16 March, 2016

365 Days of Empties Challenge

Since January 1st 2016 I have been taking part in the 365 Days of Empties Challenge.
The idea is to try and use at least 356 beauty products in 365 days. I have been finding this a great way to force myself to use products I had pushed to the back of my cabinet.
I also have far too many samples that I need to get through and I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I'm discovering new products I love and I've been able to cross some not so great products off my list.
The challenge also gives me a chance to review products and decide if I would repurchase them again.
These are just a few of the products I have emptied, Check out my Instagram @thelovedlifeblog to see more.
So far I have used up 85/365 beauty products.


Because I'm starting to have so many empties, I've decided for this post, just to review my absolute loves and the products that really didn't do it for me. 

Skynn Iceland Fresh Start Mask
The more I use from this brand, the more I fall in love. This mask is in two steps that left my skin glowing and smooth. First a liquid mask is applied and then layer it with another mask and massage it in, The product then foams up a little and there is a slight tingle. I actually received compliments for a few days after using this and that is pretty rare. Mecca sell a great sample pack if you want to try out some of the products.

Lonvitalite coconut milk, hydrating mask
As far as cloth masks go, this brand is one of my favourites when it comes to soothing and moisturing. I use these after I do a deep clean or acne mask to stop that tight feeling and to soothe redness if I've been a bit rough with my pore pillaging.

Bastiste Dry Smapoo in Wild
Always a favourite, I usually buy the Wild version, purely because the bottle is leopard print (you know you do it too). I love the range and find the cans last quite a while, the mist is fine, hard to over use and they do the job well.

Maybelline Mega Plush Volume Express Mascara
One of my staple mascaras. The brush is nice and thick, the formula is buildable. This mascara gives me a full, fluttery look, without the spidery clumpieness of some standard thickening mascaras. This also rarely budges. This tube has dried out but never fear! I have 2 back ups (addicted much?).

Alcohol Swabs
You can purchase these from any chemist for next to nothing and they are handy. I use these to wipe over tweezers and cuticle clippers before using to avoid spreading bacteria. The Waxing queen herself, Vera from V Beauty told me these can also be used straight after waxing to help prevent ingrown hairs. I also find myself using these for the odd paper cut or damage from an intense Jamie Oliver inspired cooking session.

L'Oreal Elnet Hair Spray in Very Volume
I have yet to find a hairspray I love more than this, high end or budget! I have gone through countless bottles and always stock up when there is a sale on. This is a cult favourite with professionals for a reason. Great hold and brushes out easily, what more could you ask for?

K'erastase Bain Densite Shampoo and Conditioner and Capsules - Sponsored
I have been trialing these for Kerastase. A three month supply was sent to me to try out and so far I'm enjoying them. The capsules that you massage into your scalp can be a little heavy to use daily but I am starting to see results, my hair seems to be growing faster and becoming thicker. I loved the shampoo and conditioner but I don't find there is enough product to last 3 months as the brand claims. A full review will be on the blog once I complete the trial.

Not for me!

Fresh Soy conditioning eye makeup remover
I am huge fan of Fresh skincare. A friend brought me back a generous sample pack from Singapore Sephora and I loved them so much, that I used the shipping service shop and box to have more of the range sent over as I can't find a stockist anywhere in Australia. However I didn't like this eye makeup remover. The product is too thick and stung my eyes - sort of the opposite of what you would expect from a product that is supposed to be used in such a delicate area. I also felt it left my eyes a little dry after and didn't do such a great job of removing my eye makeup. FAIL.

Schwarzkopf Super Styling Lacquer
Ok, this is a "lacquer" and it is supposed to give an extreme hold but I just found this over the top. The overpowering scent reminds me of old school hairspray that my grandmother would have used "back in the day" and the hold sets rock hard (and not in a good way). It didn't matter how far away and lightly I sprayed this, it left me with a solid, obvious helmet that took forever to brush out and wash out. I honestly can't imagine why I would ever use this again.

Ogx Argan Oil of Morocco
This formula was far too heavy for my hair and didn't lather well. I shampooed twice and I still felt that my hair wasn't clean enough. I think this would benefit somebody with thick and/or damaged hair or even natural curls. This was a fail for me, so much so that I had to wash my hair again the following morning and it just looked like a greasy mess. I will be passing this on to a curly haired friend for her opinion.

13 March, 2016

Last Minute Pasta

Everyone should have at least one meal in their back pocket that can be whipped up in an instant with little fuss and make everyone happy. This is mine.

Chili, Zucchini and Parmesan Angel Hair Pasta

This dish is incredibly easy and quick to prepare, it's also inexpensive. It's quite easy to adjust the ingredients based on your personal taste and there is minimal washing up after (bonus!).
I first tried this dish up when a guest at a dinner party announced she was now a vegetarian about 30 minutes before the dinner was about to be served. Lovely.
I’ve seen a few different versions of this but this is my favourite and it has since become a regular on our table.

What You Need
Angel hair pasta
1 - 2 Lemons
1 Zucchini
4 Garlic cloves
Good quality olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Shaved Parmesan
1 Large red chili

Now Get Cooking
Get a big pot of salted water boiling and while you're waiting, prepare the veggies.
Angel hair pasta cooks faster than you can blink, so it's best to prepare everything first and then cook the pasta (and it kind of makes you feel like you're Nigella Lawson when you have everything prepped in front of you).

Get Prepping
Grate your zucchini
De seed and chop up the chili finely.
Peel and crush your garlic cloves, add more or less depending on your taste.
Juice both lemons.
Heat up enough oil in a fry pan to lightly coat the zucchini, add the crushed garlic to the frying pan. and after a minute, add the zucchini.
Add salt and fresh pepper to taste.
Once the zucchini starts softening, add the chopped chili to the frying pan and season with salt and pepper.

Start Multi Tasking
While that’s cooking, place the pasta in boiling water and give it a good stir.
Once all the veggies are soft add about half of the lemon juice to taste (try adding half first and then adding more if needed) and lower the heat of the fry pan.
To tell if the pasta is cooked, take a strand and bite it - if there is still white in the middle, it will need more time.
When the pasta is just cooked, drain well and add to the fry pan a little at a time.
Add shaved Parmesan and start to toss everything through a little with some tongs and add the rest of the lemon juice to taste.
Don’t fuss with the dish too much or it may become mushy.
After about 2 minutes the dish should be heated through.
Serve the pasta with tongs, twisting as you set it in the bowl to make it look a little prettier, then garnish with a little Parmesan and pepper.
And you are done!
Quick, easy and an affordable meal that will satisfy anyone.

07 March, 2016

Product Review C Lab & Co Coffee Scrub

C Lab & Co Coffee Scrub

RRP $24.99 from Priceline
Website C-Lab & Co
Directions The directions are to use this on damp skin, turn off the shower before application and start scrubbing. Leave on your skin for five minutes to allow the oils to absorb and then rinse off.
This body scrubs claims to be 100% natural and targets cellulite, stretch marks & skin imperfections.
Fun Fact This body scrub was included in the this year's Academy Awards gifting suite for the nominees.

The first thing I loved about this body scrub was the scent, it smells like a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The scrub is densely packed and I really had to dig my hand in the grab a handful. The texture is similar to damp soil, fine enough to grab but large enough to give you a good exfoliation and nothing too scratchy or irritating.
The packaging is practical and easy to use - The lid twists off easily and the tub is wide enough to get your hand into. It's made from plastic so you don't have to worry about glass shattering on the bathroom tiles and unlike a lot of scrubs, this doesn't come in one of those paper sachets that looks minimalist chic but just gets soaked and becomes pointless after the first use. (I'm talking to you frank).
I used this before shaving my legs and it left my skin so smooth... really smooth. So smooth that I used half the amount of shaving cream I usually would have.
I did find a little build up of residue from the oils on my razor after shaving, however this didn't transfer from my skin to the towel or have an overwhelming heavy feeling.
The scent on my skin wasn't strong or unpleasant, I could really only smell coffee when I made an effort to (try explaining why you're sniffing your leg when your boyfriend catches you, awkward).
My legs felt smooth and mositurised all night, it lasted the next day, even with another shower.
If that oil/mosituriser type feeling on your skin bothers you, then I would suggest rinsing really well and wiping with a face cloth after use. I didn't mind that feeling on my legs but it did bother me on my arms.
I can't yet comment on the claims of helping to reduce cellulite and stretch marks, as I think that a more long term use would be needed see those results.
All in all I did like this scrub, it's moisturising, does the job, it's affordable, gives me a good exfoliation and would I purchase it again.

Rating 4/5 stars

05 March, 2016

$3 Makeup?

Cosmetics can be extremely expensive in Australia.
Even "drugstore" brands which are often considered inexpensive in the U.S, can cost us Aussies just as much as higher end brands.
Just look at this post from Mishelle's Sleepy Time comparing the average price of makeup in the states to Australia.
So when you're paying almost $20 for a mascara that's sold on the other side of the world for $8, finding makeup for $3 is pretty amazing and can send any beauty lover into a frenzy.
I found the brand Beauty Essentials at Priceline and most of the range is $3. So I snapped a few items and decided to put them to the test.

Everything pictured here is $3 each
The first thing I dived on was the nail polish remover pot. I love these and they're re such a fuss free was to take off nail polish in seconds. My favourite is L'Oreal La Flash which sells for $12.95 so when I saw something similar for $3 I hoped it would give me similar results.

With Flash
Without Flash

Swatches from top to bottom

Brow Pencil - Medium
This pencil only comes in 2 colours, medium and dark. This is a decent pencil and with  light hand and short strokes, this can create a decent brow. There is a spoolie on the opposite end which is handy. It's not the best eyebrow pencil I have ever used but for the price, It's pretty ok. I do think Savvy does a colour match for me for little less.

Liquid Illuminator - Pink
I was pleasantly surprised with this. The highlighter has a doe foot applicator and the liquid is nice and creamy. This is just thick enough to create a subtle and natural sheen. I used this on the tops of m cheeks and was pretty happy with it.

Bronzer - light
This would be a great bronzer for warmer skin tones. It was far too orange for my pale, pink toned skin and I just ended up looking like I had mud on my face. It's also quite dry, I could see some skin tones using this for a contour but it just wasn't for me.

Blusher - Light pink
I did like the colour of this, however the formula is quite powdery and the smell is very talcom powder like.You can build this up but it's easy to go overboard and some serious blending will be needed.

Other products pictured 

Octangonal lip balm - Blackcurrent
This has such cute packaging and the lib balm inside was pretty decent. The flavour and scent wasn't unpleasant but once I finished the little dome shaped balm inside, I had to toss this unless I wanted to dig my finger in, which I find that method unhygienic for lipbalm.

Nail polish remover pot
I got two uses out of this pot before the sponge inside started to fall apart and get all over my nails. Yes it removed my polish but at $1.50 per removal, It doesn't seem worth it and it's a lot of material to throw out for the sake of removing nail polish twice.

The Verdict
Obviously with this, you get what you pay for and I can't imagine any company being able to use quality ingredients and sell them for such a low price. If you're on a budget or curious to try a new type of product or colour without spending a lot, this is a great brand.
Beauty Essentials also sell eye shadow pallets for $3 and I can see a beginner experimenting with shades and technique with this brand.
I would go so far as to suggest buying some products for a little sister or budding glamour queen, so they can play without digging into your stash of expensive goodies.
A good primer and a confident technique could make some of these products work, I would place them on the same level as Elf cosmetics.
I think the standout for me was the highlighter and I would probably purchase it again, especially if I could find more shades.
See the entire range of Beauty Essentials here.

01 March, 2016

Tip Tuesday: How to keep your Lipstick fresh all day

Every Tuesday I bring you a lifestyle or beauty tip to hopefully make your life a little easier.

How to keep your lipstick looking fresh all day.

No matter how long lasting your lipstick claims to be, it really won't last all day. Most of the time, I'm happy if I make it to 10am without needing a touch up.
Re-applying every time you need a touch up can often cause a build up on your lips. Your lipstick can start to feather and bunch up, making your fresh coat of lipstick accentuate lines in your lips or worse - give you a serious case of  what I call "Leo lips" from The Revernant 

Somebody get this guy a Chapstick!
Avoiding this look is really simple. You just have to remove your old lipstick first!
Take a tissue or a makeup wipe and wipe away your old lipstick before applying a fresh coat.
It's the same principle as using oil blotting paper on your skin before adding powder, you're creating a smoother surface for the new product to settle onto, rather than packing more and more product on top which isn't the best look.