I haven’t inflicted a What’s In My Bag? or a FOTD (face of the day) on you in quite some time. That’s not because I don’t use handbags or makeup anymore. I certainly do. But I’ve been so busy with the move from the South to the North Island. Getting established up here – planting, designing the new home (well, El Hubs is doing that), finding new kennels for the Z Team, finding my way around our new area – and this has taken up most of 2017.

So it’s time to inflict on you a post showing you what’s in the latest bag I’m hauling around. In line with my ongoing approach to minimalism, I have a very small bag. I’m not really hauling anything. Most days, I’m on the property walking the dogs and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Not much need to take a handbag with me LOL When I go out, I take this bag with me. I have also continued my commitment to buying NZ made products as much as possible. If I can’t find an NZ product, I then find one made in Australia.

My bag is from The Cowhide Company, a NZ company based in Auckland. It’s called the X-Body Clutch. You can detach the silver chain strap and it becomes a clutch or keep the chain on and wear it as a shoulder bag. Very versatile. From the same company, I also have a huge carry-bag that I use when I want to carry around the whole house. I’m waiting for them to release a new bag I’ve seen on their Facebook page and I’ll most likely pounce on it.

In this bag, I have my very small wallet. I’ve downsized from big wallets to a small one that I can just take with me if I don’t want to carry a handbag. It’s from The Design Edge, an Australian family-owned company. Because it’s so small I only have room for credit cards, driver’s licence and some cash. Any credit card receipts I remove from the wallet once a week.

I have also downsized my lipstick collection. I stick to lippies from three companies basically – Revlon (a long term favourite), Inika and xobeauty. Inika is an Australian certified organic, cruelty-free, 100% vegan beauty range that I have used for years. I remember when they first launched and I was still living in Australia – maybe around 2007 – I bought one of their mineral foundation powders in a chemist in Sydney. They have come a long way since then and I use a lot of their products – mineral bronzer, illuminator, eye shadows.

XO Beauty is a New Zealand company started by a 20-something Kiwi YouTuber. It’s amazing how many YouTubers have brought out product ranges. Makeup Geek is another makeup brand started by an American YouTuber that has been very successful. I very much like the lipstick range from XO Beauty. In one of the photos below, you will see my two fav lipsticks from this brand – Philocaly, which is a matte pinky nude and Kaiross, which is a matte orangey-pink. When I want a bit of gloss, I use my favourite – Inika certified organic lip glaze in Cinnamon. I also have their lip glazes in Watermelon and Berry. I carry an old concealer around; just in case. I’m pretty sure it’s from CoverGirl but the writing has long since worn off.

So I can see what I’m doing when applying lippy, I have a very old compact from Estee Lauder. It was part of a zodiac range. I think they still have this range but not in this exact shape and design. My mum bought this for me many years ago. I wouldn’t part with it for anything in the world.

And that’s it. The extent of what I carry around these days.

You can fold over the bag, remove the silver chain and use it as a clutch. Or fold it over and keep the chain on. Or have it extended as in this photo, so it becomes a larger bag. Very versatile!

The Design Edge small wallet with gold zip.

There are two compartments.

XO Beauty lipsticks in Philocaly (far left) and Kaiross (middle); Inika Certified Organic Lip Glaze in Cinnamon.

Estee Lauder compact in Taurus zodiac design and studded with crystals.



I’m loving a few things lately. Constantly wearing them or using them. So I thought I’d show you.

IMG_8583That hot tomali handbag is my recently purchased Rebecca Minkoff Hudson Moto Mini. I’ve been using it since I bought it back in early May. You can’t fit much in the bag so it’s really made me downsize the stuff I was lugging around. I have a very small wallet, my iPhone, one lipstick and keys. That’s it.

Starting from the left:

  • Heritage Store Egyptian Oil. This is a new discovery. I bought it off iHerb and it’s a blend of olive, peanut, sassafras, fir needle, and lanolin oils. You massage into tired muscles or sore joints. It does smell a little bit like Deep Heat but nowhere near as potent. I find it really effective. The product is based on a formula from Edgar Cayce.
  • Alba Botanica. Pretty sure this is an American brand and I discovered it this year, again on iHerb. I’m loving the distinctive yellow, green and brown packaging of the brand. I bought the Drink It Up Coconut Milk Hawaiian Leave-In Conditioning Mist. The mist smells like you’re spraying a tropical garden into your hair and the scent lingers for some time. Hair feels soft too.
  • But the real find from this brand is the Jasmine and Vitamin E Hawaiian Moisture Cream – wow. Beautiful, but subtle jasmine scent, not too heavy on the skin; absorbs quickly and is great under makeup. I think this might be a HG product for me.
  • The Body Shop Early Harvest Raspberry Body Butter. You know I love body butters from TBS. Normally, I buy the Shea Body Butter or the Cocoa Body Butter. Recently, I tried the Olive one and loved it, so thought why not try a totally different scent. I was a bit worried I’d smell like a fruit bowl but nope, the Raspberry Body Butter is very subtle. I liked it so much I bought the Frosted Cranberry variety at Christmas time. I have a couple of body butters to use up before I get to this one. And I am very keen to try out Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Kukui Nut Body Cream.
  • Now Solutions Moroccan Red Clay Powder. Another iHerb find. Actually, I’m buying most of my stuff off iHerb these days. I saw this product on a YouTube beauty video and thought it would be great to use as a detoxifying masque. It feels slightly warm once on the skin and certainly tightens up the pores and skin. I use it once a week.
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Radiant Bronze Light. I have quite a few bronzers but I keep coming back to this one. It isn’t orangey and gives you a wonderful sun-kissed glow. In the pan, it looks like there’s a lot of shimmer going on but it doesn’t show up on the skin. The texture is silky and smooth and blending is a breeze.
  • Kat von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette. I’ve not tried anything from this brand before and this was a very good start. A great matte eyeshadow palette that is very easy to travel with. It’s arranged into three colour quads – neutral, cool, and warm. I mix it all up and I find the eye shadows very velvety with minimal fall out.
  • Jewellery. There are two pieces of jewellery in the photo. One is just above the Hourglass bronzer. I bought it up in the North Island and it’s a cuff filled with sparkly gold beads. A great piece of costume jewellery that I seem to wear a lot.
  • The second piece of jewellery is in the photo below and I bought it a few months ago in Wellington. It was instant love. I walked into a shop in Cuba Mall full of amazing rings and earrings. I was just looking and was in the shop for 5 minutes or so before setting my eyes on the ring.
  • I was so attracted to the light blue colour, which is unusual because green is my favourite colour. I would not have said that I was a fan of blue but, since getting this ring, I’ve noticed that a lot of my clothes are shades of blue. And a favourite handbag is navy.
  • I didn’t know what the stone was and ended up in a long conversation with the shop manager who told me it’s a Larimar. I’ve since found out that Larimar is a fairly recent find from the 1970s and is only found in the Dominican Republic. It’s also known as the Dolphin Stone, Blue Pectolite, Atlantis Stone and Stefilia’s Stone, and is a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite.
  • When you look at the stone, it’s like seeing the sun dancing on turquoise waters. It’s said to be a crystal of serenity and aids communication. The ring is handmade and I really like the thick shank, which has a hammered effect. I haven’t taken the ring off since I bought it a few months ago. IMG_8741


Here we go with more products finished up. Very satisfying. I’ll give you an idea of whether I’ll repurchase or not.

Hair stuff. The usual dry shampoo, Batiste, this time the Blush scent. Used it before, will always repurchase Batiste. Also finished up Big shampoo from LUSH. This is for fine, limp hair and provides volume. You only need a teensy amount to suds up. Really liked the ocean salt scent and will repurchase.

I also finished an OLD conditioner from The Body Shop – when they had the Honey moisturising conditioner. Must have brought it with me when we moved from Australia. I discovered it in a cupboard and, since it didn’t smell funky, thought I’d use it up. The Honey range is discontinued, but it was a pretty good conditioner.

Cleansers. Quite a few gone. One I REALLY liked is from Lavera, a German brand. I’m pretty sure I bought it in Sweden and it’s called Basis Sensitiv Cleansing Gel with Organic Lemon Balm & Organic Mallow. OMG the smell of this cleanser is amazing. It is very effective and calming on the skin as well. Will have to buy another tube of this.

Eucerin Dermato Clean Mild Cleansing Milk. This was okay, nothing great. Very mild and didn’t irritate my skin but not as good as the Lavera cleanser. Won’t bother repurchasing.

Chanel Mousse Exfoliante Purete. I bought this at some duty-free shop at some airport. I liked it but there’s no exfoliating going on in my view. The tiny exfoliating beads can get in your eyes if you’re not careful. The tube lasted for ages, but I wouldn’t buy it again as it could be quite drying on the skin.

Neutrogena Nourishing Cream Cleanser – Night Calming. Yeah, this was okay. Nothing great. It was creamy but I didn’t notice it being very calming. Wouldn’t buy again.

Shower stuff. I picked up a large bottle Soap & Glory’s Clean on Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel. A very creamy body wash, with a gorgeous mandarin smell due to the mandarin peel extract. Lasted for ages, gentle on the skin and I would certainly buy again.

I found an old Lux shower gel in the same cupboard I find The Body Shop conditioner. Amazing how you can stash things away and then forget about them. This was a caramel and shea butter scent; don’t remember the actual name. It was a delectable scent with some exfoliating beads. I’d probably buy it again should I stumble on another bottle.

OMG yet another Nivea Natural Oil Shower Oil. I thought I had finished them all up, but no, I found another one. This product is quite watery, so I finished the bottle in one week. My love affair is over!

Body stuff. Made my way through another body butter from The Body Shop. You know I love these and will never be without a body butter from TBS. This was a second tub of the Vanilla Spice body butter. Every Christmas, I go berserk over the vanilla spice range (which is now called Spiced Vanilla I think) and I bought about four of these body butters back in 2006 or 2007. They’ve never been opened so are still okay and I have one left. Sugary, cinnamon-y, gingery, vanilla goodness at its best!

Also finished a small body butter from Melaleuca. It was a berry scent. Nothing remarkable.

Soaps. One I finished up was really creamy and soft on the skin. It’s by NZ brand, Henrietta Soaps, and it was the Goat’s Milk Natural Soap. No parabens or nasties. Had a very delightful but delicate scent. Would certainly buy again.

Olivella Gentle Beauty Soap. This soap is luxurious and good for the skin since it’s made from olive oil. I’m a great fan of the Olivella range, having polished off a shower gel and eye cream. The bar is quite hard and doesn’t do that horrid melt in the shower thing, and is a lovely moss green colour. A definite repurchase.

Eco Store Goat’s Milk soap with no nasty chemicals. This an NZ brand and I keep hoping the brand will wow me, but it doesn’t. I didn’t find this soap as creamy or as luxurious as the Henrietta soap. It’s an okay soap, nothing special.

LUSH Karma soap. Always sad to finish up anything from the Karma range. It’s my fav scent from LUSH – full of spicy patchouli, lemongrass, orange oil, and pine. Can’t get any better.

Face stuff. Evolu Facial Toner. I think this is my third bottle. Evolu is an NZ brand and I’ve used quite a lot of their products over the years. The toner has aloe vera and rosa gallica and I find it really calming on my skin. At the moment, I’m using a toner I make myself, with lemongrass essential oil from Bhutan, so I won’t buy this again for a bit.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen with SPF70. Yeah, I have to admit to not always using sunscreen. I do go out in the sun but usually wear a hat. But when I remember, I do like a sunscreen from Neutrogena. This one is great: not greasy and absorbs fast. Wears very well under makeup. Will repurchase.

Eye creams. Three finished up. The first one is from Bobbi Brown and it’s the Extra Eye Repair Cream. You get 15ml in the glass jar and it lasted me for over a year and a half. Why? Because you need just the teeniest amount to moisturise the under-eye area. Creamy, velvety, silky – choose the word because they all apply to this wonderful cream. Expensive but worth it. Will definitely repurchase once I finish up my current eye cream.

Also polished off the Divine Eyes from L’Occitane. This is touted to be anti-ageing and will help to smooth fine lines and reduce puffiness. It’s a creamy gel-like consistency but I didn’t think it did much at all. It was too light in texture for my liking and I prefer the thicker consistency of the Bobbi Brown cream. Won’t repurchase.

Melvita Naturalift Youthful Skin Complex (Eyes & Lips) cream. Pretty sure Melvita is a French brand. I bought this eye cream in Hong Kong at a Melvita store. Quite liked it. Glided on easily and seemed quite moisturising. I would buy it again but more intent on buying the Bobbi Brown eye cream.

Makeup. Three mascaras finished. Two from Essence and one old Revlon mascara (which had dried up). Both Essence mascaras were volumising and I will repurchase. However, I’m currently having a love affair with the new Revlon mascaras. They are amazing.

Essence All-In-One CC Cream Clear and Correct #10 Natural. I like to use a CC cream to even out the complexion. Just a little bit. And I really liked this cream. I do prefer the Rachel K CC cream though. Right now, I’m using a Revlon one, not bad but not great either.

Royal Nectar Original Face Mask. This is an NZ brand and, sadly, I had to throw it out. I was about half way through the tub and it started to smell funky. A combo of bee venom and manuka honey, it is supposed to have a tightening effect on the skin. I didn’t really notice this but did like the cream. I wouldn’t buy it again though.

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturiser SPF 15. A pretty simple moisturiser. Absorbs well but nothing special. Because it’s oil free, I didn’t feel it was moisturising enough and I prefer more hydration.

Clinique Sculptwear Lift & Contour Serum for Face & Neck. I had a sample sachet of this and there was hardly any product in it. So can’t comment!

Makeup. FINALLY, finished my bottle of Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation (shade 1C1 Cool Bone). LOVE this foundation. It’s full coverage and stays put all day. You do have to work reasonably quickly to blend but not as quickly as with Revlon’s ColorStay. Really didn’t have to use a lot to get good coverage, which is why the bottle lasts a long time. I will certainly repurchase but I’d like to try Double Wear Light.

MAC eyeshadow in Naked Lunch. A long-time favourite. Love using it with MAC Bronze. Naked Lunch is a champagne pink with a hint of peach and reminds me of Stila’s Kitten eyeshadow. Part of my permanent eyeshadow collection.

Essence eyeshadow in shade #14 Chilli Vanilli. Not a fan of the Essence single eyeshadows as they are chalky and not very pigmented. I think their palettes are far better. So I’m tossing this eyeshadow.

Essence Long Lasting Eye Pencil in #19 Hot Scorch. A great fan of these eye pencils. This is my second Hot Scorch pencil – a lovely soft golden bronze shade that is perfect for lining the waterline. Lasts most of the day – just a bit of fading.

Toothpaste. I thought I’d try out Colgate Optic White toothpaste as it claims to give you a visibly whiter smile. Not sure it does that but I did like the mint flavour. However, it contains fluoride, something I’m not keen on.

Yet another tube of Red Seal (NZ brand) Natural toothpaste. A great minty toothpaste and I’ve been through countless tubes of Red Seal over the years.

Vitamins. Not something I usually include but I thought I’d talk about Berocca Performance effervescent tablets in Orange flavour. I have been taking this for YEARS and I mean yeeeearrs. A long time in other words. Berocca contains Vitamin C and essential minerals, like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Any time I go away, I take enough tablets with me. Can’t do without Berocca.

I also finished a bottle of Nature’s Way Boswellia Standardized. Due to my fall in Rome in 2012, I’ve developed a hip issue. Basically, a loss of cartilage, so I take Boswellia as it helps with joint mobility and support.

Makeup remover pads. Normally, I use The Body Shop’s Organic Cotton Rounds but bought three packets of remover pads from Vitacost. They were the Organic Essentials Swisspers Cotton Rounds. Quite liked them although they are thinner than The Body Shop cotton rounds. You get 80 pads in a pack and I’ve finished one pack.

Perfume. A long-term favourite of mine is Chanel’s Coco Eau de Parfum. I always have a bottle of this perfume in my collection. It’s a very spicy Oriental with top notes of coriander, mandarin orange, peach, jasmine and Bulgarian rose; middle notes of mimosa, cloves, orange blossom, clover and rose; base notes of labdanum, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, opoponax, civet and vanilla. So you can imagine how magnificent this perfume is to wear. It’s my Winter perfume.


Yep, more empties people – so very satisfying. Been powering through stuff, so let’s have a look at my trash shall we?!IMG_7577

Hair Stuff. More Batiste, of course. This time, I tried the new (to New Zealand) Neon Lights Pomegranate and Jasmine scent. Couldn’t tell the difference from other scents to be honest, but Batiste does the job between washes. I also used up another can of VO5 Refresh Me Quick dry shampoo. This is much cheaper than Batiste, so I buy a few cans of VO5 in between Batiste. Really like its soft scent and it’s nearly as good as Batiste.

I finally used up a can of L’Oreal Elnett Strong Hold hairspray. I bought this on my last trip to Portugal, I think in 2008. Been holding onto it for sentimental reasons. Used it up and have bought another can. Best hairspray in my view. Although I don’t use hairspray often, I’ve used Elnett for years.

Himalaya Herbals Protein Conditioner. Another sentimental product. I bought this whilst living in Bhutan back in early 2014. It’s a rich conditioner with a subtle scent. By sheer coincidence, just as I was sad to finish it up, I found an Indian market in Christchurch that sells Himalaya Herbals products, including this conditioner. Happiness!!

Fudge Colour Lock Conditioner. Quite liked it but hated the fussy pink and black tube with a ton of writing on it. Won’t repurchase though because it didn’t really do much for my hair.

L’Oreal Paris Elvital Volume Collagen Root Lifting Spray. This is my third bottle I think. I bought this lifting spray to replace my HG volumising spray, David Babaii for Wild Aid Bohemian Beach Spray, which has been discontinued. Does a good job of giving my fine hair some volume and is light-weight.

Body Butters. Finished up two body butters from The Body Shop (TBS). I’ve used TBS body butters for years and years; I don’t think there is anything better. Super-rich and creamy. This time I indulged in an Olive body butter and the Cocoa Butter one. I loved both. The Olive has a lovely fruity scent. This was the first time I’ve tried the Cocoa Butter scent (I usually buy the Shea Butter) and wow, what a heavenly scent. I’d certainly buy both again. Right now though, I have to make my way through a Shea Butter, Frosted Cranberry and a Raspberry body butter.

Inecto Pure Coconut Body Lotion. Pretty sure this is a UK brand. Nowhere near as good at TBS body butter, but sometimes I want a lighter body lotion. Pretty good coconutty scent. Would certainly buy this again.

Dusting Powder. I rarely use dusting powder, but when I saw the Lavendula lavender powder, it reminded me of my mother. I must say the powder puff is very soft and the talc has a lovely soft lavender scent. Quite liked it.

Soap & shower stuff. Decided to try a liquid hand wash from the EcoStore (NZ brand) – grapefruit and mint scent. Their soaps are plant and mineral based and clean pretty well. But…I find them watery in comparison to my beloved Dr Bronner’s liquid soaps.

Sabun Olive & Laurel Oil Soap. This soap is from Syria and made via traditional methods. It’s oh-so gentle and this was the Rose variety. It’s quite a clunky bar to hold as it’s basically a big square. I keep buying these soaps though because they are very creamy and mild.

Another Pearl Natural Sandalwood soap from Fiji is used up. These bars are enriched with 100% pure coconut oil and they have no animal fats or sodium laurel/laureth nasties. LOVE and have been through countless bars.

Yet another Nivea Natural Oil. I brought many of them back from my time living in Rome. I keep thinking I have only one left, but then find another one hahaha. I really like this shower gel – a delicate, distinctive scent. Wish it was available in New Zealand.

Skin stuff. Finally, I finished up a LARGE Estee Lauder Soft Clean toner. I’ve had this for ages. It’s nothing special in my view, but decided it had to go, so I diligently made my way through it. Wouldn’t repurchase. I currently love a toner I make myself – from rosewater, witch hazel and organic lemon grass essential oil I buy from Bhutan.

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes. I always have a packet of cleansing wipes around and take them with me when we travel. I’d say the Simple brand is my favourite, as the wipes don’t sting my eyes and effectively take off makeup and grime.

I also finished up a day and night cream from Russian brand, Natura Siberica. Sent to me by my Russian pal who now lives in Italy! This is a great brand and these creams were from the Saphora Japonica range, which contains wild harvested and organic Chamomile extracts. I’d LOVE to try their Royal Caviar Revitalizing Face Serum.

Sad, but I also finished an eye cream I bought in Italy. It’s the L’Erbolario Crema Contorno Occhi or eye contour cream with camellia and grape seed. Loved it. Rich and nourishing around the eye area. If only I lived in Italy!!

Aura Cacia Grapeseed Skin Care Oil. I have a number of oils that I use for the face, body and hair. My current one is coconut oil by Cococare. For some reason, the Aura Cacia grapeseed oil went off when I was about three-quarters of the way through the bottle. Would buy again though. Very rich and soothing.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O micellar water. You hear a lot about this product on YouTube. I liked it but wouldn’t rave about it. Effective at taking off eye and face makeup and is great for sensitive skin. But I reckon the Garnier micellar water does a better job and is much cheaper.

Lavera Basis All-Round Cream. Really loved this product with its delicate lemony scent. With organic jojoba, almond and shea butter, you can slap this cream on anywhere you like. I mainly use it as a hand cream and I like how it comes in a large round tin. Easy to dispense and travel with.

Makeup. I have so much makeup, sad but true. So it takes me ages to finish up an eyeshadow or a bronzer. I did manage to make my way through three MAC eyeshadows – my favourites – Orb, Naked Lunch and Mylar. I always have Naked Lunch and Orb on the go and like to use it with MAC Bronze in the crease. I do think that Makeup Geek eyeshadows are better than MAC and tend to use them more to be honest.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer in Very Fair/Light. Great for the under-eye area but not as good as the Maybelline Fit Me concealer (which I reckon is a good dupe for NARS’ radiant creamy concealer).

Almay One Coat Triple Effect mascara. This is my third tube I think. I find Almay is an under-rated brand amongst beauty gurus on YouTube. This mascara does the basics for me very well – glides on in one coat, doesn’t clump or smear, and adds a bit of volume. Dying to get my hands on the Almay Intense I-Color Everyday Neutrals eyeshadow trio in 110 for blue eyes, but Farmers is always sold out.

Deodorant & toothpaste. Yet another tube of Red Seal Natural Toothpaste. A great herbal flavour. I’ve been using Red Seal for years. And I finished up another crystal deodorant. I refuse to use any deodorant that has aluminium (or aluminum) in it. There’s no need to slap nasty stuff on your armpits when you can use a simple stick deodorant made from a natural mineral salt crystal. One of these crystal deodorants lasts well over a year.

Time to go through my trash. So many products used up!

Hair stuff. Two shampoos finished. The Body Shop’s Rainforest Radiance shampoo. This is the shampoo for coloured hair from the Rainforest Radiance range. I think this is my fourth bottle. LOVE. No silicones, no sulphates, no parabens and no colourants. It has a wonderful smell – to me it’s blueberries. Will always repurchase.

Hask Macadamia Oil Moisturising Shampoo. This is also free of sulphates and parabens. The smell of this shampoo is gorgeous and left my hair shiny. Would buy again.

Herbal Essences Honey I’m Strong Strengthening Conditioner. Took me awhile to get through this but I liked it. It comes in new packaging now and I’d certainly think about repurchasing. Quite a thick conditioner with a soft, honey smell.

Moroccan Oil Treatment Original. I’ve had this bottle for ages and I’m over the whole Moroccan Oil thing. If you read the ingredients, argan oil isn’t even a star ingredient. Won’t buy this again. I’m currently using the Rainforest Coconut Hair Oil from The Body Shop and I’m very pleased with it.

VO5 Plump It Up Dry Shampoo. I sometimes give Batiste a rest, particularly because it can be expensive in New Zealand, and a can doesn’t seem to last long. This dry shampoo has a subtle smell and it’s very effective. Will certainly repurchase.

Shower gels & body lotions. Knocked off another Rose Jam shower gel from LUSH. You can only buy this at Christmas time (or Christmas in July). It is my all-time favourite. It is a gorgeous concoction of vanilla, rose and lemon. Will always repurchase.

Ashley Laine Cocoa Butter. I bought this on whim from a supermarket in Christchurch. Didn’t expect much of it but turned out to be a lovely body butter. Not too thick and with a definite cocoa butter scent. Made in New Zealand. Really liked it and would repurchase.

Facial cleansers. Apicare Cleanse Me 4 in 1 Wash. This is a New Zealand brand and it’s a soap free cleanser with aloe vera, vegetable glycerin and active 16+ manuka honey. I used the travel-size and it can be used on hair, face, hands and body. It seems to have a tea tree smell. I liked it but wouldn’t go out of my way looking for it.

Premier Research Labs Facial Cleanser. It contains no SLS, parabens or other nasties. But it’s a horrid cleanser, sorry. It smells like fish on your face and leaves a greasy film. Won’t repurchase.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. At around NZ$12.00 for a 400ml bottle, this is a cost effective product. I found it soothing on the skin and it was very good at removing all makeup, including eye-makeup. Already onto my second bottle. LOVE.

Eye makeup remover. The Body Shop Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover – great product. Very soothing and gentle for the eye area. Will repurchase.

Hand cream. Living Nature Nourishing Hand Cream. This is a New Zealand brand I’ve used on and off over the years. I’ve always had a good experience with the brand but, sadly, this hand cream was not great. I didn’t like the smell but the cream itself was luxurious, and the 50ml tube can be chucked in your handbag. The smell was too medicinal for my liking, so won’t repurchase.

Primers. Finally finished up the L’Oreal Nude Magique Blur Cream. Basically, Spakfilla for those nasty pores. I found this was an effective lightweight cream that did the job. The tube lasted about 7 months. I don’t think it’s as good as Too Faced Primed & Poreless though.

Cotton pads. The Body Shop organic cotton rounds. I like these a lot because they are extremely absorbent and fluff-free. They are made from organic cotton and I’ve been through countless packets.

Hand cleanser. Eco Store Rose & Cardamon Hand Wash. This is another NZ brand and I liked the scent but the hand wash itself was just too watery. It’s great that it contains no nasties but it’s just not as effective as my beloved Dr Bronner’s.

CC Cream. I finished up another tube of Rachel K’s CC Cream. Mine was in a pink tube and I don’t think this particular one is available anymore. From memory, the pink tube is the neutral tone (whereas the black and gold tube is known as the original CC cream). The original CC cream is a white cream and the pink tube is a flesh tone, which I far preferred. Really like the Rachel K CC creams and I will order more. For the moment, I’m using a CC cream from Essence.

Mascaras. L’Oreal Miss Manga Mega Volume mascara in black. Absolutely loved this mascara and it did make the lashes appear fuller. The brush was just the right size to coat top and bottom lashes. Once I make my way through all my mascaras, I’ll be repurchasing.

Revlon ColorStay Bold Lacquer mascara in Black. The Revlon mascara I’ve used before is the Lash Potion Volume & Length. I didn’t like the Bold Lacquer mascara as much. It clumped and transferred to the eyelid, so wouldn’t buy it again.

Eye of Horus Black Goddess mascara. I’ve heard a lot about this mascara and it didn’t disappoint. I liked the brush shape and the mascara itself was smooth, due to the organic moringa oil. It’s expensive though (around NZ$45.00) and it’s not as good as the Miss Manga mascara. Doubt I’d repurchase.

Eyeshadow primer. Too Faced Shadow Insurance. I think this is my fourth tube but, since Too Faced isn’t available in NZ, I’m using an Essence primer. Shadow Insurance is a good primer and stops your eyeshadow from creasing. Not as good as simply using Mac Paint Pot in Painterly though.

Soaps. I knocked off another Karma soap from LUSH. Nothing better. And also a soap called Fringe Gold Sun Friends Jasmine Lime Triple Milled. A vegetable based soap that was really lovely. Made in the USA. Only complaint is that the bar is a tad too big, so it’s difficult to hold.

Toothpaste. Another tube of Red Seal Natural Toothpaste. A great herbal flavour.

Beauty sponge. I’m throwing out the Natio Complexion Perfection Sponge. It’s a latex blending sponge like the Beauty Blender. I just didn’t like the shape of it and I prefer to use makeup brushes. I might try the Beauty Blender one day, but I’m in no rush.


Sorry dear reader. I’ve been somewhat busy the last week or so. I’m participating in an online creative writing course. Finally going to write that fiction novel I’ve always threatened to pen.

I do, however, have time to talk about my favourite things in makeup. I find myself turning to these products on a daily basis, so I thought I’d share them with you.

NARS. I finally succumbed and bought the cult Ita Kabuki brush. This is a contouring brush due to its narrow rectangular shape and is supposed to give you those supermodel sculpted cheeks. I held off buying this for ages as I wanted to read reviews and see how well it performs by watching YouTube beauty videos.

The bristles are natural goat hair and they are soft. The design is sleek and it does a great job of giving a subtle contour and also makes blending a breeze. Did I say blending? Yep, this is where the Ita excels. Due to the longer goat hair bristles, I find it allows for bronzer to be applied to a specific, narrow area but, by turning the brush onto its side, you can blend in seconds. It’s an expensive brush – NZ $88.00 but is SO worth it.

The second NARS product I succumbed to was the Paloma Contour Blush. This is one of three contour blushes from NARS. Paloma is the middle shade – the other two being Olympia (lightest) and Gienah. The light shade in the duo is a highlighter and the dark shade is the contouring blush. Paloma is a dusky rose and the higlighter is a pink beige.

First thing I’ll say is that the powders are VERY silky and finely milled. I did worry that Paloma might be too muddy for my NC15 skin but nope, it’s perfect. Best to start off with a light dusting and build up from there. I’m not that fussed about the highlighter though. It’s a bit meh and I might see how it goes as an eyeshadow. I use Paloma with the ITA brush.

Maybelline. O.M.G. Who would have thought Maybelline would release such an outstanding eyeshadow palette as The Nudes. It finally arrived in New Zealand about a month ago and, after watching some YouTube videos, I decided to pounce. I use it EVERY day; it’s THAT good.

It costs NZ$30.00 and you get 12 natural eye shadows in a sturdy, travel-friendly palette. What I really like is how the shades are grouped as quads, trios and duos. You are not getting the quality of Urban Decay or Stila eye shadows but you are getting a very useable palette. The shadows feature a mix of satin, frost and matte shades.

The lighter shades aren’t very pigmented; they’re a little too sheer for my liking. But the darker shades, plus the bronze and gold eye shadows are beautiful. I am hoping this is part of Maybelline’s permanent line and I’m waiting for the release of the Blushed Nudes palette.

Stila. My favourite bronzer is NARS’ Laguna along with my new Paloma contour blush. I saw the Stila Stay All Day Bronzer for Face & Body in Light on YouTube (got to stop watching beauty videos hahaha!) and thought it looked very natural. Sure is. It comes in a sleek palette with a large mirror and the powder is velvety. It certainly stays on all day and gives a very natural glow. Love it.

Crown brush. I bought the IB120 Jumbo Kabuki fan brush from Crown brushes about six months ago. I adore this brush and use it for powder, blush and bronzer (when I’m not using the ITA for contouring). It’s made from Italian badger hair and sweeps on bronzer or blush and then fans it out easily. I can’t recommend this brush enough!!

NARS Ita brush.


NARS Paloma Contouring Blush.


Maybelline The Nudes palette.


Crown brush IB120 Jumbo Kabuki Fan and Stila bronzer.


The Stila embossing will disappear soon because I use this bronzer so much!!


I’ve been powering through products. So many, in fact, that I’ll have to try and make this post shorter rather than longer. All products are in the photo below and I’ve tried to categorise them. So let’s get going and ferret through my trash.

Hair stuff. Two cans of the usual Batiste dry shampoo, the Tropical scent and the Blush scent (floral). One can of Pantene Original Fresh dry shampoo. Sorry but this is a crappy product. First of all, the consistency of it seemed to make my hair wet rather than soak up the oils. Secondly, the can refused to keep spraying and I wasn’t even half way through. So tossing it.

Shampoo – I finished up a bottle of Pureology Pure Volume sulfate-free shampoo for fine and colour-treated hair. Really like this lightly-scented shampoo. Didn’t weigh my hair down and I just needed a tiny amount. Certainly will repurchase. Also finished a shampoo by Australian brand, Fudge. I’ve used Fudge products on and off for years. I will say I hated the fussy design on the tube (it’s the one with the pink top in the photo below) but loved the shampoo. It’s the Colour Lock shampoo and I do feel it helped to keep my colour vibrant. Would buy again.

Conditioners. I finished up a huge (382ml) bottle of my new favourite conditioner only to find it’s been discontinued. It’s the Desert Essence Shea Butter Repairing Conditioner with Vanilla Cactus. It’s this ingredient that gives the conditioner its lovely sweet scent. The conditioner itself is buttery and really made my hair soft and manageable. I am hoping it’s being repackaged rather than discontinued.

Also finished up is a 250ml bottle of NZ brand, Evolu, Enriching hair conditioner. It’s a tad expensive I think at NZ $20.00 but is delightful. The smell alone is worth it with avocado pear, citrus, juniper, manuka honey and amaranth giving your hair a lovely lustre. I would consider buying this again.

Texturising spray. Another Fudge product – the sea salt spray – to help give my hair some volume. Yeah, not really wowed by this product but it seemed to do the job.

Soaps. You know I love my soaps and also make my own. Rosana sent me a soap from Croatia called BioBaza Antiseptic soap. Tea tree oil and Immortelle extract provide the antiseptic qualities. The bar is a crisp white easy-to-hold shape with hardly any scent and it produced a creamy lather.

Serene Neem soap from India. Not fussed about this soap. Creamy yes but I didn’t like the smell. Contains extracts of Neem leaf, so it’s great for the skin though.

Naturalus Eastern Spice soap. Picked this up at a local market. Really didn’t like the fragrance at all I’m afraid.

LUSH Willow Bark soap. Second only to Karma soap for me. A brilliantly creamy, moisturising bar scented with rose and lemon. LOVE.

Dr Bronner’s Pure Castille Magic soap. I’ve been through countless bottles of Dr Bronner’s but this was the first time I’ve tried the Peppermint scent. Nah, didn’t like it. Too strong. Will go back to Rose or Almond.

Shower gel. I really enjoyed making my way through a 500ml bottle of La Chinata Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Bath & Shower Gel. This is a Spanish brand enriched with organic olive oil and olive leaf extract. The gel is quite thick and lathers very well. I’m sure there’s a hint of lemon in this gel too. Loved it and would certainly re-buy.

Cleansers. Starting with another packet of Garnier Gentle Makeup Remover wipes. I take these travelling as they are very handy to quickly wipe off eye makeup. The individual wipes stay moist and don’t dry out.

Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Daily Cream Facial Cleanser. Very large tube that lasted for ages. Not sure why it’s called fragrance free because it has a distinct but mild scent. This cleanser is SLS and paraben-free and very effective. Would certainly repurchase.

The Body Shop Nutriganics Softening Cleansing Oil. Another very effective product. You know I’m partial to all things Body Shop and this cleansing oil is no exception. Gentle and packed with Babassu Oil from Brazil it does not strip or dry out the skin. I like to use this as a second cleanser after taking off my makeup with my current favourite, Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water.

Apicare Manuka Natural Creamy Cleanser. Apicare is a New Zealand brand and this was a deluxe or travel-size tube. I liked it; it did the job; but wasn’t overly fussed.

Wild Ferns Manuka Honey Refreshing Foaming Facial Wash. Wild Ferns is another NZ brand and the foaming facial wash is a great product. The pump delivers just the right amount of luxurious foam. This is another cleanser I use for a second cleanse as it doesn’t take off all the makeup. Lovely scent to this cleanser.

Facial oils & moisturisers. I’m very partial to using a facial oil as I feel the essential oils in them penetrate deeply into the skin to deliver hydration. A great one I’ve discovered is an Italian facial oil by Olivella. Simply called the Moisturizer Oil it is based on 100% virgin olive oil and is paraben-free. The scent is gorgeous with hints of lemon. It absorbs straight into the skin. Already repurchased. LOVE.

Evolu Facial Serum. I think this is my third bottle and I love it as a daytime facial oil. One whiff and you are sent off into a Rose Absolute and Neroli essential oil heaven. I find it a very calming product to use and will always repurchase.

Melvita Avocado Oil. I picked this up from a Melvita store in Hong Kong. Love the rich green colour of the oil. Melvita is a French brand that is renowned for its quality products. This oil is recommended for the eye and neck area. I did find it a tad greasy but extremely hydrating. I prefer the Olivella oil frankly but I did enjoy this product.

Antipodes Apostle Skin-Brightening Serum. Antipodes is yet another great NZ skincare brand and I particularly like their Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream. Apostle is a water-based serum to help target pigmentation, brighten your skin and restore even tone. I liked the serum but can’t say I noticed any difference so wouldn’t repurchase.

Afrodita Hydra Thermal Natural Mineral Water Hydra Active Koncentrat. Sent to me by Rosana from Croatia this is a light-weight lotion that absorbed very well into the skin and was a great makeup base.

Eye care. Evolu Eye & Lip Line Serum. Get the impression I like Evolu products?! This serum contains tigernut extract, marine wakame algae and shea butter. I like this as a daytime serum; it’s not rich enough or heavy enough for my liking as a night-time treatment. I think this was my second bottle but don’t think I’ll repurchase because I prefer a richer consistency.

Garnier eye roller. To be honest, I’m not sure of the exact name of this product as all the writing had rubbed off. I think it was a treatment concealer. I liked the coolness of the roller ball but not fussed about this product. Meh.

Hand cream. Yet another Evolu product. The Nourishing Hand & Cuticle Cream in a 125ml travel-friendly tube. I really need to use more hand cream; I tend to forget to apply. This hand cream was a delight to use and contains New Zealand’s native harakeke, kiwifruit, carrot seed oil and pure vitamin E. Creamy yet easily absorbed.

Toothpaste. My favourite NZ brand, Red Seal. Two tubes: baking soda and natural. These toothpastes are free from sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), parabens, artificial sweeteners and added fluoride.

Makeup. Finally, made my way through a whole bronzer. In this case, Dr Hauschka bronzing powder. I’ve had this for years and made a concerted effort to finish it. A lovely silky bronzer that is great for my NC15 skin. I would repurchase but I have other favourites at the moment.

Essence I Love Extreme Volume mascara. I think this is my third tube. It’s a wonderful ultra-black mascara that delivers volume. I like the chunky tube and fat brush. LOVE.

An old Rimmel concealer in a tube. No idea of the name but it had a green centre, which I think was designed to soothe blemishes. I kept this in my makeup bag inside my handbag. Had it for years. Nothing special but it worked as a concealer.

The Body Shop Concealer Pencil. Wow, love this concealer. My HG used to be MAC Studio Finish concealer in NC15 but, last year, I discovered TBS pencil concealer in 01. It took me a whole year to get through this pencil and I used it every day. Always remained creamy even during the NZ Winter. Already repurchased.

The Body Shop Organic Cotton rounds – another packet of 100 rounds down. These cotton rounds never fall apart nor do pieces of cotton fluff waft off them.

Finally, my all-time favourite perfume – Fracas by Robert Piguet – which was first formulated in 1948. This is a strong, spicy perfume that is not for the shrinking violet. It contains all my favoured scents: tuberose, iris, jasmine, gardenia, lily of the valley, orange, rose and neroli. I have another bottle ready to go. You can read my review of Fracas here.



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