Sunday, January 23, 2011

GUERLAIN - Jardins De Bagatelle

Guerlain says...
Introducing a sharp floral fragrance which gives you a warm, sensual lingering scent. 
Top notes: aldehydes, violet, jasmine, bergamot
Middle notes: magnolia, tuberose, gardenia, orchid, lily of the valley
Base notes: patchouli, musk, vetiver, neroli, cedar
Suitable for formal or evening wear

MsSparkleArkle review:
I just love this perfume.  I describe it as a clean sensual floral scent.  I would not agree with the 'sharp' description above. Guerlain launched this fragrance in 1983, and I recall smelling it every time I passed by their counter over many years.  The straight up and down no frills bottle is fantastic, but does reflect its 80's era.  I purchased my bottle in about March 2010 and it quickly became my signature scent, overtaking my previous beloved Fracas by Robert Piguet. 

In many reviews my new favourite is given a hard time, accused of being 'confused' and 'trying to be too many things at once' but that is what I love about it!  It opens with a distinct smell of white flowers and then settles down into a wonderful blend.  It is certainly not a scent for everyone.  If you recoil at the thought of walking past a Jasmine bush in someones garden - then pass by this perfume!

Forget wearing Jardins de Bagatelle just for formal or evening wear.  While the notes are quite strong you can definitely pull this off at work - especially if you are the boss lady!  Just to solidify this perfume amongst one of my favourites, I do not experience any post spritz sneezing, and neither do the kids.  Hooray!

Rating: 5/5
Sneezing: None

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review & Diary of my Clarisonic Mia

Before I jump into the diary, here is a look at the claims made by Clarisonic for the Mia with my comments in Red.  I have also included a run down of what you receive in the box...

Clarisonic says...
All the great benefits of the Clarisonic Classic in a new, smaller size. The perfect compact cleansing system for use at home or on the go. Mia is the new, go-anywhere Sonic Skin Cleansing System in a great compact size. The one-button, one-speed Mia fits your active lifestyle for beautiful, glowing skin wherever life's adventures take you.

More than 2x as effective as manual cleansing. (I agree)
6x more makeup removal. (I agree)
Leaves skin feeling and looking younger and smoother. (Definitely smoother, ? younger)
Increases product absorption. (I agree)
Clarisonic Mia Sonic Cleansing System is gentle enough for use twice daily. (I agree)
Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. (Not sure)
Helps reduce oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes. (I agree - less dry patches)
Helps reduce the appearance of visible pores. (Not sure)
Clarisonic Skin Care Brush System is waterproof. (I agree)
Brush heads are interchangeable with other Clarisonic Skin Care Systems. (I agree)
Suitable for use with any non-abrasive cleanser. (I agree)
Suitable for all skin types. (I agree)
Used and recommended by skin care professionals. (Not sure)

Your Clarisonic Mia Skin Care Brush System Includes:
Cordless Clarisonic Mia
Compact pLink™ International Charger
Sensitive Brush Head
Gentle Hydro Cleanser, 1oz trial size
1 year manufacturer warranty.
And here is my MsSparkleArkle diary....
Day 1
Arrived home to find 'Sorry we missed you' card from Fedex.  Scorned teenage son who was home to accept the parcel.  Son blamed death metal screamo music was playing too loudly. Demanded son go upstairs to clean his ears, but not before issuing regulation 'loud music will damage your hearing' lecture.

Day 2
Left authority to leave parcel outside for Fedex, just in case.  Bumped into Fedex driver on my way home.  I'm not sure all addressee's are so excited to see him as he seem startled when I flung open the security door and yelled 'why hello...I've been waiting for you!'.  Signed for parcel - excitedly.  Was surprised at how small the box was, not that I had any expectations of how big it was going to be.  Opened parcel, realised I needed an adapter to plug in to Australian power point.  Bundled kids into the car and off to Dick Smith Electronics and paid $13 for an adapter.  Put Mia on charger, disappointed that it needs 24 hours charge before first use.

Day 3
Used Clarisonic Mia for the first time while son filmed me for a YouTube video.  Both giggled when the sound came on.  I used the Shiseido Creamy Cleansing Foam (pictured below) and they were a great match, as this cleanser is not overly foamy.  You can see the You Tube video here.  I was really surprised at how gentle the brush was, and there was no redness when I was finished.  My skin felt really clean but not dry at all.  If I had to sum it up in one word I would say 'refined'.

Day 4
Used the Mia twice today, and did an extra minute on my neck and decollete and 30 seconds on each hand thanks to some great suggestions and comments on my YouTube video.  Some fellow Mia users say they use it on their lips and some even gently on their eyelids!  Not brave enough for the eyelids just yet.

Day 5
Lesson learned!  Changed the order of how I used my Mia and it was a disaster.  Instead of starting on a cheek, I started on my forehead but the excess water and cleanser ran straight into my eyes.  Ouch!

Day 6
Revelation!  I used the Mia on my 'keratosis pilaris' (pictured below).  This condition is also known as 'chicken skin' and has plagued my upper arms my whole life.  My son also suffers with it, and although only cosmetic, people do tend to ask if you are cold all the time!  After using the Mia on my arms (30 seconds each arm) I applied a rich body lotion lotion. 

After just one use I saw a little improvement.  The next day the roughness was reduced.  I'm not sure if this is a result of the light exfoliation of the Mia, or the lotion but suspect it is a combination of both.  This is enough for me to consider ordering another Mia for my teenage son.  He would love to be rid of his chicken skin too.  I think the key here is the very gentle cleansing action.  If you exfoliate this type of skin you will usually exacerbate the condition and will be much redder and more inflamed.

Not my arm but a very close representation of my 'chicken skin'
This is my upper arm after 4 days of Mia and body lotion

Day 7
The good things just keep on coming!  Today I  noticed that my skin looked.... nicer.  The best way to describe it still more 'refined'.  I am really impressed with the Mia and would recommend one to anyone serious about looking after your skin, and dedicated to its use.  No point buying one if it lives in the cupboard!

Where to buy one
I purchased my unit from SkinCareRX in the US.  Click here to go to the Clarisonic page on their website. 

Delivery took around three weeks which included the Christmas period.  I did receive an email from their customer service a couple of days after ordering, and I had to call them to let them know which state I lived in.  I am not sure if this is something I had omitted when ordering, or an issue with their website.  No drama though - I think the contact centre consultant was excited to speak to an Aussie!

Colours:  White, Pink, Yellow, Blue, Lavender and my shade Garnet Red.

Cost:  The unit was USD $149.00 although I used a coupon for 20% off (it's fairly easy to find one online, but leave a comment if you need help with this - never pay retail!)

Shipping to Australia: Fedex registered postage was approx USD $16

The Mia is designed for deep cleaning, not exfoliation however you will see an improvement in skin texture over a few days.  Stick to the instructions and don't over cleanse.  You can use this on more areas than just your face.  Oh - that came out all wrong!  Think decollete, upper arms, backs of hands, neck etc - get your minds out of the gutter people. 

I can guarantee you that I have been using this little gem consistently since it arrived, and I have only missed one night.  I will consider buying one for my son who is fast approaching pimpledom. 

My only concern is how the Mia will cope if dropped from a great height.  Showers are slippery and accidents happen.  I don't think 'droppage' is covered in the warranty!   

My rating: 5/5

Disclaimer:  I bought and paid for this item with my own hard earned money, and I have not been paid, encouraged or offered any incentive to conduct a review.  I am not affiliated with the manufacturer or seller in any way.  This review is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aussie Beauty Blogger Auction

Today is a very exciting day....

It is almost time for the Beauty Blogger Auction to raise funds for the Queensland Premiers Disaster Relief Appeal, with some funds going to an animal welfare group too. 

The auction is tipped to start on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 at 8pm Melbourne time.  The auction will appear on the lovely Hannah's website Counter Obsession.  The auction will run until Sunday and buyers are asked to bid on Counter Obsessions website.  The last (and highest) bid will win!

Unfortunately the auction is restricted to Aussie buyers only, to help manage postage costs for the donating bloggers. 

The goods I have donated, all shiny and brand new are:

Make Up Designery - 'Be Good For Goodness Sake' Christmas Kit
A make up train case with groovy pull out drawers, another makeup bag, a set of makeup brushes, blush, 4 eyeshadows, lip pencil and lipstick.  The colours are perfect for winter which will be here before you know it!

Estee Lauder - Signature Hydra Lustre Lipstick - 66 Rose Amethyst
This limited edition lipstick has a cult following amount the beauty community, and has a light pink hue.

OCC - Lip Tar – Hush & Melange
Very popular among the masses, these lip tars only require the tiniest amount of product for all day glamour. 

Good Luck in the auction and thank you for supporting the fundraising.

If you have any questions about the items I have donated...  You can leave your questions in the comments box below, or track me down on Twitter @MsSparkleArkle

Karyn    :P

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nail Polish - Chanel Paradoxal #509

Here is the polish I am wearing today, snapped on a cloudy overcast day.  Just one coat will do with this formulation, however for a more professional look two coats and a top coat will ensure this look lasts all week.

I was just watching a YouTube video by Ginabinawina99 who had found a dupe for this polish from the Revlon range.  For beauty on a budget check out Revlon Perplex. I am not sure if it is available in Australia, but if you find it let me know in the comments below!

Until next time...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

'My First Beauty' Tag

Thanks Sabine from Bini Blogs Beauty for tagging me for your My First Beauty Tag.

Here we go...

1. The first time I wore make up
I was a ballet girl for a short period of time, but it is fair to say I was less than graceful in a tutu.  I then branched out into tap dancing.  I had found my calling.  Shuffle shuffle tap! Shuffle step ball change!  It would have been at a ballet or tap concert that I was required to wear a bright red lipstick along with regulation bun or tight spiral curls. 

2. The very first make up item I bought/was given
My mother and I share a passion for all things makeup.  While my mother began allowing me try out her collection while I was very young, I distinctly remember the first item that was gifted to me, and was mine, all mine.  It was a hot pink lipstick by a brand called Outdoor Girl.  I believe this to be a UK brand, which probably doesn't exist anymore.  Come to think of it, my mother immigrated to Australia from the UK in 1966, and it just crossed my mind perhaps this lippy was antique before it became new to me in the late 70's.  Blurk!

My cousin Kath is two years older than me, and of course I idolised her sassy-ness from a very young age.  If Kath wore BigM shoelaces in her hair, then I had to have some too.  If Sweet Valley High books were what Kath was reading, then I had to read about those Wakefield twins too.  I even had my mother searching the shopping centres for a pinafore style dress at one stage, because cousin Kath had one.  So it makes perfect sense that the first item that I owned that was brand spanking new was an eyeshadow quad from Maybelline, inspired by Kath.  It had a Dark and Light Blue, and a Dark and Light Pink.  Think early 80's.  Legwarmers, fluorescent socks, and blue and pink eyeshadow to match.  I remember I was very particular about which side of each applicator was used in each shade.  I was obsessive compulsive about cosmetic cleanliness even then!

3. My first high end make up item
I really had to think hard about this one, and I really can't recall the first high end item I purchased with my own money.  I do recall in Year 8 at school I had a miniature eyeliner that was Estee Lauder and it was a royal blue colour.  I wore it heavily on my waterline.  It may have come with a GWP of my Mum's.  I was regularly sent to the 'girls toilets' to remove it from my eyes. 

I did start working casually in a delicatessen when I was almost 15 years old, in Year 9 at school, so I would say perhaps a high end lipstick or eyeshadow would have followed soon after.  I do think my priority at the time though was to save for a Sony Stereo with turntable, twin cassette deck and this new fandangled thing called a compact disc player.

4. My first "going out" look (as a teen, so talking dinner, not clubbing)
My signature look was a Lancome eyeshadow duo in quite neutral brown and champagne colours, and a Lancome lipstick in Sugared Maple.  Both discontinued long ago of course.  I also had Estee Lauder's Lucidity foundation when it first came out but it used to make my eyes water horrendously due to the old fashioned PABA sunscreen. 

5. My first make up faux pas
Thinking back to that Estee Lauder eyeliner in royal blue.... I definitely suffered from regular cases of inner eye goop due to the sheer volume of product used!

6. My first favourite beauty brands
I most certainly had loads of Australis, Bourjois and Max Factor products as a teen.  Nice!

7. As opposed to my favourite make up brands now
Guerlain, Chanel, MAC and Dior

8. My first perfume
I was given Charlie (the original) which smelt something like fly spray, and my mum bought me something called 'Cold as Ice' which was a perfume that felt... as cold as ice.  My first perfume splurge with my own money was Lou Lou.  I can still remember the ad...  'Lou Lou where are you?'  In my teens I wore quite a bit of Elizabeth Arden Red Door, but didn't we all?  In my late teens it was all Giorgio Beverly Hills (Roarrrrrrrrrrrrr Grrrrrr very sexy).

9. My first beauty obsession
It was all about the eyeliner.  Dark, smokey, colourful.  You name it - I wore it.  I loved a perm and highlights too.  Boing!

10. My first favourite hair & body items
I used lots of mousse and gel in my hair back in the day, but on my body it was all from The Body Shop.  I haven't been in The Body Shop for years and years.

11. My first nail polish
I remember the nail polish colour, but I am not positive which brand it was.  Most likely Cutex.  The colour was called Madly Mauve or Mauve Madness and was inspired by..... you guessed it......... Cousin Kath - the sister I never had.  I wore so many layers of this purple nail polish that there was no chance you could ever chip a nail!

That concludes the walk down memory lane... Thanks Bini for tagging me!

Stay out of the quicksand...

Okay, okay...  I know these are extremely late, but I ummmed and ahhhhed about whether to even commit to any New Years resolutions for 2011.  So here I am on a Saturday, putting my resolutions in writing.  Last year was tough for many of us, and so far 2011 is off to a rocky start. I'm starting my new year in February!

Before I get to the details of the resolutions, I must mention that I like to reflect on the year just gone to see whether there was a message for me.  Deep hey?  It is a really useful process and I encourage you to spend a moment 'listening' to the lessons from the year before.

In 2010 I made sure I lived by a simple dictum of 'if you fail to plan, plan to fail' and it served me very well.   It allowed me to save more money, arrange better insurance and superannuation choices, be more successful at work, and even slightly more organised around the home.  Slightly.  There is still a mountain of ironing to do!

The key learning for me in 2010 is just how short life can be.  I was constantly reminded of this throughout the year, watching numerous colleagues lose loved ones to illness, both suddenly and through long drawn out sickness.  Within my husbands family alone there were at least three deaths from avoidable accidents, medical complications, right through to someone drowning or suffocating in quicksand.  Yes, I said quicksand.  Apparently not just something you see in black & white movies! 

So on reflection I realise that 2010 taught me just how important it is to 'love what you do'.  So that statement will underpin everything I do in 2011. 

For those of you wanting to lose weight, grow your hair, find a partner, fall pregnant or any other special event... I wish you all the very best for the year ahead.  Let's check back in a few months and see how we are going.

Here's my list! There is no rocket science here.  These are all very simple ideas, but things I didn't do much of in 2010. 
  1. I will move my body more in an effort to improve my health
  2. I will take my makeup off before bed for cleaner pillowcases and better skin
  3. I will look in the mirror throughout the day as shimmer on my eyelids is sassy, but glitter fallout under my eye.... not so much
  4. I will dedicate some more time to my Blog as it has been lonely and is in desperate need of some attention.  It's not all about YouTube you know!
  5. I acknowledge that Life is short, so I will endeavour to take more time out to enjoy the kids, my family and my home.
What are your 2011 resolutions?  Please leave a comment below!

Until next time...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Louise Young - Essential Eye Palette

I am EXTREMELY impressed with my new Louise Young Essential Eye Palette. 

Louise Young is based in the UK and has been a highly successful make-up artist for over 20 years working in film, fashion, television and theatre.  Louise is very well known for her range of top quality make-up brushes and has now launched the Essential Eye Palette as the first item in her cosmetic line. 

Photo courtesy of Louise Young's website

Here is a snap of me wearing it at work after 9 hours wear, in a very simple application.  I applied Too Faced Shadow insurance first for maximum colour payoff. 

My colleagues had no idea why I was taking a photo of myself at my desk!

One of the things I love about the shadows is the creamy matte texture.  After consistent use of the Urban Decay Naked Palette over the last few months, it has been so refreshing to switch things up and put the shimmer on hold for a while.  I found with this palette I could create both warm and cool looks depending on my mood, by adding the coral shade into the mix.  You can also use the coral shade as a blush if you use a light hand.

This palette will be travelling around Australia with me, as the colours allow for a variety of looks.  The palette is sleek and contains a small headed flatbrush and a large mirror.

I purchased mine for 30 pounds (GBP) from

Disclaimer:  I paid for these goods personally with my own funds, and I am not compensated or encouraged to provide reviews on products.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Queensland Floods – Jan 2011

I wanted to say a few words about the floods occurring in Queensland. As I write this post the water still rises, and the levels are tipped to exceed the levels of the 1974 flood where 14 people lost their lives, mostly from drowning, in the suburbs of Yeronga, Newmarket, St Lucia, and the city of Ipswich. My family and I reside in Melbourne, and it feels like a world away from the events up North.

AP2011 Photo courtesy of Associated Press
Jan. 10: A man is rescued by emergency workers after he was stranded clinging to a tree during a flash flood in Toowoomba, Australia.

I overheard colleagues talking about heavy rainfall and that Northern Queensland was underwater, and I have to admit I never gave it a second thought at the time. Flash flooding and bushfires are something we come to accept living in a country with such a harsh climate. I had no idea of the ferocity of these flood waters. These are not floods were the water laps gently into your basement. These floods tear through the streets at an immense speed, pushing cars, boats and other debris up into the air like they are balloons.

Part of my ignorance is due to my avoidance of all things newsworthy. I do find it hard to sleep at night if my head is filled with tradgedy such as murder-suicide, and preventable traffic accidents. When I head that the floods had reached Brisbane yesterday afternoon I watched a news story on my work computer. I was horrified with what I saw and heard. The reporter mentioned that a 4 year old boy had been swept away during a rescue effort. Despite his life jacket he drowned. In another story a separate family were grieving the loss of a mother and 13 year old son, who had given their lives when they demanded the youngest brother be saved first. The poor man who tied himself to a pole with rope and waded out into the raging waters to help them. I can’t imagine how disappointed he feels to have saved one child but still witnessed such a scene. With tears filling my eyes, I couldn’t handle anymore, and turned off the broadcast.

I logged into Facebook to check on my friends in Queensland, and they were all safe and preparing to evacuate. I then moved to Twitter to check whether my ‘beauty community’ friends were okay. I can’t think of the exact words to describe my emotions when I saw my internet friends checking on eachother, and offering housing to anyone who needed it. I am blessed that I know so many wonderfully generous people, and so very proud to be Australian.

When I woke this morning the toll stood at 10 dead, which included 5 children, and another 90 people unaccounted for. I decided to work from home today, and despite their protests I have hugged and squeezed my children extra tight a few times, so grateful to never have experienced such an event first hand.

Please join me in praying for the Queenslanders effected by this disaster, and hope that the missing are found safely perched somewhere high.

If you would like to donate money
Please refrain from sending clothing and household goods as communities recover more quickly when they can make their own choices when rebuilding their lives.

For overseas readers or those unable to give, I encourage you to ‘help someone’ in your local community in honour of those Aussies who were lost in the floods.

Until next time,