We've clearly gone on a break...

But weren't willing to admit it until just now.

We'll be back when we feel like it.

Until then, enjoy summer, wherever you are! Here's what we're doing while on this impromptu break:

Dancing by myself (just as our favourite Robyn would have it)... while following Tracy Anderson's moves.

Getting my spray tan on and using a foam paint brush to get my DIY tan on in between.

Wearing a tiny bikini that -- though is not -- looks like a thong on an ass that could double as a bookshelf if need be. 

Wishing I were here

Religiously into this entire range of skincare... but occasionally cheating with this (all part of any religious experience, baby) with this.

Reading this and this and loving the f**k out of this.

Wearing my hair in messy, grunge, Heidi-esque braids.

Listing to my favourite summer song ever.

xox

TRAVEL TALES | On holiday

Can you guys where I'm going and what I'm doing through 9th of June? Quick stopover in Amsterdam > Renting a cottage in Finland > Country bliss > Sauna > Helsinki > Buy as much Marimekko as possible > Sleeper train to Moscow > Meet Rouge Bunny Rouge team > Russian wedding > Standing up in the Russian wedding!!! > River boat on the Volga > Too much vodka (and, apparently, congac > St. Petersburg > Sleeper train to Helsinki...

And then the rest of the trip, which is yet another pictorial, taking you, this time, down the eastern seaboard of the US, until we hit the southern-most point in Key West, baby.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

For the next two weeks there's a new blog featured in this space each day. To mix it up, I've picked my non-beauty favourites. 

Image credits here, here, here and here [if I missed you, please let me know!]

GIVE | The only Japan relief fashion item I'd ever buy

THE DAILY MAIL, in a bit of accidentally lucid writing, published a piece on all the new products being brough to market at break-neck speed to support Japan post-tsunami and earthquake. The accidentally lucid part? Revealing just how much PROFIT is being made in the effort. Shame on you Rebecca Minkoff. You and Rodarte are clearly drinking the same kool-aid.

Some are donating all proceeds from the bumpf they're selling, like Stephanie Giamatti. Good on her. Some of the commentators complain that places like Haiti are still in dire straights and why aren't there more things being brought to market for them. Um... earth to the hermits. 24-hour news cycle, sadly, means that if it's not absolutely novel it's not worth talking about because it doesn't make money. Tis the way it is. Japan is new although it's shocking how quickly it's fading from the headlines. However, Haiti, with regards to this post, is neither here nor there.

You can donate money directly to the relief effort as well: "Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation and support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific." It shows up on your next phone bill.

Here are my requirements to buy any of the bumpf in support the relief effort. It HAS to give 100% of the PROCEEDS (and we really mean it... no creative interpretation of the word 'proceeds' and skimming a bunch off for 'overhead' costs before sending a miniscule amount as your 'proceeds') to help Japan. It has to be something useful or that I'll wear (why buy junk that'll just clutter and pollute the earth). And it has to go to a charity I don't think wastes too much money on admin (a shocking 80%, on average, of the money donated to a charity goes to running it rather than being used for the purpose you think you're donating to).

So I love and will order Opening Ceremony's Red Cross Japan Tee. They say "100% of the profits made from the sale of this t-shirt go to the American Red Cross". Did you read that, Minkoff? They even link right to the Red Cross site in case you'd rather make a direct donation. 

Opening Ceremony Red Cross Japan Tee

TRAVEL TALES | Best winter beauty traditions

HERE’S OUR short list of favourite winter health and beauty traditions from around the globe to keep you glowing, happy, in shape and energized during the dark months:

Saunas

5 million and 2 million — those figures are respectively the numbers of humans in Finland and… the number of saunas. 2.5 people per sauna? Sounds like a good time to me. Never more than a stone’s throw away from one a stint in Lappland, are we?

Plus, for the masochists out there, they also like to do a bit of self-flagellation to get you’re circulation going with a bundle of Birch branches. I get all warm inside just thinking about — the sauna, that is.

I’ve also witnessed the Russian (and Baltic) banya (not to be confused with hot springs and baths (banja et al) in various Balkan countries) obsession first hand. A good friend of mine (Russian) has parents who build a sauna every time they move house.

Korea’s Han Jeung Mak are small, super hot huts not entirely unlike Native North American Indian sweat lodges or, indeed, the temezcal of the Mayans.

Next up?

Continue reading...

TRAVEL TALES | Another Kiwi (thought not necessarily beauty) brand

B_E_E LOVED, kind, clean and good? Call me a hippie, but that sounds like fun to me.

Beauty Engineered forEver is another Kiwi beauty brand (sorry for missing you the first time) that lives up to the green credentials and ethos that so many other New Zealand beauty (and otherwise) brands seem to inherently embrace. Made from natural ingrdients that are safe and gentle and meet the most stringent global standards set for eco products. They want to make stuff that's efficient and beautiful and green.

I love this blurb: "B_E_E is from here. Very New Zealand, in ideas, ingredients and inspiration that could only come from our place. Made with the belief that New Zealanders like to make things better.....better than just about anyone else. We're from a part of the world that can change the world. So that`s what we`re going to do."

And they're as quirky as Bliss and Soap & Glory. Like a slightly Method products would be with a couple drinks in 'em, right?

The range includes laundry liquid, laundry powder, delicate fabric wash, multi-surface cleaner, dishwash liquid and whitener.

Check out B_E_E and our other lists of New Zealand beauty brands here and here.

TRAVEL TALES | New Zealand's top beauty brands part II

WE STARTED to tell you about all the cool Kiwi brands on our trip yesterday. Here are the rest, in no particular order yet all as fabulous as the ones listed yesterday:

New Zealand's best beauty finds continued

Art A Face is a small nature-meets-science skincare range with things like potent vitamin C serum and colostrum (see my thoughts on the stuff below). Every product page lists the full ingredients.

 

Electric Body is now being stocked by the House of Fraser Apothecary in the UK. It's hero ingredient is colostrum, something I don't quite feel comfortable having in my beauty products yet. Like placenta. But the range also focuses on the bio-availability of the things we put on our skin (meaning, according to the website, that our skin will actually know what to do with the ingredients once applied to our skin). The brand founders believe you can replace all of your skin and bodycare products with just three products (check out theirs here).

 

 

Trilogy has become pretty popular in the last five or so years. Their championing of the rosehip (and their award-winning rosehip oil) helped make facial oils something that people with acne-prone complexions would use. The Everything Balm is really wonderful for absolutely everything and the fuss-free men's range brings New Zealand's natural beauty ethos to your husband's dopp kit.

 

 

Linden Leaves focuses on aromatherapy for the body and home. They also do things like a gold range that uses 24k gold leave in it's facial mists, soaps, lotion and oil. Their variety of products and scents is vast and there's a little slice of New Zealand here for everyone and every place... even the guest bathroom.

 

Antipodes skincare is made with "bioactive botancial ingredients" and "protein-rich formulations" free from the same nasties that many of the brands here are also free from. Their strapline is superior skincare, responsible earthcare".

 

 

Hema is a gorgeous, tightly edited range of hand-blended organic oils from facialist Margaret Hema, based in Wellington, New Zealand. The actual formulations are a trade secret, but we know they contain  New Zealand certifed organic avocado oil, New Zealand certifed organic Pacific Blue Lavender, East Cape organic manuka essential oil, New Zealand certifed organic Totarol, UMF 15 active East Cape manuka honey, New Zealand certified organic borage oil, New Zealand certifed organic evening primrose oil, New Zealand meadowfoam oil, New Zealand organic calendula oil and New Zealand certifed organic olive oil. All oils have a 9-month shelf life. The design of the bottles and logo are both gorgeous. Next time we're in New Zealand, we know where we're booking a facial.

Sans is a body and haircare range from Stephen Marr and Lucy Vincent-Marr. Called new generation ceuticals, the site features a sexy video with a bathing girl to introduce you to their brand. Highly active yet free from harsh chemical additives, Sans boasts fifteen simple products, a clean crisp lemon verbena-meets-vanilla scent and a look that's a bit Le Labo-meets-Fresh. Only available in New Zealand... for now.

 

 

Dr Wendy's 100% Botanical Skincare uses cold-pressed oils and active aromatics. ALL synthetic ingredients are banned. Available for both professional and salon use the site is refreshingly honest and says, for example, when you can use a product for two purposes instead of suggesting you purchase two separate things.

***

Other fun New Zealand beauty bits? World is a bit like New Zealand's Colette too so check it out if you're down there. And Lancome is the new home to a Kiwi who goes by the name of Aaron de May. He's their global creative director.

TRAVEL TALES | New Zealand's top beauty brands

RECENTLY MY husband and I went off the grid in a rented 1991 Toyota camper van, driving around New Zealand's countryside hopping from winery to winery, staying in a wild bird santuary, hiking around Anchor Bay, relaxing at Hot Water Beach, polishing our heels in the black sand beach at Piha, eating endless Persimons in Matakana, floating in the sulfurous, steamy waters around Auckland... it was an unintentionally healthy getaway jam packed with wellness (even our jam was made from grapes right off the vineyard), nature and pretty fantastic natural beauty products. Yes, I made a point of stopping in every chemist I could find and they were chokka with manuka honey products, thermal clays and all sorts.

The movies (Eagle vs. Shark) and TV shows (Flight of the Concords) that make New Zealand look and sound boring and bitty are wrong. Well, they're wrong if you like beauty (and wine).

So have your pen at the ready because you'll want to jot down these names for the next time you're on the hunt for new beauty game particularly if you've gone more organic with your beauty. You'll notice most brands are niche, eco-aware, free from some common nasties in mainstream brands, locally or sustainably sourced and quite proud of their Kiwi heritage.

NEW ZEALAND'S FINEST BEAUTY BUYS

Skinfood (although I did find this Korean brand called Skinfood too) is a super affordable range that retails at Waitrose. I started using it when in graduate school back in 2004. Standout ingredients include coconut palm, essential orange, avocado oil, sunflower oil, witch hazel, manuka honey, aloe vera, lavender oil and tea tree oil. The second ingredient in their Light Moisturiser is Aloe. All the products are unisex and, frankly, get the job done at a great price point and without a ton of the nasties.

 

Snowberry is high-end natural skincare with stand-out serums and cleansers. It's stocked in chi-chi places like Colette. Branding done by Rob Ryan, ingredients like Algae Extract and Pullalan, bio-active peptides, Phytic acid and Totarol.

 

 

Karen Murrell makes skincare, bodycare, men's grooming products and cosmetics that are certified organic. Her range of natural lipsticks is gorgeous. Even the packaging (including lipstick tubes) are biodegradable (starting just 100 days after thrown away). All contractors ensure they use ethical working conditions and all of her products are free from parabens, artifical colourants and fragrances, petrochemicals, harsh detergents, talc, TEA and other toxic ingredients. 

 

Living Nature was created by New Zealand's only Miss Universe. It's one of the more ubiquitous Kiwi brands. There are dozens and dozens of SKUs and many of their skincare and cosmetics have won Natural Health Magazine Awards in the 20 years since they launched. They're certified organic by the German body BDIH. 

 

Evolu Botanical Skincare is a gorgeous range. Every product starts from a base of the evolu essence, which is pure botanicals and New Zealand spring water. Plant extracts and bioactives are added to this base alongside 100% pure cosmetic grade essential oils. Evoluve is free from parabens, petrochemicals, minerals, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colours and fragrances. The only animal products used are beeswax and lanolin. Shop by skin type or condition.

 

Huni is all about the Manuka Honey with proprietary honeycomb packaging. Ingredients are sustainably harvested and it's anti-ageing products have been tested in independent trials to diminish the signs of ageing.

 

Kio Kio body products use no parabens, petrochemicals or derivatives or propylene glycol, PEGS, silicones, GMOs, artificial colours, synthetic fillers, isothiazolinone, DEA or TEA, IBPC, harsh detergents or surfactants. The water used in its products is from New Zealand alpine ranges with high amounts of skin-nourishing silica. The four scent are Pacific Tiare & Ti Kauka, Rainforest & Koromiko, Frangipani & Puriri and Citrus Petal and Tarata (all very New Zealand-South Pacific).

 

Parrs manufactures many of the products you see in the chemist at the airport in New Zealand, from Wild Ferns manuka honey products to thermal mud products, tea tree oil, New Zealand lanolin and items from the mineral spa waters found there too.

We'll finish this bad boy tomorrow with 8 more amazing Kiwi beauty brands that you have to know about! Until then, check out our favourite new French beauty brand!

READ PART II of the best New Zealand beauty brands...

TRAVEL TALES | Products you're not packing in your makeup bag but should be!

 

I'VE FILLED two passports with stamps over the last two years (My TV is from 1994, so, no, not rich. Just different priorities). That's a lot of travel. At first, I was shamelessly carting around bags of beauty crap. Multiple items of the same product, things I never even opened, full bottles of cheap shampoo I could just as easily pick up wherever I landed. What a waste! And so onerous. I was forced to be static by my heavy luggage, was constantly worried and a huge target (girl struggling up stairs of a station with two huge bags? Like a sitting duck). So, I've learned and honed and now have a makeup bag that's no bigger than a pencil case when I travel. I pick up cheap, bulky items (like shampoo/conditioner) when I arrive since I like raiding the local chemists anyway. And what's the point of carrying something that takes up 30% of your luggage real estate but costs so little? Doesn't add up. While this isn't my definitive list, it's one that I highly suggest for anyone who cares about what they like and feel like on the road.

SwissDent Pure Mouth Spray (£9.50)-- It's anti-bacterial so won't just cover bad travel breath (no, yours doesn't smell good after sleeping -- mouth dangled open -- in economy class for six hours either) but help prevent the reason for it. The tiny bottle is no bigger than a tube of lip balm but all you need is one spray for minty (tho not unnecessarily sweet), bacteria-free breath. Essential when on-the-go and meeting with people, drinking multiple coffees, all day long.

Deborah Lippman The Stripper To Go ($10 for a box of 6 mitts) -- Soon to be available at the new House of Fraser Apothecary concept boutique. Deborah Lippman has created a genius little finger mitt that fits over the tip of one of your fingers with enough non-drying remover to take off even dark varnish on all ten nails, without leaving stains. Plus the lavender scent is nicer than the usual Acetone odor. One or two of these tiny mitts take up no space in your luggage, weigh nothing and there's no chance of remover opening and spilling all over the contents of your case.

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TRAVEL TALES | LA-style raw food in Chicago at Karyn's On Green

EVER BEEN to LA? No? Ever wonder what it’s like in LaLa Land? For a close approximation (if you can’t make it all the way there), Karyn’s on Green in Chicago (I know... bear with me) is hard to beat. At least for an LA-style dining experience (see?). Although, if you ask owner Karyn Calabrese about it, she’ll say that the restaurant is more LA than LA ( “you can’t even find any place like this in LA”.) Which makes me believe that this must be a sort of culinary Shangri-La, at least for vegan types in search of something less Patchouli soaked than the usual offerings.

Somehow, walking into Karyn’s on Green, it feels like this space -- a sort of abattoir for restaurants past -- has finally met its match. The minimalist, low-to-the-ground, Southern California cool is exactly what Karyn’s on Green needs. Vegans from all over Chicago come here. Fans and friends of Karyn’s come here. And, most importantly, food lovers come here.

Not that it's fine dining. It’s somewhere between fine and casual. It’s vegan dining dressed in Preen or Marc by Marc instead of Birkenstock and Kohl’s clearance rack. It’s sexy vegan. It’s a vegan I didn’t know existed. Karyn’s on Green has pulled a Justin Timberlake and brought sexy back (or brought it for the first time, really) to meatless eating.
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TRAVEL TALES | Beauty at the bonfire

EVERY summer I look forward to camping season. It wasn’t always that way. Growing up, I protested furiously every time the van was packed for the weekend. I would take out the maximum number of books allowed on my library card and sit in the back of said van reading the entire time. I’d even sleep in there to the annoyance of my parents. As I got older, I pouted less and, what do you know? Camping was actually fun when I finally put down the paperbacks and gave it a chance.

As an adult, it’s still fun. Although, I get different things from it than I did when younger. Now it’s a welcome escape from daily life, from the trappings of the house, the city and all the noise that comes with modern life. I admit, it’s not always easy to just drop everything and flee to a campground. But you know what? You don’t have to go whole hog and become some wild cave woman (if you don’t want to), wild of hair, dirt smeared and grooming free. You can maintain some glimmer of glamour in your life even if your bed is a mat in a tent and you wash up in a bowl of water....

Read the full article on LOOKING GOOD, NO MATTER WHAT

TRAVEL TALES | Agua fresca de sandia

That's right, mis amiguitos... it's that time of year again. When pick-up trucks spilleth over with the pink-fleshed fruit from that siesta-loving land of the Aztecs, Agave and rodents of unusual size. Qué? you say? It's summer! And with it comes one of my favourite things in the entire world - aguas frescas.

I once spent a summer alone in Mexico City on a fellowship to study pre-Columbian fertility goddesses (true story). Previous to those fated weeks, I had a passing relationship with the street cuisine of our kissing primos down south. After all, I grew up in a city where, not a block from my neighbourhood, the street signs, billboards, store names and voices floating in the air morphed from English to Spanglish to Mexican Spanish at an astonishing speed. I often squirreled away enough cash for a champurrado and tamale in the morning, a paleta in the afternoon and maybe some elotes if I was feeling particularly fiscally wanton with my meager savings. Lord was it tasty.

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TRAVEL TALES | May in New York Part II

We left you at The Summit Bar last night, did we? Well... RISE AND SHINE, beautiful! Day 2 of your 48 hours in New York and it's time for a session of energizing yoga at The Standard (a snip at $20). The hotel's just introduced their popular Miami yoga program to the Big Apple so you can practice with expert instructors overlooking the Hudson River. All comers welcome! And you'll need to limber up before the scrum that is the notorious, gilded beauty halls of New York.

The Bs (Henri Bendel, Barney's, Bergdorf Goodman) are like music to beauty-binging ears... Subterranean warrens are packed with the skincare secrets of the ladies who lunch. No beauty pilgrimage to New York would be complete with out wander and a gander at (and maybe take away) Ellis FaasTammy FenderTrish McEvoyTracie MartynEdward Bess and the limited edition Narciso Rodriguez palette.

And what would a trip to the

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TRAVEL TALES | May in New York Part I

AH... THERE are few things as lovely as Central Park on a sun-dappled spring morning. Joggers prancing by, coffee in hand (mine, not theirs)... It's on days like this that I yearn to live in New York. You too? Yeah, we all do, don't we?

Although, I'm quickly grounded by reality when I see the size of my mates' flats (tinier than London). But, every visit there is brilliant not least of all because of the beauty bounty to be had. Thus, we're giving you our quick and dirty guide to 48 hours of beauty in the Big Apple so that you too, should you be touching down in JFK soon, can experience some of the most amazing treatments and products in the world. Print this little black book of beauty and let the journey begin!

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Blush Beauty is Milwaukee's coolest beauty boutique

Going around the world is tough (queue world's smallest violin). Every time you happen upon a new city, it's completely foreign to you. No idea where to find services, products or even your hotel for that matter. But there's something absolutely electric about that novelty as well. It's such an experience seeing a place with new eyes. Even the most desolate towns (Dubuque, Iowa... Entrocamento, Portugal) are charming on that first visit.

Milwaukee is a small Wisconsin city. As far as I can tell, not too much happens in the union's 23rd largest state. It has cheese (by American standards, good. By any real cheese-producing nation's standards, tastes like salted wax), the Green Bay Packers, cross-country skiing, some strange laws (it was once banned to serve apple pie without cheese in public) and breweries. As kids, my sisters and I would be dragged kicking and screaming to Wisconsin on most weekends.

Hell for us then, but something I look back on fondly now, trying to recreate those halycon summer evenings roasting marshmallows and eating Goober around a campfire whenever given the chance (and lighter fluid). Until now, that was the extent of my Wisconsin state general knowledge. But a recent visit revealed that there seems to be a revival of sorts in Milwaukee's historic 3rd district, including its beauty offerings. It's chocka with great vintage (mid-century vintage heaven, for those collectors out there), beer, more beer and Santiago Calatrava's amazing art museumBlush is among all these new and shiny offerings at the corner of Water and Buffalo Streets, next to the Milwaukee Ale House and down the street from fabulous Broadway Paper (the first place I happened upon Snow & Graham).

Blush is somewhat of an agent of beauty change in the Midwest. It is the only place where Laura Mercier is sold in Wisconsin, a state about 4.5 times the size of the country of Switzerland. Shocking to the makeup junkies among us, I know. My heart goes out to the beauty-philes among us who don't happen to be within stomping distance of Barneys or Harvey Nichols (or who don't 'do' the internet).

Find cool brands that even some department stores haven't cottoned on to yet: Duchess Marden, B. Kamins, Tocca, Fast Lash, Lucy B, Japonesque, MOR, Osea... and they have a full-service spa and salon, so you can get lash extensions, brow tidying, facials (and the whole gamut of treatments), makeup artistry. It's an airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows. It's inviting and makes me want to hop on a train to Milwaukee when I'm having an uninspiring beauty day in Chicago.

BEST BEAUTY SECRET AT BLUSH

Alcone Fast Lash: I haven't seen this product anywhere else yet... that's not going to last for long. Why? It makes you look like you're wearing false lashes, but you're not! All you do is touch the wand to the tips of your lashes right after you've applied mascara. The wet mascara grabs the dry, white polyester fibers. Come through the lashes and then re-apply mascara. Voila... really really long eyelashes (eyelashes you could usually only get with falsies) using just your regular mascara.

Blush Beauty, 249 N Water St.,  Milwaukee, WI 53202 (+1 (414) 272-1718)