Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Wishes

This is the first Christmas in a long time where I haven't had a long wishlist already waiting. However, I did a bit of online window shopping today and here are a few things that caught my eye that I wouldn't mind finding in my stocking on Christmas morning...

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Adventures in Cherry Picking

This weekend we once again went on a roadtrip to Klondyke Cherry Farm to pick our weight in cherries for the festive season! If you haven't gone before, I can definitely recommend it - we've been going since I was a child. It was about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town to the farm, so make a day out of it and pack a picnic lunch! You can find out more details (incl costs) over here. Between my parents and myself, we got about 7 kg of cherries, and my two friends picked about that much between themselves as well - it's definitely going to be a cherry-flavoured Christmas! Here are a few snapshots from our day out.

Driving through beautiful wheat fields outside of town

Rocky outcrops and Cape fold mountains

Finding the perfect picnic spots under the shade of some giant pines

Cherry trees almost unable to support the weight of their abundant fruit

Cherry pickers in action

Sun + cherries + fresh air = one happy cherry picker

The first half of our haul!

Returning home through beautiful mountain passes

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

O Chemistree, O Chemistree!

Of course, I couldn't just leave the Christmas decorating at home! Today we set up our very own "Chemistree" (aka a Chemistry Christmas Tree) in the foyer of the Chemistry building to welcome everyone in a very festive but undoubtedly nerdy way!

(PS for safety reasons, all these flasks are just filled with water and food colouring - no toxic solutions but still some pretty cool chemistry!)

Monday, 30 November 2015

The start of the Christmas season!

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, so this weekend we set up our Christmas trees and decked the entire house in festivity! Christmas is always my favourite time of the year, and I take great joy in getting the house ready. We have two main Christmas trees in our house - a really big one in the dining room and a slightly smaller one in the family room. (Both artificial thanks to some nasty allergies to the real deal.) It normally takes us an entire day to set up our festive decorations, the majority of which is in preparing the trees. I get slightly obsessed with making them "perfect" with everything as evenly distributed as possible. (Oh, and this is our large tree, if you are also obsessed with really full, beautiful Christmas trees!)

A photo posted by Laura vL (@lauravlaeren) on

A photo posted by Laura vL (@lauravlaeren) on

Friday, 27 November 2015

Project Pan 36 - 52

If you've been around the blog world for a while, you probably have come across a Project Pan series or two before. (Previous posts can be found here.) For those who don't know what Project Pan is, this is what it is about: basically, you go on a no-buy or low-buy until you use up the things you already have. I'm sure everyone has experienced that point where your bathroom or vanity is overfull of half-empty products, and yet you keep on buying more. The idea behind Project Pan is to (a) finish using the products you already own (or, if you hate them, throw them out!) and (b) not buy products that you already have. So I will be repurchasing things I finish, or buying things that I still need, but no more wasting money on things I already have in my collection. Bonus: who doesn't find empties posts deeply satisfying on some level?

Today's post features a preliminary clean-up of my makeup collection. I have a terrible habit of finishing something like mascara and then never chucking it out. Another bad habit: realising something is almost finished, buying a new one, and then getting excited about the new one and leaving the almost-finished old one lying on the shelf forever.

36. Hey Gorgeous Pure Intense Volume Mascara
Will I repurchase? No.

37. Essence Stays No Matter What Mascara
Will I repurchase? No.

38. Essence Multi Action Waterproof Mascara
Will I repurchase? No.

39. Maybelline The Rocket Mascara
Will I repurchase? Yes, I just have.

40 + 41. L'Oreal False Lash Wings Mascara
Will I repurchase? Yes (clearly! haha), I love this mascara, just wish it was a tad cheaper.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Essence Merry Berry Trend Edition

As soon as I saw the first photos of this collection, I knew I had to buy it. (1) I'm a total nut for everything Christmas (2) Berry shades are very much my thing at the moment and (3) It's absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! I popped into Clicks yesterday and saw that the collection had finally hit the shelves so I popped a few *cough* things into my shopping basket. (You can view the full collection here.) I mean, look at it! All that gold and berry colours - it's just sexy!

essence merry berry trend edition

The only items I didn't buy were the two eyeshadow singles (because I've bought 3 Stila eyeshadow palettes recently and I honestly don't need any more eyeshadows for the next decade or so) and the hair fragrance. Now onto the things I did buy:

First up: the shimmery things. I couldn't resist getting the Highlighter Powder in "01 I love my golden pumps" (R63.50) - it's a soft, warm, subtle highlighter that blends easily and the star pattern is just so pretty! I also couldn't not get the Scented Gold Dust Powder (also "01 I love my golden pumps") just based on the packaging alone - how stunning is the little gold bottle with atomizer?! This gold dust will be perfect for Christmas and New Year's parties - it's shimmery but not glittery and oh-so pretty. The scent is quite subtle and elegant, with overtones of vanilla. (Apply after your body lotion to help it stay on your skin for longer.)

Next up: the lipsticks. As you should now by now, I go nuts for berry lipsticks so I had to grab all three (and at R44.50 each, it didn't break the bank). The darkest shade, "01 let's the berry-tales begin" is a lovely rich plum. In the middle is "02 pink & perfect" is a bright raspberry pink. Both of these have a satin finish. Finally, the more matt offering is "03 red rocks", a lovely cherry red. All three feel soft and comfortable on the lips. I'm wearing "03 red rocks" today and it's not incredibly long lasting but I did get about 3 hours wear before having to reapply after my midmorning tea.

essence merry berry trend edition lipsticks swatches

The final items I got were the nailpolishes. I wasn't originally going to get them all, but then I realised I hadn't bought new polish in several months so I decided to treat myself. All five polishes were R38.95 each. From left to right:

"01 the masked ball" -  a dark grey-violet, very sophisticated
"02 purple with purpose" - a bright metallic purple
"03 pink & perfect" - a rich berry pink
"04 red rocks" - a bright raspberry

And finally, the glitter top coat (1 coat over "01 the masked ball")
"01 i ♥ my golden pumps" - a clear polish with gold flakes of assorted sizes.

I was very impressed with the quality of the polishes, with full opacity in 2 coats(most of them could probably pass as one-coaters if you are careful about brush strokes). They apply evenly and dry quickly. And, of course, the little bottles are just beautiful!

essence merry berry trend edition nailpolish swatches

So that's it for the Merry Berry Trend Edition. What are your thoughts? Is there anything particular you like?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Retailbox Secret Box #19

Retail Box's "Secret Boxes" have become famous for their value-for-money and box #19* was no exception, with R590 worth of products for only R270! If you're lucky, there may be a few boxes left, so if you like what you see here, go check out their site here to buy your box.

What did I think?
I've been using these products for just over a week and I am impressed. Firstly, the products smell lovely! Secondly, I was pleased to see that while my hair felt soft and conditioned after using this hair care system, I haven't experienced build-up or heaviness at the roots, something I often dislike about heavily conditioning products. The shampoo foams up gently and leaves my scalp clean but not dry or stripped. The conditioner leaves my hair feeling silky soft and makes detangling the work of seconds. I am also really liking the renewal spray - it makes my hair feel soft and look shiny and healthy without weighing it down.

Here's what Retail Box had to say:
RESTORE YOUR OVERPROCESSED HAIR with 90% more conditioned hair after one use. Awaken over processed hair with a system designed for moderately damaged hair to restore lost essentials. 
Formulas with Pro-Keratin and Silk provide continuous protein and moisture balance to the hair and lock it in.

Specially formulated to meet the needs of damaged and chemically-treated hair, Matrix Biolage Keratindose Shampoo (250ml) gently cleanses away excess oil and impurities, whilst the Pro Keratin and silk extract-enriched formula helps to soften, repair and moisturise your hair. With a creamy, gel-like consistency, the nourishing formula will leave your hair conditioned and smooth, with a silky soft texture and a luminous, healthy shine. Your locks will be rejuvenated and restored back to their former glory.

Specially formulated to meet the needs of damaged and chemically-treated hair, Matrix Biolage Keratindose Conditioner (250ml) effectively detangles your hair, whilst the Pro Keratin and silk extract-enriched formula helps to soften, repair and moisturise. With a creamy, luxurious consistency, the nourishing formula will leave your hair conditioned and smooth, with a silky soft texture and a luminous, healthy shine. Your locks will be restored and repaired, as well as being more manageable

 Say hello to super shiny hair with Matrix Biolage Keratindose Pro-Keratin Renewal Spray (200ml). A lightweight leave-in lotion, it's enriched with Pro-Keratin, which is an essential protein for building hair strength and resilience. Ideal for damaged and chemically treated hair, it improves your hair's shine and manageability, as well as targeting frizz and flyaways for a smooth and sleek finish. Your locks will be left strong and supple, as the powerful spray will leave your hair 90% more conditioned after just one use

Friday, 30 October 2015

Five Things

Revlon Nail Smoothing Base Coat
I don't know what happened, but for some reason a few months ago my nails started peeling and flaking terribly. The flaking went halfway down my nails, so I couldn't even cut the damage off. I switched to using a base coat that claimed to harden and protect nails and often would just wear it alone, with no colour polish. I'm happy to see that my nails are finally back to normal, so for the first time in ages I can grow them out again!

Lush Lemony Flutter
While on the subject of nail care, I finally caved and picked up a full-size Lemony Flutter cuticle butter. Before I go to bed, I rub a little bit of this into my cuticles (and my nails, if they're naked). I can immediately tell the difference when I forget to use this - it's the one thing I've found that stops me getting hangnails (which are essentially pure evil).

Rain Bee Essential Sleep Balm
I featured this on the blog earlier this year. I find it difficult to sleep when it's hot, and with hot weather finally making an appearance in Cape Town for the last two weeks, I pulled out this balm from my bedside table. Between the balm itself and a reinforced bedtime ritual, I find it easier to fall asleep.

Rain Wild Cotton EDT
This is another goodie from Rain that I've been reaching for a lot lately. If you haven't smelt this EDT before, think of Estee Lauder's White Linen - it's got the same crisp, fresh scent.

Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Permanent Taupe
Because, let's be serious, when it's 40 °C, powder eyeshadow just isn't going to do the trick. I had to go digging in my makeup collection to find a cream eyeshadow and rediscovered this one that I bought way back when they launched. It's a basic cool-toned taupe, perfect to just add a swipe of colour to your lids.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Lush Christmas Collection Haul

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a tad Lush obsessed. I just LOVE their pretty bath bombs and bubble bars. I love the rich scents, as well as the drama and luxury they add to a bath. Add that to my all-encompassing love of Christmas (I started listening to Christmas music in July already, no jokes) and you should be able to deduce that I was counting down the days until Lush released their Christmas products. I'd been setting aside the money I'd earned tutoring/teaching undergraduates for this occasion, and this week I made my first purchase. Here are the items I bought.

This bubble bar has a pretty vanilla scent that's sweet but not overpowering.

My ALL TIME FAVOURITE! Seriously, this bath bomb leaves you with the most beautiful water ever, it's like a magic potion! If you haven't tried it before, I definitely recommend you try this one!

Look at all that shiny glitter! Holly Golightly is filled with all your favourite Christmas spices and gives you mountains of bubbles. With these large bubble bars, you can definitely split them up to get several bubble baths out of them.

Peeping Santa is a new addition this year. He's strawberry scented - doesn't he look like the strawberry & cream Santa's you've seen on Pinterest?

Another one of my favourites, this bath ballistic gives off shoots of colour and sparkles as it dissolves, creating a galaxy in your bathtub.

This bath ballistic looks deceptively simple, but there's definitely some magic tucked away inside him! I can't wait to give this one a go and see what happens!

Another spicy one! This bubble bar is predominantly cinnamon scented (and it's handle is even a cinnamon stick!) but it's also got some star anise and cloves decorating it. This may or may not end with me waving it around like a magic wand after a few glasses of wine too many...

So there you have it - my first picks from the Christmas collection! Keep an eye out on my Instagram (@whimsyisforever) where I'll post pictures as I use them!

Monday, 26 October 2015

Sampar Skincare

Sampar is a relatively new-to-SA brand that hails from beautiful Paris! Their motto is that "Beauty cannot wait" so their products aim to provide immediate visible results, paired with long term clinically proven efficiency. Currently, Sampar products are available for purchase in selected Woolworths and Edgars stores. I was sent a few goodies to try out! First up, I have to say I like the packaging. The soft pink adds just the right amount of femininity to the sleek, minimalist design.

sampar first hand cream, 3 day weekend, crazy cream tan

L-R:  First Hand Cream*, 3 Day Weekend*, Crazy Cream in Tan*

I haven't been using the First Hand Cream myself as I have a mountain of hand creams I'm already trying to use up, but when I saw that this product aims to fight aging by plumping skin, diminishing wrinkles and reducing the appearance of pigmentation marks I decided to give it to my mom to try. It's still too soon to see if it lives up to those claims but so far she's enjoying using it daily. 

3 Day Weekend is a daily moisturizer that aims to provide intense moisturization while stimulating the skin's melanin production to give the appearance of a tan without the need for sun. That means that, while it itself will not add any colour or self-tan to your skin, your skin will produce more melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour). Now I haven't seen anything up with that second claim, but I have very fair skin that struggles to tan so my melanin production is next to zero - so if you have skin that does tan easily you may find that with daily use you notice a difference. What I can say is that this product has a lovely light gel-like texture that sinks easily in the skin and provides a nice level of moisture for my combination skin.

Surprisingly (to me, that is!) the item I've fallen in love with is Crazy Cream. This product is a tinted moisturizer comes in two shades, Nude and Tan, and when I saw that I'd been sent Tan, I immediately thought I'd have to give it to a friend with a, well, less ghostly skintone. Luckily, I decided to swatch it and was pleasantly surprised. When I first started blending the product in my skin, it looked hopelessly too dark but as I kept blending, it just melted into my skin. The end result? My skin, just more even and with the same gentle tanned glow that I have after a summer in the sun! This cream is very lightweight and just feels lovely on the skin. It blends like a charm but can be layered up, so first start with one tiny pump and blend that into the skin before deciding if you need more. I'm looking forward to using this instead of foundation (or even BB/CC creams) on hot summer days! 

sampar crazy cream in tan swatch

Just to give you a better idea of what Crazy Cream looks like on the skin, I applied three pumps along my arm. The right-most pump is as-is and shows the white-based cream with small pigment dots. The middle pump I started to blend, and you can see the cream changing colour. Finally on the left I blended the pump all the way out, and you can clearly see the change to my skintone without any shininess or chalkiness.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness Invisibobbles

If you don't know already, I'm a MAJOR fan of Invisibobbles. I have them in all sorts of colours and haven't used a conventional hairtie for a ponytail or bun since I bought my first box. They don't leave me with a headache and that's because their unusual design means that the hair is gripped evenly without any pulling. I have to tie my hair up in order to work in the lab, so that means I get daily use of of my Invisibobbles.I've had some of my Invisibobbles for about 18 months and while they have stretched a bit, not one has broken or snapped on me. As a result, I keep a stash of these hairties everywhere - bedroom, bathroom, handbag, work desk, yoga bag, you name it, I've got an Invisibobble stashed there just in case I decide to put my hair up! These bands normally retail for R80 for a box of 3. (But keep an eye out for sales by online retailers - I got several boxes for 50% off via Takealot.)

Today I'm sharing with you a limited edition Invisibobble set that you can buy. Of course, being October, it's the time where we all make a focused effort to raise awareness of breast cancer and the important of early detection for survival rates, as well as raising money for research and healthcare efforts. Invisibobble is raising funds for such a charity effort through the sale of these special edition bands.
The bands are a pretty transparent pale pink, with a pink "ribbon" winding its way through the band. 
These special edition Invisibobbles will be available from selected salons.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

#RealTimeChem Nailart

Good morning everyone :) Sorry for the radio silence of late, it's all work work work trying to get a mountain of stuff done by the end of the year! (I guess we're all in this boat together, right?)

This week in particular, I've been devoting almost all of my online hours to something very important to me - Chemistry, of course! (For those of you who don't know, I'm busy working towards my PhD in Chemistry.) This week is the 3rd annual "#RealTimeChem Week". What's that? It's a week where chemists around the world, whether they are high school students, undergrads, postgrads, postdocs, academics, teachers, industrial chemists or even just chemistry enthusiasts share all the chemistry that they are doing on Twitter using the hashtag #RealTimeChem. It's a great way for us to see what other people are doing, and to hopefully let others see our passion for our beautiful science!

As I have in the past, I've been sporting some themed manis this week and I thought I would share them! There's a bunch of polishes used here, so I won't list them all, but if you want to know what something is feel free to ask in the comments section.

And finally, here's an example tweet to show you what #RealTimeChem is about - something from my own lab that I made!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Five Things

ren vita mineral lip balm

I don't know if it's because of the changing seasons or what, but my lips have been feeling very dry this month, so I've been reaching for this lovely balm* constantly this week.

revlon colorstay moisture stain barcelona nights cannes crush

Together with the REN lip balm, I've also been using more moisturizing lip colours this week instead of my standard matt lipsticks. I already love the Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain (grossest name ever) in Parisian Passion (a plum, obvs), so when I saw that they were on sale at Dischem for only R55 I snapped a few extra up. This week I've been wearing Barcelona Nights (top, a warm berry pink) and Cannes Crush (below, a bright coral pink).

the body shop vanilla eau de toilette edt

With the weather starting to warm up (come on Cape Town, you can do it, let's get rid of winter!), I've started to switch out my fragrances. One that I've been reaching for a lot lately is the Vanilla EDT from the Body Shop! It's a beautiful pure vanilla scent which I absolutely love. Sadly this bottle is almost finished, so I'm going to have to make a trip to TBS to replenish it soon.

schwarzkopf oil finishing miracle treatment

Ever since I started dyeing my hair again (thanks to Style Bar), everyone is always commenting on how shiny my hair is. Obviously, this is mostly due to the colour (and the fact that brunette shades will always be shinier than blondes), but it's also because I've been taking better care of my hair. I love this oil treatment by Schwarzkopf - I rub a small dollop between my hands before running them through the lengths of my hair to keep it healthy, soft and shiny without weighing it down.

enchanted forest coloring book joanna basford colleen coloured pencils

Finally this week, it's another colouring book! At the moment I've started on a new book and I just love it. This is "Enchanted Forest" by Joanna Basford - I love the detail of the whimsical scenes! (BTW, it's currently on sale on Takealot.) I can easily spend hours with some soft music playing while I colour and shade away.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Five Things

My Real Techniques brushes addiction continues! I picked up the Stippling Brush on a whim and I'm already in love - it just helps give your makeup that final touch to take it "above and beyond" in terms of a flawless finish.

As I've been steadily dyeing my hair darker, I've been on the lookout for new brow products to make sure they match. This weekend I picked up this newbie from Catrice. The felt tip is firm but flexible, which gives you the right amount of control, and the super fine tip means that you can delicately draw on strokes to give the illusion of brow hairs in sparse spots.

How pretty is this shade? I don't often pick up things from the essence trend editions because either they are immediately sold out at my local Clicks or I find them too juvenile, but when I saw "Oh Captain, My Captain"? I just had to get it! (And good thing to because it was the last one on the shelf!) It's a beautiful periwinkle blue. The formula is a bit streaky at first but it evens out on the second coat. 

I guess you know you're getting old when trends you participated in the first time around start coming back, huh? Ok, admittedly, I never actually had one of these chokers back in the day but I remember wanting one so badly, they were just so cool! (And I, clearly, was not!)

And last, but not least:

I am LOVING my hair after my most recent trip to Style Bar! The dark chocolate colour is just so so so perfect, and my hair is just so shiny and healthy! (How shiny? Check out this photo!) Thanks to the team at Style Bar Tygervalley once again (esp for having to deal with my stupid hair that likes to form insane knots if you so much as look at it weird!).

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Sorbet turns 10!

This year, South Africa’s largest and much-loved beauty salon, Sorbet, turns the big TEN-OH. From the 30th of September until the 10th of October, Sorbet will be celebraTEN a decade of highlights with ten days of Sorbet-licious social media giveaways – and on the 10th of the 10th, everything in store – products included – will be 10% off! Yes, we know… it’s even better than cake: it’s Sorbet! 

The story begins in 2005 when his massage therapist convinced Ian Fuhr that South Africa was in desperate need of a branded beauty chain. With the only Brazilians he knew of being the ones who live in Brazil, the entrepreneur acknowledged he had neither the face nor the knowhow for beauty – but he was willing to give it a swirl. Ten years on and it just goes to show where scoopfuls of love, passion and perseverance can take you: into 137 stores across SA and, in August this year, “straight outta London” with the launch of the first Sorbet UK.
In addition to going “glow”bal, Sorbet scores 10/10 for being a family-run business with a lot of heart. It’s why Sorbet CEO Fuhr refers to working side-by-side his three children and niece as the most priceless part of his entrepreneurial journey. And by helping people “get that feeling” - sitting at the core of everything Sorbet - Fuhr says, “Our success is measured on the contribution we make to other peoples’ lives and, on that score, Sorbet has been hugely successful.”
With over 1200 staff, 120 franchisees, 230 000 loyalty members and even more passionate Sorbies who come “home” to Sorbet seven days a week, it truly is a family affair. And the love doesn’t stop there: through the sale of SEW bracelets, Sorbet is committed to empowering previously disadvantaged women – by turning their dreams of becoming beauticians or nail technicians into bonafide realities.
From humble beginnings in Bedfordview, Sorbet’s journey since 2005 has been a whirlwind ride. After surviving a few dark days in getting the business off the ground, Sorbet started expanding, opening stores in Cape Town and Durban. The group also partnered with Clicks in 2011 and launched its own branded Body & Bath range. In 2012, following the success of Sorbet Nails, Sorbet Dry Bars launched: offering guests the beauty of a quick, in-and-out, no-mess-no-fuss blowout. And in 2014, Sorbet widened its offerings through two new divisions – Sorbet Man and Candi & Co – and celebrated its 100th store opening! Today, in addition to UK expansion plans, sights set on Dubai and a goal to open 500 stores in five years, Sorbet’s future is fabulously bright.
Here’s to hitting double digits and beyond: let’s pop some bubbles and get celebraTEN!

Connect with Sorbet: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website

The above text is a press release and published "as is".

Thought for the Day

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Review | REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial

Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial - RRP R620 (Available here)*

I was excited to give this product a try because I LOVE REN's Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask and this seemed like the perfect complementary product.

What is it supposed to do? Well, this serum has a variety of different active compounds that work while you sleep to give you better skin. Firstly, fruit acids and enzymes help exfoliate the skin for a brighter, more even complexion. Next, glycogen and magnesium provide energy to skin cells to revitalize them and boost vitality. Finally, sodium lactate helps raise the skin pH again. This product is suitable for all skin types, with the exception of more sensitive skins.

The result? Waking up to skin that is brighter, more luminous, refined and even toned.

How do I use this product? Well, before bed I cleanse my skin as usual. I then apply 2 pumps of this serum all over my face and neck. The product sinks in quickly and there is a slight tingling sensation for a minute or so as the fruit acids and enzymes get to work. I then apply a thin layer of my night cream and that's it - off to bed I go, no need to rinse off the product. In the morning, follow your usual skincare routine (I normally just wash my face with a face cloth and warm water, and then moisturize/SPF up).

I've been loving the Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial - my skin is looking a lot better! Goodbye dull, tired winter skin!