy here.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor – The irony of the Aussie hair care range is that you can’t even buy them in Australia. I picked up this sachet in London and I really loved it, would definitely repurchase at some stage. It left my hair super silky and it smells amazing.

Garnier hair colour – I can’t for the life of me remember which one I used but it was ordinary. Not the Fructis colour because that’s quite good. Or the Olia. It was some other new one and left my hair a reddy brown rather than the dark ash brown it was supposed to be.

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Radox Uplifting Shower Gel – This smells like pink grapefruit and basil and for a cheap supermarket product, it’s actually really good. A nice buy for summer.

Le Tan Tanning Gel in Deep Bronze – This is my favourite self tanner. It’s cheap as chips and leaves you with a decent deep gold colour. It’s also easy to apply, especially if you use a mitt, and comes out pretty streak free.

Rodial Brazillian Tan – This was decent but not as good as my Le Tan.

Ambre Solaire Tanning Mousse – TERRIBLE. The pump broke after three goes and then it spilled dark brown liquid everywhere.

Invisible Zinc for Face and Body – This was given to me by a friend a few years ago so it’s expired (and I never really used it).

Manicare Nail Polish Remover – Does the job, which is all you can ask for.

La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume sample – This is one of those heavy duty body creams that people with exceptionally dry skin used. I liked it from what I could get out of the small sample however I generally prefer super scented body lotions rather than the functioning medicinal type.

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Biore Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips – Automatic repurchase.

Sanctuary Spa Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil – This was pretty good for a cheaper oil cleanser. The only thing I would say is it got a bit gluey around the eyes and you needed to use a fair bit. It didn’t leave my skin feeling silky smooth like the DHC or Shu Uemura but a solid bargain option.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo – I use this in the day before moisturiser and have already repurchased. Does a good job just keeping my skin in check. Also all of the LRP stuff is really great quality and worth trying, if you haven’t already. I’m glad Priceline are stocking it.

Trilogy Energising Face Lotion – This was given to me by a friend but I don’t tend to like Trilogy products (for some reason they just do not work with my skin), so I’m passing it on to another friend.

Alpha H Liquid Gold Smoothing and Perfecting Mask – This came in an Adore Beauty sample bag and I loved it so much I bought the full size. It really does a great job of a stronger exfoliation and leaves your skin so fresh. I use mine every other week.

L’Oreal Revitalift Blur sample – These blurring products chock full of silicone all feel the same to me. Eh.

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti Oxidant Facial Treatment sample – I got about three goes out of this sachet. It feel like a facial oil and its nice, but I didn’t notice enough of a difference to purchase a full size bottle.

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Mirenesse Pearl Crush Eye Shadow Trios – These came free with a magazine a few years ago. They’re a bit powdery and I have so much other make up that they never get used. I’m giving to a friend.

Sportsgirl In My Shadow Palette – Another barely used palette I’m giving to a friend. these shadows are really dark and hard to blend too.

Maybelline Colossal Go Extreme Leather Black Mascara – I bought this in London and got abou a month’s use out of it before it became impossible. It went really gluggy and clumpy on my lashes, plus it always always always smeared all over my lids. It did a decent job with volume, though I’m not exactly sure what the leather aspect was, however I struggle to recommend it when there are so many better mascaras out there.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Shimmer Touch – This is a bit too sparkly for me and because it’s a lot thicker, I can’t blend it with my foundation like I do my other illuminators. Giving to a friend.

Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch Primer – My favourite primer of ll time and one I only ever used on special occasions. A lot of similar products have entered the market since this first came out a few years ago but it’s still the best to me.

NARS Pro-Prime Light Optimising Primer – This wasn’t too bad and had an opalescent sheen which added a nice glow to the face. However it also has sunscreen which gives it that slightly white cast. I wouldn’t purchase a full size of this.

Maybelline baby Skin Instant Fatigue Blur in Cool Rose sample – I ummmed and ahhhed over these in London but ultimately didn’t buy a full size. I’m glad because this was just OK – a bit watery and I didn’t see any of my fatigue dissipate.

Essence Beauty Beats Lip Gloss in Groupie At Heart – This was from the Bieber collection and is actually a decent gloss, but I have another 476 in this exact shade so I’m giving to a friend.

Korres Soft Touch Lip Pen in Dark Purple – I got this free with a StrawberryNet order. It’s way too dark for me and it is super creamy and pigmented, so I can’t even work it as a stain. Giving away.

Napoleon Long Black Mascara – As ever, Napoleon mascaras are total crap. Chuck.

Clinique Long Last Gloss Wear in Air Kiss – I put this on and it appears to have gone bad so I’m chucking.

 

 

November empties