One Morning in Paris – H&M Around the World

One morning I woke to message on Instagram from a young Parisian photographer Adem. He was reaching out to compliment my use of colour and the aesthetic of my feed. He mentioned that if I were ever in Paris, he would love to collaborate and show me around the streets of his home town. Three months later we met outside a local cafe in the 7th district, grabbed a coffee and croissant with my darling Sami Downey, and spent the morning shooting amongst his streets and against backdrops that I had only ever dreamed of.

This is one part of my series Around the World with H&M. This shoot features pieces from the Bonjour Paris collection, a limited edition edition collection that celebrates the French Contemporary style and one that has had a huge influence on my own and I know Sami’s.

This was our morning in the city of love.

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Two Days in the City of Angels for the Solo Traveller

In my twenties my budget was limited, and the opportunities to travel would come after months of stringent saving. Each day was precious and I would squish in as much as the day would allow, waking early and walking right through until dawn. But that is how you should travel in your twenties, seeing and experiencing everything, regardless of a lack of sleep or tired legs.

Now Im 33 and although the days are just as precious, Ive seen the sites – especially in LA. I’ve sat under the Hollywood sign, walked the boulevard and experienced the diverse range of cocktail and dive bars. This time I wanted to wake naturally, sip my coffee from my hotel room over looking the city without any plans, and just wander under the palm trees against the balmy breeze.

Although I had a few friends to catch up with, I spent most of my days exploring alone. There is something quite liberating about wandering a somewhat unfamiliar city without anyone to fall back on. I walk my own path without compromise, allowing each new turn guide me to new pockets of a city. But with that freedom comes a sense of insecurity.

As a solo traveller, I value the advice and recommendation of other solo travellers. Not only for their personal experiences exploring, but for their advice on travelling safe. If you are to travel solo, experience the most out of each opportunity, meet the people and explore the hidden streets with confidence by investing in a comprehensive travel insurance plan. For this trip I partnered with Worldcare Travel Insurance who provided me with a complimentary GoComprehensive policy that included the higher limits and extended benefits I needed to feel secure and confident exploring while in safe hands as a single women in my thirties!

My taxi dropped me at the entrance to The Beverly Hills Hotel. Its peachy pink walls and immaculately landscaped grounds are somewhat intimidating. Walking through the entrance I thought of all the celebrities that have walked up the same stairs on their way to The Polo Lounge and all the famous producers that have sipped on their cocktail while signing movie deals. I sat at my table for one, in the 9am sunshine with my muesli and  green juice, watching the guests filter in for breakfast. If you enjoy people watching, this is where you want to locate yourself for a few hours. Take a stroll through the grounds and around the bungalows covered by arching banana trees. The place is an Instagram dream.

From there I walked down North Beverly Drive and into the hub of Rodeo Drive. The neighbourhood streets are so wide yet relatively quiet. There is a real mix of housing. From Spanish styled homes to french county inspired properties landscaped to perfection. It was such a dreamy stroll. Rodeo is beautiful. Its peaceful window shopping during the early morning, plus you miss the snap happy tourists. The YSL flagship store is the largest in America and is the home to my dream wardrobe. 

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From there I took a cab to West Hollywood to Alfred Tea. Nestled into North Alfred Street, Alfred Tea is a picturesque tea room serving up delicious thai tea, matcha and nut milk goodness to addicted locals. I sat outside in the courtyard eavesdropping on a young girl confidently interviewing a string of hopeful retail staff. Others had their laptops out working away in the sun. Thats what I love about LA, everyone is out and about, making the most of what their community has created. Opposite the street is Isabel Marant tucked into a lusciously green courtyard. A beautifully photo op.LRG_DSC02054LRG_DSC02041IMG_4501From here its an easy stroll down Melrose. Home to Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and a string of brightly coloured feature walls, there is no shortage of Instagram spots on this street! But Melrose is like the Brady Bunch of the family of suburbs in LA. It’s a mix of vintage stores, higher end designers, gorgeous furniture stores and boutique eateries like Carrera. The LA heat can get a bit much during the peak of the day, so I popped into the corner cafe for a kale salad, hooked up to their free wifi and watched the young girls pop in for their ‘LA’ sprinkled coffee, posing by the old school pink phone that hung on the wall. Attracting many of the worlds fashion bloggers it has become a must see attraction for millennial tourists!LRG_DSC02067LRG_DSC02068LRG_DSC02070IMG_4820IMG_4489The next day I took a cab out to Venice beach. Although being about 45mins drive, taxis are relatively cheap so I definitely recommend taking the trip out. I would suggest staying away form the hustle of the main strip and explore the back streets and canals and peer into the multi million dollar properties (most of which are holiday homes). Each house has its own character that I assume reflects that of its owner, illustrating the diversity found within the Venice community. From large modern homes like Karens off Californication, to tiny little cottages that have been well loved and passed down through generations. It’s unique side of LA that makes exploring its streets so interesting. My favourite was the little home that lived behind the pink flamingo fence. AN5A4078AN5A3626IMG_4810I popped out both nights for a bite to eat and a cocktail. The first night I met a friend at Mama Shelter, a relaxed rooftop venue in Hollywood that has the most striking view of the sun setting over the hills. Dressed with tropical plants and sprawling loungers this is the perfect spot for a casual evening drink or a relaxed dinner with friends.

The second night I popped out to Catch. An LA hotspot for the rich and famous (apparently). A rooftop sanctuary covered in floral creeping vines and exposed brick walls. With a 2 week wait list it seems this is a spot that can be quite selective with its guests, not surprising knowing that it caters of the likes of Quincey Jones, David Beckham and the Jenner girls. After a course of sharing dishes such as Lobster Rolls and Wagyu Short Rib Tacos and a few Lush Lemonade cocktails, we ventured out to the streets, through the awaiting paparazzi and back home to bed.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to partner with Worldcare Travel Insurance who have supported my trip around the world, across 7 countries, helping me write, capture and share my experiences. See more about my GoComprehensive Plan here*and apply my code for 10% off LIFEINMYTHIRTIES10

 See you again soon LA, take care of your angels.IMG_4686

*Disclaimer
*Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision please consider the policy wording. 10% discount offer is valid for online purchases only and expires on August 31 2018. 10% discount applies to Worldcare standard pricing and any additional premium for pre-existing medical cover but does not apply to any additional premium for specified items or other discounted offers.

 

The Must Have Accessory of 2018

I’ve heard a few rumours about iPhone batteries – for example, when you update iOS it can reduce your battery life, or that Apple design the batteries to have a short life, encouraging iPhone loyalists to keep up with the new versions. But to be honest my short battery life is likely to be due to excessive use of Instagramming and capturing all my little moments.

The fuse in my car charger is broken and I am often maximising every opporuntity to charge up while on the go. Now I throw my iPhone into my handbag and keep it charged on my pink marbled lipstick charger from Richmond and Finch.

The established Swedish fashion brand have recently launched their SS8 collection, painted with peonies, butterflies, floral jungles and paisley flowers, Made for the perfect flay lay, they are as functional as they are fashionable with 360 Drop Protection.

After years of protecting my cases, I am officially working with Richmond and Finch to offer 20% off your purchase using Holly20.

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A YSL Kind of Beauty

“The most beautiful make up on a woman is passion…. but cosmetics are easier to buy” 

– Yves Saint Laurent

I was asked the other day what my truth was. It was during a sound bowl healing session and I was asked to write it down, scroll it up and keep it on my heart during the ceremony.  My truth is my passion. I am passionate in the way I love, both romantically and towards my friends and family. I am passionate about creating and living a life where I am content and fulfilled and I am passionate in my work, what I do and what I can achieve.

To me success comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. Some of my most memorable success stories have been as simple as feedback or recognition shared in a sentence via email. Some are the opportunities to write and collaborate with brands I had once dreamed of working with. YSL Beauty was one of them.

It is important to me to be genuinely passionate about each of the brands I choose to work with. Not only do I need to represent and reflect their brand but their brand needs to reflect mine. Being a gold girl and a lover of a dash of luxury,  I had always wanted to dress my make up stand with the golden details and features that wrap each of the YSL Beauty products.

So here I am, a woman wearing both my passion and a line of the most luxurious cosmetics created. Grateful.

 

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This month I am helping YSL Beauty celebrate the launch of their new Colour Correcting Blur Primers and their first make up setting spray. I have only recently started using primers and now they are a staple in my makeup routine. They come in three shades, Orange for tanned/olive skin, Pink for all complexions and Blue for fair skin.

On application they smooth the skin flawlessly, evening and illuminating the skin tone, prepping the skin for your foundation. The formulae is light and weightless which I love as I don’t feel like I am adding layers of unnecessary product. I prefer a natural lightweight look and since wearing this new range I have had numerous comments on my skin.

Although I opt for a natural look, I need a full and lasting coverage as I don’t tend to top up my make up during the day. The All Hours 24 Hour foundation is a SPF 20, oil free and non-pore clogging foundation that does just as it says it does – lasts all day. It is infused with black tea antioxidant complex, protecting the skin from pollution while protecting my skin from dullness and fatigue.

I’m sure you have had a friend or family member share their love for the Touche Eclat Radiant Touch Pen. It has confidently established itself as a makeup ‘must have’ for woman of all cultures. It is a highlighting essential and is easily applied under the eye, across the top of the cheek bone or as I like to use it – under the arch of my eye brow to highlight and define the area. It can also be used to plump up the lip, quickly remove dark circles or to correct the fall out of mascara or eye shadow.

The golden make up fixer – Top Secrets Make Up Setting Spray is the final touch to a flawless look. I have been carrying this in my bag to also give a quick mist mid day. It sets as a protective layer keeping the make up in place with its Moroccan Walnut Leaf Extract and Jojoba Oil, hydrating the skin while keeping it radiant and glowing.

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So this is my new YSL Beauty make up family – simple, lightweight and flawless.

Colour Correcting Blur Primers $93

All Hours 24 Hour Foundation $101

Touche Eclat Radiant Touch Pen $69

Top Secrets Make Up Setting Spray $85

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YSL Urban Getaways

It’s as if this collection was made and launched for me as I am about to jet off to experience my dream Urban Getaway! Exploring LA, NYC and skipping across the great cities of Europe, I now have a makeup collection packed and ready that celebrates the Northern Hemisphere Summer and is inspired by the beauty of a city adventure.

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I will be creating some colourful summer looks to compliment the many outfits I have packed and I can’t wait to share these with you!

Couture Palette Collector – $126

Rouge Volupte Shine lipstick – $66

Rouge Volupte Tint in Balm – $66

 

hollyxxx

Weekend Parfait – with Sofitel

I quite openly have a few guilty pleasures – shoes, fine dining, candles and fresh flowers. But a weekend escape at a luxurious hotel would be the top of the list. I remember when I was travelling through Asia in my early twenties, I saved up enough money to book myself into one of the 5 star hotels. I was by myself and didn’t leave the room for 2 days. I loved spending the time alone, ordering room service and inroom massages. I appreciate the experience that a stay in a beautiful hotel offers and this was something I was willing to sacrifice a few more nights on the island for.

Noting much has changed since then, I will mix in a few 5 start hotels when I travel but that doesn’t mean I am flippant with my money. I just choose to sacrifice other things in order to allow for my hotel experiences. I rarely go out in the months leading up to my trips and can live quite happily on the basics. So I do.

My first Sofitel experience was during a trip down to Queenstown. As I do, I chose to save up so I could experience my weekend away at the French establishment on the lakefront. To this day it was one of my most memorable hotel experiences (and I have had a lot). The french butler knocked on the door a little after we were settled in. He introduced himself as our main point of contact during our stay. He was beautifully mannered and immaculately dressed in a Parisian styled three piece. So when Sofitel Wellington asked me to spend a weekend away with them, I was confident that this experience would live up to the first.

Aki, Claire Andrew and I packed our suitcases with 20 odd kgs of outfits and accessories to see our way through two full days of shooting. As you will know from my Instagram feed, I am drawn to contrasting patterns, bold colours and detail. I like to shoot in settings that draw you in, backgrounds that have you zooming to explore a little further. Sofitel Wellington was about to be the feature of some of my favourite photos to date.

The French influence paints its way through the hotel picking up and celebrating the local Wellington flavour as it flows through each of the beautifully created spaces. Deep forest green velvet loungers are complimented by the golden bronzed glow of the lobby bar. The foyer lined with mint green, high back arm chairs carry you through to Jardin Grill, a restaurant that has confidently established itself as a uniquely exquisite dining experience. It is no surprise that it is also the most expensive restaurant fit out in New Zealand with the custom floral wall paper that sings its way up the walls and across the ceiling.

The rooms define luxury – sleek and golden. The black tiled bathroom pops with golden features while the bedroom lightens with warm tones and fabrics encouraging you to snuggle in and experience the bespoke Sofitel bed – yes they have their own bed line that is made in France and shipped around the world to ensure they can control the quality and consistency of their luxurious sleeping experience! It is no surprise that they stretch the window across the width of the room. At first glance it can easily be mistaken for a painting. The lush green hills are quite literally picture perfect.

The hotel sits on the hill above Lambton Quay. Take one of the small walkways that connects The Terrace to Lambton Quay and you are in the hub of the shopping district in minutes. David Jones is a must. Peruse the Christian Louboutons and Valentinos or spritz yourself in Tom Ford and Jo Malone. Wellington is definitely a city to explore by foot (wrapped in a jacket and scarf on those windy days of course).

The streets are built up around the culture of the city. The designers and high end stores are found in pockets scattered across the CBD with some of the best coffee stops and restaurants found down the alley ways. I blogged about Havana Bar in my last blog here. We enjoyed a lunch of champagne and perfectly cooked pork belly followed by a mini photo shoot capturing the colours and latin influence. After a quick stop at Wellington Chocolate factory tasting their free trade delectable dark chocolates we were soon back in our rooms for the 5th outfit change before enjoying a few of the gin cocktails in the lobby bar.

Dinner was a mix of blogger chat, planning our shoots for the following day and worrying about the food ‘fomo’ we would get if we were to order different dishes. I started with an entree of Paua and Scallops, followed by Wagyu with (believe it or not) the most deliciously moreish brussels sprouts! The plan was to pop out for a night cap but as we sank into our chairs after trying to finish every last crumb on the table, we rolled our way back to bed. I couldn’t be happier as I lay like a star fish and drifted off to sleep in quite possibly the worlds most comfortable bed.

Two days simply wasn’t enough. I’m sitting in the lounge watching the rain bucketing down as I write this, feeling more inclined to book my next trip down. An easy hour flight, it is the perfect way to spend a rainy weekend, a romantic getaway or an escape on your own for one of New Zealand’s most luxurious hotel experiences at Sofitel Wellington.

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Banh Mi Caphe in the City

Always on the hunt for new backdrops, colours and textures to shoot, Tori and I got it in bucket loads in the Victoria on the River precinct of Hamilton. An established local lunch spot for the last 4 years, Banh Mi Caphe has recently experienced a fresh new look in it’s new home right on the river.

Having spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, I prefer to eat at the local street stalls and food markets. The food is consistently more fresh and flavoursome than what is offered at the restaurants and hotels, because the recipes are refined and perfected through generations. That’s exactly what has the locals hooked on their new inner city eatery, Banh Mi Caphe.

The whole family contribute to the dishes that flow out of their kitchen. The majority of the menu is made up of recipes that Anh (co-owner) learned from her grandmother. The herbs are grown in her mothers own back yard and the baguettes made fresh by her father. The family is truely at the heart of this establishment and it’s success.

Next time you are passing through Hamilton make sure you stop in for lunch or dinner. Open from Tuesday to Saturday Banh Mi Caphe is located at 298 Victoria St, Hamilton.

My favourites were the Lemongrass Tofu and Mushroom Banh Mi, Banh Chuoi Banana Cakes and the Goi Cuon fresh rice paper rolls – but its safe to say the entire menu is ridiculously moorish.

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Outfit H&M

Black Boots Mi Piachi A/W 18

hollyxxx

 

A Conscious Exclusive Collection with H&M

This is the seventh edition of the H&M Conscious Collection and this year they have introduced two new materials to the existing list of sustainable materials used in their collections, recycled silver used for the earrings featured below and ECONYL, a 100% regenerated nylon fibre made from fishnets and other nylon waste, used for the full length white embroidered dress below.

The other items included in this look use materials such as silk, organic linen, cotton, Lyocell made from textile waste or fibre from certain trees and Tencel which is a lightweight fibre made from certified eucalyptus.

The collection brings together powerful femininity (a reoccurring theme in my content this month!) and sustainable fashion. It launches on April 19th.

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The Conscious Exclusive Look

 

hollyxxx

 

 

Berry Breakfast Collagen Balls

If you are in your thirties are you have not yet introduced Collagen Powder into your daily routine, then I highly recommend you do! Why? Because once we hit 30 our collagen levels drop 1% – 2% every year! Incorporating powdered collagen into your diet will replenish and boost collagen levels in the body, increasing collagen production and reducing those fine lines and wrinkles.

The Japanese woman pride themselves on their skincare regimes that help them maintain their youthful appearance. So it is no surprise that Japanese collagen is known to be the best in the world. Adashiko Collagen is produced in Japan and therefore has established itself at the forefront of the collagen industry in New Zealand.

I’ve been using Adashiko for over a year now and can confidently say it will be a staple in my morning routine for life. I shared a Collagen Boosting Juice Recipe last year which you can read here. I add Adashiko to my morning coffee every morning. I leave my tub right next to my coffee so I never forgot. I also sprinkle over salad or even roast veges, but today I used a few things I had lying around to create some berry breakie collagen balls.

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Here’s how:

I’m up at my beach house and my mother annoying took the glass part of the blender back to Singapore with her grrrr so I used a pestle and mortar instead and I actually think I like the texture better!

Add each of the following to the mortar one at a time, grind and add to a larger bowl.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 Hubbards Crispy Crunch Granola (my boss gave me half a bag as she knows I’m saving for my Europe trip and am being ridiculously cheap until I leave … so thanks G!)
  • 1/2 cup frozen boysenberries (the consistency of these in a pestle and mortar is just like a sorbet!)
  • 1/4 cup dried coconut

Mix in the bowl with 2 tablespoons of Pics Peanut Butter and 8 scoops of Adashiko and roll on a plate of extra coconut.

These are great for that 10am craving (I get these every day … and again at 3pm!) so pack a few in the staff fridge to stop the craving for the brownies from the cafe down the road!

I found the benefits of using Adashiko really interesting, so pop over to their website for more detailed info and reviews.

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hollyxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Miss Gunner Style

I often talk about the little wins in my world of blogging. Wins that may seem little to others but are the most valuable wins to me. These are the moments when people take the time to reach out and comment on a piece I have written or an outfit I’ve shared. It’s when someone tells me that I have inspired them to wear colour, try a wide leg pant or to have fun with a statement heel. Or it’s messages from other woman sharing their thoughts on life in their thirties. That’s what makes me get butterflies in my tummy.

It’s incredibly heartening to know that your passion can inspire others. The number of women that inspire me is endless. There is one beauty that I have been following for years now and that’s Miss Gunner. In one of the most cluttered and competitive content platforms – Instagram, it is hard to stand out and inspire someone enough to earn a follow. Yet this darling had me at first scroll, with her effortless style, the way she selects her mix of high brow and accessible fashion and most of all the genuine smile that sings through in every one of her photos. After years of inspo it’s only right that I share a few of my favourite Miss Gunner looks and how they have inspired my own.

Look One: Her Full Check Combos

Look Two: Her Statement Jackets

Look Three: Her Boots’n’ShortShorts

Look One – Full Check Combo

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Get The Look – from Witchery

Check Blazer, Check Mini Skirt, Myra Lock Clutch, Lofty Cable Knit, Amalla Satin Heel

 

 

Look Two – The Statement Blazer

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Get the Statement Blazer Look 

You Need Me Jacket – Trelise Cooper, Lofty Cable Knit – Witchery, Silvy Shorts – Kookai, Mick Ankle Boot – Mi Piachi, Red Stiletto Nails – Art of Nails

 

Look Three – Boots’n’ShortShorts

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Get the Boots’n’Short Shorts Look

Lofty Cable Knit – Witchery, Silvy Shorts – Kookai, Mick Ankle Boot – Mi Piachi

 

 

Photos captured by by darling Tori Hayley

hollyxxx

 

 

 

And All At Once, Summer Collapsed Into Fall

We are all guilty of complaining about the rainy winter days or the humid summer nights. But I love living in a country that truly experiences the extremes of all four seasons. They each tell their own colourful story, weaving in and out of each other. With the winter days popping up in spring or that unpredictable autumn weather getting ahead of itself in winter, I embrace the different lifestyles, fashion and moods they each bring with them. From cosy nights spent on the couch watching the rain trickle down the window, to balmy summer nights with all the doors open, enjoying a wine with the girls, the seasons are natures way of refreshing our lives.

… and all at once, summer collapsed into fall – Oscar Wilde 

The Cooper Pre Fall 18 collection beautifully represents autumn, mixing soft winter knits with summery bold colours.

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The Look

Cooper Jeans – Cooper Blues, Cooper Jumper – Schools Out, Kookai Heels – Gloria

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The Look

Cooper Jeans – Cooper Blues, Cooper Jumper – Southern Lights, Kookai Heels – Gloria

hollyxxx

An Escape to New Zealand’s Hidden Wonderland in H&M

I am a dreamer. I enjoy floating off into my imagination. Dreaming of walking the streets of Paris admiring the elegant woman that line the streets full of coffee shops. I dream of frolicking along the beaches of the Amalfi Coast and hiking the hills of Los Angeles. But there are hidden pockets of magic right here at home that bring some dreams into reality. Like here. This is a dream I found in reality at the Hamilton Gardens .

Wearing H&M so beautifully shot by my gorgeous darling Tori Hayley.

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H&M Outfit Details:

White pants – $79.99, in store now

Red swimsuit – $59.99, in store May

Green swimsuit – sorry guys it’s sold out!

hollyxxx

Natural Ways To Help Sensitive Skin and Irritations

Natural Serums and Skincare

The natural skincare industry if going from strength to strength with new products and natural solutions developed to help remedy many common sensitive skin problems. I incorporate a range of natural skin care products into my regime and this month I’ve been trailing a few products from the Pai Skincare range. Pai Skincare was one of the first skincare brands to list their ingredients in plain English, so we know EXACTLY what we are putting on our skin! Certified organic, vegan and cruelty-free their entire range has been designed especially for sensitive skin – gentle on the skin and the environment!

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I’m loving the Instant Calm Redness Serum from Pai Skincare, the serum is enriched with Sea Aster which not only calms irritated skin but strengthens surface blood vessels to improve and prevent redness long term. Combined with wild oat, it is designed specially to improve damaged, delicate skin and sensitive skin.

I’m also using their Copaiba Deep Cleanse AHA Mask, Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator and the Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream. I apply the deep cleanse mask with the muslin face cloth which helps get deep into the pores to gently remove all my makeup and dirt. The mask helps to heal existing blemishes which I suffer from around my chin area, and with its clay-like texture it gently cleanses the irritated area. The exfoliator isn’t harsh and scratchy. The soft jojoba beads are safe to use regularly on sensitive skin, buffering the skin to leave a brighter complexion.

I sometimes experience sensitive and irritated skin around my nose area and am careful with what I apply during these times. I know I can confidently apply the Instant Calm Redness Serum followed by the Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream to the area without irritating the skin further. The day cream absorbs instantly leaving a matte finish without clogging my pores, so it’