It’s finally time to review my new HTC One M9

As you know, I’m a proud HTC girl and was happily using the wondrous M8 before recently upgrading to the new One M9 32 GB. I’ve had a while to play with it and and gotta tell you, I’m definitely an android girl for life now.

Having fun at the launch

Being a dorkasaurus at the launch*

Just about all the things I loved about the M8 are present in the M9 and some have been taken even further. For starters, it’s still got that sexy brushed aluminium body, an enormous 5 inch display (which I adore!) and, weighing in at 157g, it feels even lighter in your hand.

The all new htc The One m9

The all new MTC One M9

Again, the sound quality is perfection. I can fill my entire apartment with crystal clear music to the point where a friend thought I was playing through add-on speakers, not the phone itself.

Camera-wise – it’s front-facing camera (the one you use to take selfies) is now 4 megapixels and the ‘regular’ camera is a whopping 20 megapixels. If you follow me on Instagram (@lipglossgirlxoxo) you should know all my shots are taken using the M9. Also, 99% of the pics you’ll have seen on my blog have been taking using the phone.

The detail is even better than what you're seeing as photo's lose quality when you upload them to WordPress.

The detail is even better than what you’re seeing as photo’s lose quality when you upload them to WordPress.

..

No filter, just mooiness.

No filter, just excessive mooiness.

I find that the M9’s camera isn’t as good in low lighting as the M8s, but you can somewhat compensate for this by raising the ISO setting. This improves it, but I think the resultant shots still look better on the M8, so if using your cell to take pictures at night is very important to you this is something you should know.

Where the M9 really shines is the customisation department. There are what feels like a zillion ways to tweak it to do exactly what you’d like and it also serves up a huge, ever increasing amount of themes.

Origami for when I feel like a grown up and The Little Mermaid for when I don't.

Origami for when I feel like a grown up and The Little Mermaid for when I don’t.

You can now also customise the navigation bar and take things even further by download apps like HTC Sense Home. The latter learns which apps you most use in different locations and can set up your phone to suit you best depending on where you are. For example, when you hit the office, all your boring work-related apps will appear first and foremost and then, when you head home, all the fun stuff pops up. (Because obviously you never cruise Facebook or Instagram when you’re on your bosses time, right?)

More launch funsies.

More launch funsies.

The M8’s great battery life seriously blew me away and the M9’s is almost as awesome. I can use it flat out all day and it only needs recharging by the time I go to bed. It’s also got a built-in battering saving mode that auto triggers when your phone drops to 15% but can be manually flicked on at any time. There’s also an ultra power saving mode that allows me to keep my phone on, albeit in a super basic mode, for more than ten hours on just 5% battery! Long gone are the iPhone days where I used to carry my charger with me and juice it up half way through the day.

To learn more about HTC and keep up to date with what they’re doing, pop on over to their local Facebook page. They’re currently promoting a comp with Marie Claire that could see you winning a limited edition Jourdan Dunn HTC M9.

Am I old and embarrassing to not know who Jourdan Dunn is?

Jourdan’s phone is available in silver as well as gold (but we all know the latter’s the coolest.)

Love, love

Leigh

*Yep, I’m aware that pic is of a crappy quality. Please note it wasn’t taken using an HTC. 

Morgan Taylor’s about to launch their ‘Hello Pretty’ Tokyo-inspired collection

Winter’s not quite done with us but it’s on it’s way out and that means it’s time to lay off the dark ‘I’m a gloomy hipster sippin’ Sxollie cider in The Village Idiot’ nail colour shades (and by that I mean anything grey, oxblood, navy or black) and make the move towards pretty pastels and look-at-me brights.

One of the first spring collections to cross my desk has been Morgan Taylor’s Tokyo-street fashion inspired Hello Pretty collection.

A3 hello pretty- MORGAN TAYLOR-850x1200

Katy Perry circa 2012 would be thrilled.

I’ve searched online for a press pic that shows all the bottles together and while there are several none of them portray the colours in a way that’s true to life. Even the shot above isn’t bringing the neon aspect through strong enough. Still, there are lots of fab swatches on blogs out there though so to see the rest of the colours I’d suggest you get googling. Obviously I can’t nick another blogger’s shot and feature it here. Still, I do have two of my own to show you.

Pop-Arazzi Pose on the left and Do You Harajuku on the right.

Pop-Arazzi Pose on the left and Do You Harajuku on the right.

Do You Harajuku seriously doesn’t work for me. It makes me think of Tippex with a hint of green which makes it almost as difficult to paint with as white or black in that every ‘mistake’ is super visible. Also, it totally washes me out so I’ll rather leave it to someone with a darker skin tone and perfect painting skills to do it justice. Pop-Arazzi Pose, however, is a goodie.

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Morgan Taylor Pop-Arazzi Pose

I liked that you only needed two coats to get full opacity. It’s the kind of striking, almost neon watermelon pink that’ll look great on toes come summer.

The collection, along with matching Gelish colours (woop, woop!) will be available in salons and stores including Sorbet and Dis-Chem as of early next month so keep an eye out if you’re keen. Each polish is R123 a pop.

Love, love

Leigh

Review: Moroccanoil Smooth shampoo and conditioner

A while back Moroccanoil launched a new Smooth collection consisting of a shampoo (R350), conditioner (R370), blow dry lotion (R430) and mask (R570) specially formulated to sleeken unruly, frizz-prone locks without sacrificing volume.

Smooth operators...

Smooth operators…

Everything in the line up contains antioxidant-rich argan oil and strengthening amino acids and the conditioner and mask takes things a step further to include mega-hydrating argan butter and coconut-derived fatty acids. What’s not in the mix are sulfates, phosphates and parabens.

Moroccanoil's BLAH working his magic on a model at the launch

Moroccanoil’s Global Creative Ambassador, Steven Turpin, working his magic on a model at the recent launch in Cape Town.

Having very fine, dead straight hair that requires a light touch, I didn’t feel I was the right target market to review these babies but my loss was my friend Alice’s gain. She’s got thick, fabulous, naturally curly hair that requires a little more moisture and is a big Moroccanoil fan so it made sense that I hand her the sham and con. She’s been using them for a while now and her thoughts are as follows:

‘The shampoo didn’t work out for me. It didn’t “spread” or foam well so it kind of just sat on my scalp and I didn’t feel like it did a good enough job of cleansing. It kind of made my hair feel oily. The conditioner is fantastic though! After the first time I used it I could feel my hair was significantly softer and my curls were really definite with no frizz. I learned the hard way that I have to use very little but once I got that down I got the best results. I like to team it with the oil applied to the ends before blow drying and together the results are awesome.’

Models in white and bloggers in black. And no, that wasn't planned.

Models in white and my fellow media peeps in black. And no, that wasn’t planned.

I didn’t receive the mask so I wasn’t able to dole it out to my curly girls but I do want to let you know I’ve been using the Weightless Hydrating Mask for fine, dry hair (R420) and I love, love, love it. I can’t remember where I got it from (I have a vague recollection of receiving a voucher to blow at an online store and it was on special or something) and it lived in my bathroom cupboard for ages. I took it out on a whim the other day thinking I’d use it as a weekly treatment but I’ve now been using it every second day. You only need a small amount and I can happily slap it over my entire head – roots and all – and still come out with sleek, swishy locks that feel bouncy and clean. And then there’s the smell! I was always a bit ‘meh’ about Moroccanoil’s sweet, musky scent when it first arrived on the scene but now it’s like an addiction.

Love, love

Leigh

Reviews: Thierry Mugler Angel eau de Sucree, Lancôme La Vie Est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Intense and Jimmy Choo Blossom

Thierry Mugler love to reincarnate their bestselling Angel and there have been some real goodies along the starlit path, my favourite still being the light and lovely Aqua Chic 2o13. The latest limited edition version, however, is called Eau de Sucree (R695 for 50ml) and this one’s for serious gourmand lovers only in that it’s a serious celebration of sweetness.

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Thierry Mugler Angel eau de Sucree EDT

Officially, the notes are red berry sorbet, caramelised meringue, patchouli and vanilla and while they sound diabetes-inducing they’re actually well-tempered by the sorbet that lends it a certain sparkling freshness. Then, when the sweet notes come through, they’re muted and soft and sit nice and closely on your skin in a way that makes me think of cashmere, sugared almonds and that yummy ‘old school’ vanilla body lotion The Body Shop used to make. Anyone else remember that?

To me, Eau de Sucree is a lot less ‘brash’ than the original Angel in that I don’t think it’ll evoke the same ‘love it or hate it’ response. I consider it a real ‘comfort scent’ I’ll wear in cooler weather on a day or night when I’m craving a white hot chocolate but thinking of the bikini I have to squeeze into come November.

Another new gourmand-type scent set to emerge in September is Lancôme La Vie Est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Intense (R1300 for 50ml and R1700 for 75ml).

La Vie Est Belle L'Eau de Parfum Intense

La Vie Est Belle L’Eau de Parfum Intense

Notes-wise, the newbie, has a similar structure to the original in that also it opens with blackcurrant and pear but now boasts the addition of bergamot, orange and pink pepper. The similarities continue with the floral heart notes but this time more ‘intense’ versions of everything have been used. For example, jasmine now becomes fancy pants Sambac jasmine. The base, however, is now a delicious mix of hazelnut and cream as opposed to the initial scent’s vanilla-patchouli-praline blend. The other big difference I can pick up is that the original had a dash of powder in it but I can’t pick that up in ‘Intense’.

The overall result is that the Intense version is very similar to the regular La Vie Est Belle, but waaay more potent, a lot sweeter and leaves a lingering trail wherever you go making it more suited to night time or a very cold winter’s day. If you’re a fan of the original fragrance, you’ll definitely want to give this one a sniff but don’t automatically assume you’ll love it just because you’re a fan of the original. It’s potent, heady stuff and you’re either going to think it’s masterful or migraine-inducing.

Personally, while I like Intense, I prefer the original. Interestingly, it’s the one fragrance that seems to draw the most compliments from men whenever I wear it. My bestie, Karisa, occasionally wears it too and has noticed the same thing.

Last but not least, let’s talk about new Jimmy Choo Blossom eau de parfum (R595 for 40ml, R795 for 60ml and R1 050 for 100ml).

Jimmy Choo Blossom EDP

Jimmy Choo Blossom EDP

I can appreciate the odd splash of Meneer Choo’s perfumes on other people but they’ve never resonated with me. There’s either too much toffee or too much powder in the mix. This is why I’ve been super surprised by Blossom which I love, love, love and am actually wearing it now as I type. In fact, I’ve been wearing it the whole weekend and have had every person who’s given me a hug comment on how nice it is. Can we get a ‘yay’!?

A sparkling fruity-floral with good staying power, Blossom opens with juicy raspberry, citrus and red berries before revealing a soft sweet pea and floral heart. The dry down, however, is a heavenly oh-so-simple mix of sandalwood and white musk. The over all effect is an uplifting, clean, fresh, lighthearted and flirty scent that’s definitely ‘girlie’ but sophisticated enough so that I don’t feel like an idiot wearing it at almost 35. It really is well suited to its name as it’s the perfect ‘day time’ fragrance to wear this spring. The only problem is that I’ve now got several friends who want to buy it too so I might have to start telling people it’s a secret blend I had custom-made in France.

See anything you’d like to sniff yourself?

Love, love

Leigh

Reviews: SAMPAR 3 Day Weekend and First Hands Cream

Prettily packaged French beauty brand SAMPAR is back in South Africa, this time in Edgars once more as well as Woolies. I was given 3 Day Weekend (R250) to try and it’s a bit of an interesting cat in that it promises a healthy-looking glow but doesn’t use any self tan ingredients or a tint. Instead it claims to help your skin produce up to 32% more melanin, the pigment that gives you your colour, using a medicinal root extract and peptides.

SAMPAR 3 Day Weekend

You’re supposed to use it for seven days before you see results and I’ve been swatching it on the inside of my arm but didn’t see any colour change. I’ve read reviews from other girls online and it seems a bit hit and miss in that some will see a difference and other’s wont. This possibly has to do with the fact that I’m a super pale peep who’s melanin-challenged to begin with and SAMPAR does include a disclaimer that the results will be relevant to how much melanin your body can naturally produce at best.

Lovely and light!

Lovely and light!

If this is something you’d like to try yourself, know it’s got a divine gel-cream texture that absorbs within seconds.

I was also given the brand’s First Hands Cream (R250). Again, it’s also a lovely light-textured and floral-scented gel-cream that’s much ‘creamier’ than 3 Day Weekend. I can’t find the ingredients list but it feels like there’s a fair amount of silicone in the mix as it’s got a slight ‘primer effect’ and leaves your hands feeling ‘silky’ straight after use.

SAMPAR First Hands cream

SAMPAR First Hands Cream

Other plusses? It plumps with hyaluronic acid in a bid to (temporarily) reduce the look of wrinkles while protecting against dark marks thanks to niacinimide. I can’t find an ingredients list to give me an idea of how much niacinimide is the mix (it could be a smattering, it could be a decent amount) but as an SPF isn’t listed on the packaging just make sure you slap a sunscreen on top or you’ll undo all the good work the niacinimide may or may not do.

Silky, silky!

Silky, silky!

Oh! There’s also an antioxidant complex in the mix – something SAMPAR refers to as their Urban Advance Complex – that consists of Shea, mint leaf and sweet probiotic extract.

Were you a SAMPAR fan when it first hit SA shores? Are you glad to have it back? Feel free to chat to me in the comments section below.

Love, love

Leigh

Review: Skinceuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50

Bikini weather is impending so I’ve started running again, out on the prom in Green Point as well as near the Rhodes Memorial in the burbs. This means I’m slapping on more sunscreen and have several favourites, one being Eucerin’s new creme-gel that I chatted about the other day. While I’ve never had a problem with sunscreen annoying my eye area, I know some people feel this area’s extra sensitive or possibly want a separate ‘eye only’ SPF and that case you’ll want to know about new Skinceuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50.

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Skinceuticals Physical Eye Defense SPF50, R450.

A 100% mineral base (zinc and titanium dioxide) infused with a smattering of ceramides, it promises to ‘defend, enhance and optimize’ and can be used over the entire eye area, including the eye lid. It aims to create a smooth canvas for any eye make-up, not migrate into your eye and features a ‘unifying tint’ to enhance your skin tone which is fancy pants speak to describe it’s nude, almost concealer-like hue. I’ve found many primers that have a bit more ‘flesh tone’ in the mix as opposed to being white as the driven snow are less likely to look pasty on my skin. I can’t speak for darker peeps, but Skinceuticals does say it should work for all skin tones.

Love that this is in a nice, hygienic tube.

Love that this is in a nice, hygienic tube.

When I apply it, feels pretty much like a silky, silcone-based primer so it glides on like a dream. It also does stay put. Even after a jog it hadn’t creased up or run. But let’s slap in a li’l disclaimer here for my overseas readers: I’m in South Africa but it’s currently winter, so we’re not dealing with crazy high temperatures or humidity. Also, I’ve never really been much of a sweater.

test

Obviously it totally disappears when you blend it in.

It’s easy to apply eye shadow on top of it. I haven’t had a day where I’ve been able to wear shadow from dusk til dawn to see if it extends it’s longevity like a ‘typical’ eye shadow primer but I will soon and will be sure to update this post.

To find a Skinceuticals stockist near you, visit their webpage over here.

Love, love

Leigh

Keen to save more cash? I’m going to share what I learn while taking part of 22seven’s money-saving GY$T challenge

My friend Darryn is always one of the first to discover super useful apps so when he mentioned his love affair with 22seven I didn’t hesitate to download and boy am I glad I did. And ‘love affair’ is perfectly apt. You have no idea how many times a day I open it up. Or how much money it’s saved me simply by heightening my awareness as to where my cash is really going.

To kind of sum it up, 22seven links all your accounts, lists them so you can see the balance of each one and then tallies them up to show you your net value, what you have, what you owe and even how much you can borrow. At present, I’ve linked my bank account, both my credit cards, my Woolies card and even my Clicks ClubCard. (I currently only have R3 worth of rewards in CashBack vouchers. Boo!)

As it’s linked to my credit cards, every time I swipe them, it automatically registers what I’ve spent and even categorises it for me. It’s a whopping 95% accurate in that it just seems to ‘know’ what’s a restaurant vs what’s my friendly credit card accepting drug dealer (kidding!) and if it gets it wrong you can recategorise with a few quick taps and then it remembers for the next time. You can also split things. For example, if I blow R500 at Clicks and it auto-files it to Personal Care, but R300 of that was for a stick blender, a few more quick taps pops the R300 into ‘Home & Garden’.

Screenshot_2015-08-14-14-12-08

For the record, Raru is not a rocking nightclub in Parow Industria, but a site from which I bought a book.

The end result of listing and tapping? You can check out the ‘Money Month’ section to get a regte overview of your month. I’ve just taken a quick scroll and seen that while I only have 10 days left of August (I’ve set it to register a month as being from the 25th to the 25th), I’ve already blown R1 214 on ‘Eating Out & Takeouts’. It’s a decent-ish enough figure as my goal was to get this amount down to R1 500 for the entire month by eating more meals at home. A quick swipe to the left takes me the ‘Money Money’ page of July, the month before, and reveals I blew a whopping R2 170 on eating out the month before in 15 different restaurants, nog al. And this figure excludes all the launch meals I didn’t have to pay for. Jirrrrre!)  Another finger flick takes me to June and I see I spent an even more disgusting R3 625 in June. (It was a helluva month, ok! But please know that much of that number is booze! Or does that make me look worse?) Being able to actually see what I’m spending with such a clear bird’s-eye view has been unbelievably helpful.

The Money Month section also has a cool barometer thing that shows you what you’ve spent so far (for that month), your average monthly spending and your forecast spending.

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You can see I haven’t yet drawn from the ATM this month. The ‘of 1,183’ indicates that when I do draw, that’s the average amount each month.

If I flick back to the previous months, I can my average monthly spending’s been pretty high but there was this one month in April where, after shelling out a massive lump sum for something the month before, I was shocked into serious Scrooge McDuck-like behaviour and managed to spend only R17 583. (This is a massive reduction considering 22seven tells me my average monthly spend is just under R27 000.)

So how did I do it? I basically made a point of not buying any groceries until I’d eaten the very last Salticrax in my cupboard and told friends I’d only hang out with them if what we did was free. This penny pinching month has kind of set the bar in showing me how much I can save by making seriously frugal choices and I now ‘compete’ with it during months when I know I’d rather purchase something big as opposed to fritter away my cash on drive-through cappuccinos (oh the shame!), Woolies’ ready meals and mad midnight purchases on eBay while waiting for my sleeping tablet to kick in. (Cookie dough-scented perfume oil, Leigh? Really?! Goddamnit, woman!)

Anyway, there are a host of other cool things this app can do – just download it and see for yourself. You’ll also appreciate that you don’t have to wait several months to have a ‘back history’. Once it syncs up into your accounts, it automatically goes back a few months for you.

As I’ve been banging on about 22seven’s awesomeness for a while now, agreeing to participate in their #GY$T (Get Your $ Together) challenge was a total no brainer. This means accepting 7 of their money-saving challenges which are as follows:

1. Go carless by attempting to car pool where possible and compare the cost of taking an Uber as opposed to using my car. (22seven also suggests walking as an option but I live in Woodstock/Obz where I listen to people get mugged outside my window on a bi-weekly basis.)

GY$T_carless_flat

If I was doing this outside my flat I’d need more than a helmet for protection.

2. Bust my bank fees by calculating what I’m really paying in bank fees including ATM fees and what not and then see if I can bring that rate down.

3. Put the ‘sure’ into insurance by getting competitive quotes to see how much less I could pay.

4. Do a little ‘subscription subtraction’ by cancelling or attempting to reduce things like the cash I pay my internet provider, cell phone company or gym.

If I could leave the prison that is my Cell C contract I sooo would.

If I could leave the prison that is my Cell C contract I sooo would.

5. ‘Deload my lunch’ by eating packed lunches vs bought ones and basically seeing what I can do to reduce what I spend on food.

The money I'm saving in this department is ridic.

The money I’m saving in this department is ridic.

6. Find something free or cheap to entertain myself.

7. ‘Cash it to cap it’ by deciding what I’d want to spend on a night out and taking only that amount in cash. No cards that’ll allow you to keep on spending.

I’ve got 22 days to complete my cash saving quest and will be keeping you updated here and there via twitter using the hashtag #GYST. (Silly twitter won’t let me use the $ sign with a #.) I really do hope my li’l financial journey serves to inspire and already have a few good ideas as to how I’m going to klap it. As it is, I’ve spent the last 20 months living a very ‘down sized’ life in a bid to slap down a large deposit on a house sans hubby, so any new tricks I can learn to speed that up even further is most welcome.

Now go download that bloody app so you can become more aware of what your kesh monneh’s doing.

Love, love

Leigh