Are you buying your first home? | Part 3

Now that NZ is in Level 3 of the COVID 19 reponse program, and hopefully will move to level 2 soon, everyone can start their search for the forver home or investment. With the amazing homeloan rates, and newly relaxed first home buyer regulations, I’m sure there will be more opportunities for everyone who is looking to climb the property ladder. This is the part 3 of my seiris on tips to help you through the process. Don’t miss the first and second parts of this seiris :).

Property search is tedious task. It is time consuming, resource consuming and energy consuming. But all that consumption is necessary. The more your research, the better the chance of finding what you need. However, this process can be made a little easier with a buyer’s realestate agent or simply a buyer’s agent. We also recommend finding your potential lawyer at the outset. More details given below ūüôā

A buyer’s agent

A buyer‚Äôs agent acts as exactly what the name suggests ‚Äď an agent for the buyer. Real estate agents not only act for the sellers, but for the buyers too. Once you have your finances sorted, and before starting the property hunting process, talk to agents who are willing to help you out with the process. A buyer‚Äôs agent can help with arranging private viewings, finding relevant documents for a property, and even putting forward an attractive offer once you are convinced to go ahead. Agents are also very useful in getting information that you may not otherwise get or is difficult to source. For example, extra documentation that you may want, private viewings at your convenience, information about potential offers, or interests, price expectation for a property. We also learnt quite a few tips and tricks of the trade from our agents.  But the biggest advantage of having an agent is you receive information about potential properties even before they appear on public listings. This can reduce the competition for good houses. 

You do not need to stick to one agent; you can use the services of multiple agents. If you are using multiple agents, find ones from different agencies. However, too many agents will defeat the purpose, because no agent will be motivated to help you because they may end up not getting any return for their efforts. So one or two is ideally the best.

Once again buyer’s agents get paid when a sale is made through the vendor’s agent unless you entered into an agreement with other arrangements. The downside of being paid by vendor’s agents is that they always may not be keen to work with buyer’s agents because their commission will have to be divided. In such cases, you’ll have to make a judgment call and decide how to proceed. In our case, we decided to go ahead without our agent, but the decision was made transparently, after discussing it with our agent.

We recommend (#notsponsored): We worked with Tania Ikin. She comes highly recommended by us. Tania helped us look at quite a number of houses and was nothing but encouraging and supportive throughout. We were quite adamant about our requirements and she never tried to convince us otherwise. Unfortunately, when we found the house we wanted, the seller‚Äôs agent did not wish to go through her; but she was kind enough to suggest that we go ahead without her. This is an excellent example of her professionalism and ethical integrity.  

A lawyer

The service of a lawyer comes in once you get an offer accepted. However, many do not realise that you need to have your lawyers sorted even to make an offer. Once you found the house, you will need to have the details of your lawyer ready to go on the sales and purchase agreement (S&P ‚Äď more details here). Sometimes, once you found the house that you are interested in, there may be only 24hrs or less to make an offer if it is highly in demand. Therefore, while we do not recommend making offers without having your lawyer go through the S&P, you may not have time to find and consult a lawyer before doing so. We highly recommended having a quick discussion with a potential lawyer about your rights before starting the house-hunting process. Costs and when to pay for lawyers might be different from firm to firm. however, most lawyers would charge only if the S&P was accepted and you are proceeding to the next steps.

We recommend (#notsponsored): Sathiya Muralitharan from KTLaw comes highly recommended from us. She is multilingual and therefore, can explain legal terms in your native language (if she speaks it J). She was responsive and professional. Most importantly, she is capable of dumbing down legal jargon for us laymen.

Once you have these sorted, you are all set to start looking for your future home. Even though the above are not necessarily prerequisites to the property search, we recommend having them sorted early on to help you in the process.

There are many websites to keep an eye for potential properties. We found TradeMe (#notsponsored) to be the easiest because you can add filters to sort through 1000s of property and set up alerts when new properties come to market that satisfies the filters. However, keep an eye on agency listings, and other real estate webpages like realestate.co.nz and homes.co.nz just in case.

The next article of this series will bring the most important tool we used for our property search. It was used to assess the houses we viewed to objectively (to some extent) decided if they suit our requirements. The aim was to remove the personal bias and emotional influence that we may have when making a purchase decision. We will also explain why such a tool was necessary to identify our future home. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

Sithru

AJ’s Cyber Security Tips|How to securely work from home

The New Zealand government encourage companies to consider working from home options of their employees to prevent exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, it is important to get to know how to work safely and securely from home.

Most common risks for employees working from home are the following:

  • Exposing the corporate netowrk to home computer vulnerabilities
  • Unable to control or ensure the security of the home network
  • More susceptible to phishing and cyber attacks
  • Inability to ensure the physical security of the workspace

Let’s closely look at those risks and what can we do to mitigate them.

Laptop or Desktop security

At your office, you may have given a laptop or a desktop to do your daily jobs. If you have a company-provided laptop it much easier to work from home. Otherwise, your employer may have already advised you to take your desktop with you. Either way allows you to resume your work from where you were at the office since they are already loaded with all necessary applications and tools.

In case if you have to use your home laptop or the desktop to work from home, here are few things that you must do to ensure the security of your personal information and the company information.

  1. Apply Operating Systems and application security patches

Time to time Operating System (OS) vendors like Microsoft releases security patches for their OSs. These patches may vary from low to critical depending on the severity (the harm that cybercriminals can do) and exploitability (how easy to exploit the issue). Therefore, it is very important to apply these security patches as soon as they come.

  1. Use strong passwords

Password is the first level of protection to your computer and information systems. Therefore, set a strong and unique password on your devices and systems that you store your important information.

It is a good practice to have different sets of passwords for work and personal accounts.

Check this guide on how to set a strong password

  1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication will give you added protection to your password. Therefore, enable 2FA if your corporate applications support it. Talk to your IT team to know what applications support 2FA and how to enable it for your account.

  1. Never disable the antivirus application

Make sure your antivirus application is running all the time when you access any system over the Internet.

Network security

When you were at your office premises you were protected by the corporate network firewall which blocks most of the common attacks to your device. Now you must rely on your home Wi-Fi router to provide a similar level of protection. Unfortunately, home wireless routers by default do not have security features enabled to simplify the initial set up process.

Therefore, the first thing is to make sure you have undertaken below steps to ensure there are no weaknesses in your home network. If you have multiple devices such as a separate modem, a router and a Wi-Fi access point in your home network, do below on all of them.

  1. Change default admin password

Routers do have a web Graphical User Interface (GUI) to configure Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN) and other settings. You may have never used this or may have used once when you initially set up the network, but there is malware that is designed to identify devices running with the factory default passwords.

Generally, the admin password and the login procedure can be found under the Wi-Fi router or in the router manual. Also, you can use online websites like this to check the default password.

You may see there are number of routers that do not have a default password or have a very weak one like ‚Äúpassword‚Äô or ‚Äú1234‚ÄĚ, so I cannot stress enough the importance of changing the default password.

  1. Remove unknown devices connected to the home network

While you are in the router configuration, check what else is connected to your Wi-Fi network. If you are not sure about a device that is connected, kick it off from the network. The worst thing that could happen is you have to enter the Wi-Fi password to reconnect it to the network.

  1. Set a strong Wi-Fi password

Setting a strong password for your Wi-Fi network will avoid unauthorised access to your home network. Also, make sure inserting the password is mandatory if anyone wants to connect to the network. A passphrase is a good way to remember the password as long as it is unique and does not contain any personal information.

Also, it is a good idea to have a separate Wi-Fi network for guests if your router supports creating multiple local networks.

  1. Use WPA2 for wireless security

WPA2 stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, the industry recommended encryption protocol for setting up the security of your Wi-Fi network. Generally, this can be found under the security or the advance configuration section of the router configuration.

  1. Keep your router up-to-date.

Check whether there are pending updates to be installed for your router if so install them before you connect to the corporate network. Again, this can be found once you logged into the router administration web page.

  1. Enable the firewall and disable unwanted services

Not all but most modern routers have a feature to mitigate the risk of some cyber attacks by configuring the in-built firewall capability. This will prevent exposing unwanted services or ports like SMB, RDP and NetBIOS to the Internet which are widely targeted vulnerabilities by cybercriminals.

  1. Use Corporate VPN when accessing important systems

Virtual Private Network (VPN) software provides an added layer of security by using encryption between your laptop and the corporate IT network.

Using a VPN is highly recommended whenever you access corporate systems as it will protect the information from any insecurities in your home network. Talk to your IT team to help you set up VPN software on your device.

Check below guides if you want to know more about securing the home router

https://www.cert.govt.nz/individuals/guides/stepping-up-your-cyber-security/secure-your-home-network/

https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/home-wireless-network-security/

Physical security

Physical security of the place that you work is equally important as network security. Here are a few checks you can do to improve physical security aspects.

  1. Find a secure place to work

The garden bench could be the most comfortable place to work while at home but make sure you do not expose to any threat actors like opportunistic thieves. Also, once you are done for the day, keep all your office stuff in one place specially printouts and files that you have with you.

  1. Lock your laptop if you step away

It is a good practice to lock the computer stepping away from it, even for a minute. This will prevent children from mucking around with your computer or exposing confidential information to your flatmates if you are sharing the house with others.

  1. Don’t’ write down passwords

Do not write any corporate passwords. Use corporate password management system to store all passwords if you have one.

Phishing and other cyber threats

While the world is dealing with the pandemic crisis, cybercriminals are leveraging peoples fear of the virus to launch cyber-attacks. In the last few weeks, security researchers found several phishing email campaigns and malware-laced mobile apps.

Here are a few tips to protect you from phishing scams.

  1. Do not trust the display name of the sender or the ‚Äúfrom‚ÄĚ address

There are many ways to manipulate the displayed name and the from address to fool the recipient. Therefore, never trust the email just from those attributes.

  1. Never give your passwords

One of the main objectives of cybercriminals of phishing emails is to capture your passwords. Therefore, never give your corporate login password to anyone.

  1. Try to avoid opening unsolicited emails, even you open it do not download any attachments or click any links

Try not to open those unsolicited emails. If you found it in your spam folder, probably it has spam-like attributes for the email to be flagged as spam. If it is a genuine email, talk to your IT team and whitelist that sender. Even you open the email do not download any attachments or click any links as they are the most popular way to hide malware.

Cheers,

AJ


AJ is a cyber security specialist with more than 10 years of experience working in variety of firms in multiple countries. AJ will give cyber security tips here from time to time!

Cartoon Credit: Times of India, 18 Jan 2018

Are you buying your first home? | Part 2

Do you need a Mortgage Adviser?

2 Now that you have an idea about what you can afford to pay as mortgage repayments, the next step is to decide how much your actual buying power is ‚Äď how much are you realistically able to borrow from the banks to buy the house. It is way easier to get the services of a mortgage adviser during this phase to do the hard work. ¬†

If you are doing it yourself, here’s how it is done.

Things you need: your income, expenditure, assets and liabilities.

In simple terms, how much money comes in (e.g. salary, rental income, profits), how much of it do you spend (e.g. bill payments, groceries), what items of value do you possess (e.g. savings, gold, vehicles) and how much do you owe (e.g. loans, credit cards, hire purchases). You also need an amount of cash (Savings) that is readily available as your deposit. This will be the down payment for the property.

Once these are figured out, you need to go to lending institutes to find out how much you are eligible to borrow. Institutes can be banks (highly recommended) or other financial entities that are legally allowed to lend. They evaluate the values you put down plus some other numbers such as your credit rating and decide whether you can borrow money at all, and if so, how much. 

Why doing it yourself is hard:

  • Having to face rejections (multiple times)
  • Hefty amount of communications and long waiting periods to get results
  • Time consuming
  • Emotionally draining

You may not get approved for finance right away (you are lucky if you do!). Even if you are successful in your first attempt, you may need to fish around to get a good deal. This process is not only time consuming but also emotionally draining at times especially if you get rejected by multiple banks. You also have to fill multiple applications that have different formats from one another. That is just the beginning! You also need to carry out regular communications with each party and wait a long period of time to hear back. With a day job and other personal responsibilities at hand, having to going through this repeatedly is not fun (trust me on this!). You will end up exhausted at this stage even before the good part begins.

Finding a competent mortgage adviser makes your life so much easier at this stage. The first good thing about a mortgage adviser is, their services are free to you. They get paid by the banks once a mortgage is finalised.

Secondly, they would be experienced enough to tell you how much your buying power is and what you could do to improve if needed, even before going to the bank.

Thirdly, with their experience, they know which banks have reserves to lend money at present. Which cuts down the urge to go to every bank possible.

Finally, they will do the leg work for you. They already have established relationships with banks which allow them to communicate much easier and quicker. They will be able to get you pre-approved for a mortgage which would be a plus point when making offers. With a mortgage adviser, you’ll get results much easier, especially when your offer is accepted and are ready to apply for the mortgage. At this stage, they can offer you advice on loan types and loan terms to consider.  

Having said that, there are times when you feel it is better to have first-hand control of the process because you become reliant on a third party (adviser) for communications with the banks. Especially, when the mortgage applications are processing, banks take at least 5 working days to process. Then they communicate the results to the adviser, and you hear it from them. If there is anything to be negotiated, you need to go through the mortgage adviser to the bank which seems like an eternity to get results. Such waiting periods in between can agitate you if you are someone that is used to take control and steer things.

My recommendation is, do use a mortgage adviser, even if this is the case.

However, find one that is extremely competent, that does not need to be told what to do and one that is proactive. Talk to previous clients of mortgage advisers if possible to find out how they performed during the application process. Written reviews online might say they achieved the final goal ‚Äď a mortgage, but the process of getting there may not have been smooth sailing. At the outset, explain to them you need regular communications during the process, even if the only update they have is ‚Äėno updates from banks‚Äô. However, set a reasonable frequency for such communications that is agreeable to both parties.¬†

Stay tuned for more tips on property searching!

Cheers,

Sithru

Are you buying your first home? |Part 1

General Tips for the process

Based on our experience there are certain things that we recommend you do before even starting to look for your dream home ‚Äď finding out the mortgage payment you can afford, Getting the services of a mortgage adviser, a buyer‚Äôs agent, and finding your lawyer are just some of it. The services of a mortgage adviser and the buyer‚Äôs agent are not mandatory but are highly recommended to ease the pain of doing the work yourselves.  

First you need to understand that buying house is not always the best option. For some people renting is much more cost effective and helpful in the long run. Owning a house means, you not only are paying higher rent as the mortgage, but there are added expenses such as rates payments, maintenance costs, and sometimes the need to make adjustments. Having said that, I must also say, having your own house means owning an enormous asset; that is never a bad investment. However, the discussion around the decision to buy or not to buy is for another post maybe. For now, I assume you are here because you already made the decision to buy.

1 Our first tip is to find out how much you could comfortably pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly as the mortgage payment. This is only to get an idea about how much you can afford as your mortgage payment.

You can use mortgage calculators given on any bank’s web page to do the calculation (this one is easier to use). The values you need for the calculation are:

  • The general interest rate that is currently used (I recommend using the floating interest rate),
  • The deposit amount you have, and
  • The potential loan value

Different calculators ask for either the cost of the house or the loan value. Cost of the house is how much a house will be sold for. The loan value is cost of the house minus the deposit value. This is the actual amount you will be borrowing from the bank.

E.g.: If the cost of the house is $550,000, and you can afford to have a deposit of $50,000, then your loan value is $500,000.

At this point in the process you may not have a clear idea about any of the actual values for house cost, loan amount or the deposit. Nevertheless, play around with estimates.

A general rule for your deposit is that it should sit somewhere between 10-20% of the house value. So it pays to know exactly how much you can put forward as the deposit before starting this process. There are multiple ways to accumulate a deposit. One is to save rigorously; Secondly, you can turn to parents or close relatives for a donation/gift (this cannot be a loan); or you can explore the grants available through KiwiSaver (or equivalents in your country) for first home buyers (sometimes available for second homes too). In reality, your deposit may have to be a combination of savings and either one or both of the other options.

We recommend doing the above mortgage calculation to figure out if you can afford to pay a mortgage at all, and if so within which range. Feel free to play around to find a number or a range, that you are comfortable with. At the end of the day, once you pay off all your bills, other mandatory expenses, and mortgage, you still need to have a comfortable amount left from your salary for emergencies and unexpected expenses.

This information is relevant to the New Zealand context. but you can apply the fundamental idea in any context.

Tell us in the comments below how the process goes in your country. Would love to hear more.

Stay tuned for the next tip in the series – Should you use a Mortgage adviser?

Cheers,

Sithru

Photo credit: http://www.interest.co.nz

Are you buying a house? Then you need to know these!

With the record lowest mortgage rates in the country, the property market is soaring since recently. We too decided to take advantage of this and buy our first home in New Zealand. Our journey to finding our future home was not of course smooth sailing but we used certain tactics on the way to minimise the stress. Since our process helped us immensely throughout the journey, we* decided to share our experience as a series under Sithru Life.

In part one of this series that follows (stay tuned!), I will share some general tips that might of use before you start the entire process. You could expect to hear some information about mortgage advisers, buyer’s agents, a cool tool we used to assess the house we viewed, and many more in the coming series. so stay tuned!

The aim is to post two to three tips a week. However, please hit ‘follow’ on the top right hand sidebar to get notified when a new post goes up!

Disclaimer: This series is only intended as a way to share our experience. This should not be taken as legal advice. Please visit settled.co.nz (or an equivalent source in your country) for legal information about the house purchasing process. 

(*I say ‚Äėwe‚Äô because my partner is a silent collaborator in this series)

Photo credit: https://homesellingzinewebsite.puzl.com/

How to | Applying foundation

Are you doing your foundation right?

Foundation is part of the base of makeup. Some choose to use it, some don’t – which is okay too. The main aim of this post is to talk about some trends that I’ve seen ‘beauty gurus’ use on YT when applying foundation/CC/BB creams/putty/stick/, etc. [not necessarily about powder foundation though], This not about whether which method is right, but rather about how you should approach the different aspects of applying foundation.

Before beginning, I want you to focus a little bit on the title – it says ‘your foundation’; not mine, not ours but yours. so regardless of what I have written here, if you have a routine that works, please do continue to use it.

let’s begin from the beginning.

  1. Prime or Not? – Preparing your skin for makeup application is of utmost importance. The first step should always be a moisturiser or hydrating lotion suitable for your skin type. It helps a smooth application as well as keep your skin looking good and healthy all day. Using a primer, in my opinion, is optional and should be a decision based on the type of foundation you use. In my experience, I use an oil based primer when wearing matte foundations especially focused on the dry patches on my skin. I use a mattifying primer on oily areas if I am wearing a dewy or satiny foundation. Sometimes I don’t wear a primer at all, especially with stick foundations [not an informed decision, but one based on experience]. – in summary: Moisturiser is a must but primer is optional. [Suncare can be added to this step]
  2. Straight to face or on to hand? – I’ve seen many people dispense foundation straight from the container on to the face. I think this is shouldn’t be a practice to follow for two reasons. One, you cannot control the amount of product you put on. I think warming the product on your hand [outer palm as many uses] is a good way to go or use a small makeup tray [glass, stainless steel] to dispense and mix oils, primers or other foundations if required before applying it to face. Two, you run the risk of drying the product on the face before being able to blend it properly. The best way, in my opinion, is to apply the foundation in thin layers and build the layers for coverage as necessary. This way, you can even minimise the wastage of product. – In summary, definitely not straight on to face ūüôā
  3. Brush or sponge [or hand]? – Now, this is purely a preference-based decision as per popular convention. BUT, I would say, it should also be an informed decision. different foundation types prefer different application media to deliver a good base. for example, water-based foundations [e.g. Makeup forever water blend] demand hand or a brush application. if applied with a sponge, it will soak in most of the product before you can apply it onto the face. Other types, usually can be applied with a brush, sponge or hands. however, I recommend test application with all tools and see which gives you the best coverage. if you are an influencer, I humbly request you to demonstrate the application of foundations with different tools if reviewing. – In summary, it depends!
  4. Where to begin application? – If I remember correctly, Wayne Goss has a tutorial applying foundation. The foundation should be focused on the middle of the face and should be blended outwards. go section by section taking time to buff and blend the foundation into the skin as you go. Depending on the foundation, it may be too late to blend after applying the foundation to the entire face because sometimes they tend to dry and set fast. – In summary, start from the middle and blend out.

Those are my tips thoughts and tips on applying foundation. but as I said, if your routine is different from the above and works for you, please continue to use it.

Hope these were helpful. Please let me know below how you apply your foundation, or if you apply foundation at all, and why.

Cheers

The Search for Sunscreen

This post has been a long time coming! When I first started on this skincare journey, I struggled a lot with finding a good sunscreen that didn’t break me out. I grew up in a time when sunscreen was disgusting and not cosmetically elegant¬†(See Labmuffin’s posts – she’s amazing). And getting older meant more sun-damage thanks to New Zealand’s harsh Sun. So! Enter my search!

I first started out hunting out sunscreens I had read about online when I was travelling overseas – even a couple of years ago the range in New Zealand was rather limited. I wanted something hardcore – like SPF 50 or PA+++++(as many pluses as possible!). Thankfully, we now get all the three I am reviewing here in my country.

A little bit of a caveat here: skin is a fickle beastie and so is anything you put on it. So please take my little review as a grain of salt.

All sunscreens have a cost/benefit trade-off.

First up is Anthelios XL by La Roche-Posay, second is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer fluid (found this in my local supermarket – New World), and last is Kiss Me Sunkiller Cool Perfect Strong (found in my local Japanese supermarket/store) (link given is not affiliated).

 tl;dr There are more cosmetically elegant sunscreen around Рhunt around your local supermarket and pharmacy

 

The Gang: Anthelios XL, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Fluid, and Sunkiller


La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL- ultra light

La Roche-Posay is one of those brands that is ‘science-y’ (yes I am writing that as a person with a PhD) – they have nice pictures of (actors posing) as dermatologists and their tag-line is ‘trusted by dermatologists. dedicated to sensitive skin’. I had heard nothing but good things about their sunscreen online so was excited to see it in New Zealand.

20171020_164322-01-0120171020_164336-01-01

Cost? $$$

Rating? 50+ (UVB + UVA)

White cast? A little bit, not horrifically so and can be covered with foundation.

Cost/Benefit Tradeoff: It was first tacky but then dried down to a film that acted almost like a primer when I put my foundation on. You also have to shake it thoroughly.

Did it work for me? Sadly, my sensitive and dry skin reacted and within days I had redness and itchiness. I normally react to alcohol in sunscreens. It also, surprisingly, clogged my skin but that could be because I reacted to it.

Will it work for you? Probably! It was almost cosmetically elegant, although it was drying due to the alcohol (so might be good for oily skin) and a little perfumed. This is also a chemical sunscreen if you are after that sort of thing.

tl;dr Good if your skin handles alcohol and don’t mind a little bit of white-cast.


Neutrogena Ultra Sheer fluid

I don’t really feel like I need to introduce Neutrogena, its a well-known brand in supermarkets and some pharmacies. I like most of their products, especially their make up removal wipes. I am a little brand loyal to them, so decided to try out their sunscreen.

20171020_164230-01-0120171020_164246-01-01

Cost? $

Rating? 50+

White cast? Oh dear yes and still made a difference after I put on foundation.

Cost/Benefit Tradeoff: Dries to a semi-matte finish and soaks up skin oil. This makes it rather drying and you will need a moisturizer underneath if you are not super oily. It also makes it a good primer for foundation (though I would rather use an actual primer).

Did it work for me? Again, I reacted after a couple of days and it was too drying for my dry and sensitive skin.

Will it work for you? Most likely Рand its a cheaper version of the La Roche-Posay reviewed above. Again, avoid if you have super sensitive skin that is dry.

tl;dr A good average sunscreen you can find in the supermarket. Good if your skin can handle its drying effect.


Kiss Me Sunkiller Cool Perfect Strong

Nevermind the title sounds like the perfect man (NOTICE ME SENPAI!), this sunscreen was a winner for me. Let me tell you why!

20171020_164357-01-0120171020_164419-01-01

Cost? $/$$ (it’s much cheaper online)

Rating? 50+ PA+++

White cast? A little bit but nothing after the dry-down.

Cost/Benefit Tradeoff: Dries to a semi-matte finish but…was not drying?! I couldn’t believe it. This is the cooling version for summer and since then I have used the normal Perfect Strong version too. Very light and non-greasy!

Did it work for me?¬†Yes! Even acted as a type of primer and make my foundation look smoother. Even on days without foundation, it dried down to an almost skin finish and I didn’t feel like I was wearing anything. I was gob-smacked.

Will it work for you?¬†Yes! But again, it is a bit drying so be sure to use a moisturizer if you have dry skin. This ‘cooling’ version has more alcohol than the other versions, so have a look for the normal Perfect Strong.

tl;dr Fantastic sunscreen! A winner for me. Non-irritating and dried down nicely to a semi-matte finish. Look for the normal Perfect Strong version if you want less alcohol and therefore less of a drying effect. 


Conclusion

So you can see, the Japanese sunscreen was a winner for me. What you don’t see is all the OTHER sunscreens I tried out as well, such as:

  • Biore UV Aqua Rich Water Essense SPF50+ PA+++
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Lotion SPF60
  • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry Touch SPF 50
  • Nivea Sun Protect Plus UV Milky Essense SPF50+ PA++++
  • Nivea Light Feel Daily Face Veil SPF30
  • Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face Superscreen SPF50+ (I really wanted my skin to like this one!)

So it was a bit of an expensive exercise! I hope one day I will be able to find a sunscreen that doesn’t cost a lot of money and that I can find easily at the local supermarket – until then I am buying my Kiss Me Sunkiller Perfect Strong (*swoon*) from my local Japanese supermarket!

PANTENE | Dry shampoo – a mini review

img_20180214_134135-01346441215.jpeg

If you follow me on Instagram (@sithrunz)¬† you may have seen this gem of a product I found at The Warehouse (I see that countdowns in some areas stock this too but not in my local one). The first impressions were given in the Insta post. To recap, it had no white residue, no harsh smells and did what a dry shampoo is supposed to do – make your hair oil-free and ‘feel-clean’ until you wash it. Now that I used it a several times, I decided to write a mini review here so that I can let you know what I really feel.

But before that let me tell you a little bit about the product. The active ingredient in Pantene pro-v nature fusion dry shampoo is tapioca starch which is an excellent DIY substitute for dry shampoo anyway. It appears fourth in the ingredients list after isobutane, alcohol denat., and propane. Kinda scary first few ingredients but they are essential to distribute the products into hair evenly Рhence called propellants. Every dry shampoo has these for the same purpose. Having alcohol means it will dry out the scalp, but that is to be expected from any dry shampoo.

I used the dry shampoo on my third-day hair. I have naturally oily hair (Read this to learn how to find your hair type), which gets really oily by the third day. I usually use a dry shampoo on the third day if I need to extend the no-wash period :D. The instruction says the usual РShake the can, spray on to the roots and rub well. Brush the hair to finish off.

My review

I used this on the third day as usual. I am pleased to report that I did not have to wash my hair until the fifth day after the first application. Oil on my scalp was pretty well absorbed by the shampoo without leaving it dry (surprisingly!). My scalp did not get flaky either. I also liked the fresh clean-feel it gave my hair, which I have not experienced with my other dry shampoos.

It was just NZD $3. SO what’s not to like?!

So overall, I give this 10/10.

This dry shampoo comes in volume boost form as well. Let me know if you have tried this or have any recommendations for other dry shampoos.

Until my next,

Cheers

Sithru

 

THE ORDINARY| Foundations review

I just had the opportunity to finally get my hands on The Ordinary Foundations РThe coverage foundation and the serum foundation.

IMG_20171205_125547.jpg

I know one of them was around for a while and the other is quite new. However, they both go out of stock pretty fast and therefore, I know many of you have not had the chance of trying them out.

I bought mine via Beautylish. It’s US$ 6.90 (~ NZ$ 10.35). When you buy via Beautylish, all orders over US$35 are shipped free and takes only about 10-14 days to arrive. *Not Sponsored!

Commonalities 

Both the foundations come with a pump and carry 30ml. They both should have a semi-matte finish. Both are oil-free, cruelty-free (as is the product line) and has a light-weight formula.

IMG_20171205_125747.jpgThe foundations come in 21 shades. So you, quite easily, can find a close match for your skin shade (No foundation will be able to carry shades that match all the skin colours in the world). Here Wayne Goss has a list that matches The Ordinary shade based on your MAC foundation shade. I bought 3.0Y in both foundations (which is the shade match for MAC NC44).

In the picture to the right, the top swatch represents the coverage foundation and the lower, the Serum foundation.

The Serum foundation

The serum foundation has a watery consistency and has a light coverage buildable to a medium. I used The Ordinary high spreadability fluid primer underneath and used a brush on one half of the face and the LA Girl beauty sponge on the other half to apply the foundation. The application was indifferent on both sides.

The foundation does have a semi-matte finish as it claims. it went on smooth.  I did not notice any of it clinging to the smile-lines after the first application. The foundation is tacky to the touch so it needs to be set with a light powder. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture soon after the application.

The picture below is after about 3 hours of wear. 

IMG_20171205_173117.jpgAt this point, the foundation starts to break apart. It got cakey around my mouth and settled into the smile-lines despite what it claims.  I always get oily no matter what foundation I wear, so the oiliness you see is not specifically because of this foundation.  The foundation gave me a white cast which was visible to the naked eye.

So naturally, my first impression was a BIG NO!

 

BUT, 

I decided to try it once more, with a colour corrector underneath and skipped the primer this time. Oh My God! … the result was b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l. The white cast¬†disappeared¬†with the colour corrector and skipping the primer.

IMG_20171210_133019.jpg

The picture to the right is an untouched (no filters, not edited) photo taken from my phone. The foundation looked absolutely amazing. It lasted quite long this time Рabout 6 hours,  without breaking apart (on a 33 degrees Celcius day too).

Final verdict: The foundation is definitely not long wearing but can be extended with a good setting spray (I recommend the UD all nighter).  The foundation gave a smooth finish and looks gorgeous in the pictures. but I did notice tiny bumps on my face after wearing this for a prolonged time. So, if you have sensitive skin, be aware!

I would give this an 8/10.

Coverage Foundation 

The coverage foundation has a creamy consistency and gives a medium coverage buildable to a full. Like the serum, this too has a semi-matte finish. the picture below is taken soon after it was applied before setting it with powder. I used the same technique of applying the foundation with a brush and the beauty sponge with the same primer underneath. No colour corrector.

IMG_20171207_132734.jpg
Picture 1

It applies light at the beginning but gets darker. However, the final shade is the shade you are buying (at least in my case).

Even though the foundation was full coverage it was not ‘full’ enough to cover the dark spots around my mouth and cheeks. It looks cakey in some places.

This too gave me the same white-casty look that did not look good in real life.

 

 

Picture 2 and 3 were taken at the 3-hour mark.

It shows how the foundation has started to break around my mouth just like the serum foundation did in my first attempt.

Unfortunately, I could not try this with the colour corrector yet. But I assume it would perform the same way as the serum foundation did since the result at the end of the first attempt at wearing them were pretty much the same except the coverage.

Final verdict:¬†For the price point, I think this foundation did an okay job. I’m sure colour correcting before the application would rectify the white-cast problem too. However, the setting spray did not extend its wearability.

overall, I’d give this a 7/10.

Even though I would not say these are two of the best foundations in the market, they are pretty good for $10. I recommend the serum foundation a little bit more than the other only because I like its coverage and the amazing natural finish.

Let me know if you have tried these and what you think of them.

Until the next,

Cheers

Sithru

MORPHE|Jaclyn Hill Palette

img_20170910_155639-e1505363829680.jpg

I am so stoked to finally get my hands on the Morphe x Jaclyn Hill collaboration. this palette a few weeks ago. It was a little hard to get hold of it on the Morphe website because, you know, they sell out really quick. The first release was gone within hours (I actually woke up at 3 am NZT to buy this but when I finally made it to the payment page, it was sold out). So when it went live again, I just gave up and thought well, I don’t want to wake up at 3am again just to be disappointed, so I don’t want it. But Once I woke up around 10 am, the inner makeup junkie in me said ‘why not see if it is still there’ and it WAS!!! So I finally bought it.

On the Morphe website (not sold anywhere else yet), the price was¬†USD38 (‚ČąNZD 56) and shipping was another USD30 (‚ČąNZD 45) (I KNOW!!!).

IMG_7598

 Swatches 

The palette has a mix of vibrant colours, neutrals as well as dark shades. It is also a mix of mattes, shimmers and duochromes. Since I suck at swatches, I am using the amazing swatches from ANALESE REDMAN of @annybeeutee. 

aHR0cCUzQSUyRiUyRmkuaW1ndXIuY29tJTJGTnk2M1FTeC5qcGc=
First and second rows (Image by ANALESE REDMAN @annybeeutee)

aHR0cCUzQSUyRiUyRmkuaW1ndXIuY29tJTJGR1JOUElTYy5qcGc=
third and fourth rows (Image by ANALESE REDMAN @annybeeutee)

aHR0cCUzQSUyRiUyRmkuaW1ndXIuY29tJTJGMlFXeVl0Wi5qcGc=
Fifth row (Image by ANALESE REDMAN @annybeeutee)

Shade names

JH2-alt1_b5920ce2-15cc-4190-ab2d-6c8981e03903_1024x1024
Image from Morphe brushes

 

 What do I think

If you are familiar Morphe eyeshadows, they are pigmented and feels creamy. In my personal opinion, this palette is a tad bit better than the other Morphe palettes formula-wise. These shades feel like butter, hence so soft to touch. They go on really well (I did not have to use any fixed+ to apply these) and blends even better. The matte shades do not swatch as nicely as the shimmers but then again, not many matte formulas do. But they apply on the eye perfectly and performs the same way as the shimmers. According to Jaclyn, using a natural fibre brush gives you the best application. I used natural fibre for mattes and synthetic fibre for shimmers.

IMG_20170910_155721-01

My eyelids get pretty oily throughout the day. So the chances of any eyeshadow surviving beyond 2-3 hours are pretty unlikely always and I do not use any special primer on my eyelids apart from applying a little concealer to neutralise the pigmentation.

But to my utmost surprise, these shadows lasted for about five hours on my eyes. The picture above was taken after the five to six hours wear time (I have used a filter just to smoothen my skin out otherwise the picture is unedited). As you can see the eyelids are shiny but the shadows still peak through and visible (I promise to be more organised next time and click a pic as soon I apply makeup too).

If you have normal eyelids or use an eyeshadow base or an eye primer on the eyelids, these would last even longer. So, I am IMPRESSED! I always try to keep my reviews balanced, but this palette has nothing wrong to say apart from the white casing which gets dirty really quick.

Some of my favourite shades

 

This palette is currently out of stock but is scheduled to return both via Morphe site (P.S. Note:¬†19th September 8am PST ‚Čą¬†20th September at 3am NZ time) as well as retailers (as far as I know and we’ll know which ones later). So if you can afford it, do grab it. It is a wonderful collection of shades for every occasion, time and place. You can find enough coupon codes on youtube, to get some money off your purchase if buying via Morphe site.

If you are a beginner, this may be the only palette you need in your collection at the beginning. For hoarders like me, well, you know you need this.

Let me know what you think of this palette if you have it already.

Until my next,

Cheers…

Sithru

Disclaimer: This article has no affiliate links in it. This post is not sponsored.  

WET ‘N WILD| Treasures from the drug store

The day I heard that Wet ‘ n Wild (WNW) is coming to Farmers, New Zealand (it was available before via online retailers like La Femme Beauty, but Farmers has a full display and affordable prices), I had to check them out at my nearest Farmers store.

For the makeup lovers, WNW needs no introduction. It is one of the most affordable beauty brands in the world, yet has not compromised in quality products.

img_20170827_151034.jpg

While I apologise for not taking pictures before I use them (For some reason I am very impatient with new makeup :D; have to dig in as soon as possible), I actually found some treasures in the WNW line and one dud so far. I bought these from Farmers, Love My Makeup as well as from Beautyjoint.com.

Eye shadow palettes

These eye shadow palettes are at the top of my favourites. They feel buttery and go on like a dream. The shadows are so pigmented that you need to use a really light hand to apply them. The colour selection is amazing too. I know that I have chosen quite similar colours, but the Bare and Beautiful palette is a collection of mattes and shimmers while the Comfort Zone is a collection of shimmers. The packaging is quite flimsy and fragile, but I am not really concerned about. They are lightweight and great to travel with because of the size. These two palettes have everything you need to transform yourself from a daytime look to a wearable smokey or a shimmery night-out look. I will post some swatches in the Instagram, so keep an eye on it.

WNW Photofocus Foundation and Concealer

IMG_20170827_151235Hands down one of the best foundations ever! It stands true to what it claims – a truly photo-ready look.

It sinks right into the skin to give you that airbrushed look which looks amazing in photos.

Unfortunately, it does not last very long. The maximum wear time I had with this foundation is around the 4-hour mark. After that, it just starts to break apart and look really oily and shiny (Having an oily T-zone does not help!). I could extend it a little bit with the Urban Decay All nighter spray, but the maximum is about 5 hours.

Powdering and touch ups do not really help after the foundation starts to get oily and breakup. But I have to say, I’ve worn this for 8-9 hours some days (just because I was working), and even though it starts to break after 5 hours, you don’t look entirely unpresentable at 8 hours.

The concealer is pretty much similar in performance. The consistency in on the thicker side and it dries down quite fast. I recommend working in sections and blending out before moving to the next application to get the maximum out of this product (e.g. one eye at a time, or one spot at a time).

Lipsticks

IMG_20170827_151337.jpg

I bought three Megalast lipsticks and one Mega Lip colour SPF15.

The Mega-last range is matte and is truly long lasting. They are pigmented too. About 3 minutes after the initial application you won’t even feel it on your lips. I’ve worn it on my lips for about 8 hours without touching up, and it stayed on quite well. Some fading was visible towards the inside the lips, but in their defence, I had some oily noodle stir fry just before.

The Mega lip colour has SPF 15 for sun-protection and goes on sheer. So, the colour payoff is not as rich as the Megalast line, but very comfortable and moisturising on the lips. Even though they do not last long, reapplying does not cake up the lipstick.

Again, keep an eye on my Instagram for swatches ūüôā

Megaliner eyeliner РFail! 

The megaliner liquid eyeliner claims to dry fast, stay-put, long-lasting, smudge-proof.

IMG_20170827_151724.jpg

I will agree with ‘dry-fast’ but none of the rest! It is not long-lasting at all and smudged quite easily than some of my other non-waterproof liners.

On the plus side though, it does come with an easy-to-use brush applicator. This is a wonderful applicator for the eyeliner-amateurs like me to get a nice and controlled wing.

The formula is thick and highly pigmented too.

I loved applying it, but it was streaking down my face (embarrassing!!!) in the first instance my eye started watering. I don’t understand how my upper lid liner gets washed off with tears – never happened before with any liner.

The brow mascara was nothing phenomenal. It was an okay product. I always prefer a clear gel to set my brows, so this was a nice option.

That is the round up of my thoughts on the WNW products I tried so far. If I am to pick my top 3 from the brand, I would highly recommend the Photofocus foundation, Eye shadow palettes and the Megalast lipsticks.

Let me know if you tried any of these and what you thought about them…

Cheers,

Sithru

 

THE ORDINARY | affordable skincare ‚Äď Part 2

Hello Lovelies,

Just like Sithru, things have been hectic! But it didn’t stop us spending money! Please pop over to Sithru’s post on The Ordinary skincare and what she thinks about them. She also has a handy explanation of who they are and their ethos.

We love skincare¬†but it gets a bit difficult – especially when getting access to retinoids and its variations/derivations. I nearly bought Avene Ysthel+ Emulsion in desperation but baulked at its $60+ (NZD) price tag. I had been watching what beauty bloggers/posters had been saying about The Ordinary online for months and when a good friend of mine gifted me the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (*phew*) I was hooked. Overall, I really like the brand and the products I have tried. You get so much ‘bang for your buck’ with their products and it has totally streamlined by skincare process (when I am not too lazy to do it…).

In this post I will share what I think of the Vit C suspension I mentioned before, the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%, and the Retinol 1%.

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

Okay so we all know that Vitamin C does wonders for the skin, it brightens, helps with slight scarring from previous outbreaks, helps with stimulating collagen and isn’t photosensitizing like acids. Doesn’t it just sound amazing? Being in New Zealand, we have super harsh sunshine and I wanted something else other than slapping on inches of sunscreen and hoping any blemishes didn’t get worse.
I first started dabbling with Vit C by buying Vit C serums in little dropper bottles – but they weren’t stabilized and oxidised very quickly. It became a daily battle to guess when the serum had turned and was useless. They were costing me $25 NZD plus shipping to New Zealand. Then I moved onto¬†Rotho Japan Merano CC Medicinal Stains Intensive Measures Essence¬† – yeah see, now that’s a long name! That was great but acted like a dry oil on the skin and was hard to find unless I ordered off Amazon (again around $25 NZD plus shipping). Then I discovered there were different types of Vit C and Ferulic Acid…it all got too expensive and dumped in the ‘too hard basket’ (yes I am lazy).

Enter my good friend, she gave me her¬†The Ordinary¬†Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%¬†because she said it had felt like her face was on fire when she used it and wondered if it would work better for me. That’s the one of the advantages of¬†The Ordinary range, they are cheap enough that it doesn’t work it doesn’t hurt the wallet. I had read that some people found it too strong and other’s loved it. So, if you buy this, please patch-test! It is also gritty and smells weird – but the grittiness goes away when you rub it in and the smell – well I don’t wear it during the day so I got used to it quickly.

It’s also not like most other Vit C serums – I slap it on at night after cleansing my face. I know you can use Vit C to help with sun damage during the day, but I let my sunscreen do the heavy lifting with that. There are also other formulations with Vit C that¬†The Ordinary has, so it is easy to pick and choose what works best.

So the verdict with using this serum? I love it. It didn’t feel like it was burning my face off! Yay! But as with most skincare – it’s “your mileage may vary”. It didn’t feel like it was burning because I think my skin is thicker than my friends (since I am desi and she has a delicate english rose complexion). It visibly reduced blemishes I got from using a new face-wash (yes my skin is that sensitive). To the point where Mr Picon was, “your face looks better, that stuff on your cheek is gone”. I started using retinoids (more on that later) and only now the serum tingles on my skin. When I get little breakouts from being stressed at work or eating badly (so all the time), I smother this all over my face at night and they are all nearly gone the next morning. I’ve been using this for more than three months now and it is definitely a staple. I was so impressed, I started adding their other products and plan on buying more.

tl;dr? Love it but expect it to be different from other serums you have tried

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

So why did I get an acid that sounds like a flower? Well for the first time, I thought I could have *gasp* have fun with my skincare! Because of The Ordinary’s price-point, I wanted to try products that had never met my cost-benefit analysis (*cough* *budget* cough*). I don’t have rosacea but I am wary of hyper-pigmentation so I thought I would give it a go.

Azelaic Acid is normally prescribed for rosacea sufferers since it is so good for reducing inflammation. It also apparently helps with keeping your pores unclogged (and so helps with preventing acne) and fading any hyper-pigmentation you already have. Apparently you can have side-effects like irritation, so patch-test first.

The Ordinary formula is smooth and not overly heavy. It doesn’t really smell of anything, unless you bring it right up to your nose – then it smells rather organic and like a plant (funny that). It spreads very nicely and covers a large amount of skin – you only need a little bit for your face. It leaves the skin soft to the touch and a little hydrated. When my skin is angry and irritated, I smear this all over my face at night (are you sensing a pattern here?) and the next morning, my face is a happy camper. I’ve been using it off and on for the last 3 months and it definitely helps with breakouts. I can’t see that it has reduced my hyper-pigmentation though – I might have to use it more religiously for that.

tl;dr? Strongly like – does it’s job and is nice to have. Reduced inflammation but haven’t seen it reduce any hyper-pigmentation.

Retinol 1% (Emulsion)

So I had tried to incorporate acids in my skincare routine for ages (and therefore a heavy duty sunscreen – that saga needs to be another post though). Let me put this here before I go further – if you use these, you need a heavy duty sunscreen. There is no point using these products and giving yourself more and possibly severe damage.

I have tried so many variations of AHAs, BHAs, and then wanted to move into retinoids/retinols. I didn’t want to go to an aesthetician because I was a poor PhD student and our budget just didn’t allow for that. I also used to smoke – yeah gross I know – and started to see the effects of smoking on my skin. So I decided to try the Retinol 1% – just to start off small and see if it worked. If it worked, I told myself I would then buy the Advanced Retinoid 2%.

So yeah, I am buying the 2% next. The Retinol 1%¬†definitely worked on me! For years, I had been buying different over the counter products, dreaming about my face flaking off and revealing a beautiful me underneath…well it definitely flaked off (wasn’t beautiful though dammit) ! I am/was so happy! I applied it liberally at night and waited – two days later it started flaking. After, my skin felt tighter (not uncomfortably so) and a little bit more bouncy. You are supposed to use retinols/retinoids consistently for at least a couple of months before you see a difference. Consistently can vary for different people – I definitely could not use this every day or every other day – once a week is perfect for me. So again, patch-test and work out what is best for your skin. After being so happy with the flaking (I would clean off my flakes at night with a face cloth and warm water), I read that Advanced Retinoid 2% was gentler with flaking. I can imagine that those of you with more delicate skin than mine might find the Retinol 1% too harsh. The tagline on the packaging for the¬†Advanced Retinoid 2%¬†is also ‘A stable emulsion of next-generation forms of retinoid‘ – so yeah,¬†I am totally trying that next.

tl;dr? Strongly like – lots of flaking and did its job wonderfully. Trying the Advanced Retinoid 2% next. (Wear sunscreen always).

So there you go – these products were totally worth it for me and I am excited to try more of their line! As long as you are aware of each products advantages and disadvantages, I feel like¬†The Ordinary‘s skincare is perfect, for its price-point and range. As with Sithru, I am looking forward to blogging more about skincare and also fragrances in the coming months! A lot of my money has been given to Byredo and I’ve even expanded to some perfume oils here and there.

THE ORDINARY | affordable skincare – Part 1

Hello everyone, I am back after a while ūüôā … Sorry for going AWOL but I had to do quite a bit of travelling during last few months. Anyway, now that I am back, let’s talk about some affordable skincare…

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I recently bought a few skin care items from The Ordinary line. I have been using them for a little over three weeks now and think I have formed my opinion about them :).

IMG_20170731_113729.jpg

First a little about this abnormal brand:

The brand ‘The Ordinary’ is a part of DECEIM – the abnormal beauty company, a team that is versed in materials chemistry and biochemistry. While the group hosts high-end (I mean high priced and specifically formulated) skincare brands such as Hylamid and NIOD, The Ordinary was formed to present high-quality skincare at an affordable price. the philosophy of the company is to ‘disallow commodity being disguised as ingenuity’. Founders of The Ordinary claim that in the beauty sphere, commonplace technologies and formulations are presented as innovative and advance; the price markups, hence, are insensible. The objective of The Ordinary line is to¬†present high quality, clinical grade skincare formulations with integrity.

Unlike other skincare lines, The Ordinary gives you the liberty to make up your own skincare regime. the products are meant to be used as ‘ingredients’ that you put together to create your preferred concoction, based on your skin type, problems and preference.

You can find the review of Vitamin C suspension in Part 2

Here’s what I got;

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 

This is a vegan hydrator that can attract water up to 1000 times its weight. According to DECEIM, even though many skincare products offer Hyaluronic acid (HA), they cannot penetrate the skin in naturally. Instead, they sit on the skin and attract from the skin and give an illusion of plumpness. So when you wash off the product, the skin screams for more to keep hydrated. In this version, there are multiple forms of HA used to ensure skin hydration in different layers, not just the surface. Vitamin B5 aids the surface hydration. Probably, for this reason, the first time I used HA I did not see a visible plumpness as I saw when using the Loreal Hydraboost gel. But with continuous use for over a week, I started noticing that my skin looks more hydrated. Because of my travelling schedules, I could not use HA every day over the last three weeks, but that did not take away the hydration it had already delivered to my skin.  I use HA 2% + B5, both in the AM and PM.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) in this product is meant to reduce the appearance of blemishes and congestion. I have oily/combination skin and this has helped to reduce the oiliness to a healthy level (does not make my face look completely matte) without making my dry spots dry. The brand claims, and I agree, that this does not help acne. However, it has reduced the dullness of my face noticeably. This is included only in my morning routine.

Note: The company warns against using Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% in conjunction with Vitamin C suspensions. Please visit The Ordinary website for more details.

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

This is meant to reduce the dark circles and puffiness under eyes. The EGCG (I won’t even try pronouncing the longer name of this…) is a derivative from green tea leaves. both the ingredients are highly effective in reducing puffiness around the undereye region. This solution again (among many other eye creams) has failed me in reducing my undereye dark circles. However, as the company claims, this may be due to the born and fat structure of my eyes (I’ve been told that this is genetic, by a doctor in my family too) which cannot be treated with skincare solutions. But the solution definitely reduces puffiness around the eye. I use this in the morning and night.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

Glycolic acid is an exfoliant that offers mild but direct exfoliation to the skin. This product demands careful usage not only because it is an acid (a mild one) but also has an AHA that increases the sun-sensitivity of the skin (no joke!). I use this only at night as instructed and completely forgot about the sun protection warning. I always wear sun protection (a daily SPF of 15) but with this product, it is not sufficient. Even though my skin did not get sunburnt badly, I definitely sensed the increased sensitivity while in the direct sun. so, if you use this, always wear higher SPF and use an umbrella or a hat to keep the direct sun away from your skin, even up to a week after you stopped using this product.

However, this product is wonderful and I love using it every night. My skin feels so much softer and cleaner since I started using this.

These are the products I tried from The Ordinary line. I fell in love with this brand so much that I ordered some more items which are yet to arrive in the mail. Will do another review once I use them too. Look for the next part of this review either on Picon’s hoard or here.

Most importantly, please hang on for more posts in the future. I will try and get to back to normal blog routine once I settle down a bit with the travelling.. Until then.. have a lovely day!

Cheers,

Sithru

SUNDAY RILEY| Power couple

Phew! It’s been a hot minute since I posted last… My PhD sometimes get’s in the way ūüėĀ

Anyway, finally, I am going to talk about the Sunday Riley power couple. If you remember, I bought this about two months ago when I was at Mecca Maxima.

wp-1490420959958.jpg

These are probably two of the most hyped products in the cybersphere. So, I was pretty excited to try these together for a much affordable price of $126.

Good Genes:  Gently exfoliates the skin to even out skin. claims to transform the skin look plump, reduce fine lines and reveal brighter, smoother, firmer clear complexion. Consists of anti-aging lactic acid, lemongrass and licorice.

Luna Oil: A retinol treatment for an anti-aging effect. Consists of trans-retinol ester, cold pressed avocado, chia and concord grapeseed oils. Claims to leave the skin looking smoother, firmer and clearer.

wp-1490420968739.jpg

People who used these items claimed to have had visible results in few days. However, the items claim to show results within a week. Before writing this article, I used mine for over a month, until they are completely used up (15ml each).

IMG_20170325_180530-01
Before using

Good Genes is intended to be used day and night. If using with conjunction with the Luna Oil, it says to wait five minutes after applying Luna to go ahead with Good Genes. The first night I applied them together, it gave me breakouts. So, I used Good Genes only in the morning.

I took pictures before and after to see if there was any difference in my face. (Pls ignore the red eye in my ‘before’ picture. I was having allergies).

IMG_20170522_120420
After one-month use

Apart from the differences in lighting, I don’t see any other difference, to be honest, in my complexion. I don’t feel different either. You can still see the hyperpigmentation around my mouth, and the texture of my skin is still the same as it used to be.

Overall, I was quite disappointed with the products because it did not work on my skin and they were not cheap in NZ.

But it does not mean, it may not work for you.

As for myself, I will be looking for other alternatives in future. Please let me know if you know of any alternatives that I should try.

Did these products work differently for you? Let me know in the comments section below.

Until next,

Cheers,

Sithru

Mini Haul | Treasures from the drugstore

I always hunt for affordable but good quality makeup. Last week, I grabbed a few items from Postie+ and The Warehouse. I haven’t had the chance to wear all of these long enough to test their longevity, but I definitely swatched¬†them and wore them a bit. Below is what I think…

IMG_20170422_134808-01

LA Colors eyeshadow palettes These were just $5 each at The Warehouse.

IMG_20170422_235106_159-01

Boy oh boy! I was blown away when I swatched them… I did not think they would be bad but was not expecting them to be this pigmented either.

The shadows have quite a bit of kickback as well as fallout. Therefore, I recommend doing your eye makeup first, unless you have those special stick-on fallout-catchers.

Loreal Lipsticks were $7.50 each when buying two.

IMG_20170422_134942-01

Unfortunately, I forgot to take closeups of the Kleancolor madly matte lip glosses (weird combination – matte gloss?!), but you can see them in the picture on the very top. They retailed for $5 each.

The swatches are in the picture below. The numbered swatches 1603 and 1604 represent the lip glosses. They did not have any other names on them.

IMG_20170422_140436-01

The Loreal lipsticks were very creamy and moisturising. Frieda’s Nude worn alone is not flattering on me. But I might layer it with one of the lip glosses next time.

The Kleancolor lip glosses are pigmented as you can see. They can be worn alone and still has an incredible colour payoff. They dry down to a matte (duh!). I recommend applying a little lip balm underneath if you plan to wear them alone. Otherwise, the lips can feel like dried prunes after some time :D.

Let me know if there are any more products from these brands that I need to try. If you have tried these, let me know how you feel about them too.

Until my next…

Cheers,

Sithru

Should you care, what you wear on your skin during pregnancy?

 

adult-baby-background-bump-41286-e1491376957670.jpeg

One of my pregnant friends asked me, what she should avoid during pregnancy in term of skincare and makeup. So I did a little digging. Here is a summary of everything I read.

I will provide links if anyone needs to read further about any of the compounds given below.

High risk (Scientifically proven to affect):

  • Retinoids/Accutane – A commonly used substance in acne treatments and anti-aging products. Scientifically proven to cause birth defects.¬†A list of different forms of retinoids to avoid is given here.
  • Formaldehyde,¬†Toluene – Known carcinogens. Commonly found in nail polish, especially in Gel manicures. Opt for nail polishes that are free of formaldehyde, Toluene (not just pregnant women but everyone should consider avoiding these).
  • Aluminium – Found in antiperspirant deodorants. FDA recognise this as a chemical to be avoided by expectant mothers. Instead, opt for natural deodorants¬†or aluminium free ones like¬†Ethique¬†solid blocks.
  • Botox – This is something that has not been tested on humans, but because of how Botox works, it is recommended to avoid during pregnancy. The chemical in Botox – Botulinum toxin- apparently¬†paralyses the muscles around wrinkles so that they become less visible. It is the most acutely lethal toxin known (OMG!) which can spread around when injected to one place. Sounds scary to have around when a person is growing inside you.

Medium to low risk (Little or no conclusive evidence for adverse effects but good to avoid):

  • Benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic acid – Used to treat acne. Found in skin care products likes facewash and also in some acne-treating makeup. Using these in moderation with doctors advice is okay. Using facewash with these compounds is comparatively safer than wearing makeup that includes these as ingredients. However, it is recommended to avoid both as much as possible.
  • Phthalates – This is found in Haircare (shampoo), skincare (handwash), nail polish and even hair spray. Effect of Phthalates are not tested on humans, but animals show adverse birth effects. Therefore it is recommended to avoid. Check for products that clearly state Phthalate free.
  • Ammonia – Found in hair dye. Not tested to check the effects but it is recommended to avoid hair colouring if possible due to minor absorption of chemicals via the scalp. However, if the colour¬†does not go near the scalp (e.g. highlights to hair ends), it is okay use in moderation. Always ensure proper ventilation during application to avoid inhaling any chemicals. (Personal advice: Please stay clear of hair dyes until your baby is born)
  • Lead – This is found in lipsticks. However, there are no clinical trials to prove that lead in lipstick causes adverse effects. But because cases of lead poisoning have been reported, it is good to stay away from makeup items that have¬†the ingredient in them.
  • Hydroxy acids (AHA, BHA) – Found in a number of cleansers, toners and exfoliants. Salicylic acid is a commonly used BHA (look for risk factors in salicylic acid above). Glycolic acid and lactic acid are common AHAs. Due to lack of conclusive evidence, these AHAs used in small amounts may be okay. But professionals advice to minimise the use as much as possible and obtain doctor’s recommendation before using.
  • Essential oils – Knowledge around how essential oils affect humans, in general, is limited. A common opinion by medical professionals is that due to the concentration levels, essential oils can be harmful even for non-pregnant people. Two essentials oils to stay clear from, that has known adverse effects during pregnancy, are tea tree oil and rosemary oil.

General Comments: 

  • Always opt for products, both skin care and makeup, that are labelled ‘3-free‘ (Phthalate, Formaldehyde and Toluene) or ‘5-free‘ (3-free + formaldehyde resin, and camphor).
  • Use Mineral makeup if possible – mineral makeup sits on the skin and do not get absorbed.
  • Makeup that is ‘noncomedogenic’ or ‘nonacnegenic’, which do not clog pores, are comparatively safer to use.
  • Avoid hair removal creams – Wax or shave instead.
  • Always wear sunscreen when out in the sun in addition to wearing sunglasses and hats. Always use physical sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide or Zinc oxide – These too sit on the skin and provide lasting protection.
  • Finally, ALWAYS ask your OB/GYN or the medical officer, before taking any antibiotic, pharmaceutical-grade skin care or any drug for that matter.

Want to read more? Go to WebMD, Baby Center, Mother Nature Network, Vogue 

See you in my next!

Cheers,

Sithru

 

GARNIER | Oily Roots Dry Ends

I went on a mad hunt last weekend to find the best shampoo for my oily hair with dry ends (combination hair). Believe it or not, there are not many shampoos in the supermarkets in NZ – Pak n’ Save, Countdown, New world or even in Farmers (I did not try the high-end¬†shops like shampoo n’ things) – for oily hair, let alone finding the best!

When I say not many options, I meant, not many brands label their products explicitly for oily hair. But interestingly, every brand had shampoo for dry, dull, damaged hair ūüėí clearly indicated. Anyway, I found one product that had the exact label I was looking for. So I went for it!

wp-1491184801028.jpg

First impression

Since I have used the Garnier Fructis Oily Roots Dry Ends shampoo only once, I can only give you a first impression at this moment. But as you can imagine, there were significant observations that prompted me to write this post.

First, during the shower, I noticed a significant lessening of hair loss. When I say significant, I meant SIGNIFICANT! Usually, I lose a lot of hair when washing it (I feel like, my hair spends more time in drains and on carpets than it spent on my scalp). This shampoo reduced the hair loss in the first wash.

Secondly, I felt ‘squeaky clean’ (in a good way) after the shower. My hair was not dry, it was soft and slightly silky with a little bit of volume.

Thirdly and most importantly, I don’t see any flakes in my scalp anymore. I am on my third day after washing my hair and usually by this time, I have dandruff back even if I used an anti-dandruff shampoo.

I used my regular post-wash hair care routine with the shampoo. In other words, I only changed the shampoo; the rest was the same including conditioners, oils and elixirs. (Please excuse the bad lighting. My apparatus was not coping with me today!).

img_7413-3.jpg

I will let you know if things changed with continuous use.

This shampoo is available in pretty much any supermarket in NZ. I bought mine from New World.

If you have any other product recommendations for oily hair, please let me know in the comment section below. Most importantly please mentioned where you bought them from too :).

See you in my next!

Cheers,

Sithru

ESSENCE| Lash Princess Mascara

Essence Lash Princess mascara is a cult favourite. There are two types of mascara in this line – one is volumising, and the other is lengthening (false lash effect).

Photo: from Ulta.com

Because everyone raves about this and because it is quite affordable in NZ too, I bought the lengthening one (the green one) to test out if it is worth the hype.

essence-Lash-Princess-False-Lash-Effect-Mascara-Review
Photo credit: www.writingwhimsy.com

As you can see, the wand is the usual straight wand- nothing out of ordinary. It has natural bristles and is stiff in a good way. This meant the application was smoother than some other mascaras. The applicator is slightly pointed and is designed to coat every strand of hair evenly. The mascara itself contains fibre to lengthen the lashes with each coat applied. I usually end up having to clean up my lids and lower lash line after applying mascara, but this one did not get on my lids or the lashline.

wp-1490776396695.jpg

On the flip side;

  • It did not give me a considerable false lash effect as it claimed, but it did lengthen.
  • It also did not hold the¬†curl.
  • It started to crumble a little bit after some time (not very noticeable but I could feel it).
  • It is also not waterproof.

Even though this did not perform miracles, I still loved it and can understand why beauticians rave about it. It is a great everyday wearable mascara that gives your lashes a nice boost especially on days you don’t feel like wearing a full face of glam.

I am intrigued to try the orange mascara (which is the original Lash Princess as it is claimed) and will let you know how I feel about it once I did.

This cost me NZ$ 6.75 at Farmers NZ (pretty affordable, eh!). Essence cosmetics are available across many Farmers branches throughout the island (way more branches carry it now than what is listed on their web site).

In the US, you can purchase this from Ulta or from Target.

Let me know how you liked this mascara if you tried it. Let me also know about the volumising one and if I should try it ūüôā

See you in my next!

Cheers,

 Sithru

eBay finds| Makeup mixing palette

I am huge eBay fan! Whenever I need to buy a tool, electronic item, or even beauty accessories, one of the first places I search is eBay. Although one need to be very careful when buying off eBay because of false advertising, counterfeit¬†items as well as piracy, it is a buyers’ paradise if you find the right product for a bargain price. Because I spend so much time and money buying off eBay, I thought I would share some of my purchases ¬†(both good and bad) through this series of posts.

In this first post, let’s talk about the makeup mixing palette I bought.

wp-1490344302141.jpg

For NZ$ 5.50ish, I was expecting a flimsy piece of an aluminium-foil-like palette and an equally flimsy mixing tool. But I was pleasantly surprised to get this excellent quality stainless steel palette. Usually, I use the back of the hand (well, most of us do) to mix foundations with other foundations, BB creams, moisturisers or face oil. Sometimes, it helps to warm up the consistency a bit. But most of the times, I forget I have foundation or concealer on my hand and ruin my clothes by wiping the products on them. This palette is useful to avoid that as well as to keep some left over foundation until the end, in case you want to do any touch ups after you are done.

The mixing tool is useful to scrape products off containers that do not come with a pump like foundation bottles, cream/liquid products that come in jars, etc., or to scoop pigments to mix with glue or any other use you can think of.

One side of the tool is a spatula, and the other side has a curved hook to scoop off products such as lipsticks (especially from palettes) and cream concealers.

It also comes with a see-through plastic bag to carry the palette and the tool.

Let me know your eBay finds that I should try, in the comments below.

Cheers,

Sithru

Beauty Hunts – Episode 1

I just got back from the makeup heaven :D… AKA Mecca Maxima. ¬†There is a Mecca (cosmetica) in almost all the major towns in NZ. But only one Mecca Maxima – in Christchurch. This place needs its own post (probably soon!) but let’s move on to see what I bought.

wp-1490420959958.jpg

I had several things shortlisted to purchase from Mecca – The Sunday Riley good genes, Sunday Riley Luna, Urban Decay all nighter foundation or the hourglass vanish foundation stick. But I could afford only one. The Sunday Riley products were on the top of the priority list because my skin needs a lot of attention these days. To my immense luck, I found the Power Couple! – Good Genes and Luna together :).

wp-1490420968739.jpg

The full size of each (30ml) is NZ$166. But this duo pack with 15ml each is $124!!! Now isn’t that a bargain?!

I will have to do another post about how these worked out for me in a later date when I have put these two to good use. But If you are die hard fans of this or are looking to try it out like I am, the duo pack is a great purchase. I was told this is available only until stocks last!

So head over to your nearest Mecca or go online to grab this ASAP. Don’t forget to join the beauty loop too ūüôā

If you have used either of these, please let me know how it helped (or not) to salvage your skin!

I also got samples from the Urban Decay All nighter foundation to try; Maybe my next purchase if they work out.

See you in my next!

Cheers,

Sithru

Nail polish 201: A brief history of indie & boutique nail polish

Hello!

I have a massive nail polish hoard so my compulsive need to ‘collect them all’ abated after a few years. I had all the colors, finishes, glitter, holos I wanted. One thing that still keeps me interested are indie and boutique nail polishes (and the occasional Chanel release).

iw-2432017143743117.jpg

Yeah…look at that pile! See those bottles on the left right corner? Yup those were some of my first indies! Lilacquer Polish had an etsy and figured out how to do these amazing duo and multichrome toppers before it became mainstream. I loved them!

The next was Girly Bits ‘Shift Happens’ – her own rendition of Clarins 230 or ‘Unicorn Pee’. Apparently the pigment is super rare. The brand and e-tailer ILOVENP currently has a limited edition version which is out of stock called The Magician.

Some of the brands I loved have long since gone – like CultNails and Ozotics (who were rebranded into PicturePolish) – others are still going but don’t offer international shipping anymore like Rainbow Honey.

So the best thing to do? Use an e-tailer that stocks a bunch of indie and boutique brands. I love Femme Fatale cosmetics for this, I can still get my A-Englands! They are based in Australia but ship internationally thank goodness.

iw-2432017153116643.jpg

The bottle on the left is the current bottle for ILNP

iw-2432017153650378.jpg

This was a mani using ILNP’s Supernova – a multi-chrome flakie that leans blue and green and everything in between! This was with two coats and topcoat.

So what about New Zealand based nail polish makers? Well we have our very own ¬†Nail Juice¬†– so that’s a good place to start.

Coty | Airspun Loose Powder

I first heard of Coty Airspun loose powder from Tati. Since she raved about it so much, I had to try it. Unfortunately, then NZ did not have this powder to purchase in-store or online. So I searched eBay and found one for about NZ $15 with free shipping.

wp-1490228296121.jpg

The powder is finely milled, soft and ‘cloudlike’. Because it is so fine and soft, Coty Airspun powder is said to be able to¬†hide the tiny lines, wrinkles, and blemishes you may have to give a flawless finish.¬†It is claimed to be designed with tints that are spread throughout and to lay flat and evenly on the skin. This loose powder also can be used as a foundation, to bake, or to set your makeup in place.

wp-1490228182968.jpg

It seems like magic isn’t it? Well… not entirely untrue. There are at least eight shades available in this powder range. I use the translucent¬†extra coverage. So, technically, I should not expect any coverage because it is translucent; but it does have a little bit of coverage. Not too much to give you cake-face, though.

wp-1490228961478.jpg

However, the powder is really soft and finely milled. It does not leave a white cast that is prominent (on my skin it shows a little bit because of my skin colour), but there is a little bit of flashback, so be cautious if you have to do flash photography.

 

wp-1490232493757.jpg
I used Coty Airspun powder to set my under-eyes.  (Pls ignore the frizzy hair :D)

In the picture, I used natural lighting to take the picture. So, you don’t see the flashback. (Note: This was shot using a phone camera and is edited to reduce image noise and adjust lighting).

But as you can see, it gives the skin a natural looking finish; Most importantly, you cannot see my under-eye lines either. You don’t see a lot of brightness under-eyes only because I am not a fan of that technique. For me, this powder is ideal in that sense because it gives a smooth and natural finish without lightening the skin unnecessarily even if I¬†bake.

In other words, it enhances the look of your base – if you used a brightening concealer, the look at the end will be brighter, smoother and flawless.

I give this powder a 4.5/5. 

Where to buy this: (Please check if the shades you are after are available before purchasing).

NZ & AU;

In US;

 

If you know more places to buy this from, please comment below. Also let me know if you tried the powder, whether you liked it or not and why.

See you in my next!

Cheers,

Sithru

 

 

 

Do you know your hair?

As a teenager, I had pretty thick, long and healthy hair. All I did then was to use a shampoo that my mum bought and oil the hair pretty often. But as the years go by, I have lost quite a bit of it, and also the texture has changed; Oiling is not that frequent anymore. The only positive change is, now I pay attention to what hair products I use.

However, I recently realised that when I say ‘pay attention’, all I have done is read the labels and not really think about if that hair product suits my hair. So I did some research on how to make an informed decision about which hair products to use for my hair. Let’s start with the basics;

Let’s start with the basics;

Hair Type:

There are three main hair types – Oily, normal and dry. To check you hair type all you need a little tissue test. On the second day after washing hair, place a tissue paper on the scalp and press lightly.

  • Oily hair – There are oil patches on the tissue paper. Oily hair usually makes the strands to stick together, is always looking dull and flat, and is prone to dandruff.
  • Dry hair –¬†Tissue paper is dry. Dry hair types also are frizzy and have split ends.
  • Normal hair – May show some oil patches on the tissue paper but the true test for normal hair is through an inspection. Normal hair stays fresh and manageable even after a few days of washing.
  • Combination hair – Some hair types tend to be oily at roots but dry through the length, sometimes with split ends. Longer hair lengths are prone to such types of hair conditions.

Porosity

Porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb water. Check your porosity by putting a few hair strands into a bowl of water and let it sit for about 2-4 minutes. If the strands are floating, your hair has low porosity, and if they have sunk, you have high porosity.

Now that your know your hair type and porosity (it helps to know your texture and density too, but that is for another day!), let’s see how you need to care for them.

How to care for your hair

from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-morning-bathrobe-bathroom-4614/

Oily hair: The important thing to maintain oily hair is keeping it clean. Even though I do not recommend washing your hair every day, doing it quite often with a shampoo designed for oily hair helps adequate sebum removal. Even though it sounds counterintuitive, oiling the scalp at least once or twice a month helps the health of the hair regardless of the hair type. Before washing your hair, apply lightly heated coconut oil all over the scalp and length of the hair. Leave it for 30 minutes and wash off.

Dry hair: Dry hair needs a lot of conditioning. Oil treatment mentioned above is an ideal option for dry hair and may be done once a week at least. Deep conditioner and leave-in conditioners are also friends of people with dry hair. Please remember to keep heat away such as curling irons and flat irons to avoid further damage. If you really need to use them, use a heat protecting spray with moisturising properties to avoid drying.

Normal hair: Normal hair needs the least attention regarding hair care. But a healthy diet and using shampoo and hair care products that are free from sulphates help maintain the health of the hair.

Low porosity: Low porosity requires assistance in retaining moisture. Use hair products with humectants (a substance used to reduce the loss of moisture) in them. Some common humectants found in hair care products are glycerine and Silicate. If you have low porosity, check if your hair care products include these or any other humectant listed here. Deep condition with some heat preferably sourced from above (like holding a dryer above the head) helps with moisture as well.

High Porosity:¬†If you have high porosity, it means your hair absorbs water and is prone to frizz in humidity (If you are a huge ‘Friends’ fan as I am, imagine Monica Geller in Barbados). Products with protein help to minimise the pores. Tracy recommends products with aloe or whey protein.

Combination hair: Depending on the combination you have, use the appropriate tips from above. For example, if you have oily roots with dry lengths (the most common type of combination), deep condition the lengths but avoid the scalp. You may also need to use light oils or elixirs on the length of the hair to tame the frizz and maintain moisture.

In a future post, I will suggest some recommendations of brands and products to use for each hair type. Stay tuned for it!… Please comment below your suggestions, questions.

See you in another post!

Cheers

Sithru

Nail polish 101: which base coat & top coat?

Hello! So before posting about my nail polish hoard, I thought I’d cover the basics: the basecoat and topcoat.

I’m a bit old school so I haven’t shifted over to UV gel or dip gel or any of the multitude array of more permanent solutions.

It was a frustrating (and expensive) process but I found a combo that works for my nails. If your nails are very bendy or flaky – dip gel might be best for you if you have a spare 45 mins and want them up to last 6 weeks.

So my combo is Revlon Colorstay Base Coat/ Gel-Smooth Base Coat and Essie Good to Go.

So…what’s the problem with this combo? Revlon a couple of years back discontinued their Color Stay Base Coat! They bought out a line of polishes called Gel Envy that had the basecoat already included in it instead.

But apparently a good replacement is Orly Bonder which you can get from Farmers NZ.

If you want to try something other than Essie, a good swap out is Sally Hansen Insta- Dri.

So choosing the best base coat/top coat (if you even want to use them) is based on a couple of things for me,

  • Does it work? I can get about a week without chipping with most polish brands/types with this combo.
  • Does it bubble?¬†Not too much, but they all do when your fingers are too hot from the heat and humidity.
  • How shiny is it? Shiny! The base coat also acts as a nail ridge filler which helps.
  • How hard is it to apply? Well they can get gloopy – so I normally add a drop or two of some Orly Nail Lacquer thinner when that happens (which I also get at my local Farmers NZ).
  • Smell? They stink! But nail polish tends to have chemically smell anyway. It fades within an hour of application for me.
  • Brush? This made a difference for me in terms of frustration. I have a strong curve in my nails – they certainly don’t lie very flat!

The brush on the Revlon base coat is good for me because it covers a lot of surface area. It’s different from most because Revlon appeared to just have doubled up on a typical thin brush (?!). Weird but it works for me. Press harder and I get lots of coverage, flip it to the edge and I can get around the end of the nail without having to load my brush up.

The Essie Good to Go top coat has a thicker brush – a little thicker than the original ones thank goodness. It let’s me glide over the nail without having to do more strokes and run the risk of adding bubbles (never shake your nail polish – bubbles galore! If you have to, shake and leave for a 30 mins).

I’ve used a number of base coats and top coats over the years (like Seche Vite, OPI RapidDry, INM Out the Door) but because I’m in NZ, I found a combo that was easy for me to get a hold of. All three products are found in my local Farmers NZ (Albany in Auckland). Ranges can be regional so please check!

You can go without, but this combo helps me with staining and chipping. In the future I hope I can trial and post on the newer technologies in nail polish.

Hello, I’m Picon!

Hello, consider this my obligatory introductory post! Sithru kindly invited me to do the occasional guest post – so I guess you can expect to see some random thoughts on my ‘makeup hoard’.

Things to know about me:

  • I hoard pretty nail polish, fragrances, and eyeshadow
  • You might find I throw in some skincare stuff now and then
  • I will always link/tell you where I bought them
  • I am always non-affiliated
  • I am based in New Zealand and am of desi descent
    (around MAC: NW35 and 220 in the Maybelline Fit Me Foundation)

See you soon!
Picon

W7 | Eye dream shadow creams

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Image from: http://www.cosmeticosprimavera.com/W7-EYE-DREAM-EYESHADOW-CREAM/en
Full range, from top to bottom: New Sensation, Heavy Metal, Rose Garden, Copper Pot & Gilded Cage.

When I first swatched these in store at Postie+, I knew I had to try them. So I bought three of the 5 shades of W7 Eye dream shadow creams. I am not sure if these are new to the W7 line, but they are definitely new in Postie+.

wp-1489646735235.jpg
Shades I bought

Out of the five shades that were available, I thought these were the most wearable for me. Now that I wore them on my eye, I think Gilded Cage would have been a better choice than Rose Garden for my skin tone.

wp-1489646727325.jpg
Swatches – One swipe of each

W7 claims these shadow creams to be long wearing & crease proof. Now that I wore one (Rose garden) on my eyelid for more than 5 hours (Usually that is how long any shadow would last on my oily lids), I can safely say they ARE long wearing and crease proof. I will update you if things change with different conditions or with other colours.

The shadows creams are very pigmented. The swatches are just one swipe of the shadow. My favourite out of the three is obviously Copper pot (1).

wp-1489646731304.jpg
Copper pot blended out with a finger

The picture above shows how Copper Pot look when blended out with a finger.

Because these shadows are creamy and pigmented, applying with the doe foot applicator transfers too much of product. Moreover, they tend to be slightly patchy. Using a brush delivered a patchy and streaky application as well. So, I just dotted the lid and blended the shadow with a finger to evenly spread the colour across (A little bit of work! but for me personally, it was worth it). A brush can be used to blend out the edges as we do with any other eye shadow. These can be layered as much as needed for an enhanced look.

wp-1489652423351.jpg
Doe foot applicator

These shadows dry down fast and therefore need to be¬†applied and blended very quickly. Once dried, they don’t budge – no joke!

Eye dream shadow creams are NZ$ 8 a piece at Postie+. Do check this out if you are on a hunt for a shimmery, sparkly eye shadow that stays on your eyes and does not crease. There are testers provided so that you can try the product before committing to it.

In US,¬†buy online¬†for US$6.45 a piece and in UK it’s ¬£4.95 on the website. Please comment below if you know which stores carry W7 brand in US,¬†UK or anywhere else in the world :).

Also, please comment below and let me know how you liked it if you tried the eye shadow creams.

Don’t forget to click the follow button¬†on the sidebar to get updates of new posts.

Cheers,

Sithru

Should you wear Bronzer?

Even I’ve often wondered; I am brown skinned (for reference, I’m a MAC NC44), do I still need to wear bronzer? The answer is… It depends! (my favourite answer :D). First I must clarify, my question carries a misguided assumption – that bronzer is to make your skin darker. Well, it is in a way, but the purpose of bronzers is to give the skin a healthy sun-kissed look (This is not synonymous¬†with having a darker skin shade).¬†bronzers

The choice to wear bronzer depends on several things:¬†Most important one being the personal preference. There are no hard-and-fast rules in makeup. As someone rightly said, ‘in makeup, you do you!’.

The second thing is the occasion or the makeup look that you are going for. If it is for something outdoorsy like a beach party or a formal event, bronzing adds a nice touch; But a trip to the grocery store … maybe not (again keep in mind, personal preference dictates).

Lastly, the time of the year should be of concern. As counterintuitive as it may sound, bronzing is appropriate in summer or warmer months. It helps to maintain a natural look during the season. But that should not stop you from wearing a little colour in winter if you want to.

If you decide to wear a bronzer, there are three things to consider.

  • Shade and undertone of the product (of course!): A rule of thumb is to choose one that is two to three shades darker. As a general guide, lighter skin shades look better in peachy bronzers; olive/ tan skin tones look good in golden undertones; the darker skin shades¬†look flattering in orange/apricot undertones.

But I am a yellow undertoned medium to deep skin shade. Going by the rule, I should look good in orange-toned bronzers. But I look like an Oompah Loompa when I use that. So in my case, I use bronzers that are in between golden and orange tones (yeah! that easy).

  • Skin type: for oily skins, use powder bronzers as well as ones without shimmers and sparkles to avoid the slick look. Cream and liquid bronzers look appealing on dry skin. If you Normal or combination skins, both types can be used.
  • Application: for powder bronzers, using a big fluffy brush is appropriate. It helps the product to distributed evenly and more naturally. For creams and liquids, start with your fingertips and then blend with a makeup sponge or a brush.¬†Model on blue background.

Imagine the ‘3’ shape when applying bronzer as shown in the picture. On both sides of the face, make the ‘3’ shape, starting at the forehead along the hairline, follow along the hollow of the cheek and just under the jawline. Keep it sheer and build as needed.

Hope this answered the question! ūüôā

Don’t forget to follow me for updates on new posts. See you soon!

Cheers,

Sithru

Further recommended readings here and here. Enjoy!

 

Is your foundation looking ashy?

We all have been there at one point. The picture below shows one of my many, many, ashy-looks! However, the question is why does this happen, especially on darker skins?

 

4593_87787139241_7089685_n
Somewhere in 2009…!

 

There are several reasons;

  • Wrong foundation shade: It’s either we don’t get out colour matched before buying a foundation or just using the lighter shade hoping that it would lighten the skin (I have been a culprit too!). In the case of the picture shown here, I was in Thailand at the time, and used the darkest foundation I could get hold of; but it was still too light for me as well the was the wrong tone (next point). So always, always get your shade matched before buying a foundation.
  • Wrong undertone: A big reason for ashy looks. As you may know, shade and undertone are two different things when it comes to makeup. Your shade can be light, dark, brown, fair, porcelain, chocolate, espresso and endless other options; but your undertone is basically one of three – Pink, yellow or neutral (I know, I know, it’s not that simple. but for the sake of simplicity, let’s go with these three). A simple google search will teach you how to check your undertone. Once you know it, match your foundation with your shade as well as your undertone. As I mentioned above, the problem with my look in the picture is, not only the lighter shade but I wearing a foundation with a pink undertone. In reality, I am a neutral leaning towards yellow.

When your shade and undertones do not match with your foundation, they appear to be sitting on top of your skin as a filter. This also emphasises that you are not wearing foundation on your neck. In the end, you end up looking like a clown; A pretty one, though :D.

  • Using foundations that contain Zinc Oxide:¬†Zinc oxide is the main ingredient in physical sunscreens – which means, it’s actually good for you. ZnO tends to sit on top of the skin providing a protective barrier as soon as you apply it. This good for a sunscreen, but when you apply foundation with ZnO, it does the same thing – sits on top of the skin giving you a white cast and an ashy look. Unless you are planning on staying out in the sun for prolonged hours (in which¬†case you should wear a physical sunblock), wear a foundation without it and use other ways to protect your skin from the¬†sun such as wearing a chemical sunblock.
  • Layering incompatible¬†products: Which means, you layer oil based, water based, silicone based or gel based products together. Not that it cannot work. ¬†There are several articles (One here, and another here) that tell¬†you exactly how to layer your products based on their chemical compounds. Again, if not done carefully, they tend to separate from your skin and sit on top like a filter rather than creating an integrated, put together look.

For further reading, BeautyBytes and Allure Magazine showcase good articles explaining how to avoid ashy looks.

My final tip is, when buying a foundation, get it professionally colour matched and wear it for a few hours before purchasing. If possible, ask for a sample to try out a few times. Also, try to find reasonably priced foundations rather than going for the cheapest. Could be worth the ‘splurge’.

Hope this helped!

Cheers,

Sithru

Dry Shampoo showdown!

Hello fellow beauty lovers,

Welcome back to Sithru Beauty!

In my previous post, I shared with you what dry shampoos are and how they work. Today I am going to talk a little about the different dry shampoos I have used which I bought in-store in New Zealand. The choice is very limited in NZ when it comes to dry shampoo, but there are some decent ones out there that are not too expensive which actually does the job.

Batiste

This is probably the most popular brand of dry shampoo I have known. Even in NZ, varieties of batiste can be found in any supermarket chain. Batiste contains rice starch and denatured alcohol (full ingredients list here).

https://goo.gl/82Nz9ZThe rest are all flammable substances, so please be careful when using it. Also, check out¬†Rachel’s review for a detailed description of the ingredients. Even though the ingredient list may throw you off from trying this, the abundant reviews show¬†that Batiste is a really loved product among many.

Despite being a fan favourite, this is not my favourite dry shampoo. It delivers what it claims; gives the hair a complete oil-free refreshing look. Volumizing ones seriously volumises. Ones with different fragrances give the hair a lovely smell. BUT, the white cast it gives is unbearable for me. Also, my scalp tends to itch and dry out quite fast with this product and gives me insane dandruff overnight. So, I still use the ones I bought because they really are good at soaking up grease, but I won’t be repurchasing it. (I’d give this 4/5 because it actually performs really well despite making your hair white).

Lee Stafford

This is a¬†brand I found in Farmers NZ. The ingredients list IMG_20170314_100834(now that I looked at it) scares me, though. It has¬†Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate¬†(don’t even think of asking me to pronounce this!) which is a basically an anti-caking agent used in foundations, moisturisers, sunscreens and other cosmetics. Based on my research there are mixed reviews on this ingredient regarding its toxicity (read this, this or this for more information).

However, the product itself is underperforming in my opinion. While I love the fact that it has an option for dark roots as well¬†as leaves no white cast or residue behind, it also failed to absorb the oils for my liking. I had to use a quite a lot of the product to get a reasonable oil absorbance, and my hair was still not de-slicked enough. It smells great, though! So… I’d give this a 3/5 rating :).

Hask

I got to know about this dry shampoo through Tati. This is a new product in the Hask line if I am not mistaken and saw this available only at Kmart, NZ.

IMG_7345The same Aluminium based ingredient is found here. But it also has Thyme Extract, Glycerin and Silica listed as well which is kind of interesting. Hask claims that Thyme extract is the active ingredient in this product which is “a plant extract loaded with vitamins and minerals¬†known to remove impurities from the hair and scalp“.

Aluminium or not, I like this product. It leaves no residue, takes off the shine, and leaves no white cast behind (obviously, because this has no starch I assume). It has an awful smell, though – very chemically. All in all, a product that performed well and accomplished what is meant to be accomplished. I give this a 4..8/5. (0.2 points lost for the smell :D).

Toni&Guy 

I have to admit that I used Tony&Guy dry shampoo only once at a friend’s place and immediately fell in love. This is available at Farmers NZ as well.img_20170308_112133.jpg

I used the volumizing one, and it did such a great job. Unfortunately, since¬†I don’t have the product with me nor the list of ingredients is available online, I cannot give you my opinion on its ingredients yet. Will keep you posted once I buy the product.

But overall, this was an excellent dry shampoo and probably the best I have used so far. So I give it 5/5 until something comes along to drag this down :).

Even though I had used other random dry shampoo brands, these were the ones worthy enough to make it to the list. ¬†Will see you soon with another post…

Love,

Sithru

Update (at 1.25pm 14 March 2017):

I just found the ingredients list of the Toni&Guy dry shampoo. It too has Aluminium starch, but CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) claims that in limited amounts it is not toxic. This dry shampoo contains quite a high amount of water compared to others. There are a few plant based derivatives in this like Citronellol which is found in citronella oils and Hexyl cinnamal found in chamomile. Hope this update helps…

 

 

All about Dry Shampoo!

Dry shampoos are used in between washes to keep your hair refreshed and oil free. This is one of those products that has become a necessity in any beauty-junky household. However, selecting the perfect dry shampoo is an ordeal especially if you have darker hair like I do. The white cast that they leave behind is annoying and not so flattering either. Even though there are pricier, fancier dry shampoos that actually are quite good and are effective, the high price point is such a turn off for me personally. The range of dry shampoos available for in-store purchase in New Zealand is very limited anyway, high-end or drugstore. So, before getting into¬†investing on buying a dry shampoo let’s get to know what it is and how to use it.

First thing first, lets us get into some science :).

How do dry shampoos work?

The most common ingredients of dry shampoo are corn starch and alcohol. They soak up the excess oil in your hair and gives you a refreshing cleaner appearance. Apparently, according to Cleveland Clinic, you can get a similar effect from sprinkling corn starch onto your head (not recommended, though).  This Wired articFrom https://www.shutterstock.com/le explains the active ingredients in dry shampoo in detail.

In a nutshell, they are;

  • Cornstarch – This binds to the oil and soaks up the grease.
  • Kaolin – This is a Chinese¬†soft clay that absorbs the oil and hides the shine of unwashed hair. The hydrous aluminium silicates coat hair strands, reducing reflectivity to create a matte look (says Wired).
  • Laminaria saccharina Extract –¬†An extract of brown algae that also absorbs oils.
  • Magnesium Stearate – This keeps the starch from clumping.
  • Denatured Alcohol – ¬†This is the solvent for cornstarch and Kaolin. Being a mixture of ethanol and other chemicals like methanol, this suspends the solids without dissolving for easier distribution and evaporates as soon as it hits the scalp providing a cooling effect. Usually appears on the ingredients lists as Alcohol Denat. or SD Alcohol followed by numbers. [Note: even ‘alcohol-free’ products may contain denatured alcohol (FDA)]
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas – this is used to propel the dry shampoo out of the can in a fine mist.¬†LPG (often a combo of butane, propane, and isobutane), became the replacement of CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) in aerosol sprays. Unless you want crispy fried hair, don’t use a dry shampoo, or any other aerosol for that matter, near an open flame. ūüėÄ

How to use dry shampoo

Dos:

  • Only spray oily areas.
  • While spraying, keep the canister at least 6 inches from your scalp.
  • After spraying, massage your scalp to evenly distribute the product down to the roots.
  • Carefully and gently brush through any patches that have too much dry shampoo added.

Don’t s:

  • Don’t spray on damp or wet hair. It is called ‘dry’ shampoo.
  • Don‚Äôt spray the ends to avoid extra dryness or static. Add a pea-sized amount of coconut oil or hair conditioner if the tips feel too dry.
  • Don’t use more than two days in a row.

I am not a scientist nor have I used all the dry shampoos in the world to explain the how each product works and their ingredients. So please take these with a grain of salt.

In my next post, I will review a selected few dry shampoos that I have used which are not so expensive so that you can make an informed decision about whether to buy them or not.

Please don’t forget to comment if you have questions or suggestions and do subscribe to get notified of my new posts. Hope to See you soon.

Cheers!

Sithru