The cost of spots

the cost of spots

My entire being is covered in a constellation of spots. On my left thigh I can draw the little dipper; as for my back, I avoid letting it see the light of day out of embarrassment. I wish I was hiding a regrettable tattoo rather than an endless sea of spots most likely borne from fake baking in my early twenties.

I was checked from top to toes last Monday: freckles, and moles (mole-y, mole-y, mole. Mole.) - nothing was safe. My dermatologist was pretty casual about the whole thing as she peered through her handheld microscope to inspect my largest bodily organ. When we first met I think she half expected to find something, and she eventually did. She biopsied an unassuming spot located just above my ribs because she thought it looked funny. What's so funny about a mark no larger than the size of a pin head? I wasn't even aware of it, it appeared innocuous, and maybe it still is.

Yet in the wake of parting ways I replayed my stupidity. Buying tanning oil with factor 8, turning lobster red most summers, allowing myself to get so badly burnt during the summer of 2001 that my calves swelled to almost twice their size and bags of frozen peas were my saving grace, and for being recklessly (s)unaware. I love the sun. I worship it for its ability to make an okay day turn good, I love the feeling of its warmth on my back, and I'll even go as far as following it just for another glimpse.

The sun bookends our days, and highlights our memories - how poetic.

I mean, can you even fault it for moments like this?

Sunset captured at Spouting Horn, Kaua'i

Sunset captured at Spouting Horn, Kaua'i

Yeah I didn't think so.

The sun though, it hates my DNA. I'm thirty-two now, and it's taken me one too many sunburns to realise if I want a tan it's coming from a bottle (thank you, Clarins), a hat and a pair of sunglasses are way cuter than a peeling part and premature wrinkles, and factor 40 SPF is the bare minimum.

Come next week, good news or bad, that funny, little spot left a tiny hole in my side for my past sun sins to pour out. Two stitches made me whole again, and the discomfort and inconvenience was a nasty reminder that the bright, burning ball in the sky is a bully.

A few takeaways from last week's appointment (I am not an expert, but these tidbits resonated with me):

  • Pink and skin coloured (beige/tan) moles should be pointed out to your GP or dermatologist
  • Moles that you've had for eons are likely nothing to worry about, but it's still a good idea to keep an eye on them
  • Get your skin checked every year, or even sooner if spots become itchy, won't heal, bleed, or changes in shape/size
  • If you have loads of spots, photograph the entirety of your body in sections, and allow it to serve as your skin diary for the next twenty years. You can get this professionally done, or have a trusted partner, friend, etc. take them for you
    • Store these images some place safe, ideally protected with an excellent password
  • A cloudy day won't protect you from the suns' harmful rays.

For further reading:

Btw, Supergoop (specially formulated for people with sensitive skin) is my favourite sun care range.

Going red, root canals, and a few of my favourite makeup bits from September

September was in all honesty a blur of a month, I turned 32, celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary, got a root canal (ouch doesn't quite cover it), dyed my hair red, and managed to apply some makeup in between countless appointments to the dentist. 

Blogging unfortunately moved to the back burner as a result, because I couldn't quite get myself to sit down and write. So instead of going into detail about the root canal, let's touch on the light-hearted stuff, makeup.

First up, brushes..

Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection

Real Techniques Bold Metals Collection

In late August Real Techniques released seven new brushes in order to appeal to both their grassroots fan base, as well as brush snobs like myself. Aesthetically pleasing to the eye with their angular lines and precious metal finish (rose gold, gold, and silver), and synthetic bristles -- read: animal-friendly. While I do love gold as much as the next gal, I cannot overlook the fact that the brush handles won't stay gold forever. Greasy fingerprints and annoying/tricky packaging take these seven brushes down a few notches in their hot pursuit of luxe-ness. RT brush prices range from $39 AUS to $65 AUS, and in the event you head to your local Priceline to check them out be sure to hit up the cashier as you won't be able to find them on the sales floor. 


  • Brush 301 - holy contour, Batman!
  • Brush 202 - the petite multi-tasker for lining the eyes and creating natural brows.
  • Brush 300 - this tapered blush brush was made for pairing up with Hourglass' Ambient Light Blush palette.


  • Brush 101 - the triangle foundation brush fails to compute, I just don't get it.
  • Brush 100 - the arched powder brush.. been there, done that. Plus there far better and cheaper alternatives out in the market.
  • Brush 200 - The oval shadow brush is too large for my small eyes. It can blend, but not with the same precision as MAC's 217.
  • Brush 201 - The pointed crease failed to leave a lasting impression.
Chanel's 2-in-1 Foundation Brush

Chanel's 2-in-1 Foundation Brush

Speaking of brush snobs, I picked this brush up, Chanel's 2-in-1 Foundation Brush Fluid and Powder, way back in August, and it's become the brush I'd like to master using. When used correctly Photoshop filters and the Healing Tool will quickly become obsolete. Sabrina's in-depth review definitely justifies this spend-y indulgence. 

Evo's roy wide-tooth comb (pictured in the first image) was an anniversary gift from Scott. Don't knock this comb until you've tried it -- made from recycled wood, this tooth-y comb really gets into the roots while the rounded ends massage the scalp.


Renewed Hope In a Jar Dry, as commented by my facialist, has left my skin looking and feeling plump, hydrated and youthful. Filled with AHA's, Philosophy's revamped formula spreads on evenly as it melts into the skin to moisturise, fill in fine lines, and promote gentle chemical exfoliation throughout the course of the day. Because of my sensitive skin I tend not to slather this stuff on morning and night in fear of having a negative reaction. *touchwood* Highly recommend this lightweight moisturiser for Spring and Summer, and don't forget to apply SPF!

And the scent, I can't help but think of babbling brooks and gentle streams.


Wearing look No. 2 from Urban Decay's Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette

Wearing look No. 2 from Urban Decay's Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette

When smoky eyes became a big thing again in the early aughts, the three colours of choice were black, silver and white; when executed on me I was left looking like a sad panda. Well, we've come a long way in the past decade, because UD's Naked Smoky Eyeshadow Palette for lack of a better word is sexy. From its plastic packaging, magnetic closure, and built-in mirror I seriously cannot get enough. Let's not forget about the four looks broken down in one handy insert created by Urban Decay's in-house makeup artists -- watered down instructions for the makeup impaired and uninspired, they help make the trickiest looks achievable. I was on the fence about picking up palette number four, but it was love at first swatch.

Maybelline's The Rocket Volum'Express was like a shot to the heart (in a good way). Mascara and I have had a love/hate relationship over the years. Just when I settle on a brand or a formula, without fail, things breakdown, and I'm left looking racoon-like. The Rocket Volume'Express' thicker consistency coats the lashes evenly and sets/dries rapidly, a feature more to my liking. My lashes are left looking fuller, albeit slightly crispy which I'll gladly accept in lieu of smudged mascara along the under eye area. Thank you, Diana 😘 


Becca's Champagne Pop

Becca's Champagne Pop

I like my bubbles right where I can see them, preferably in a glass. For the days when I can't imbibe Becca x Jaclyn Hill's Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop gives the structure of my face that extra oomph with a touch of ethereal glow.

Wearing Champagne Pop on my cheekbones and Marc Jacob's Role Play on my lips

Wearing Champagne Pop on my cheekbones and Marc Jacob's Role Play on my lips

Going Red

Growing your hair out is such a bear. Tired of seeing the dreaded line of demarkation between old and new, I made a huge leap of faith and dyed my hair RED, and I, of course, left this to the pros.

I won't go into huge detail, but I tried out a new salon and a new hairdresser, and was left with a sour taste in my mouth. I eventually grew to like the results (it took a couple of days), but now the hunt begins to find yet another hairdresser to take the reigns -- the red hair is here to stay (I think).

*PR samples provided (Real Techniques and Philosophy) –  Thoughts and ramblings written here are completely my own.

Liptember: help me kiss away the blues

Unfortunately, mental health issues and depression don't discriminate. I have friends and family members who've ambled through the darkest clouds. My words here can't even begin to scratch the surface of their personal struggles, but I can share my own story as a testament that depression can flow through the cracks and suck you right in.

September was typically a trepidatious time for me thanks to the new school year ticking over right around Labor Day in the US. Couple that with the fact that my birthday fell seven days into the aforementioned month, which should of been a happy time -- but, I was the awkward kid handing over the cupcake filled Tupperware container to my teacher on or around the first day of school while thinking I'd instantly become popular (never happened). The SAT's left me in cold sweats in Junior and Senior year, but it was the second year of university when things turned dark. Turns out living away from home for the first time plunged my already sensitive mind right down to the rip currents. Here I was 20-years-old, crying in the middle of the Gap on Newbury Street one lovely fall night, unable to see the tags through the hot tears -- with an hour left in my shift sizing underwear became less of a priority as my chest grew tense -- look busy, that's it, so no one would catch onto the tinge of mania.

I hated myself, the experience, for rooming with a girl who didn't even want to know about me, the gaggle of girls who partied at 3 AM in the common area, the neighbour who professed she was apple shaped after watching an episode of Dr. Phil and swore off all food (what does he even know about a woman's body, I thought), and the suite mate who disappeared in the middle of the night and to never be seen again after breaking down. It's safe to say she was having a much tougher time than me.

When you're twenty the minutiae of life really stings, and suffering in silence only cures the concrete. Instead of remaining stuck, I put in for a dorm transfer request to move closer to my best friend, Diana and found a counsellor. My sunny disposition slowly returned, I was finally able to immerse myself in schoolwork and comfortably socialise again, and I think my parents even made fewer trips up and down 93 in order to break me out of school. 

If I didn't change my situation, or recognise something was in fact wrong I think I would've given up on studying, and hated myself even more for squandering something I worked so hard for. 

Wearing three of six shades from the W7 Liptember range

Wearing three of six shades from the W7 Liptember range

Throughout the entire month of September I'll be raising money for Liptember to help support women's mental health; all donations will go directly to Lifeline, a crisis support hotline, and the Centre for Women's Mental Health in Australia.

Or, you could purchase a neon Liptember shade from Chemist Warehouse, and wear it proudly throughout the month of September.

Go on, make the first donation, you won't regret it!

What is Lash Lifting?

I've always wanted to get my lashes tinted, but when I saw an ad for lash lifting at Brow Theory, I shrugged my shoulders, figured 'why the heck not' and booked in for a lash lift in one months' time. All for the sake of investigative journalism, am I right? Thing is, I didn't know what it entailed, so I did a bit of research as the days ticked closer, and almost nearly chickened out the night before.

So, what is lash lifting?

Lash lifting is a process whereby a silicone tube is glued along the lash line, the lashes are then wrapped around the contour of the tube and fixed in place. A chemical (smells of the same chemicals used to perm hair) is then gently painted onto the lashes and left to process for approximately 10 minutes. Once the lashes are decidedly lifted, a tint is applied to the lashes to further accentuate them.

From start to finish I was in the chair for a good 40 minutes, and in that time I had moments of doubt, a touch of fear, and 'OMG, what if I can never see again?'. Sometimes I like to think of myself as an eternal optimist, but in a moment of weakness and unknowing I plunged head first into the depths of hell. I guess the thing that bothered me the most was having to keep my eyes closed for what seemed like an eternity -- it was difficult to do while listening to the background music swirl together with the garbled voices as they bounced off the halls of the Strand Arcade. Part of me wished I made Scott come along to hold my hand and tell me it would all be okay. Alas.

The lash glue was the other annoying bit, especially when the brow technician pried the lids apart to make sure she didn't actually glue my eyes shut -- this is when my mind went into overdrive and immediately filled with regret.

Can you say neurotic?

Lash tinting, by contrast, was a breeze, it took less than five minutes and wasn't nearly as burdensome (read: scary). It's been about a week since I got my lashes lifted -- for the price ($80!!) and the heartache I don't think I'd necessarily do it again. I guess it was worth it in that I haven't used a lash curler or mascara since doing this, but now that my lashes are curled to the extreme I've become hyper aware of them from all the tickling. Yes, my lashes tickle and annoy me (First World problems).

I left with a bit of nervous energy and absolutely spaced on asking about any special care requirements, so I called back and was advised to avoid using moisturisers, eye creams and eye makeup removers for the first 24 hours. Lash lifting should last between 8 to 10 weeks so long as you prescribe to the initial instructions; the tint will likely be halved in terms of longevity thanks to regular face washing.

The results

No mascara

No mascara



Post lash lift, no mascara

Post lash lift, no mascara

One week post lash lift, no mascara

One week post lash lift, no mascara

You can check out my before and after photos over on Brow Theory's Instagram page. If you're totally head over heels in love with the results, be sure to enter their Instagram competition before 9 August 2015 for a free lash lift for you and your BFFL.