Review: Zoe Foster Blake’s Go-To Skincare Range Part 1.

20160831_thefile_0589-760x507Photo of Zoë Foster (Blake) courtesy of The File.

When I read reviews online about people claiming a particular product is a holy grail for them, part of me didn’t really believe them because I didn’t have “holy grail products” of my own. It wasn’t until I used Go-To Skincare that I was able to proudly say, yep, I’ve got holy grail products of my own now. As someone who doesn’t wear makeup (only a lip colour from time to time), I wouldn’t know if these products work as well as they do for someone who does wear makeup. Since I don’t wear any makeup, I’ve been trying to keep my skin routine as simple and effective as possible. Over the past few years I’ve used and tested many brands, and Go-To is the only brand that I’ve used whose range of products are consistently good.

I found out about Foster-Blake’s brand the way I usually find out about skincare brands: Instagram. She has a large following on Instagram with half a million followers, as a mother to a cute toddler, wife to Hamish Blake (part of famous Australia comedic duo Hamish & Andy) and in her own right, she is a writer and creative spirit who is very honest and funny. As the creator of Go-To, the brand oozes her same wittiness and sarcasm whether it’s through packaging or in their emails. As someone who had no current loyalty to a brand and needed to find a cleanser ASAP, I decided to give Go-To a shot.

Last month I finally went to her website, bought some products and prayed that I didn’t just waste $100 on products that wouldn’t work for me. Thank heavens I took that gamble because with you as my witness, I can finally say that I’ve found myself not only a holy grail product, but a holy grail brand.

THE NITTY GRITTY

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Properly Clean (Cleanser): I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch the video that was on the page because I was desparate for a cleanser, so I had no idea what texture the cleanser would be. To my delight, it’s a non-foaming and non-creamy cleanser (more mousse-like). If you’re not a fan of strong scents, I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news but this cleanser has a zesty kick to it (from the natural frangrances of ginger, mandarin and lime). I’ll take products with natural fragrances from synthetic ones anyday so this cleanser is 100% A-OK with me.

I use the Properly Clean in the morning and at night, and as silly as it sounds, this cleanser makes me excited to get up and have a shower because I have something to look forward to. Super soft and gentle, and would be suitable for every skin type.

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Very Useful Face Cream (Moisturiser): This might be my favourite moisturiser of all time. Not only does the smell remind me of something from my childhood (don’t ask me because I still haven’t figured it out), but its ingredients list is impressive. Packed with everything I want in a moisturiser like shea butter, sweet almond oil, sunflower oil and beeswax, my face feels like its actually soaking everything up unlike other moisturisers where it just feels like a layer on your face. I find that this moisturiser works best in conjunction with their facial oil as it glides easier and you can feel the product soaking in.

Another thing I look for in skincare products is if they’re travel friendly. For domestic flights within Australia, there aren’t any restrictions of liquids but I always think ahead to when I will eventually travel internationally where I’ll have to only bring products 100mL or under. Looking for a day/night cream that not only does what it says, but also is travel-friendly wherever you go? Very Useful Face Cream is your guy.

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Face Hero (Facial Oil): My favourite Go-To product, hands down. I have combination skin but during the colder seasons, my face becomes dry and crusty. It’s extremely hydrating, soothing and as soon as you lather it on, it brightens your face. It’s currently retailing at $45AUD and although this may seem a bit pricey, but for the quality and the amount of use you’ll get out of it, it’s definitely worth the money. Even if you aren’t keen on the other products, Face Hero is the one to spend your money on. There’s not more I can say about this besides that I use this everyday and you’ll 100% love it to, whether you have oily skin to dry skin.

The ingredients include:
Almond oil, jojoba oil, macadamia oil, brazil nut oil, evening primrose oil, buriti oil, arnica oil, rosehip oil, calendula oil, kiwi fruit seed oil, tocopherol (vitamin e), totarol, rosemary leaf extract, natural fragrance (orange blossom & rose gardenia.)

New Single “Bad Behaviour” Review and Top 10 Songs of The Maine.

16194947_10155026345595798_1507627544798523335_n.jpgPhoto courtesy of Guadalupe Bustos.

Starting 2017 with a bang, the Arizona boys recently commemorated their ten year anniversary with 8123 Fest, a large gathering that saw fans not only fly in from around America to attend this one night of celebration but also from around the world. This year is set to be a busy one for the band as they have recently released the single “Bad Behaviour” from their highly anticipated album Lovely, Little, Lonely which is set to be out April 7, while also announcing new tours left and right.

To celebrate the release of their new single, I’ve decided to compile a list of my top ten songs from across the years while I anxiously wait for their new album. If you’re new to The Maine, this is a good introductory list but I do recommend giving each album a thorough listen because you will undoubtedly form your own personal collection of favourites along the way.

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In chronological order:

  1. We All Roll Along – a classic tune from their first studio album Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop which was released in 2008. Admittedly, I wanted to choose “We’ll All Be” just because they play it at every show  but if I had to pick any song from CSWS, it’d be this one. For me, it captures the essence of youth and that sense of invincibility that comes with it. Altogether, lyrically and musically, it truly encapsulates what it feels like to belong.
  2. Right Girl – my immense love for this song comes down to the sentimentality of it, it being released during one of the most important times in my life — high school. Despite having fond memories of CSWS and B&W, they don’t pack quite the punch as much as their later albums so there aren’t many all-time favourites from their earlier works. Other than that, it’s a hell of a tune, extremely catchy and fun to sing along to.
  3. Misery – what an iconic era! The Maine cut ties with their major label and released Pioneer in 2012, with Misery being inarguably the strongest song on the record. Going from the pop vibe of B&W to a grittier sound in Pioneer was everything I hoped for and more. This song captures the spirit of the entire album and it’s clear the band had greater creative freedom and the opportunity to experiment with their sound. In particular, this song perfectly highlights each individual member’s musicianship and it’s just a solid rock song.
  4. Like We Did (Windows Down) – another Pioneer hit! Without fail, The Maine always have that one track in every single album that’s reminiscent of a road trip, staying up late and adventuring with friends. Similar to We All Roll Along, this song again explores the idea of youth and that same feeling of invincibility. This track sounds very nostalgic and ‘daydreamy’ to me, something I’ll listen to when my heads in the clouds.
  5. Waiting for My Sun to Shine + One Pack of Smokes (hidden track) – as Pioneer is one of my favourite albums, I had to include at least one more track. This is a chill song found at the end of the album and perfectly ties everything together. They successfully captured the apathy of the lyrics and managed to translate that feeling into sound. If you keep listening to the track, you’ll find a hidden gem at the end.
  6. Good Love – an underrated 2012 track from the Good Love (Pioneer B Sides) EP which tends to get overlooked sometimes. It’s one of those songs where I can’t explain with great articulation why I like it so that probably means that it’s another tune that appeals to me for the sentimental value rather than logical reasoning. It starts slowly and quietly before building into something big, albeit very short and sweet. You’ll have to listen to it yourselves but it’s definitely underrated.
  7. Raining in Paris – from their 2013 acoustic EP Imaginary Numbers, Raining in Paris not only paints the picture of a hopeless romantic in Paris but also feeling alone in the grand scheme of things, and a sense of emptiness which is represented in the lyrics and O’Callaghan’s voice. It’s a nice comparison of being in the City of Love but not having anyone to share the experience with. Also, you’ll start noticing post-Pioneer that The Maine’s lyrics become more poetic and articulate which adds an extra element to their music. If you feel like listening to a sad song about love, this one’s for you.
  8. Ice Cave – featured on the 2014 deluxe edition of Forever Halloween, Ice Cave is another underrated track that has a Pioneer-esque vibe to it — experimental and feels like they’re just jamming — which might be a key factor as to why it appeals to me so much, while the majority of FH sounds darker and gloomier than their usual records. Ice Cave has this certain ‘oomph’ and heartiness to it that ends FH on a strong note.
  9. Am I Pretty? – emerging from the darkness of FH and into, what seems to be, a happier place of 2015’s American Candy, Am I Pretty? is the most upbeat tune on the record and there’s no doubt that you’ll find yourself swaying and bopping to it. I feel like they’re paying a slight homage to CSWS‘s anthem “Everything I Ask For” with the obvious pop vibe but Am I Pretty? is definitely its cooler and older cousin. It’s a fun track and it’s obvious to the listener that they enjoyed making this song. It was also nice to see The Maine grow from FH to American Candy, and as Entertainment Tonight puts it — The Maine did seem to find a happier place with this record, while most importantly still keeping it emo.
  10. American Candy – I remember listening to American Candy for the first time and this song didn’t resonate with me as much as the others on the record did. It wasn’t until their 2015 Australian tour where I saw it live, that it became one of my all-time favourite songs from them. Seeing this song live and their energy on stage when they performed it irrefutably made this track stick with me. It’s placed as the second last song on the album but it definitely feels like a last track as it sounds very energetic and big, whereas the actual last song “Another Night on Mars” feels like an encore so placing these two songs at the very end is like having the best of both worlds.

With six albums and seven EPs under their belt, in the end I couldn’t nail it down to only ten songs, so I’m going to give some cheeky honourable mentions to:

  • (Un)Lost – lyrically one of my favourite songs
  • My Hair – a whole song dedicated to O’Callaghan’s hair because, why not?
  • I Must Be Dreaming – the essence of young love rolled into a song
  • Steal My Sunshine (cover) – this oozes the amount of fun they had recording this
  • Happy – contrary to the title, this is a pretty depressing song
  • Take Me Dancing – feels like a warm and comforting hug
  • When I’m at Home – lyrically strong and cool riffs

You can listen to The Maine’s new single “Bad Behaviour” below. As John from ARTV says, this song is a good indication of what’s to come in their new album Lovely, Little, Lonely but probably won’t be one of my favourites on the record. Unlike their older albums, there isn’t a dramatic shift in sound or aesthetics from its predecessor, so it feels like this grew quite organically from American Candy which is a testament to the fact that they are in a really good place at the moment.

Pre-order their new album here and check out their tour dates here! For AUS and NZ fans, The Maine will be supporting All Time Low on their tour down under in May.

Review: Mecca Cosmetica “To Save Face SPF30+ Facial Sunscreen”

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For some strange reason I’ve been struggling to find a SPF moisturiser. I take full responsibility for this because I’m extremely picky with what skincare products I purchase. At the end of the day, quality is most valuable to me. In this instance, I didn’t care if it the moisturiser was SPF15+ or higher, I didn’t care if it was available from the chemist or from a high-end store.  After back-and-forth research and constant deliberation between numerous brands, my curiosity to try Mecca Cosmetica’s sunscreen always remained in the back of my mind.

After several months of putting it off, I finally decided to head to Mecca and buy it. The biggest downside that, I think, didn’t make me buy it immediately was it’s price. It is currently selling for AUD $38, which in my opinion is incredibly expensive for a moisturiser/sunscreen. However, I was happily compensated by the product’s quality.

I’m always searching for reliable skincare products, and it’s always a gamble because I’m never sure what product will be compatible with my skin and which ones won’t. I’ve tried countless products through the years so when something suits my skin, I instantly know. Mecca’s sunscreen is now one of those few products.

This is a weightless, matte finish cream. Although it dries and feels weightless, the moisturiser’s consistency is thicker than regular day creams that I’ve used. Because of its thicker consistency, it means that a little goes a long way (which is another pro after spending $38 on it). I have combination skin during the hotter and more humid seasons, and drier skin during the colder months, so I’m hoping this is a product that I can carry out through the entire year.

To Save Face SPF30+ Facial Sunscreen is incredibly light, non-greasy, and smells like a dream (pomegranate, to be specific) so if you’ve struggled finding a good moisturiser with an SPF like I have, then I highly recommend this gem!

Available at your local Mecca store or online.

Happy shopping

Trixie

Review: Troye Sivan’s “Blue Neighbourhood”

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Rating: ★★★★

Australian YouTube personality, singer, and LBGTQ advocate Troye Sivan has made waves in the music scene with Blue Neighbourhood, released in December 2015, with sixteen tracks in total. The album has managed to appeal to every music magazine, with reviews commending the young artist and general ratings of no less than 4 stars.

I first found about Sivan on YouTube, like most of his fans did, circa 2010-2011. I categorise YouTubers stars in two sections: the old school, and the new school. Old school include the classics like Nigahiga, Smosh, KevJumba and mychonny, who paved the way from new school personalities like Zoella, Tyler Oakley, IISuperwomanII, danisnotonfire – which Troye Sivan falls under. Admittedly, I never watched much of Sivan’s videos so when I heard about the release of Blue Neighbourhood, I wasn’t in a rush to listen to it.

The music video for YOUTH was released yesterday, which sparked my interest in listening to the rest of the album. The sound of YOUTH is probably the happiest and most danceable song on Blue Neighbourhood (besides WILD), making me reminiscent of old memories with old friends. Undoubtedly, the theme of Blue Neighbourhood are the three big L’s of every relationship: love, longing, and loss. Sivan perfectly executes the natural cycle of love with a delicate, dreamy, and melancholic sound. It’s hard to listen to this album without opening old wounds.

One of my favourite things about this album is that Sivan showcases local Australian talent, including Adelaide’s rap queen Tkay Maizda and Melbourne’s Allday. Although I don’t listen to Maizda and Allay frequently, it’s rewarding as a fellow Australian to imagine millions of people getting a taste our talent. Blue Neighbourhood captures the pop/alternative/electronic crossover that’s currently popular in the music scene, while simultaneously channelling sounds from the 90’s (think 90’s slow R’n’B tracks). However I found myself thinking how this record reminded me of Frank Ocean’s 2012 channel ORANGE as well.

Album standouts:

QUIET
YOUTH
for him.
SUBURBIA
BLUE

I’ve always had a soft spot for simple, stripped-down love songs so the very moment I heard the slow playing of the piano, I knew that the 15th song, BLUE, would be my favourite song on the album. A softly sung first verse by Sivan followed by a smooth chorus by Australian writer/producer/artist Alex Hope marked my doom. Scrolling the Internet to pass time, this song managed to stop me in my tracks. The entirety of the song is composed softly, sung intimately, and lyrically, it paints the imagery of a person consumed with so much love that they’re willing to do anything for their partner’s happiness .

Sivan perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be young and in love – the dedication, devotion, desperation to the hope and the loneliness – the pure love and the pure heartbreak. Blue Neighbourhood isn’t a cure but moreover the perfect companion for your heavy heart, and the nostalgia and melancholy that comes with it.

Happy listening,

trixiewrites.

Watch Troye Sivan’s music video for YOUTH below.

Concert Review: The Maine Brisbane Show 2015

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The highly anticipated Australian tour has come and gone far too quickly. Consisting of only three dates (Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne), The Maine have finally made it down under after two years away from our shores, following their recent album release of American Candy. Fans have been able to catch The Maine at Soundwave in 2011, as support for Taking Back Sunday in 2012, and then in 2013 supporting their friends Anberlin. Although they haven’t returned in two years, the crowds at their 2015 shows welcomed the Arizona-based band back with open arms.

Over the past few years that they’ve been in Australia, it’s either for a festival or as a support band. This essentially means that they play less than ten songs, which isn’t that much considering that they now have five albums and two EPs under their belt. With their long-awaited and well-deserved headline tour, fans were blessed with an entire hour-and-a-half long set. I’m not sure how I dealt with their thirty-minute sets before because tonight wasn’t long enough for me at all. Time absolutely flew by.

I attended their Brisbane date at The Brightside, and it’s been about three years since I last saw The Maine so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Reflecting back on it, I think this was a good thing in the end. It felt like I was seeing them for the first time all over again. If anything, they were more energetic and happy than the last time I saw them, but this tour they were probably buzzing from the impressive turnout after such a long time away.

The atmosphere was one of love and support from both the fans and the band. There was a general consensus among fans who were so happy and relieved that The Maine had finally returned – and with a full set-list! We hit the jackpot! Apart from your typical adolescent male heckler, who was probably fresh out of school and was feeling especially confident with his high school crew with him, there was a mutual respect between the audience and the band. Between personal anecdotes and performing, the lead singer John O’Callaghan constantly expressed his gratitude at every opportunity he got.

The Maine Brisbane Show setlist (30/11/15)
Another Night On Mars
Right Girl
Diet Soda Society
My Heroine
Misery
When I’m At Home
I Must Be Dreaming
Miles Away
Everything I Ask For
Am I Pretty
Some Days
Into Your Arms (acoustic)
Like We Did (Windows Down)
Sad Songs
English Girls
Growing Up
American Candy

The Maine kicked off their show with “Another Night On Mars”. I’ve always imagined this as a closing song, due to the fact it’s the last one on American Candy, but that night I was proven wrong. It turns out it works just as effectively as the opening song. Another Night On Mars is an anthem-tune and with no prior expectation of actually hearing it live, I can tell you that witnessing it from the get-go made me ready for an entire set of sing-from-the-top-of-your-lungs-while-you-sway-with-your-friends kind of songs.

Their second song was Right Girl, which is one of their well-known songs from 2010’s Black & White, an album that solidified them as artists in the pop-punk/alternative scene. Their set had, understandably, a greater focus on their new releases, however the band allocated time for their old hits as well. Australian fans were blessed with four throwback songs: I Must Be Dreaming, Everything I Ask Four, Into Your Arms, and an alternative rendition of Growing Up.

To be completely honest, before the show I was unsure of what the crowd would be like. The Maine hadn’t played in Australia for two years and I was worried that there wouldn’t be a sufficient amount of people. My worries were immediately non-existent when I found myself in an almost-full venue. Talking to the guys after the show, they too seemed just as surprised as I was, telling me and other fans that they weren’t expecting such a successful turnout.

The Maine’s sound is always evolving and none of their albums resembles its predecessor, but a few things you can count on to remain constant and unchanging is their kindness and humility. They continuously, and without fail, treat every fan with respect and attentiveness. They are the most welcoming and humble band that I’ve been blessed to encounter, and I’m happy that 13-year-old me stumbled upon them all those years ago.

I remember the moment I discovered The Maine back in 2009. I was on YouTube, mindlessly going through one suggested music video after the other trying to kill time, when finally I stumbled upon The Maine. I remember it so vividly and so fondly; the initial click, and then the feeling that takes over you when you know you’ve discovered something special, something worthwhile, something putting energy into. It’s instantaneous, and if you enjoy music, I know you’ve had this feeling before.

Fast forward to 2015, I still have the same excitement, appreciation, pride, and admiration for their music as when I first listened to them. Watching them grow with each album, hearing them constantly improving with each release, and knowing that they’re really happy with what they produce has been a privilege.

As short-lived as the tour was, I’m extremely fortunate to have had the experience. I’m hoping it won’t take them two years again for them to return but their 2015 Australian shows are proof enough that we’re all still going to be here waiting for when they do.

Jared, Pat, Garrett, Kennedy, John – thank you. Special thanks to the Australian fans for making this tour a reality.

Happy listening,

Trixie.