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If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you’ll know that I love the Gillette Venus razor but in its original form. None the less, when I received a Venus Spa Breeze in a package of goodies from a PR company, I figured I’d give it a good go. First, the official word:
The secret to an easy yet indulgent shave? Venus Spa Breeze. Simply add water for a skin-loving, light lather and a smooth shave—there’s no need for separate shave cream. Even better, the shave gel bars are infused with the fresh scent of white tea to soothe your senses.
The shave gel bars did indeed help the razor glide over my legs, and I didn’t feel any of that hitching you get if you ever stupidly try to shake without lube. However, I do feel like I didn’t get the closest shave possible, because the bars kept the blades from making perfect contact with my skin. That was actually a good thing in my armpits, where I’m more prone to irritation, but my legs didn’t feel as smooth as usual. They did improve with a buttload of moisturiser though, but I can’t help but feel I will get hairier sooner than usual.
I can see the benefit in not wanting to lug shaving foam around with you, but as a person who washes her hair every day, I’ll always have conditioner with me that I would use instead. They might be more useful if you shave with a leg propped up on the sink instead of in the shower though, less drippy.
Frankly though, given that regular Venus blades sell for around $15 at Chaffers New World, and the Spa Breeze ones sell for $26, it’s clear that the biggest benefit to this new razor is to Gillette’s bottom line.
Also, and this is a problem with SO many things, but the day that clamshell packaging dies in a fire forever will be a very happy day indeed. Those things are way too hard to get into.
Another guest review from Vanessa, yay!
In this post, we go from the wildness of Katy Perry to a more grown-up kind of manicure – Shellac. I’ve been hearing buzz about this for some time, but being on the economical kind of nail enthusiast (read: cheap), I only gave it a go when an opportunity showed up on Grab One for $25.
Shellac is a unique treatment in that it is a polish, applied on top of your natural nails, which is cured with UV light to make it dry super-fast and super-strong. The company which produces it (CND) claims a 14 day life with no chips or cracks.
Thus, on an overcast Wednesday afternoon I arrived at The Nail Studio in Newmarket, Auckland. I was promptly received and shown through to the treatment room, where, with some embarrassment, I explained to the technician that yes, this is only my second manicure, yes, I cut my cuticles off with a pocket knife, and no, that odd yellowing is due to a nail strengthener, not cigarettes. (Anyone else have this problem?)
We began with some filing, the nasty yellow staining being buffed off, and my cuticles being pushed back (all fairly standard, I understand, but rather new to me). From there, a base coat was applied (followed by ten seconds under UV light), two coats of the colour (followed by two minutes each under UV light), and a top coat (more UV light). I went with a pale pink colour, as I had a job interview later that day. Following this, isopropyl alcohol was applied to remove any stickiness from the nail, and some oil to moisturise the nail bed. And a mere half hour later, we were done!
I’ve been pretty impressed with the finish so far. I found myself wincing slightly as I delved into my handbag for my keys, but, reassured by the vigorous way the technician had buffed my nails afterwards, I went for it, and all was well. The lack of drying time once you leave the salon is a huge advantage, and if the finish lasts for the 14 days promised, well, in the immortal words of Arnie, “I’ll be back”. It’s been almost a week so far, and I only have one minuscule chip incurred – very impressive. The shine has lasted well, too – the polish still looks like it has just been applied.
With regards to the removal of the polish: the nail technician said that, while it is recommended to get it professionally taken off, the Shellac can be removed at home by soaking your nails in pure acetone for five minutes.
Shellac is available at a number of salons, and typically costs $50-$65 a treatment.
Thanks Vanessa who accosted me on the street and asked to do a guest post!
As a lifelong devourer of nails, it came as a surprise to me a few months ago that I could kick the habit in a couple of short weeks. My secret? Making them look sufficiently pretty that I wouldn’t want to tear them to pieces. And since then (aided by a surplus of time, due to looking for work) I have been rapidly advancing through Nails 101. Words like ‘jelly’, ‘cream’, and ‘matte’ have become a second language to me. (Although, to be fair, I’m not entirely sure what a jelly is, even though I do use the word).
I started keeping up with nail polish blogs, checking reviews on the polishes I had my eye on before buying them. And it was there I first started hearing murmurings of a mythical ‘shatter’ polish, a fluid of such beauty and novelty it seemed almost too good to be true. Until, one day, I came across a display in Farmers, and lo and behold, there it was. Or should have been, if it wasn’t sold out. A quick word with a salesperson confirmed that this had been the case almost immediately.
Since then, I have checked OPI stands across the country (well, in Auckland and Wellington) for the OPI Black Shatter, part of the Katy Perry collection. And it was in the Queen Street Farmers last week where it finally came to pass that I held one of my own in my hands.
As a connoisseur of cheaper nail polishes (amongst my favourites, Chi Chi’s $8 mini range) this is the most expensive polish I’ve ever bought, but man, was it fun. You need to use it with a coloured base coat – in my case, it was two coats of Chi Chi’s Cyberella (a metallic silver).
The polish itself is very thick and dries extremely quickly – so much that it gathers around the mouth of the bottle in a rather alarming fashion. Application is both tricky and non-demanding – swiping from the cuticle to the end of your nail often results in an uneven distribution of colour, with there never being enough on the brush to reach the end of the nail in an even fashion.
But that’s where the non-demanding part comes in – as the polish begins to crack and fragment, the evenness of the application begins to matter less. In general, I’d say if you’re looking for chunkier pieces of black, put it on thicker, but for a finer, more shattered look, a thin application is best. My application is on the chunkier side (and my apologies for the state of my nails; they’re recovering from years of neglect).
The look? When you’re not directly looking at it, it reminds me of animal print. Which is odd, because I’m not really down with the leopard skin. I’ve really enjoyed having it on my nails – it cheers me up every time I see it, and it is such a joy to apply.
If I ran out, would I buy it again? Possibly, but in a different colour, to mix things up a bit. I understand it is available in other colours overseas, but I haven’t seen it here yet.
OPI polishes are sold in a range of outlets, and Black Shatter retails for $26.90.
I think every lady has an arsenal of key items which they fall back on whenever they need to feel just a touch prettier. They run the gamut from cosmetics (expected) to websites dedicated to an adorable Scottish Fold cat (for your inner happiness, see: http://sisinmaru.blog17.fc2.com/). After all, nothing says pretty like a girl with a smile on her face.
So, apart from the adorable Maru, these are a few of the things I am finding myself loving.
Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. This stuff is the bomb-diggetty. Never have I had lips so chapped that this stuff couldn’t heal them, which is grand because in the past chapped lips have led to a resurgence in my eczema. It is like some kind of hippie magic, which I love, because sometimes you decide that tomorrow you want to wear bright red lipstick but you know that your lips are waaaay too chapped for that action – enter Lucas (who is Lucas? Is he single?) and his fresh fermented papaya. Buy from health shops.
Lindauer Limited Edition Summer “champagne”. This will come as a surprise to all who know and love me, because I swore off all Lindauer products after a wee incident in my first year at University involving tequila and a bottle of Lindauer. Turns out, they aren’t a good combo. However, the other day I got some jolly good news and my good friend and all-round bad influence Kerina suggested we drink to my success. Enter Lindauer at $10 a bottle. This is no good for the ladies who love the dry wines but its cheerful label and deliciously drinkable taste has added it to my arsenal. There’s just something about a glass of something sparkly (with the mandatory strawberry soaking for later) that makes the world seem brighter.
Butter nailpolish in “Chancer”, Orly nailpolish in “Glitz”. Both of which I have worn to work. Potentially metallic gold fingernails are a touch inappropriate for a lawyer, but watch my face and see if I care. I am deeply into metallic or glittery nailpolishes at the moment; they are tough to remove but they look so pretty in our summer sun! Thanks to Farmers Beauty Club for giving me a voucher at just the right time – at $30 each the Butter polishes are a bit of a sting to the wallet. The Orly polishes come in the convenient mini size for just $10.
Any song by Katy Perry. That girl knows how to sing an uplifting summer anthem. It’s all very well to love some little-known band who only play in basements and sing about global terrorism, but come summer you want to blast some sweet saccharine pop about how you’re great (baby you’re a fiiiiiiirework!) and walk around in the sunshine feeling uplifted. I only wish I had a jeep like Cher from Clueless so I could spread the Katy Perry joy everywhere I go.
Chanel Chance fragrance. So, in winter I wear Chanel Coco. Every day. And I was getting a bit sick of this and thought “why don’t I ever wear Chance?” Well, in winter it felt…wrong. It wasn’t musky and heavy enough for my winter feelings (i.e. everything I am around or touch needs to be warm). But then the miracle of summer happened, for approximately one day, and it was just enough to get me back on the Chance wagon.
Hydrating face masque. I am planning to write a whole bit about this, comparing a high end and a low end product. For now I will just say that air-conditioning is a cruel mistress and a hydrating face masque, slapped on while I paint my toenails and listen to my girl Katy, cures all ills. I wear as little make up as humanly possible in summer – which I know technically is no makeup at all, but that’s a topic for another day – so I may as well make sure my skin looks good.
Summer fruit and veges. Oh yes, after a long winter of f’ing apples and pears, we are finally at nectarines, strawberries, apricots, watermelon et al. I am going to eat my own body weight in strawberries by Christmas: believe it. In addition, it’s the season of fresh salads, avocado on toast with ripe sun-sweetened tomato and a whisper of cracked pepper, crunchy cobs of corn and capsicum grilled on the barbecue. All of this is good for the body and the mind. Shove as much of this down your gullet as you can before we’re back to pies and comforting pastas.
Shorts, skirts, breezy dresses. I am so sick of my jeans. If I wear another pair of leggings ever again it will be too soon. My white legs want to get amongst it and (controversially) really want a bit of tan. So, right after I slap on a layer of Piz Buin (the fake tan favoured by all women in my family) I will be getting out my denim shorts and I will be putting on a white shirt and I will be marching myself down to the beach to read a book. If the wind stays away I might wear that really cute white dress I bought two years ago and have only had the opportunity to wear twice.
So, that’s my list of cheeriness for this time of year. Naturally it would be totally different in winter – pies would be getting a lot of screen time for starters. I’d love to know what everyone else is enjoying at the moment (maybe we can all steal from each other!) – the more happiness the merrier. And Christmas is the season of merriment after all!
Hurray, a guest-post from longtime reader, first time poster AM
I was thrilled to read Sarah’s post about Miki nail polishes the other week, as these little gems are my new favourite thing at the moment. I really wanted to share a few more colours with you, so here are some swatches and comments. As with Sarah’s post, I have done four colours, four nails, two coats and no top/base coat. Normally I’d put a drop or two of Essies Quick Drying polish on top, which doesn’t affect the colour and dries soooo fast (the downside is the $40 price tag).
On the small nail is the same green Sarah used – this is my all time fave green. It’s hard to get a good green polish, and I prefer darker shades, so am delighted with this one – the small price tag is the icing on the cake. I keep meaning to try this with a layer of black underneath, I think that would suit it.
Next we have the gorgeous dark purple shade. I have been trying to find a colour like this for awhile, and the closest I came to it was the L’Oreal dark nail polishes they released last year which were ok but just lacked something for me. Like the green, a layer of black underneath might increase the depth and intensity of it, worth a try. I put some clear nail crystals on this colour last time I applied it, and that gave it an elegant yet slightly gothic look. I also experimented painting one nail green, one nail purple, next nail green, then purple, etc and I think it looked great (not everyones cup of tea, I agree).
Then we have the ‘other purple’. (not to be confused with the lovely blue shade they have). Wow! I just don’t know what to say about it and photos can’t do it justice. I’m a big purple fan, and this is one of the nicest and most unique I’ve seen yet. It is very sparkly but doesn’t have those big annoying particles of glitter that are hard to remove. It is predominately purple but has so many other colours within it like blue, red, green and more – hold it up to the light and you’ll see what I mean. It is quite dark, and you’ll want to apply at least two coats, I’d recommend three. If you see this colour and have a spare $2.50, go on and buy it – you probably won’t be disappointed. The batch number on mine is B14960 if that helps anyone?
Last, and I’d say least (the bar has been set pretty high here!), is the red. Its a rather Revlon-ish red, and I like it though it’s quite pinky. It has a bit of a pinup girl/vintage/rockabilly type of feel to it, if you need something to top off your 1950′s costume then this is it! (Batch number B14920).
The rest of the collection are too light/pastel/neon for my tastes but there’s a huge selection to choose from, and the price is right. These would also make an awesome stocking filler, or Secret Santa gift.
Recently the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant was held in Wellington, and I wrote about it rather snarkily on the Wellingtonista. I got to talking to one of the judges, Jack Yan from Lucire at Hooch last week, where he was working the room as only a mayoral candidate would do. I thought that regardless of how I personally feel about “beauty” pageants, it would be interesting to hear an insider’s perspective. Jack has very kindly provided us with this piece. Enjoy!
Ria van Dyke was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2010 at the Duxton Hotel on June 5. It was a very Wellington event: classy, with a great, supportive crowd, and even a nice, fine June day to boot.
Wellington hasn’t had a Miss Universe New Zealand pageant for some 20 years, and in typical capital fashion, we were marvellous hosts. Not only did the Duxton come to the party, the Museum Hotel hosted the girls and two of the judges, and the Bolton Hotel helped with inner-city car parking. Farmers Lambton Quay played host to an afternoon where the contestants had a chance to work in the beauty department. Mish Mosh on Courtenay Place gave the contestants a chance to chill out the night before the interviews. Johnsonville Shopping Centre and Kilmarnock Home in Berhampore gave everyone extra opportunities to contact members of the public. Finally, the contestants literally stopped Parliament during one of their tours as they stepped in to the gallery.
This was the most cooperative, professional and flash Miss Universe New Zealand I’ve ever judged—and I now have four of these events under my belt. That’s not counting some of the work I’ve done for Miss Sweden over the years. It’s not inter-city rivalry talking. Somehow, Wellington just inspired more decency. There were no girls in cliques. Those who might have done what I call ‘the Auckland pageant circuit’ were far away from any folks who could have egged on any nastiness. Even the Wellington media—Matt McLean and Corinne Ambler from TVNZ, and Laura McQuillan from NZPA (We love Laura! She is our precious sparklepony! – Jo) —reported fairly without having any agenda. The radio stations—including the Breeze, X105 and Wellington-owned Groove 107·7 FM—interviewed various contestants.
Nightline attempted to critique the pageant on cultural diversity grounds, though the reality is that the national finals have no control over who is sent to us during the heats. I think having one Indian out of thirteen is roughly the proportion we have in New Zealand, while many contestants were melting pots that one would expect to see: Filipino, Chinese, Maori and Croat origins were present alongside the usual occidental ones of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Swiss and Anglo–Saxon.
Post-pageant, there were next to no sarky comments on the beauty blogs (We’re a bit slow – Jo). People liked Ria—and for once we didn’t have all the BS about the pageant being ‘rigged’ by its director. I know there are aspects of pageants that are anachronistic, stemming from the ideas of objectification. Or the media’s obsession with thin. They are both valid criticisms, each capable of occupying entire doctoral theses. However, I still maintain that any young woman can win, if she displays the sort of confidence Ria did, both on the final night and an earlier evening. Then, she had to be interviewed by the five-strong judging panel in an Apprentice-style setting inside the Museum Hotel. Thanks to the more intellectual approach of the judges, there are pluses to this—namely the confidence the contestants gain. I’ve seen some go from nervous post-teens to confident young women.
I’m barred from discussing the judging in detail—sadly, I don’t make the rules on this one—but I can say that Ria impressed us strongly in the private interview session, where yours truly is said to be the ‘Simon Cowell’ of the pageant. I take exception to this description, as I have had no Botox. This year, I was joined again by Evana Patterson, an Auckland-based model scout who was, in fact, born here. She’s been with the pageant world for some time, so being my mayoral opponent’s niece is a coincidence. Carl Manderson of Salute in Lower Hutt and Samantha Hannah, stylist, joined us. Certainly not least, pageant veteran Dina Janse von Rensburg flew in from Auckland to round off the quintet.
My own interest is being on a judging panel to find the smartest, most capable young woman to represent New Zealand. Each year, I believe we’ve succeeded. Some cynics might say that I should turn a blind eye to pageants if I agree that they are based around a narrow definition of attractiveness, but I’d rather be in there to get us the brains to go with the beauty—inner and outer—than base this competition on looks exclusively. In fact, one former Miss New Zealand told me that many of her overseas competitors were, indeed, bimboes. That’s not the way I want Aotearoa to be seen. And bimbo is not a label that could ever be levelled at Ria—or, for that matter, Miss Wellington Regan Hillyer, studying for her M.Arch. at Vic, or Nafeesa Moses, who already has her MA. Ria’s own master’s area is on women’s studies in sociology, so if anyone’s aware of the relevance (or irrelevance) of pageantry in the modern world, it’s her. Love or hate pageants, they’re here and they’re experiencing a renaissance. And I believe we found the best winner in years who will do well in representing New Zealand at Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada, in August.
There’s a new hair salon in town, and it’s rather special. Wildilocks is from Australia originally, but now they’ve opened up a branch at 225 Cuba Street (where Eyeball Kicks used to be – don’t worry, Eyeball Kicks is still around). As well as being a salon, Wildilocks also sells clothes, accessories and hair products. As you can see from the listings on their webstore, they’ve got a particular focus on the gothy-ravey-steam punky aesthetic, so if you’re after oversize goggles or Special FX hair dye, this is the place you want to go.
I’m particularly intrigued by their pricing structure – you pay per hour (billed in quarter hour increments), with stylists ranging from $55 to $85, depending on their expertise. Another awesome service they offer? Vintage hair dos! I was lucky enough to get to model for them as Dom and Charlotte were trained by Kat from Australia, and the Victory Rolls I got were seriously awesome. Photos are after the jump.
I had been trying to wait until I got some decent pictures of me wearing the Karen Murrell lipstick range before I posted about them, but my lack of camera has ruined that idea, and since during March at Farmers you can get two for the price of one ($25!) I must tell you about them right now!
So, let’s talk lipsticks! Obviously, you need to try lipsticks on to see if they suit you, and not just on the back of your hand. We can’t recommend that you buy these without trying them on, but we absolutely confidently can recommend that you give them a go. The first thing that you’ll notice is the smell. Like all the rest of the Karen Murrell product range, these lipsticks smell amaaaaaaaaaaazing. In fact, ever since I got them, I have been shoving them under people’s noses going “here, smell this!”. There’s no aroma of crayons or chemicals like some brands (cough Revlon cough) give off. There’s a very good reason for that, if you’ll allow me to quote here:
A woman consumes an average of nearly two kilograms of lipstick during her lifetime through drinking, eating and kissing – so keep lipstick natural! KM Lipsticks are made totally of natural ingredients. They do not contain any mineral oils, animal based material, parabens or preservatives.
In fact, their active ingredients are Candelilla wax, Evening Primrose oil (so I like to pretend that wearing this lipstick will help my PMS) and castor oil. You probably don’t want to eat two kilos of Karen Murrell in a sitting, but I can’t imagine that you’d do that anyway. What these ingredients mean is that the lipstick goes on really smoothly, and doesn’t dry out your lips at all. You’ll want to top up every hour for optimum colour and coverage, especially if you’re eating or drinking, but that’s true of everything I’ve ever worn anyway. And because we’re truly hardcore here at Pretty Pretty Pretty (and not because I am an idiot or anything, honest!), I tested the lipsticks in EXTREME conditions. They held up to being put through the washing machine, being carted around in a hot bra and having their lid jammed on while still wound up just fine. You might want to avoid leaving them in the sun for days though or they’ll get a tiny bit out of shape. But now onto the colours themselves!
First up we have Cordovan Natural. This is a little bit brown. I find it’s the perfect lipstick to wear to job interviews, because it’s obvious that you’re actually wearing lipstick so you’ve made an effort, but, like the name says, it looks really natural. Of course, I have yet to actually get a job whilst wearing it, but I suspect that has more to do with the job market than my lipstick choice.
Next up is Red Shimmer. This one is my total fav. You might remember how Megan finally helped me fufil last year’s fashion goal of wearing red lipstick with her MAC expertise? I recommend beginners start with one instead! It’s a little orangey, so better for those with yellow skintones rather than blues though. I can apply it without needing a mirror because the shimmer is more forgiving than a matte, it looks softer and doesn’t bleed. Shortly after I got this lipstick I had already put a deep curve in it, so often did I wear it. And if you’re into what your lipstick shape says about you, you’ll see that means I’m “Creative, Enthusiastic, energetic, Talkative, Loves attention, Falls in love easily, Helpful”, all of which sum up this site quite nicely too, right?
Next up is the Pink Starlet. Apparently our red lipstick queen Megan is all about the Pink now, and this one got her seal of approval. I’m not entirely sure it’s the right colour for me, because I am yellowy, but pink lipstick is definitely hot right now, and this would be a lovely one to start with.
The Violet Mousse is another subtle one that’s good for job interviews, or for wearing during the day if you’re the sort of person who wears makeup during the day. Again, I’m not certain that it’s right for me, but I think it’s a lovely shade and I wish it was!
Great to use overnight as an intense lip treatment. Use over lipstick as a lip-gloss and lip plumper. Creates a protection barrier against harsh weather, hot or cold. Tame unruly eyebrows. Small in size and it will not spill. Take it anywhere!
I’m definitely a fan of this range, and I’m hopeful that one day there might be even more colours (I’d love a dark lipstick), but this is a great starter palate. They’re great value for money at $25 each, and getting two for $25 is insanely great, so please, do go to a Farmers during March, try them on, and if the colours are right for you, you should stock up!
For Xmas, my mother gave me a pedicure voucher, which was a lovely present. It was for a place in Johnsonville Mall, which is less lovely, but luckily that’s on the way to Lisa’s house.
Of course, for presents, you’re not supposed to know how much they cost, but I can tell you anyway that the pedicures at 4 Season Nails cost $45. Do I recommend them for your pedicure needs? No, I really don’t. The place is your standard mall nail bar, with manicure counters and some throne chairs with footbaths, and it reeks of chemicals. So far, so typical, and that’s fine, it’s not a place you’d spend forever in, unless you work there. But they also have a large flatscreen TV that was showing Honey on a loop, which would have been distracting enough for people who want to concentrate on their magazines (a couple of months out of date at that), but the girl who was working on my feet kept watching the screen instead of what she was doing, and given that she was attacking my cuticles with sharp metal things and I was crying out in pain, she really should have been paying more attention before she actually cut me and I yelped and started bleeding. Not cool. It was the most painful treatment I’ve ever had – the filing was really rough, she didn’t actually cut my nails (they were really long), just the skin around them, and the (threadbare) towel fell off the footrest so my feet were slipping around everywhere. The topcoat she used on the OPI polish must have been good cos my toes aren’t chipped two weeks later, but seriously, what was supposed to be a relaxing experience turned out to be all kinds of torture instead. It may have been the particular technician and not the place that sucked, but given that I didn’t get her name, I can’t tell you who to avoid, so I suggest just skipping the place altogether.