Saturday, 13 February 2016

Australia: What I Bought

If you're at all familiar with my buying habits, you'll know that, quite frankly, there was never a chance of me resisting flying part-way round the globe without bringing back at least a few beauty souvenirs. Australia seems to be very, very big on its skin and beauty, bringing you familiar lines such as Aēsop, Lanolips, MV Organics and Alpha-H, to name but a few. They are also very big on their natural and organic products, offering a bounty of independent and handmade wholesome cosmetics, which of course, I got my mits on.

I was fortunate enough to be able to shop both online and in-store, picking up some real skin treats, all of which I've now tried, loved and would pick up again, if they were a little more accessible to purchase. Round 2 to Australia, anyone?

Go-To Skincare

With a brand focus on cruelty-free, all-natural skincare, Go-To Skincare provides a simple, silky collection of effective and charming skin, body and lip products. Go-To Skincare like to have have fun with language, their cheeky descriptions and so-bad-its-good wordplay put a smile on my face while their wonderful oils make my skin glow.

I picked up the Oil Have Some of That Bundle (see what I mean), at which point there was an additional Christmas Candle ioveded - which smelled just like their Exceptionoil (bliss). The bundle includes: Exceptionoil; Face Hero; and Lips! all of which have a silky texture, a golden colour and a wonderful feel on skin. 

Lips! might just be one of my favourite lip products of all times. It has an unmatched texture, that glides over my lips and leaves them with that long lasting smoothness. It has a wonderful feel, thanks to its oil-like texture, and its fragrance is gorgeously soft and edible. My lips feel in stellar condition and look truly kissable thanks to that sheen.

Exceptionoil turned out to be a bit of a dark horse, as I'm generally more concerned about face products than I am body, but this smelled too good to not use. Starting as a balm, it instantly melts into a slinky oil when heat is applied. It is warm and comforting and the texture feels so smoothing as it runs over my skin. I'd argue that this is a wonderful natural alternative to Bio-Oil, helping to keep skin hydrated, firm and super supple. I would absolutely purchase this again, a hundred times over.

The Face Hero is an oil of pure gold. It's rich and thick, therefore reserved only for nighttime use. While I find it exceptionally nourishing, the heaviness of the oil just doesn't absorb well with my skin. It keeps my skin protected and hydrated, a resurgence of moisture that leaves my face with a comfortable nourishment. 

The Go-To Skincare collection is available here. The Oil Have Some of That Bundle is priced at $111 AUD for 1x Exceptionoil ($51AUD / 85ML), 1x Face Hero ($45AUD / 30ML) and 1x Lips! ($15AUD / 15G).

The Little Alchemist

There were a lot of items I wanted to pick up from The Little Alchemist and I wish my wallet and luggage allowance had permitted me to do so. These artisan natural skincare treats are ideal for soothing my sensitive, yet oily skin, providing a refreshing and clearing cleanse. 
I purchased the Wild Apple & Mint Antioxidant Balancing Mist, Wild Apple & Mint Purifying Gel Cleanser and the Pineapple & Zeolite Micro Polish, all of which really do have that wild and natural freshness, complemented by their zesty fragrances. 

I love a good facial mist, and the Wild Apple & Mint Antioxidant Balancing Mist is no exception. This fresh, reviving mist is nothing short of hydrating. I feel an instant surge of moisture, my skin is instantly hydrated as the waters quickly absorb into my skin. Complemented by its fruity scent, this is the perfect facial mist for when you need to hit refresh.

Usually, I'm not a lover of gel-type cleanser, so I took a gamble on the Wild Apple & Mint Purifying Gel Cleanser but it definitely paid off. This gelatinous cleanser seems to be perpetually cool, allowing for an instantly refreshing and revitalising sensation. It's lightweight and gentle, softly cleansing my face and providing nourishment. The freshness of the product leaves my skin feeling invigorated and brighter, the perfect kickstart cleanser for the mornings. 

The  Pineapple & Zeolite Micro Polish is very similar in consistency and fragrance to the Wild Apple & Mint Purifying Gel Cleanser, meaning it gives the sensation of both polishing and cleansing. Using all-natural jojoba spheres to exfoliate, this polish offers an ever-so-gentle buff, helping to clear any congestion while retaining skin's suppleness. I really like the freshness of this product, a real friendly skin pick-me-up.

The Organic Project

The Organic Project is an online-only webstore specialising in a range of artisan and boutique organic and natural cosmetics and skincare. From the budget(ish) to the truly luxurious, you really are spoiled for choice of Australia's own green cosmetics. But, like a sensible little shopper, I limited myself to just two items: the Simple As That Toner and the DnA Elements Firming Eye Gel, but sadly, made some just terrible choices.
DnA Elements are a truly organic, hand crafted, artisan brand, using simple and nourishing natural ingredients. The DnA Elements Firming Eye Gel, consisting of very minimal ingredients, all of which are 100% organic certified, and while that's all very well and nice, it unfortunately seems to lack any performance. Radioactive orange in colour, and the consistency of runny egg yolk, adding to whole to meaning to "you've got egg on your face", the contents inside this little plastic pot makes application difficult, for seemingly no visible reward.

The watery consistency means you either apply too much, or it dribbles merrily along your face and fingers. Its absorption rate is almost too good, feeling as though it disappears when applied. There are very little short-term or long-term visible effects to this product. There is no cooling and refreshing sensation on application, and there have been no noticeable improvements to firmness or puffiness.

After sharing this post on Instagram, Simple As That got back to me, a little confused as to why I found such a small amount of witch hazel so drying. Since then, I went back and tried the toner once more (of the third that still remains), shaking the bottle ferociously to make sure the ingredients mixed. I didn't find it drying at all, I found it very lovely and very toning.

In light of which, it turns out the issues I have faced may be due to a separation in ingredients. I have kept the initial review for clarity, but plan to re-review this product more accurately and will update shortly with a follow-up link:
[It's been a very long time since I used a physical toner. As a long standing convert to facial mists, the Simple As That Toner was a very welcome change indeed. Contain only 3 ingredients, this toner really is as simple as that. The rose otto water takes its place at the top of the ingredients list and really is the dominant scent, and nobody is complaining about that. But, followed by witch hazel, which I find to be incredibly drying, the toner leaves my skin with that tightening sensation. I find it uncomfortable to wear, and needs to be immediately followed by a moisturiser, if I let this sit on my skin, my skin rapidly becomes dry and tight, far from offering that soothing sensation as it claims.]

Aēsop, Melbourne

Borne out of Melbourne, Aēsop likes to define themselves as scientific skincare, stressing heavily that their ingredients firmly comply with EU safety regulations, which is very good news for consumers indeed (but no, not green, like you may have hoped). 

This is my first foray with the cult brand Aēsop and I couldn't stress cult more heavily. Walking into their Melbourne store, sprinkled with ghostly polite female staff, wearing what can only be referred to as brown sacks, I felt by signing my receipt I have inadvertently signed up for whatever glass of x-crazy they were peddling. 
I picked up one very petite item while there, because it was ever-so-slightly cheaper than in the UK (if you look after the pennies...). The Control Blemish Gel is a targeted spot treatment, used to decrease inflammation and soothe those pesky little blemishes.

This is quite a neat little product. It smells wonderful for a blemish gel, a very fresh and botanical fragrance. It's cooling to touch, instantly helping to calm any redness, and throughout the day will help minimise the size of the blemish. I have found it doesn't leave any of the sticky or shiny residue you normally get with gels, meaning it blends seamlessly, while helping to fight the blemish. Top marks for it's resolve; once you set Control into fight mode, it goes in stealthily and effectively, the prefect day-wear anti-blemish treatment. 

Alongside ControlAēsop also threw-in 3 sample sachets of the  Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque. I really did fall in love with this little number. Once more, it features that lovely cooling technology that helps to calm and deflame any redness. It's far creamier than most masks and doesn't harden on skin as it dries, keeping your skin under a dynamic and nourishing barrier. Mostly contributing to decreasing inflammation, Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque is perfect for calming and soothing, providing a more balanced and even complexion.

Control Blemish Gel can be purchased from Aēsop for £15.00 / 15ML. The full-size Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque can also be purchased from Aēsop for £33.00 / 60ML.

The Lab Organics, Melbourne

I could spend a lot of time in Melbourne's own The Lab Organics. This picturesque little boutique is structured from prettily painted-white wood, adorned with wild ivy and flowers, naturally lit to demonstrate the collection of beautiful displays. I wish I could shop here more. I want one just like it in Manchester. The friendly staff are polite, invested and know this organic lark inside and out. I picked up three decadent little gifts for myself: the Mr. Smith Sea Salt SprayProspector Co. All-Purpose Dirt and the Lavanila Vanilla Coconut Deodorant, on one of those, exit-the-shop-with-more-than-you'd-bargained-for ventures.
I always like to add a bit of texture to my hair when styling. Coming from one of those families who only holidayed in Cornwall as a child, I feel at one with the beach and the beach hair that comes with it. Mr. Smith Sea Salt Spray is a delightful salt spray that is lightweight, conditioning and has a deliciously sweet fragrance, not too dissimilar to that of Mini Eggs. I was able to achieve that same ocean-fresh hair style, adding stability and firmness while also providing UV protection, moisture and hydration. My hair looks, feels and smells just lovely when wearing this smart little sea salt spray.

As a big fan of all things all-purpose, the Prospector Co. All-Purpose Dirt. This brown powdery dirt can be used on skin, hair and body. Looking online and on the packaging, I can't actually find the complete list of ingredients - now that is very disconcerting. Described only as containing "a blend of all-natural fine-grained clays and minerals", it makes for the perfect compliment for oily skin and oily hair, moping up any excess sebum or grease. It has a gritty, earthy feel to it, yet remains soft and silky when using. I'm just really concerned about the lack of transparency over the ingredients now...

I converted over to natural deodorants around 8 months ago and I haven't looked back since. While I am sensitive to sodium bicarbonate, the Lavanila Vanilla Coconut Deodorant instead contains sodium stearate (coconut derived), which I've found to be far less intrusive, causing no irritation. Applying via a stick instead of a balm makes life so much easier, there is no mess and a cleaner application. The deodorant is very nourishing, I can feel the rich creaminess of the deodorant as it glides along. Don't get me started on the smell, oh the smell. Vanilla and coconut makes for two peas in a vanilla pod, a scent that so perfectly complements one another, while fairly subtle and in no way overpowering, this is a scent that lasts throughout the day.

All three items can be purchased from The Lab Organics. The Mr. Smith Sea Salt Spray is priced at $35.00 AUD / 150ML, Prospector Co. All-Purpose Dirt is priced at $55.00 AUD / 113G and the Lavanila Vanilla Coconut Deodorant $26.95 AUD / 50G (or Net-A-Porter for £10.00). 

The Raw Kitchen, Perth

I'm almost a little reluctant to admit, that this is my first experience in a vegan restaurant, but I will very happily disclose that it was one of the best meals I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Within The Raw Kitchen, there is a very small vegan shop selling a range of crafts, books, utensils, and, my personal favourite, cosmetics.

I couldn't believe my luck when I came across a Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask by the side of the till, marked down from $89.00 AUD to $45.00 AUD. That's very nearly 50% off, and given that, at the time, the pound was scoring twice as profitable to the dollar, it cost me around £22.50 to pick up a mask that normally retails at £64.00. Back of the net. I'm kicking myself now, after falling so madly in love with the mask, I wish I'd picked up a couple more.
The Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask is one of the most nourishing masks I have ever applied. It has an unmatched richness to its creamy texture, that, when applied, will remain moist and nourishing - never drying or hardening. It's one step away from being a night cream, as a thin layer of this mask will readily absorb into the skin, providing a deep-down hydration that my skin just revels in. Afterwards my skin looks plumper and feels softer. There's a delicateness to my skin, it's supple now and it's radiant. The argan oil smells scrumptious, holistically refreshing my body as the mask works to refresh my skin.

In addition, I picked up what can only be described as a very expensive soap. By my standards, I wouldn't bat an eyelid at these prices, but £7.50 for a soap is enough to make anyone's head spin. I picked up Maple Soaps Pink Grapefruit and Tangerine as it smelled just too good to not purchase. I bought it as a gift, so I can only personally vouch for its divine scent. I have heard nothing yet as to the quality of the product so we can only assume that no news is good news, right?

The Raw Kitchen do not have an online webstore for their boutique, so alternatively, the Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask can be purchased from Alyaka for £64.00 / 50ML and the Maple Soaps Pink Grapefruit and Tangerine can be purchased from Maple Soaps for $15.00 AUD / 135G. 

For the next time I'm back in Australia - because yes, I will be back - I'm going to allow myself a bigger budget for  both luggage allowance and monetary requirements. Australia has a lot to offer on the beauty scene and I feel like I've only just scratched the surface.

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