H&M is opening at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town in October

Most of you will know that H&M is on it’s way to South Africa, opening in October at the V&A Waterfront in the area near the Nu Metro. Apparently the store’s going to be a serious monster – 4 700 square metres and on two levels!

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Last week I was invited to get a sneak preview of the Studio A/W15 collection that would be in store when it opened. Apparently we’re going to be in sync with the seasons (i.e. when it’s summer here, we’ll get the summer stock) but when special collections like the aforementioned autumn one crop up, we’ll get it at the same time as everyone else overseas does.

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Other good news? I’m told the price points are going to be around the Woolworths and Cotton On mark.

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I don’t know about you but I’m dying to see everything in store. I really love how, over the period of just a few years, the SA chain store scene’s gone seriously global. Do you remember the sad old days when we pretty much only had Truworths, Foschini, Edgars and Woolies to pick from? (I literally had an account for each of those stores! Dying!) I now love that, when I travel overseas, I don’t feel this crazy pressure to shop ’til I drop ‘cos half the stores have set up shop back home.

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Anyway, like I said, I’m super keen to see how this all rolls out, especially from a price point of view but overall I have a very good feeling about it. Despite being affordable, H&M’s quality is fabulous, which makes me much happier to shell out R600 for a jersey than I would to do the same at Forever 21 as it’s essentially the Mr Price of America. So let’s wait and see…

Love, love

Leigh

Review: Lancôme Hypnose Volume-A-Porter mascara

It’s the end of my French affair!

I’ve always loved Lancôme’s original Hypnose mascara and my sister’s a big fan too. While there have been several follow-up versions (Doll Lashes, Drama and Star to name a few) I always considered the first to be the best but now there’s a new amore in my Hypnose-lovin’ heart and that’s Volume-A-Porter (R390).

Lancome Hypnose Volume-A-Porter mascara

Lancome Hypnose Volume-A-Porter mascara

A ‘cashmere sensation volume mascara’, Volume-A-Porter aims to volumise and define thanks to a fine-toothed rubber bristle brush. I’ve used another very similar mascara wand recently but found that, as the bristles where shaped too far apart, I struggled to coat each and every lash, but Lancôme’s newest addition gets it just right.

I loved that, with just a few strokes using a rotary motion, I could create a thick fringe of soft-looking lash with zero clumping and not a spider’s leg in sight.

Not a clump in sight!

The perfect every day eye.

As for the formula, its jet black, dries fast and, if you get any on your skin, you can just shift it with a cotton bud once it’s dried. No smeary business at all. Lancôme says it’s been enriched with conditioning native rose cells and I have no clue what those are but I do like it’s super subtle rose scent, a teensy touch that gives it the luxe aspect you come to expect of the French beauty brand.

In short, if you like beautifully defined voluminous-looking lashes, Volume-A-Porter is your baby. I know it’s the Lancôme mascara I’ll be reaching for in future, in place of the original Hypnose who’s probably trying to drunk dial me from my make-up as I speak.

Oh, wait! He so is! Apparently he’s going to ‘try harder’ and wants to see if we can work things out over carrot cake at Tasha’s (sooo manipulative) but I’m a hard ass Volume-A-Porter rock that can’t be moved.

Love, love

Leigh

Ghd’s new Vintage Pink styler’s finally arrived and ten percent of the sale goes to the PrinkDrive

Good news for all you retro-lovin’, ‘see you at the soda shop’ would-be pin-up girls – ghd’s latest limited edition styler is right up your street!

What's in the box?

What’s in the box?

The new Vintage Pink V styler (R2 399) boasts an elegant-looking matte powder pink finish with metallic pale pink finishes accented by black ceramic coated plates.

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Pretty, pretty!

I can tell you right now, Dita von Teese, with her retro pink kitchen, is totally snapping one up as I type.

Anyone for a banana split?

Anyone for scone?

Spec-wise, if you’re not familiar with ghd, the V styler is the upgrade to the IV. It’s body is lighter than it’s predecessor and it stays cooler to the touch. The plates, however, are quick to heat up to an optimal 175 – 185 and are contoured to glide through your hair to help you create either poker straight locks with a single stroke or bouncy curls with a few clever flicks of the wrist. (Personally, I can never get that curling action down. Huge respect to the women I’ve seen doing it with the greatest of ease. This particular skill is something that’s totally sitting on my ‘To learn’ list.)

There's just one button to switch it on, it makes a beep when it's hot and then switches off 30 minutes later by itself.

There’s just one button to switch it on, it makes a beep when it’s hot and then switches off 30 minutes later by itself.

The styler comes in a pretty pink matching carrier bag…

Mooi!

You could totally see Lana del Ray owning this, right?

…that rolls out to become a heat-resistant mat.

Guess who's not going to burn the shizzle out their duvet any more. You are!

Guess who’s never going to set fire to her mattress again?

Also available in the retro line up, but sold separately is a paddle brush R299) and a set of two sectioning clips (R20).

Paddle tips.

Paddle tips.

Now for the best bit – 10-percent of each Vintage Pink item sold (that’s R239 if you buy the styler) goes towards PinkDrive. The organisation runs pink trucks that act as mobile breast check clinics to help create awareness and promote early detection with a focus on disadvantaged communities. Their newest truck is a mammoth – a doctor’s room on wheels – from which free mammograms as well as cervical cancer screenings can be performed with ease. To date, PinkDrive has performed over 60 000 breast checks alone.

Aside from purchasing a styler, there’s another way to help – text ‘ghd vintage pink’ to 40158 you can donate R20 to PinkDrive. You can also inspire others to help by sharing the following on your social media platforms: ‘I just donated R20 to PinkDrive by texting 40158 #VintagePink #MyHairCares’. You can also tag friends to nominate them to do the same. Ghd encourages you to include a pic of you wearing a vintage hair style, but this is a nice to have, certainly not a must-have. I wouldn’t let my lack of skill and time in whipping up something like that prevent me from helping to make a difference.

More Dita in the kitchen mooiness, I just couldn't resist.

I just had to throw in some more ‘Dita in the kitchen’ mooiness, I just couldn’t resist.

To get your mitts on the new Vintage Pink styler, pop on over to ghd’s local website to find a stockist near you or snap it up via the site. Delivery is free!

Love, love

Leigh

 

Beauty bites featuring new beauty booty from Max Factor, The Body Shop and Essie plus Dermalogica’s new online store

I love a good cream eye shadow and am still mourning the loss of Benefit’s Creaseless Cream shadow/liner in Busy Signal, the perfect shade of bronze. Max Factor, however, have launched fantastic formula called Excess Shimmer (R129,95, exclusive to Clicks).

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Max Factor Excess Shimmer pots.

Each shade promises to stay put for hours and really does as promised. In fact, if used with a primer (I love Urban Decay’s Primer Potion that I buy online or when I travel) you can pretty much tattoo the shadow to your eye lid.

I was given two shades to try, Crystal and Pink Opal, and most like the latter.

Pink Opal up top and Crystal down below.

Pink Opal up top and Crystal down below.

I can see me wearing this as a solo wash in spring on jaunty days when I want to take a break from my usual ‘natural look’ hues but for now I’m dead keen on snapping up the bronze variant next time I pop into Clicks. To view that, pop on over to Luzanne at Pink Peonies who did an awesome job of reviewing these babies in depth. You can also check back here later today as I’m going to update with an ‘on eye’ shot. I’m just currently waylaid by two mag story deadlines.

The Body Shop have launched what feels like a zillion new eye pencils that range from jumbo and fine felt tips to wind up gel pens and even a white matte kajal liner and I was given a couple of them to play with.

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The Body Shop Skinny Thin Felt eye liner up top and Bold Oversized Felt eyeliner below.

Of everything I’ve tried, however, I’ve most enjoyed using the Skinny Felt Liner (price TBA). I like that, depending on how you angle it, you can create a nice, defined line as well as a thicker one. The over-sized pen, however, doesn’t really give you a choice but that’s not going to matter to anyone who’s actually keen on a thick, Cleopatra-style line. In that case, it’s their best friend.

Line and shine, darlings!

Line and shine, darlings!

Other news? A while back I was asked to dish a bit of beauty advice for the blogger’s edition of online lifestyle magazine Hung Up in a piece called Smoking Hot Beauty Blogger Advice that you can check out over here.

I think they struggled to find four beauty bloggers who rook a pack a day* yet remain ridiculously hot**, but in the end they did manage to pick out four of us, although I think Chantelle’s moved on to chewing tobacco now. Her advice, by the way, about using MAC’s 217 bullet brush, is spot on. The day I brought that baby was a serious tipping point in my smoking hotness.

More things you need to know? Clicks is running a slew of great buy 2, get one free specials that include beauty goodies ending on 2 July so you better move fast. My top pick there? The Essie nail polish! As they’re R125 a pop, you’re essentially saving R125!

This is Essie's new winter collection launching in July. I'll be creating a review on these with swatches soon.

This is Essie’s new winter collection launching in July. I’ll be creating a review on these with swatches soon.

Last but not least, Dermalogica is about to go online, launching their new online store on 1 July. Initially, delivery will be free to promote the fact you can now buy your favourite products with just a few clicks but will eventually increase to R120 a pop so best you get your orders in fast. One of the best specials the brand’s currently running is on their Age Smart Over Night Repair serum. Until the end July, R850 will get you DOUBLE the regular size, so that’s almost like buy one, get one free.

Essentially a blend of oils, this does a lovely job of soothing and moisturising dry, winter-ravaged skin.

Essentially a blend of oils, this does a lovely job of soothing and moisturising dry, winter-ravaged skin.

However, if you buy three products at a time, delivery will be free once more, so it’s a good idea to buy in bulk or sit tight until you need at least three items to get the most bang for your buck.

Love, love

Leigh

*Please tell me you get that I was totally joking?
**I’m not kidding about the hot part though. <Hair flick, hair flick.>

Review: Veaudry iStyler mini hair straightener

When local hot styling tools brand Veaudry offered to send me their iStyler (R1 190, retailbox.co.za), I didn’t quite click until it arrived that it was a mini travel styler. Being an ungrateful cow who receives far too many things my first thought was ‘Oh. What could you ever achieve with this boy? Thank God, I only ever give my fringe the odd flick. Using this to do your whole head would probably only take a thousand years…’

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For the record, I have super tiny hands.

Merrily, Veaudry’s little number really surprised me in that a) it’s actually not that small so b) you’re really not sacrificing much extra time in exchange for the handy travel aspect.

Now, to begin, let’s just get the elephant out the room and answer the first question my friends are going to What’s App me – ‘How does it compare in size to a standard sized flat iron?’ I whipped out my ghd IV styler and was surprised that, even though Veaudry looks and feels teeny tiny at first sight, it’s actually not that small.

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Veaudry, I’d like you to meet ghd.

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The gold plates belong to the regular-sized ghd and the black are Veaudry’s.

It’s still small enough, however, to pop into your giant tote handbag or stash in a carry on bag when you fly. As far as weight is concerned, however, it comes in at 350g, which is almost the same as a ghd which is 360g. (I know this ‘cos I whipped out my kitchen scale. I’m that kind of anal.)

Anyway, as far as specs goes, you’re looking at the following:

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There aren’t any tricky dials to deal with. Just an on-off button.

It heats up to 200 degrees.
The floating ceramic plates are made using Tourmaline, a semi-precious stone that helps seal moisture into your hair due to the negative ions it emits.
The cord is a nice ‘salon-length’ of 3 metres. (So many travel stylers boast the teensiest cord so you end up sitting on the floor of your hotel room instead of being able to stand up.)
You get a one year guarantee.

Veaudry says it styler heats up really fast but there isn’t a light that stops flashing on or a ‘beep’ that sounds to let you know when this happens. No biggie, but worth mentioning.

After using the styler, I was impressed with how it did a good job of creating flicks. Still, as my hair’s already dead straight I couldn’t really test the straightening aspect myself so I popped on over to a friend who’s hair’s got a bit more of a curl in it. She thought it did just as good a job as her current styler, a Toni&Guy pro straightener with the same specs save for heating up to 230 degrees, having slightly larger plates and being, dare I say it, ‘clunky-looking’. In all, she was impressed too and says she’d happily consider Veaudry’s full-sized styler (she likes ’em big) should her T&G ever kick the bucket.

It's a 2-prong plug, in case you were wondering.

The iStyler features a 2-prong plug, in case you were wondering.

In all, this is a nifty great quality yet pocket-friendly styler for anyone who’s on the go and doesn’t have to spend too much of their time straightening.  A great purchase for women with shorter hair as well men who don’t need to own a big kahuna but still want something that serves up much of the same benefits of a big kahuna, if that makes sense.

Love, love

Leigh

Yet more retinol serums to love starring Optiphi, pHformula and Dermaquest

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m a massive fan of retinol. Much the same way your body needs several vitamins to function, your skin needs multiple ingredients to live it’s best life BUT, if I haaaad to pick just one to really invest in, it would always be retinol.

A potent form of vitamin A and a great antioxidant, retinol is one of the most proven actives on the planet. If applied regularly, it can help increase cellular turnover, plump up your skin from the inside out by encouraging it to make more collagen, minimise the look of fine lines, improve acne and reduce the look of pigmentation. In all, it’s a bit of an anti-ageing wunderkind so I’m always happy to welcome a new retinol serum to the world and one of the latest is Optiphi Intense Retinol Serum, (R1 095), hitting the shelves in October. 

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That’s the serum coming out on the left after I’ve pushed the pump.

I’ve struggled to get the exact percentage of retinol out of the brand and they have this to say: ‘The recommended level for retinol type products is 0.05%, however highly concentrated serums can contain higher concentrations of 0.5%. Our product contains slightly lower.’ I’m still not sure whether they mean theirs is lower than 0,5 or 0,05% but it would well be the latter as the retinol isn’t sitting up too high in the ingredients list. (By law, ingredients have to be listed in order of their greatest concentration.)

As for the serum itself, it’s got a lovely, feather light gel-lotion texture that sunk into my skin in a flash making it easy to layer something else on top of it. Optiphi also gets top marks for it’s air-proof pump. Retinol will break down when exposed to light and air, so if you’re using a product that boasts about it’s retinol content but is packaged in a jar please know you’re relying on a brand that A) has no clue what it’s doing or B) knows full well but doesn’t care as it’s a slave to the horrid truth that uneducated consumers perceive jar packaging to be ‘luxurious’ and are more willing/likely to shell out for something in a jar.

Anyway, in all, I’d happily recommend something like Optiphi’s serum to anyone who’s interested in using a retinol product for the first time. It’s the kind of ingredient many woman need to build a tolerance to. Using it in too high a concentration if you’re not used to it can cause redness and dryness. Even myself, who’s been using retinol forever, has to be careful to apply my own serum only every second day as opposed to every night.

So, what am I currently using? Dermaquest Retinol Youth Brightening Serum with 2% retinol (R1 1oo).

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I have no clue where the lid is. Probably waiting tables at Spur until it hits the big time.

I’ve been using Dermaquest’s serum for about three months now and really, really like it. The texture’s kind of like a silicone-infused cream that’s ever so slightly too ‘rich’ for my oily skin in summer but just right in winter when it’s a bit more dry. I tend to apply it at night anyhow, so for me that doesn’t really matter.

Again, it’s excellently preserved in a pump bottle and I’m not put off by the price tag because I only need one pump and, as I don’t use it every day, it lasts for ages. Also, it truly is an incredibly high percentage and (as yet) don’t know of a locally available brand that’s creating anything similar at a lower price point.

If you’re looking to get into retinol as a newbie, this isn’t something I’d recommend you use. Use something with a lower concentration first, like Optiphi’s new serum or travel up the steps in Environ’s fantastic Originals range. It starts at Debut then moves on to Mild, Classic and Ultra (I have no clue as to what the percentage of retinol in Ultra is but despite it’s name it’s certainly not 1% or 2%) and they all cost around R300 a pop, proving that you don’t have to empty out your pockets to buy a great medium-strength retinol product. 

Anyway, I said we were going to talk about new retinol products so let me introduce you to another super sterk retinol treatment that’s just hit the shelves in SA – pHformula Vita A cream (R989).

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Clever li’l capsule!

To give you some background, pHformula is a fairly new brand created by a husband and wife duo – him being a pharmacist with a family-owned lab and her being South African Petru van Zyl. One of our country’s most knowledgable skincare therapists, Petru used to work closely with Hennie Roos, the plastic surgeon who founded Nimue, essentially helping him get that brand off the ground in SA.

But let’s get back to the Vita A cream. It’s also a heavy hitter, coming in a 2%, and I absolutely love the packaging. It looks like a giant vitamin capsule that’s able to stand upright. Again, your product’s happily protected by a pump and the texture is lovely – a light gel-cream that, despite containing silicone, plays very nicely with my combination skin. I could happily wear this during the day under a super sheer sunscreen.

I don’t mind paying a grand for a high percentage retinol serum as it’s touting an ingredient I know is proven to work. (You’ll never catch me shelling out more than that for anything else in the skin care department, aside from Botox and filler.)

To find a pHformula stockist in your area call (011) 036 9600.

Again, I wouldn’t recommend pHformula’s Vita A cream to a retinol new comer. Only someone who’s been merrily using something around the 1% mark and has adjusted well. For the record, my top 1% recommendation would be Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Treatment (R845).

Anyway that’s it from me. Feel free to leave any retinol questions you might have in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Love, love

Leigh

 

Pigalle restaurant’s winter special is a gem and their garlic rolls will forever haunt your dreams

Okay, so we all know I’m having a love affair with Pigalle right now. Their seafood platter special (R495 for two) is the shizzle’s nizzle and every time someone tells me they gave it a bash and was totally blown away I totally get off on being all ‘I know, right?! I totally told you so!’ You’d swear I was slaving away in the kitchen frying up the monster Natal lobster they give you myself.

Still, let’s not forget about their other winter special – 2 courses for R210 (R250 with wine) or 3 for R240 (R290 with wine).

I took lifestyle blogger Dax along as my date with strict instructions not to grill the waiters until they cry and essentially try his best to not be the foodie version of Simon Cowell with a lurking migraine and am pleased to say he was impressed. And Dax’s version of ‘impressed’ is like a regular person exploding into a cloud of unicorn-shaped confetti. Interestingly, that’s exactly how I felt when he introduced me to Pigalle’s garlic rolls which are supposed to this iconic Cape Town institution and I was the last to know about.

Lord have mercy!

Lord have mercy!

If you order one thing next time you visit Pigalle just make sure it’s this. You have no idea how many times I’ve thought about this mister since experiencing it and it’s made me wonder if I’d be considered a total weirdo if there was the odd afternoon where I literally just pulled in to eat a garlic roll with a Coke Lite before buggering off. Could I do that? Would that be, like, totally weird?

Anyway, there are other things you need to know about, namely this dude.

The lamb shank o' dreams

The lamb shank o’ dreams with a cameo by creamy, dreamy mash.

That meat literally fell off the bone, the gravy was fabulously rich, dark and salty (just the way I like it) and that mash might as well have been Soft-Serv the way I guzzled it down.

Other highlights included the starters being Dax’s butter soft trinchado…

Love to love you baby!

I forced him to order it after discovering it on my first visit and have made it a must-order ever since.

…and my creamy, dreamy mussel pot with a sauce that tasted like garlic, cheese and cream, essentially the Trifecta of Awesome.

Come to mama!

Come to mama!

To finish up, we hit the dessert menu, trying the creme brulee (two thumbs up from Dax, I’m not a brulee meisie) and a duo-tone chocolate mousse made from both white and dark choc, the latter coming all the way from Belgium, with a creamy mint-infused vanilla sauce for drenching.

This  was really good! If you love peppermint crisp tart like I do, this'll knock your socks off.

This was really good! If you love peppermint crisp tart like I do, this’ll knock your socks off.

Thanks again Pigalle for an incredible lunch. I’m already counting down the days until I’ll visit you next. That garlic roll is whispering my name…

Love, love

Leigh