Flash eyelash serum – Review

Flash before and after

Flash eyelash serum. Yeah, it works.

I’ve been faffing around with eyelash extensions in recent months. I totally loved the dramatic eyelash effect, along with the time the extensions saved me in the morning (no more curling and applying mascara). But, there’s a downside: Repeated extensions played havoc with my eyelashes, which were left brittle, snapped and sparse.  Dammit.

I’d seen a few promo pics on Facebook for eyelash serums like Revitalash and LiLash but my bum, frankly, was puckering at their NZ$120+ price tag. Then, purely by chance, I spotted Flash Eyelash Serum at Rotorua’s Life Pharmacy and, this time, the $50 price made me smile. I was super hesitant and skeptical that the serum would really work, but curiosity, urged on being troubled by my short and snapped eyelashes, I thought “stuff it” and dubiously handed over my hard earned cash.  Note, I hadn’t even heard of Flash at this point, I was buying ‘cold’. (more…)

Lou Loves – September Favourites

The blog post where I wax lyrical about beauty products and food that made me happy in the month of September… As it turns out (it wasn’t planned), all of this month’s beauty faves fall into the ‘cheap and cheerful category’.

maybelline browdrama review nzMaybelline Brow Satin Smoothing Duo-Brow Pencil & Filling Powder 

Maybelline have been on the money lately, pumping out products galore that are getting good reviews. Naturally I jumped on the bandwagon and bought a few things including this eyebrow pencil that’s got me most excited.  Why? The colour is spot on for my dark brown caterpillars:  It’s an affordable staple for your makeup kit; It has a 2mm pencil for precision AND a smudger that has a built in filling powder at the other end. The result is filled in, gap free eyebrows without that painted on ‘sharpie’ look that have been doing the rounds far too much in recent years!  Top marks Maybelline! Price:  $19.00. 

LA Girl Glide Gel Liner (Paradise Purple)

I spotted a LA Girl cosmetics stand tucked away in the corner of my local Life Pharmacy (Rotorua) recently and got a little excited. Why? I’ve heard great things from fellow beauty bloggers about the LA Girl pro concealer and I was keen to see if other items from the range were rave worthy (Note, I still haven’t tried the concealer yet!). I got this purple eyeliner for  NZ$9 and what a great surprise! I don’t usually hold ‘cheap’ eyeliners in high regard but this is stunning. The colour pay-off is brilliant, it applies super smooth (like a gel liner). It’s also waterproof and smudge-proof. Tick, tick and tick – and lastly, did you hear the price? Keep an eye out for these in your local Life Pharmacy. I’m sure I’ve seen this range in the Warehouse too (?).  LA Girl is also widely available online. Sleek matte me fandango purple review

Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream – Fandango Purple

The bold lip craze continues for me! This was an impulse purchase from Beauty Bliss (my favourite online beauty store at the moment). This is a matte finish liquid lipstick and I’ve rocked this regularly over the last two weeks and it’s one of two lippies going on my girl’s weekend away to Auckland this weekend (MAC Syrup is the other one, no surprise there).  My only grumble is that it’s quite a drying formula.   Applying lip balm five minutes before lip cream application is a must, as is slapping on more balm before you hit the sack at night. Other than that, the colour is intense, as is the staying power, it takes quite some effort to budge it. My nine year old, who loves his goodbye kiss and cuddle before school in the morning, is a fan: He doesn’t have to wipe away the lipstick marks on his cheek (cute). “Oh good, that one is colour stay”, he says before he launches in for a snuggle.  Price? NZ$14.00. Buy it here.  PS It easily removes with coconut oil on a cotton pad  (my No1 makeup remover at the moment!).

Soap & Glory Clean on Me Shower Gel 

soap and glory nz

I almost had a little orgasm in Postie Plus when I stumbled across some Soap & Glory products recently. I adore this range and my Mum and I went nuts shopping up a storm when we found the range in Boots in Bangkok two years ago. The smell of their products is…. sublime (kind of reminiscent of Miss Dior). I’m obsessed with this shower gel. Formula wise, it’s pretty bog standard to be honest, but the smell. Goodness. I’ve been having two showers a day, I’m so obsessed.  NZ$10. 

Toni & Guy Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray

I love the ‘just got out of bed’ aka ‘just got back from the beach’ look.   Unfortunately I have quite fine and silky hair and it takes a tonne of product (or a good swim at the beach) to achieve that look.  Well, I live an hour from the beach and I’m lazy with my hair, so neither approach is particularly convenient.  

Now, I’m not sure about achieving beachy looking waves from this delicious smelling sea salt spray, but I do get thick and full-volume looking hair after a good all-over spritz.   I usually dry my hair (with a blow dryer or air dry) until it’s about 75% dry, then I spray the product on the damp ends and then scrunch away with my hands.   I also use it when I wear my hair up: My hair has finally grown to shoulder length and a few spritz adds grit and texture so my hair complies with staying in a messy bun.   I’m impressed, noting this is the first sea salt spray I’ve tried. NZ$18. Available from New World.

Eggplant, Feta, Sundried Tomato and Basil Rolls


These were the morsels of the month. I made these one quiet rainy Sunday afternoon during a Homeland binge session on Netflix (I know it seems a bit flash for a quiet Sunday, but the eggplant needed using, it was going to go off otherwise!).  I adore eggplant, I lived at Lake Garda in Northern Italy for eight months on my OE and I practically gorged myself on melanzane.  These are ‘easy as’ to make:

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Slice the eggplant into thin strips vertically (about 0.5cm thick).
  • Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and place on a baking paper lined oven tray and roast until golden brown – about 20 mins. Turn after 10 minutes so they brown evenly.
  • Whack a bit of feta down on the eggplant, top with a sundried tomato and a basil leaf (or a dollop of pesto). Roll up. Secure with a fancy-pants skewer (or toothpick, who cares) and scoff them back.



Thai Chicken Cakes with Peanut Satay Sauce (kid friendly dinner!)

thai chicken cakes with peanut satay sauceMonday morning struck, I’m totes out of cooking inspiration.  I grabbed two chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost and vowed that, by the time 5.30pm rocked around, I’d have thought of something vaguely creative and appetising to feed the family.  To be brutally honest, whilst I adore cooking, I don’t enjoy mid week cooking. Time is at the essence, we are all hangry and usually I’m cooking two meals to appease two foodie adults and one gorgeous, but bloody fussy eating, nine year old.   I don’t have enough time during the week, frankly, to faff around preparing two meals. But I usually do. Aggh.

But this is a good news story: Inspiration did strike in the form of these Thai Chicken Cakes – and – talk about hit the jackpot!  Despite my reservations, my boy scoffed this dinner!   Bear in mind my expectations were low: I didn’t have any hopes of him eating them with salad (or the satay sauce – and he didn’t… But it was easy to sub these out for carrot sticks and sweetcorn. I can deal with that without blowing a valve.  Anyway, dinner was totally delicious, it was a 30 minute dinner and it was EASY.  So easy, in fact, we’ve had this dinner twice this week!   (more…)

Art Deco High Performance Eyeshadow Stylo – Easy, Quick, Gorgeous

Art Deco High Performance Stylo reviewI thought about popping this Art Deco eyeshadow crayon in my upcoming September favourites blogpost, but, frankly, it’s so good, I know I won’t be able to keep it short enough for a favourites mention: So it gets it’s own blogpost. Yeah, it’s that good.

Whenever I’m in Farmers I feel a magnetic pull to the Art Deco stand, which, sadly, is usually tucked away somewhere out of the way. I say, sadly, as everything I’ve bought from Art Deco makes both my cheque account and I happy (there’s bargains galore) and yearning for more.

I spied this NZ$22 new release eyeshadow crayon in Wellington’s Cuba Street Farmers and promptly tried out all six colours on my arm. I thought “oooh these are pretty, but I don’t need one” until I asked the sales assistant for a tissue to remove my sparkly art work.  Holy crap: I couldn’t remove said art work and that’s when I had a change of heart. Simply, I realised, I needed one of these. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll be sick of hearing me bang on about my oily eyelids and the necessity for me to wear a decent eyeprimer. Well, these Art Deco High Performance Eyeshadow Stylos (crikey that’s a long name! I’m going to call it ‘the crayon’ from here) are the first eye product I’ve chanced upon that do not budge and, better still, do not require an eyeprimer as a base! This bad boy, applies super pigmented, sticks like concrete and doesn’t crease even after all day wear. What a winner!  I’ve got a feeling this product will come into it’s own in summer, I’m predicting it might stand up to swimming with my head under.

I have one grumble though – not all Farmers’ Art Deco stands are stocked with this goodness.  Rotorua Farmers, for example, doesn’t have them. I’m a bit dark about that.  Rest assured: They are worth trying to hunt down.


Zucchini Parmesan Fries with Basil Pesto Mayo

Can I admit that these zucchini fries were mildly inspired by Carl’s Jnr’s Zucchini Fries? Should I fess up about that here? On the odd occasion we go to Carl’s, this is always what I get. But they are bad – and the mayo is highly processed (bit yuck) so I thought I’d have a crack at making these for myself, with the king of cheese:  Parmesan. Why add cheese? Well, that’s simple, cheese, in case I haven’t mentioned it is my favourite food – I can’t get enough of it.  Anyhow, back to the fries – so easy, delicious and we scoffed our way through these in front of the rugby, I was disappointed I hadn’t made a bigger batch. Then again, maybe it was just as well I hadn’t…   The addition of a basil pesto dip to accompany the fries is simply stellar.  

Note, if you don’t want to fry these, you can bake ’em. I’ve noted how to do that below the recipe. Enjoy!

zucchini parmesan fries with basil pesto mayo


Lou’s Faves – August 2015

It was a hard cull this month to only identify five favourites. Here’s what made the cull!

Body Shop: All-in-One 5 Action Perfection Instablur & Colour Crush lipstick (240 Damson in Distress)

Body Shop instablur review

The Body Shop is getting mega brownie points from me this month with two products I’ve developed OCD over.   I’ve got a bit of a long standing love affair with The Body Shop:  I worked at their Bond Street store in London for a while (the busiest Body Shop in the world! FACT: In one week we had the following famous people through our doors: The Queen of Spain, Boy George, Anita Roddick and Derek from Coronation Street – no shit).  

First up:  Instablur – 5 Action Perfector: I feel a bit bad featuring this as this is the second primer in a month that’s made my favourites list (last month it was this one but the price makes my bum pucker). Holy smokes, Instablur product requires a STOP PRESS: It’s my beauty find of the YEAR (so far) and I could easily write an entire blog post essay expressing my adoration for it. I’ve done a few makeup workshops and lessons lately: This is the product that’s making everyone’s “Must buy” list and I’m taking it into work next week for a demo.  Shout out must go to the fabulous, helpful and knowledgeable Rotorua Body Shop ladies who have been wowing me with their customer service.  They gave me a tester of Instablur to try out and they weren’t surprised to see me back a few days later to buy it – they know it’s the schizzle!

What’s so amazeballs about Instablur? This silicone primer does a bunch of important work: Reduces the appearance of pores; Helps hide blemishes; Smoothes out your complexion and, critically, as a foundation primer it extends the appearance of your makeup.   But, the fifth reason (as stated on the Body Shop website) is the Number 1 reason I love it – “Shine controlling 12h”… Yeah, they’ve got that nailed! I’ve been applying Instablur after my moisturiser, prior to foundation for the last two weeks and I’m delighted to report it’s totally keeping my oily skin at bay. I had a full face on at a Crossfit session this week (bad form wearing makeup, I know) and everyone commented how good my makeup looked after (and I was actually about to die).    At the very least, go in and ask for a tester! Trust me on this!  Check it out online: The Body Shop.  Price: NZ$46.25. 

Second up is this Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick (colour 240 – Damson in Distress) I’ve been looking for a colour like this since winter started. I combed the MAC, Nars and Stila, stands at Wellington’s Kirkaldies and Stains looking for a suitable shade, to no avail. I tried Revlon, Maybelline, L’Oreal, along with every other mainstream brand under the sun, but nothing measured up to the colour in my head. So I was full of joy when I popped into the Body Shop on a whim, and there it was! Boom! It’s reasonably long-lasting (as long as any lippy lasts on me), not drying and full of bright and bold fuchsia goodness. This is the perfect winter lip brightener and seemingly my friends agree, after several of them have toddled off to get this after seeing me rock it.  My husband also comments positively on the colour when I wear it (he knows his makeup). That’s always an affirming sign.  On a side note, actually, sod it being a winter appropriate colour, I’ll be rocking this year round.  Price: NZ$27.75

Body shop damson in distress lipstick



My skincare routine

skincare routine the beauty foodieI’m mindful that I talk a lot about the products I use – but I haven’t really talked about how, or when, I use them. So, this is that blog post: My current skincare routine.

Before we get down to skincare business, I need to get a few important things out of the way:

  • DISCLAIMER:  This routine is for an oily skin. If you have dry or sensitive skin – I’d be thinking differently.  This is what works for me – an oily chick!
  • There’s one beauty guru who I avidly follow, who has been a massive influencer on my skincare routine. That’s Caroline Hirons. I recommend you read this blogpost in conjunction with this post – to save me repeating myself in terms of why I do what I do!  I’ve deviated a bit in the last two years in terms of what I do (as mentioned in the afore mentioned link) but you’ll get the gist!
  • I carry out the routine below every night and every morning. The last time I went to bed without washing my face was December 2014 and, prior to that, it was under similar (extraordinarily drunk) circumstances in 2012.  That’s enough said on that, what goes on tour, stays on tour.
  • The products that I’m using right now might not be the products I’m using next week: Being a bit of a lover of change and anything new (as well as being a dedicated blogger) trying out new skincare products is one of my favourite hobbies.
  • I’m not loyal to any one skincare brand. I don’t buy into the ‘use all of our range’ sales pitch. I mix it up.  My face hasn’t fallen off… 

Brace yourself. Seven steps in the morning: Eight steps at night (most of the time).  

How do I have time? (I’m always asked this, I heard it coming). Look, this takes me FIVE minutes. It’s an investment and I’m worth it. FIVE minutes. I choose to take time to look after my skin. I have all of the products I use close on hand – if you have to go hunting in your drawer for a toner you are going to waste valuable time!   I choose to take time to look after my skin.  On another note, I’m rubbish at making time to exercise. Each to their own.

Products used:  Noting the above comments about being a product whore (i.e. I’m not a loyal to any brand) I’m really happy with all of the products featured in this post on a couple of levels: I love how my skin is responding, I like that most of the products are easy to buy (Farmers and the supermarket) and, importantly, the cost of most of the products makes my wallet happy. I’ve spent a bloody fortune on some skincare products that aren’t half as good as what I’m using right now… Go figure.

My routine

First up: Cleansing

skincare routine the beauty foodieMorning: I cleanse using a cleanser and a clean flannel (I use a fresh flannel daily). Nothing fancy here, I wet my face with warm water, apply cleanser to my flannel – and cleanse away. Rinse with warm water.  I’m currently loving Moreish’s foaming cleanser (which, despite the name isn’t really foaming at all – and certainly not drying on my oily skin like other foaming cleansers I’ve tried).  

Night:  At the end of the day I’ve got an extra cleansing step: Pre-cleansing to take off all my makeup. How? I just get a little bit of product on my fingers, smooth it over my skin,  including my eye makeup and rinse off.   Boom: Ready for cleansing. 

I’ve waxed lyrical for years about Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm as a pre-cleanser and as far as I’m concerned this is still the dog’s nuts of pre-cleansers. However, confession time: I’m not using it at the moment because I’m busy trying out other stuff like organic extra virgin coconut oil (from my kitchen), or Lipidol’s Cleansing Face Oil ($10 from Farmers) – both are great!  Also, at night, because I do wear a shit-load of makeup usually, after pre-cleansing I always go on to double cleanse (using the same cleanser).  On ‘low makeup days’ I’d just cleanse once… Make sense?! .


I tone twice, once with an exfoliating toner and then a hydrating toner (neither of which contain alcohol).  Why do I use two toners and what’s the difference between an exfoliating toner and a hydrating toner? Have a read of my Caroline Hiron’s blogpost:  That’ll explain everything.  At the moment I’m using Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid toner (applied to a cotton pad and swept across my face).   After that I spritz my face with a hydrating toner. Currently I’m adoring Evolu’s Facial toner.  

Eye Cream

snoxin blog review

I’m a big advocate of using an eye cream and I’ve been using it twice a day since I was in my early twenties.  I suffer from droopy eyelids (damn genetics) and I have puffiness under the eyes that I’ve always hated. More recently, as I zoom towards my fortieth birthday, my crows feet and laughter lines around my eyes are screaming out for TLC.  So for me an eye cream is a ‘must’!  

I apply eye cream straight after toning.  Why? This is what Caroline Hirons has to say on the topic, she makes me snort with laughter.

Don’t apply your eye cream last. No matter how careful you apply your serums/moisturisers you will always get some in the eye area and then your eye cream won’t absorb where you want it to. Pointless. Eye cream first. Everything else afterwards (and on top if you like and it’s not a contra-indication). Applying your eye cream last is like wearing knickers over your trousers.

Application wise, I dispense a very small amount of eye cream – about the size of a rice grain- onto my fingertip and dot the product under my eye (around the orbital bone first) and then I then go back and lightly pat or press the formula into my skin under my eye.  I use my ring finger for thisb ecause this is the weakest finger and therefore the least likely to unnecessarily pull or stretch the delicate skin around my eyes.  I’m currently using L’oreal’s Revitalift eye cream (from the supermarket). I can’t decide if I like it or not so I’ll try something different next [shrugs shoulders].  When my eyes bags are super puffy (as a result of a salty dinner the night before, not enough water or a crap sleep) I’ll use Natio’s Roll On Eye Serum (Farmers or a pharmacy) before my eye cream. I think this is a cracking little product – it definitely works on me!


Serums treat your skin concern and this is the one area of my skincare routine where I’m prepared to part with some serious moola.  My main skin concern is wrinkles.  Currently I’m using a serum from Indeed Labs called Snoxin (ha ha, sounds like a mix of snot and toxin) which, pleasingly, doesn’t require a home re-mortgage (it’s $49.99 from Farmers).  This is gel-like substance is a concentrated multi-peptide treatment that targets the appearance of lines and wrinkles.  I like it, it’s not the best serum I’ve used – and not the worst.  I haven’t seen any vast improvement in my fine lines – but I feel like it’s doing good things.  To apply, I put a half-size pea-sized squirt on the end of my finger tips and pat it in to my skin.   Easy.


Moriesh day cream review

I find a lot of people spend tonnes of cash on a moisturiser without giving a lot of thought and attention to the steps before hand (like what I’ve wittered on about above). A $100 moisturiser isn’t going to slow down the onset of aging because your moisturiser is your coat – it offers protection (that’s not my spiel, it’s Caroline’s, FYI), it’s, errr, not going to stop your boobs from sagging. Key takeaway:  Use a moisturiser for your skin type (dry, normal, combination, oily etc). 

What am I using on my oily skin? In the morning I use either Moreish Day Cream or Skinfood Light Moisturiser. Both of these rock my world. Love them as a product as well as their price points: Moreish’s offering is $25 (from Countdown) and Skinfood’s moisturiser is only $14 (available from most supermarkets).  In the evening I’m currently using either Moreish Night Cream or Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Cream (which is ‘bleh’ but I’m determined to use it up).

Note:  Sometimes, if my skin is dehydrated, or simply because I feel like it,  I’ll use Moreish’s Argan Oil in the place of a moisturiser.  Astonishingly, my oily skin is less oily since I started using facial oils…

Before I forget:

  • Apply sun cream: I use Skinnies (on my face, it’s rad) before moisturiser.  I’m a bit lax with this in the winter (I hermit inside), but I do it religiously in the other seasons.
  • Moisturise your decolletage! Go hard!  I either apply moisturiser or Argan Oil here every morning and night. I was going to write a blog post on this, but Stuff.co.nz bet me to it. Good on ’em. 

Lip Balm

We’ve given everything else a tonne of attention and love, why forget the lips? These need moisturising too.  I’m currently using an EOS lip balm which is great (especially on price – I think it was $6 at a Beauty Bucket sale). My favourite lip product of all time though (and I’ve run out) is Ormedic Balancing Lip Enhancement Complex from Image Skincare: What a mouthful of a product name. They should just call it ‘crack for lips’.  I’ll be getting a new one when I visit Napier and see Fiona from Simply Indulgent (if you are  in Hawke’s Bay – go visit her, she’s AMAZING).

And that, is it:  Congratulations if you made it to the bottom of this blog post – it’s a biggie!  What’s your skincare regime?  More steps than me, or less?  Any product recommendations for me?  I’m thinking of trying out some skincare from Paula’s Choice next. Thoughts? 


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