Cruelty Free Beauty

Now that the vegan lifestyle is no longer identified with kale-socks-and-sandals and anaemic hippies, there’s a growing curiosity and desire for products that aren’t made of any animal products nor tested on animals. 

Fortunately, there’s no lack of choice and quality in this area. Being vegan can be a challenge when it comes to finding sharp shoes, but when it comes to hair and makeup there’s a treasure trove of brands and products that are guilt-free. Where these brands are not 100% vegan, they are absolutely cruelty free.

INIKA is all organic, all natural Australian makeup. There’s a vast array of mineral eyeshadow shades, certified organic lipstick (Orchid Fields is the perfect shade of violet) and also offers mineral bronzer, foundation, illuminiser and blush. Prefer fluid foundation and in need of an eyebrow pencil? No worries, they’ve got you covered for that too.

Zoeva is high-end makeup (your budget will need to stretch a little here..) and there’s also a range of professional standard makeup brushes. In store, it’s available in Australia via Sephora but there are several online stores that stock it too. While the entire range is not certified vegan, the brushes are synthetic and entirely vegan and every product is 100% cruelty free.

Laura Mercier is entirely cruelty free and does not test products or ingredients on animals. None of their suppliers nor third parties test on animals either. Because Laura Mercier is cruelty free, their products are not sold in China, which requires animal testing on makeup by law. Here’s a hint too...if your favourite brand (perhaps one that has Miley and Lady Gaga in their ads?) is sold in China, there’s a good chance it tests on animals and won’t be ceasing this any time soon.

Kat Von D makeup is not only a cult range fronted by one of the most beautiful, tattooed goddesses on the planet but also entirely vegan.  The liquid lipsticks (especially Lolita) are raved about by makeup artists, instagram makeup stars and beauty lovers internationally. The liquid eyeliners and palettes are one of the top sellers at Sephora both in the US and Australia. While buying Kat Von D makeup won’t guarantee the perfect cat’s eye look, nor that you’ll turn into a 6”4 punk rock goddess, it will allow you to get a small step closer to the dream.
3ina cruelty free beauty

3INA is a Cult Beauty Brand. Three words to send shivers of excitement down the spines of mascara loving maidens and lipstick lovers. 3INA (pronounce it "MEENA") launched in Melbourne in 2016 with stores in Melbourne Central and Soutland. Professional quality Euro-made makeup that doesn't cost your weekly wage. Guaranteed cruelty free, super bold colours and unique collections. The latest UV collection takes on a nightclub attitude under UV lights where it goes all disco under the lights. I love the richly pigmented pink and purple mascaras especially. The Chubby Highlighter is better than two espressos for disguising no sleep. 
elf cosmetics cat woods blog

ELF is the super budget friendly vegan brand you can depend on for all the basics as well as the bells and whistles products. From foundation to concealer, eyeliner to blusher, bronzer and lipstick, ELF products commonly fall into the under $20 basket meaning you can live guilt free and debt free after stocking your makeup cupboard. Beautiful. Literally.

Fit Fuel Home Delivery : Thr1ve meals

fit food home delivery Thr1ve

This isn't the first time I've explored meal delivery services to support and encourage eating portion controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.
Why would a trainer and instructor, with thorough knowledge of how to buy, prepare and plan healthy, delicious meals opt to have them delivered to me? For several reasons.
Despite having enough recipe books to build a small community library, and also having the time to prepare meals, I often find that I fall into routines of eating the same meals, day after day after day. It's boring.
It can also be easy to opt for making the same, boring meals I know when I don't have the incentive of preparing meals for anyone other than myself!
lean protein no gluten thr1ve vegetarian meals

Here is where Thr1ve has come to my rescue. I first saw the promotions for Thr1ve at the fitness centre I work at. Curious and dreading the inevitable dinner that would be exactly the same dinner I ate lastnight and the night before, I looked up the website. The founder of Thr1ve is the entrepreneurial fitness and fashion industry veteran, Josh Spark. This is a man who knows how to move, live and eat fit. Goal. I also looked through the menu and thought, I WANT to eat that, and that...and definitely that. Goal two. It could all be delivered to my door without fuss. Triple goals. Sold!

Now, there are various plans to opt for but here is the approach I took. I have ordered a 7-day week of meals along with probiotic water to support digestion. My prime goals are:
balanced macronutrients with wholefoods, plants and lean protein as the prime ingredients!

  • flavour rich, simple meals that I can be inspired to recreate in my own kitchen on an ongoing basis
  • well proportioned meals - tiny frozen blocks that are masquerading as lunch and dinner are a no go. I won't be sitting around watching netflix all day so I need food that fuels my active life
  • FRESH, non-frozen meals ready to eat (Thr1ve is one of the rare meal delivery services that delivers food freshly made, non-frozen so that if you don't get through it in the 7 days from delivery, you can choose to freeze it yourself)

My Thr1ve options are also intended to maintain my weight but for anyone who has a tendency to eat high-carb, multi-servings or excessive portions or desserts, you'll lose weight on these meals (if you're not eating extra meals between the planned meals!).

The Thr1ve meals are paleo and ketogenic friendly.

What's a ketogenic diet? High in protein and fats, low in carbohydrates and gluten free.

As you all well know, I do not advocate for strict diets of any nature. While I see the health benefits of kickstarting a healthy approach to meal planning and nutritious eating with a low-sugar, minimally processed food approach, it is not ideal to maintain a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet in the long term. While some fitness and bodybuilding fanatics will swear black and blue the ketogenic diet is the ultimate way to eat, the high protein and fat content is violently unhealthy on the liver and kidneys and the extreme lack of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholewheat bread or pasta, fruits) can cause fatigue, lethargy, poor function of the nervous and hormonal system.
Thr1ve vegetable frittata meal delivery
Fortunately, Thr1ve meals are well balanced to include smart, wholefood carbohydrates with thorough nutritional density (brown rice, quinoa, root vegetables, potato) and even the classic Atkins' diet advocated eating sweet potato, moderate servings of fruit and complex carbs after the initial week or so of high protein meals. The meals I've opted for, and the meals generally, are moderate carbohydrates, lean and moderate protein and low-fat. As a healthy-fats advocate (they promote vitamin absorption, hormonal balance and appetite fulfilment!) I have been adding sweet potato and raw cashews and almonds to my meals but you must read your own appetite and decide what you want to add. Unless you're trying to shed weight, you'll want to be adding smart snacks between meals as they are small serves.

Disclaimer: Of 14 meals (over a 7 day trial) FOUR meals went rancid by the fourth day and had to be thrown out. The "fresh greens" in two more also went bitter, flaccid and were inedible. I let Thr1Ve know and they made the excuse they were new to the meal delivery business and offered no remedy. Hopefully this issue is resolved but be warned.

Vitamin C For Body And Skin

So many products, from bottled juice to hand cream, claim to be rich in vitamin C. It's a great marketing spruik, but do we actually know what value it has and whether it is effectively absorbed? Do we even need it?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant (fights free radicals) that plays an essential role in collagen synthesis. It is responsible for healing cells and this explains why it is so often a key ingredient in skin care. Vitamin C has been shown to prevent and treat ultraviolet photodamage (pigmentation/burn). The skin is made up of layers of dermis. Both the epidermis and he dermis have high levels of Vitamin C concentration, though this declines with age. Concentration of Vitamin C in the skin also decreases with exposure to pollution (car fumes, cigarette smoke, etc), UV light and stress.

Vitamin C benefits for the skin include increased hydration and a more youthful appearance as a result. The skin is also more resilient to sun exposure and pollutants.
Both topical and oral supplements have shown to have positive results for skin health. Since Vitamin C in the skin is normally transported from the blood stream, an oral supplement that delivers sufficient dosage is beneficial but excessive doses don't increase the concentration of vitamin C in the skin so be sure to follow instructions on any supplements.

Vitamin C is absorbed through topical application where the pH level is below 4.0 (greaer acidity) and greatest absorption is seen in a 20% vitamin C solution. It crosses the epidermis and reaches he underlying layers of skin. Exposure to heat, air and light degrade the quality and concentration of Vitamin C though. Don't store any skin care in sunlight or leave open longer than required.

Vitamin C has shown benefits in boosting skin hydration and improving healing time for wounds.
I like to hit my skin and body with double barrels, so I take high quality oral supplement, Viviscal (all the celebs and models do it, you know!) and Medik8 C-Tetra Cream. Both are not cheap, but they last at LEAST a few months and the high quality means you get results rather than cheaper products with lower concentration and shelf time.
Make sure Vitamin C rich foods are part of your diet too - I don't believe any of us are about to suffer scurvy but better safe than sorry.
I'm a little bit in love with Nourish Atelier for great recipes and inspiring ideas with food. Her latest genius recipe is Butternut and Kale Lasagne with Quinoa and Red Pepper Sugo. Go there.

Thanks to Oregon State University for Vitamin C info.

Beauty Body and Scents - the EOFY Special

That's right! End of Financial Year - when accountants finally dress up in glitter and sequins and do backflips while they calculate your tax return.


But really, after you've gone through the trauma that is doing your tax, the real joy is working out how to spend that amazing wonderful bonus money that is your tax return. I suggest you throw some of those magic notes at beauty and body products that are going to make you look, feel and smell AH-MAZE-ING. You don't even have to leave your keyboard. See, I'm just like an accountant! Efficient.

My big dilemma is that I've decided to invest in a cult beauty item - because that is how my tax return is best partially spent. In smart investments. I can't decide WHICH of the NARS' The Multiple shades is for me. I do love pearly, cosmic Copacabana, but then there's the CULT factor of Orgasm. Do you have one? Do you recommend it? Alternatively, lipstick in Dominique is purple based and we know how I feel about purple...

For decadent, luscious packaging and scents, MOR is a classic. My sister was obsessed with Marshmallow (as are many judging by the endless ways you can have it: perfume, lip balm, lotion, wash...). I'm all about the garden-fresh scents of Blood Orange, Basil and Sencha Verbena Hand & Body Wash. The Blood Orange Perfume Oil comes in a roller ball that is perfectly sized for your top drawer at work or your gym bag (for $19.95 it's got your accountant smiling too!). I've had to do a serious bathroom cleaning session to make it look nearly chic enough to house the Basil Grape Hand & Body Lotion. A blessing. Each is under $20! Beauty on a budget. You're welcome!
Speaking of smelling heavenly and fresh, I am quite lazy so being able to spray my moisturiser on is totally ideal. And really, any excuse to go for a shop on Nourished Life! I just stocked up on ACURE marula and argan body oil spray in Citrus Ginger scent. So zesty.
As your accountant will tell you, it is smart to invest in cost-per-use or major investments every now and again. Considering I use this mask every second day and it leaves my skin super smooth and looking NOT like I just did two barre classes, I feel it meets the criteria. DNA Restoring Mask may not alter your actual DNA but it will make you glow. 
Now here is my dilemma. I can only choose one item on sale at Fresh Fragrances. Do I go with NARS The Multiple in some shade OR do I go with lipstick in Dominique? There's glow versus purple. OH THE DILEMMAS!

All New Les Mills Classes Launch in Australia

What would it take to drag me back into a cycle room? The promise of a totally new world. 


So Les Mills' The Trip has more than delivered. This is the future of cycling - pedalling through planetary landscapes, high over the cities of London and New York where you can peer down and see the laneways, feel the nerves of being on a bridge, veering around a tight corner...

Melbourne is about to experience The Trip 4 at the Melbourne Convention Centre for Filex 2016. This is set in a planetary wonderland. You'll be pedalling hard to Major Lazer, Hudson Mohawke and A Tribe Called Quest to name a few.

As you'll discover in my interview with Matt Spandow from Les Mills Asia Pacific, the technology behind The Trip isn't cheap and it's likely to be offered at premium clubs as a beginning point. BUT. There's another Les Mills offering and it comes at you with a different proposition.

Sprint is a 30-minute (short, sharp!) HIIT workout that is scientifically tested and developed in collaboration with Penn State University to ensure the intervals are timed EXACTLY to maximise EPOC (your post-exercise calorie burn). All this set to bass-heavy beats, choreographed to align perfectly with the intervals. This has already been launched in Australia - if your gym doesn't have it but they do have Les Mills, ask about it. 

See the videos, read more about The Trip.

Meet Matt Spandow, Les Mills Asia Pacific Marketing & Sales Director. Here's what he shared with me about Sprint and The Trip.

Sprint and The Trip are both new products. We know the international trend for HIIT and previously we’ve hit that segment with GRIT. Cycling studios are sitting empty half the time. We worked with Penn State University to create the science behind a HIIT 30 minute class, and the science and the results of the EPOC burn, people get around a 900 calorie burn throughout the rest of the day.
It is recommended you do HIIT workouts twice a week to avoid diminishing results. Ideally, Sprint is designed to be done twice a week. This is the same for any HIIT workout – including GRIT.

The Trip is immersive fitness. There’s never been one showcased in Australia before. Multiple projectors and screens are involved and the instructor takes you through virtual worlds and it’s so realistic, it feels like you’re moving. The instructor faces away from you as if you’re riding in a peloton.
It’s amazing how people become immersed in that world. This is just normal interval training, not HIIT. It’s normally about 45 minutes.

One of the problems we see in these spaces is that there’s only RPM on the timetable. There’s all this space and a lack of great programming so that’s where these two new programs meet the new global trends: HIIT and the interaction with technology. People want to work out short, sharp and get bang for their buck. With The Trip, it’s about really using principles of gaming with fitness science.

The hormonal and EPOC levels have to be timed to the exact intervals. Because we use choreography and music as well as the Penn State science, we’ve brought that into Sprint and GRIT.

The Trip really attracts a lot of people who have never done cycling before. It’s more about people wanting to experience the virtual world. Our company mission is to create a fitter planet. It doesn’t help if we bring out a program for people that are already there.  We want people to say this looks cool, it looks like a lot of fun so they come in to try it.

The Trip is so new it has never been seen in Australia before so we’ll be debuting it at FILEX. Whether clubs decide to charge in clubs or not is up to them. Our recommendation is to use it to attract new members, but we wouldn’t recommend charging extra. With Sprint, you’ll find people [instructors] just need to do the training, but there’s no extra equipment needed.

Not every gym can afford the technology fee for The Trip. For now, I’d imagine you’d see it in more affluent clubs. Your bigger chains, it would make sense for a couple of these to take it on. Premium clubs are more likely to invest in the technology and some chains will decide to put it on in their centrally located clubs where members are willing to travel for the experience.

Training [for instructors] in Australia will be available as soon as clubs decide they want to go with it. It will be different as we’ll actually do site-specific training. Sprint training is available across the country right now.

The instructor creates a whole experience by narrating the training.
A couple of studios in Hong Kong, London, Santa Monica, Stockholm and Newmarket, NZ have The Trip operating right now. All the content and testing has been centrally developed in New Zealand. To create this 3D virtual world, a lot of work has gone in.
The Trip One is the very first one we did recreates TRON – like the digital world of the movie.
I did The Trip Four in Hong Kong and it was virtual cities. The screen wrapped 270 degrees and we could look down through landscapes like New York and Tokyo, London and city to city.

The one we’re showcasing in Melbourne, you go through planets for about five or six planets. I haven’t heard the music, only seen the visuals so far. I imagine a lot of it will be generated by our studio in New Zealand, and they’re driven by heavy beats just like GRIT.  Music is designed to take people on a journey, to bring heart rates up and down. Chris Richardson in New Zealand listens to something like 3000 songs a quarter for one release to select the right music. There’s no rules, so if they want a track, we go out there and we purchase those.

Read more about The Trip and Les Mills Immersive Fitness.

Members of the public can attend Sprint classes at Melbourne Convention Centre during FILEX.

Holidays, Allspice, Lemongrass and Pumpkin Pie

I know it's typically Christmas fare, but I'm all for indulging in what you love WHEN you can. As soon as I could get my mitts on Frankincense and Allspice scent from cult UK scent house Molton Brown, things got festive in my little corner of Melbourne.
It got me thinking about my favourite scents and which holidays they are best suited to. However, just like style meister Iris Apfel or the genius Karl Lagerfeld, you must insist on your own creative vision and taste. If, like me, you want your bedroom to smell like allspice ALL THE TIME, go forth my Christmas angel. Whenever you like. Likewise, who doesn't love a pumpkin and spice candle in the deep dark depths of winter when it is most definitely not Halloween in Australia?

Lux 400 make high quality, pure soy candles. No nasties clogging up your space here. Be very wary of el cheapo candles. Opting for natural soy wax and all natural fragrances is going to be your healthiest, wisest investment. It also ensures a longer, more reliable burn time.
While Lux 400 are not holiday specific, this is excellent. You can pick one, or like me, decide you love them ALL and have one for every mood and season! Try the Candle Cocktails Trio box or the Travel Tins to ensure you can indulge all the flavours you love. Totally crushing on Lemongrass & Persian Lime.
Glasshouse have released a limited edition Halloween candle that smells like scrumptious pumpkin pie. So, so good!

Natural, Cruelty Free Makeup

It's very easy to overlook the nitty gritty details. But with so many choices in life, the power to make small ones that make YOU feel better and fit with your values are vital to living a mindful, conscientious life.
I'm not going to demand you drop all your favourite mascaras and lipsticks in the bin this minute and replace them, but if you're an animal lover, or even if you're exploring a vegan lifestyle, you can find makeup brands that are guaranteed to be Cruelty Free.
Choose Cruelty Free is an Australian organisation that lists makeup brands with a code for whether they are vegan, organic, good for sensitive skin and more.

The list includes a few of my favourite brands. For your benefit, I have picked my favourite 3 products from each. If you're new to them, get excited. You can feel good about your beauty buys and you'll radiate gorgeousness from inside AND outside!


Using pure plant extracts and all natural ingredients, Botani is a Melbourne-based beauty brand worth seeking out. Their products are targeted towards particular skin types, conditions and aim to treat and nourish.
I adore the scent - especially of the facial exfoliator. It smells like cinnamon and berry oatmeal cookies - try it.
Olive Skin Serum
Spirulina Salt Scrub
Exfoliating 2-in-1 Scrub & Mask

Rosehip by Essano

This perfectly pink packaged beauty brand is straight from New Zealand. They are eco certified and guarantee no nasties in the form of sulphates, parabens, silicones and so on. The added beauty of this brand is that it's totally budget friendly. You'll have money left over for super smoothies and shopping for yoga pants.
Rosehip Gentle Exfoliator

Botanical and mineral cosmetics designed to beautify and be gentle on the skin. Australian made. The packaging, again, is gorgeous. Simple and classy. You'll want to have this take pride of place in your makeup cabinet. I know you have one.
3-in-1 Pumpkin Enzyme Facial Polish
Mineral Bronzer in Beach Glow
Exotic8 Facial Oil (chia, black tea,pomegranate & peach)

Make UP Cosmetics

Not only cruelty free and eco friendly, but designed to love your skin. Mineral products are ideal for sensitive skin and ideal if you're prone to breakouts also. The colours are fabulous and super fresh. I love the highlighting mineral powder especially. Give me more gold!
Lipstick Spring Violet
Brow Gel Medium Brown
Highlighter Mineral Dust in Gold

Makeup Inspiration from the 2015 Runways

I used to love the runway shots of John Galliano for Dior. Alexander McQueen also sent some ethereal and alien looks storming down the catwalk too. Makeup artists like Val Garland and Pat McGrath created futuristic creatures that lived on imaginary underwater islands, or punk-cyber-goth bombshells with huge hair and glued on diamantes and lashes.
Now, short of the nightclubs, these looks aren't going to wash in everyday life, but be inspired to dare something different.

The beauty of makeup is you can transform - take on a role that is more confident, more daring, more adventurous than you feel. 

Then you can wipe it off and change again.
Here's my pick of the 2015 looks you can adopt and adapt.

Nanette Lepore did iridescent purple lips, spidery lashes and metallic gold nails. Try doing ONE of these things at a time. As a purple lover, my preference is daring the lilac lip. Go on! Maybelline Color Elixir in Vision in Violet. Try a gold shimmer from NYX (Roll On Shimmer in Almond).
The Givenchy runway shots were ubiquitous. Sure, it's extreme.

The Victorian Chola Gang looked tribal and dark and confronting, but editors swarmed to the images and the clothes were not lost beneath the styling. While in Barcelona, I noted gleefully that all the beautiful young things were tattooed and pierced. The once rare septum piercing was no longer confined to hippies or punks. And the
super small rings that merely glinted under lights were super chic. If you're not ready for the real thing, I recommend a faux septum piercing. I got mine
from Junylie on Etsy.

As ever, Chloe and Michael Kors runways gave us a youthful nude palette that emphasised flawless skin, blushed cheekbones and beige toned eyes and lips. Go for the super luxe foundation (Urban Decay Naked Skin) and then pick budget friendly NYX for the entire nude palette.

Depending on whether you're gothic pale or Naomi Campbell, your nude colours will fall within a spectrum of flattering shades. Go for peachy (NYX Lipstick in Snow Cap) through rose beige (Pops Explosif) and make a subtle statement with the NYX Love In Rio eyeshadow kit of three shimmery beige/brown options. Skip the eyeliner and emphasise the lashline with Over The Taupe eyeshadow. Blush is mandatory - hit the apple of your cheeks and trace up to the outer corners of your eyes. With a subtle brushstroke - we're not going for a warpaint look.

Need a bit of oomph to your lips? Put a subtle dot of Angel Food Cake Butter Gloss in the cupid's bow and in the centre of your lower lip to finish. The light-reflecting gloss will make your lips appear fuller and smoother.

Superfoods for Super Skin

Every morning I make my green smoothie with green superfoods powder. Now I have a new routine also - detox for my face with a grainy cleanser full of vitamins and green goodness! I am loving Australian brand Sukin Super Greens facial scrub. Full of the goodness of kale, spirulina, chlorella and parsley and trust me, it smells gorgeously sweet and not horribly "healthfoody" at all.
Just to be sure I am absolutely super, I followo up with super green detoxifying Facial Recovery Serum - again full of goodness.
Did I mention Australian owned and made? Go team.
sukin is available at Priceline

A new label is the reason this brand caught my eye - while 7th Heaven is a new name, this is actually the renewal and rebirth of a long lived skincare brand. It is bigger, better and bolder than ever so I had to stock up on a few "weekly indulgence" facial masks. Particular formulas for particular concerns. Manuka honey is great for hydration, healing and moisturising. Berries are great for reinvigorating the skin and senses and there's also strawberry, apricot and tropical flavours. Totally recommend you spend the spare change on it - very budget friendly!
7th Heaven is available at Target and Woolworths

Seasonal Skin - Weather Proof Your Face

Thanks for the not-so-warm welcome back Melbourne. I really do love this city, but it's a far cry from the sunny mornings of Barcelona and Paris, and my shivering limbs confirm this. While a good yoga session fixes my seasonal blues and a bit of hot yoga flow does wonders for a winter
workout, its my skin that needs extra nurturing. My ever-reliable favourite Dermalogica is my source of skincare and I'm updating my makeup with the new collection from MAC - you will want to the second you see the campaign too. It's crazily, madly MAC-ly addictive. I saw it first in the Paris MAC store, and it's just released in Australia. You will want it, I warn you. All of it!

Skin for the Shivery Season:

I have been using the Multivitamin Range for about 3 years since I discovered it via a facial in High Street, Northcote. It is brilliant on my early 30s skin, but also highly concentrated with vitamins and anti-ageing hyaluronic acid and peptides for 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. My beauty cabinet is always home to the MultiVitamin Power Serum and MultiVitamin Power Recovery Masque (Best Quick Fix Ever). I have just introduced the AGE Smart MultiVitamin Thermafoliant for ultimate squeaky clean pores.
For the body? I'm a lavender scented oasis post workout shower, using Stress Relief Treatment Oil.
All products available at select salons and Dermalogica online.

Wash And Dry

The name Val Garland gets makeup artists very excited and if you love fashion photography and Vogue magazine as much as I do, you'll know the photographer Miles Aldridge is an icon. So the fact they are BOTH behind this latest MAC campaign should speak volumes on quality and superiority.  The Wash and Dry collection includes shimmery highlight beauty powders, highly pigmented colours from nude through to fiery reds as well as blushes and nail lacquers in the collectible and covetable colours MAC is famous for. I am blowing bubbles for Washteria nail lacquer!
All products available from JUNE 1 2015 at MAC counters and MAC online.
Follow Val Garland and MAC Cosmetics on Instagram for inspiration.

All Natural, Super Fresh Skincare

Following the recent nasty scare with frozen berries in Australia being discovered to contain bacteria causing Hepatitis A, with sickeningly unhygienic practices in the Chinese factories they are packaged in - it has been so much more important to ask HOW our products are made and WHAT is in them.

Just as we are sensitive and vulnerable to the ingredients in the food we eat (and anything else in or on it!), our skincare is also a major factor in the functioning and health of our body.

Skin is the largest organ of te body and up to 70% of what is lathered on it gets absorbed. Many skincare chemicals can effect the endocrine system, disrupting the optimal balance of hormones. A study in 2009 found that woman used over 500 chemicals a day on her skin - forget detoxing from wine, your liver is working overtime to detox your bathroom cabinet!

The answer is to use skincare that is as organic and natural as possible while still being really effective. Various ancient cultures have relied on the science of natural ingredients to cleanse, moisturise, heal, protect and colour their faces and bodies. Many cultures still do share their philosophy and knowledge of natural skincare. It is key in naturopathic and ayurvedic beauty practices.

Tristan Fahey founded the incredible Rubifresh skincare as an "all natural, high performance" range for Australian women. Our skin is regularly exposed to hot, dry sun but also the environmentally toxic office life of computer screens, harsh lighting, airconditioning at all hours and polluted city travel.

I have been using the:

Weekly Face Mask. Combined with water, this powder turns into a delicious-looking oatmeal paste with almonds, goat's milk, chia seeds, french clay and lavender. I leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash. My skin feels all smooth and soft for hours AND the couple of spots I had have shrunk in only two uses. Magic!

Body Scrub. Time to take off the remains of my fake tan requires heavy
duty scrubbing so I feel much better knowing the job is done with green clay, juniper, organic camellia seed oil and avocado oil. Raw sugar and fresh chia seeds combine with lime and spearmint to provide natural exfoliating action - happy body, happy environment.

Daily Face Scrub. I love, love, love this. Bright crimson with cranberry and mint, it takes off makeup in the evening or wakes up my skin in the morning. Be careful to wash the last traces of cranberry paste off if you don't want to look like you've been at a zombie party.

Cleansing Gel. Gentle but totally refreshing. Great for sensitive skin and for those days when scrubbing is not a great option. Highly recommended for skin both young through to older, less robust skin. Pump action bottle is great for travel!

Follow Rubifresh on Facebook and Instagram

Mel Macklin - Party In Fantastica!

I recently discovered amazing, kick-ass lipstick brand Shanghai Suzy. Not only do they do two shades you MUST HAVE (hello Neon Guava and Amethyst!) but they have names and characters. The mad mistress behind those tattooed, punk rock princesses is Melbourne illustrator, Mel Macklin and she is feisty fun personified. Despite being crazily busy, she took time to answer all my questions.
How did the Shanghai collab start?

Hehe, it's kinda a nice story actually! It was April of this year, and I hadn't long moved to Melbourne from Darwin in the Northern Territory. It was my very first day sitting my market shop in my new hometown, and Jo was my neighbour at Rose Street Artist's market in Fitzroy! Jo was every bit as bubbly and and sweet as she looked, and kept me in very good company that first day. We never got to be market neighbours again, but I like to think the creative pixies had had a hand in our meeting that day!

We kept in touch on the social interwebs and Jo would often leave lovely comments about whatever new painting I was working on. Then one day, I got an email from her asking if I was interested in illustrating for her Spring/ Summer wardrobe launch, and I was like, 'Ummm, YES!'

We met for lunch a week later and that was that! Jo was a dream to work with: a girl who knows quite clearly and concisely what she wants, how to express herself, and, I think most admirably, how to encourage creativity with others. I think we both felt very strongly invested and personally attached to the characters that I illustrated; there's a little piece of us both in there. I feel very lucky to have worked with such a tremendous businesswoman like Jo.

Your lipstick shade of choice?

Hands-down, Miss Kitty Black Plum! (Hehe, I painted both Suzy Sisters wearing that shade for purely selfish reasons!). I love that it's super-elegant classy lady (ahem, I do try to be those things!), but it's also a bit grungy nineties.

Where did you draw the inspiration for your characters?

Hehe, how long is a piece of string?! Sometimes it's a word that repeats itself over and over in my head. Sometimes it's the snippet of a book, maybe even a misinterpretation of a song. Making art to me is like a jigsaw, with round holes and square pegs- the attraction and the challenge simultaneously is to make those incongruous elements work together so at first glance they look 'right' and fitting. (The trick is in the double-take your viewers will give the work if you've done your job right!)

I'm a visual person, so all of my characters are an amalgam of all the cool stuff I've ever seen in my life to date. Even as a small child, I would never sit in front of the telly just to be a couch potato- I would draw- the characters I loved best (Sarah from Labyrinth, Rainbow Brite, Sailor Moon, Lady Lovely Locks, everything Disney, ). I would draw them as they were, I would draw them in new outfits, in new contexts, and make whole new characters to sit alongside them too.

Anybody who grew up in the Harry Potter generation will know the particular torture of waiting a year or more to know the fate of characters who had become real to you, had become both your friend, and a part of you. Of never wanting their stories to be over, and the dull ache when, inevitably, the last page was read and there was no more. My reaction to dealing with that was to make art, to continue their stories as I would want them to be lived.

Going to my first Comic-Con this year, I realised that there were thousands of other dreamers out there who felt just the same way I did about their 2D heroes, and I felt like that community has opened it's superhero arms to me in a huge way!

A lot of my work though is of my own original characters. They are all a little part of me and the people I love best, real and imagined.

What other collabs have you done?

I am currently working with a bunch of fantastic illo buddies of mine for our collective showcase at next year's Melbourne Supergraph! We are called 'Wayward Journey'. We all make stuff that's a bit whimsical, fairytale-fancying, detailed and, of course, awesome! ;-)

Do you find Melbourne a good city to have a creative career in?

Melbourne is a place I feel in my bones. I'm originally from Gippsland, but my folks moved to Darwin in my teens. I spent the next 12 years making plans to move back to Melbourne, but life always got in the way.... My fiancée Dave and I lived and worked in inner-city London for two years, and spent a lot of time in Italy and Spain while we were there. It was amazing and terrifying and confronting and all my dreams come true, all at once! You realise there are parts of yourself, survival mechanisms you didn't know you had, living in a big city, especially one that's not in your native country.

I think it can be very confronting to live in any big city and try to make a name for yourself in the creative biz. I realised very quickly, living in London that there was no shortage of amazingly clever artsy people out there, searching, working for just the same lucky break that I was. And then I realised that it wasn't going to happen, this fantasy of 'being discovered'. It's a myth: it diminishes the thousands of hours of sheer hard work that is put in for such and such a person to become well-known, this idea that they were 'lucky' that someone well-connected introduced them to the world, or implicitly, took pity on them (actually, it's just sheer hard work and perseverance!). I am really grateful now to have experienced the sort of anonymity and the confrontation of being a drop in the ocean, before I seriously started my career. It keeps me humble and grounded; I am always trying to push closer to new personal bests and develop my skills. My biggest fear is complacency!

In a nutshell, I think it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the Melbourne art scene- a good artist will let that fuel them to keep finding inspiration, unique ways to express themselves, to work hard, humbly and honestly to earn a place beside their art heroes.

How do you find customers and supporters?

Hehe, Pop Surrealism can be a tricksy movement to be a part of! People aren't always sure just what is, or what it's for. It's funny how uninhibited people can be when they meet you in a retail context (I sell my work at trade fairs like Comic-Con, Finders Keepers and a bunch of smaller markets around Melbourne), and I've heard all sorts of comments about my work! I think people find themselves in artwork- you know the old saying, they see it as they are, the good and the bad, and not always as it was intended.

My heart just explodes with joy when people walk up to my shop, and look at something like 'Salty Tears and Shipwrecks' and laugh. I think: a kindred spirit! I have an odd sense of humour, so it makes me happy that's there's peeps out there who know how to fly their freak flag with reckless abandon too!

My attitude to art has always been that, if it's not actually real, why not make something extraordinarily beautiful, to make impossible things possible- on a page, within a film, the covers of a book... I think the ability to suspend belief, to lose yourself within an artwork and accept the improbability of it, is a special thing. I couldn't care less that mermaids aren't real: I want to believe in them, and so they are real in all the ways that matter. If I can help just one person to feel that too, I feel like I've achieved something.

Favourite artistic medium?

I have a huge respect for painters. Oil painters especially. The thing is, I can't paint to save myself!
I puddled in it like a spoiled brat at uni; I decided the reason I made poo on the paper was because it wasn't quite for me, and I could get away with just, skipping a whole bunch of fundamental skills every good artist should know! (Actually, I just had zero patience and felt entitled to expect results too quickly, rather than earn them!)

So, about six years ago when I was toying with the idea of illustrating professionally, I bought myself a set of gorgeous watercolours and taught myself how to paint with them.... Later, I switched to acrylics, which is much more a plastic medium, much more predictable. But it never sat right with me! I always felt like I was pretending, there was something fluid I was seeking in my methods, but could never quite give myself over to, as ever, the look I wanted was highly detailed and controlled.

After a long stint with colour pencils, I have finally, and most unexpectedly, fallen head-over-heels
with digital painting! I use a method called on-screen mixing, which is basically a simulation of traditional oil-painting methods. It's just that you mix your colours on screen, rather than puddling in pigments, which I really suck at!

Hehe, this little Luddite would never have dreamed one day I'd say I absolutely LOVE digital painting! The scope of what's possible, and all the things I have yet to learn and get better at is huge. I know I have found my medium because I am excited and inspired by that thought, not defeated to be just a relative beginner.

Can't live without tools and equipment?

My Wacom (of course!). I've had it for five years now, so the wear and tear has polished it to perfection and my pen glides just right!
Tea and/or coffee, I'm not fussy which variety as long as it's strong and I can have it on intravenous drip. I am a caffeine whore, which is ridiculous because it has no effect on me. I can drink coffee late at night and be asleep in twenty minutes. True story.
All my beautiful books, full of the fairytales I loved as a child, and the ones I love now that keep me inspired and young at heart.
Pinterest, where I catalogue absolutely every single thing other that inspires me!

Music to listen to while drawing?

Hehe, I am kinda OCD and can watch/ eat/ do the exact same stuff days in a row without getting tired of it, until suddenly I find a new obsession! My brother remembers that even as a child, I would watch 'Labyrinth' five times back to back every single day and still be fascinated! So, I have been listening to Jeff Buckley for about, oh, five months now!
I am also a sucker for audiobooks: Michael Ende's 'Neverending Story'; the Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry; anything written or read by Neil Gaiman ('Neverwhere' and 'Coraline' are my faves). Also LOVE David Tennant's reading of the 'How to Train Your Dragon' books by Cressida Cowell. Listening to these stories is like chewing gum for my imagination- so, while half my brain makes very precise technical decisions, the other half is like:
''Woot, woot, party in Fantastica!''