Stylebar’s hidden gem 

I was due for a cut and colour last week and decided for logistics reasons to try the Stylebar at De Ville centre in Durbanville. Besides the no-traffic cruise over the hill to get there – what a pleasure – I am so glad I tried De Ville. We see and hear a lot from their Tygervalley store down the road but don’t hear much about this branch. Besides being beautifully decorated the stylists were so warm and welcoming, efficient and passionate about hair! I felt they paid a lot of attention to the details.

As a dedicated blonde I’ve never in my life ‘gone darker for winter’ so I thought I would give it a try. The dark blonde I wanted was inspired by Taylor Swift’s hair colour, so I brought a couple of pictures along and I think they recreated the colour perfectly after checking the condition of my hair. It is also actually a close match to my natural hair colour so I think the regrowth won’t even be noticeable and it matches my eyebrows too. When I was brought my cappuccino my stylist Kerryn told me she had looked for the biggest mug she could find…that’s the way to my heart right there, even without the fact they got my colour spot on.

It is so nice to have a real change for a few months. They say a change is as good as a holiday – not sure about that, but it does come close! It’s quite invigorating to have a fresh start. This is the result under the salon lighting – it tends to look more blonde in certain lighting and a bit darker in other lighting, which I really like.

I also thought it would be fun to look back at my Style Bar journey so far and compare the evolution of my hair over the past few months. These are the incarnations it has been through. After years of very long, Barbie-blonde hair it has been quite an out-the-box experience. If you live in the Northern Suburbs I would really recommend Style Bar in De Ville Centre. The parking was a breeze, the salon quick and easy to access, and the stylists are really friendly and dedicated. To book you can call 021-975 8440.  

Diorskin Nude Air

Dior’s light-as-air serum foundation 

Following the likes of Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion, YSL Fusion Ink, and other similar foundations by various brands (I see Bobbi Brown has one too now!) Dior has developed their own Diorskin Nude Air Serum Foundation which basically takes the traditional notion of foundation and turns it on its head. I hesitated over buying this as I bought the Diorskin Nude Star foundation a while ago, but since we don’t get many brands with this type of formula available here I couldn’t resist the urge to splurge. This was my Mother’s Day gift.  

So feather-light and watery that it requires a dropper for application, this is definitely the thinnest and runniest foundation I’ve ever tried. I don’t have a problem with the dropper and find it quite useful, but I can imagine it could get messy for those who have little patience. I got shade 020 which is actually my summer shade, but since I’ve been dosing myself with Vita Liberata lately it has been a match I can just about get away with. It comes in a glass bottle too, which is very luxe looking but I would be terrified to travel anywhere with. On the plus side, I’ve tried mixing it with my Diorskin Nude Star foundation in shade 010 and this lightens the shade without affecting the performance.

Diorskin Nude Air Serum Foundation

The formula contains volatile oils which quickly evaporate, leaving pigment behind on the skin. The reason I was skeptical was that I was worried it would cling to dry patches, and that the coverage would be far too light. I have probably said dozens of times that I suffer from bad breakouts, so I usually have quite a bit to cover. I have always moisturised very well and applied the foundation immediately after, and have never seen it clinging to any dry patches. Thumbs up. On the coverage front the reviews are right…it is light coverage and doesn’t cover blemishes or even completely disguise redness. I do have to use concealer afterwards, but then again I always use concealer anyway so it’s no hassle for me.

What made me believe that this was magic in a bottle was the fact that it literally disappears on your skin. It vaguely reminds me of my holy grail Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in the way it sinks invisibly into the skin…but this is like Vitalumiere Aqua with a sprinkle of fairy dust added in. It can be smoothed in with your fingers and requires basically no blending. I go over it with a flat kabuki brush afterwards in circular motions, not because it needs blending (because there is nothing there to see), but just so I don’t feel I’m wasting a very nice makeup brush!

Wearing Diorskin Nude Air 020 and Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder

It definitely smooths over pores, evens skin tone and leaves a velvety finish that is mostly matte but still very natural and skin-like. I think this foundation is ideally suited for normal to combination/oily skin rather than dry skin, as it could potentially emphasize dry patches. The longevity is also pretty good on me despite having a t-zone which likes to melt makeup.

If you are someone who doesn’t like to wear foundation or hates the feel of foundation on your skin, then this is the perfect choice for you! It is the usual cringe-worthy R695 Dior foundation price, but this bottle will literally last forever because you only need a couple of tiny drops to do your whole face.

Retinol 101 + Product Recommendations

I started using retinol in my skincare regime early last year, starting off by gradually incorporating a 0.1% strength serum and moving up over time to a full strength 1% retinol serum. When it is time to bring out the anti-ageing big guns, retinol is the perfect weapon of choice . Retinol is a dermatologist’s BFF because it basically tells your skin cells to act like healthy, younger cells. That’s probably the most unscientific and most basic way to put it, but it’s something we all understand. It can prevent wrinkles, increase collagen production, reduce pigmentation, fight free radical damage, reduce pore size in the case of enlarged pores that aren’t genetic, prevent blemishes and treat acne scars, the list goes on.


The How To’s…

Not everyone’s skin can tolerate retinol and it can lead to redness, dryness or flakiness. It is really important to start slowly according to what your skin can handle. Start with a low amount once or twice a week, then alternative days, or mix your retinol product with a regular moisturiser or serum. If your skin becomes red or irritated, then you need to cut back. Retinol doesn’t really get on with sun exposure, so it is best to use it at night. Since I started using retinol in my routine I have definitely had a reduction in fine lines and an improvement in the texture and tone of my skin.

Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Serum

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Serum

Which one to pick?

I started with Paula’s Choice Intensive Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum (R650) at 0.1%, but you can start with even lower levels than that. This has a texture similar to a light facial oil and is very hydrating – good for dry skin. When you’re ready to move up, Dermaceutic has has Activ Retinol 0.5 (R700) which I know Chantelle from Not Another Poppie is using if you want to ask her for specific feedback.  Although I haven’t tried it myself, Dermalogica MultiVitamin Power Serum  (R990) is also a really great retinol-based product which I’ve only heard good things about. I moved on to Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Serum (R845) because my skin was getting along famously with the old retinol. This has a nice airless pump dispenser and a light lotion texture. I also found it quite moisturising and emollient.  I received this as a birthday gift, but with the shipping cost factored in repurchasing would have stretched the budget slightly.

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0

So I decided to investigate the Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0 (R770) next, and was very happy to receive a sample from Conquest to try. I have been so happy with it and thought it would be useful to include a review and comparison. Here is the breakdown of what it contains:

  • Anti-wrinkle active: Retinol
  • Anti-oxidant actives: Vitamins C and E
  • Energizers containing essential minerals (Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium)
  • Skin restoring ceramides and cholesterol
  • Hydrating actives: Panthenol and Allantoin

I found the texture of this serum quite different from my previous serum, in that it is much more fast-absorbing and leaves a more velvety matte finish. The serum is orange-tinted which actually helps you to see where you have applied it and makes avoiding the eye and lip area a bit easier. Obviously the colour disappears when the product has been applied. Even though it’s a pretty strong retinol serum my skin hasn’t had any negative reaction and has tolerated it very well. It has tended to slightly dry my skin, which I’ve compensated for by using a richer night cream. I don’t find it as moisturising as my previous serum, but the texture is one I think combination and oilier skin types would prefer. As I’ve been struggling with oilier skin than usual for the last few months I personally prefer this serum. If you have dry skin then you might prefer the Paula’s Choice serum in texture. Since changing to Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0 I feel that my breakouts are more under control and my skin is more balanced and less oily. I’m really enjoying the good results and wouldn’t go without retinol in the future.

You can contact Conquest to find your nearest Dermaceutic stockist.

You can get more information on retinol here.


Brand-new Natural Lip Perfection from Clarins

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors have long been a staple item for beauty lovers, a fuss-free, non-sticky lip gloss which hydrates and adds a hint of colour.  Clarins is actually one of my ultimate brands for lip products as I have always been impressed with their lipsticks, their gloss and their lip perfectors. As usual their Spring range is full of garden-inspired whimsical prettiness, but the stars of the show for me are their new lip offerings. I have quite a bit to say on the new lip oil, so take a seat if you’re up for some reading.


The Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors are now available in a balm format as opposed to a gloss, so you get the same glossy, ultra-hydrating effect but in a balm stick. This must be music to the ears of people who don’t really like gloss. The Natural Lip Balm Perfectors come in six shades – rose, coral, pink, orange, red and rosewood – and are aimed at hydrating and plumping up lips and contain wild mango and shea butter. They also they smell delicious, something Clarins never neglects. I chose the shade rosewood and I love the sheer hint of colour, perfect for those “no makeup” days (we know why I’ve put that in inverted commas, right?). My only concern with these Lip Balm Perfectors is that the tube is very small, containing 1.8g of product, and I think at R250 a pop this lip balm could get used up very quickly.


 The other very exciting release is the new Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil, which comes in a limited edition sheer raspberry shade and a permanent honey shade. It honestly doesn’t matter which you go for shade-wise as both are basically colourless on the lips. The only difference is that besides containing hazelnut and jojoba oils the honey variant contains mirabelle plum oil and the raspberry one contains raspberry oil. I bought the raspberry shade because it was limited edition (I can and will go back for the honey shade when I finish it up). As mentioned, the shade itself is very, very sheer to the point of being transparent, but it does enhance my natural lip colour and give a major boost of glossiness. I expected it to feel more like an oil on the lips, but it feels more like a very thick gloss. It feels very comfortable on the lips and doesn’t feel overly sticky, and it really stays put. My lips feel moisturised for hours, although the glossiness wears off.  As a lip protector and comforter I think this has come out as my all-time favourite product, which I would reach for over my beloved Nuxe Reve de Miel and even my past love, the Dior Creme de Rose (if they bothered to sell it any more). Having pretty, glossy lips is just the cherry on top of a really hydrating and comforting lip product. One caveat though: I have heard some people say that their lips feel dry afterwards or that it doesn’t feel very nourishing. Although the majority of people seem to love it, and all the reviews I’ve read have been positive, it is worth bearing in mind that everyone’s lips are different. This retails for R250 at Clarins counters.

Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector in Rosewood (left) and Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Raspberry (right)