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Why brand loyalty isn’t a thing, but Osmo is

I’m not someone with a very strong sense of brand loyalty. I think it’s because of my change-loving nature and a general lack of sentimentality. I like to try new things; but it’s not only about the new-ness – the more you sample, the better chance you have of discovering something amazing.

In life and everything else, I make decisions about what I buy, eat and use based on quality, value, attractiveness and convenience… and not much else.

When I love a brand or business enough to keep returning to it, it’s not due to a sense of so-called loyalty but out of genuine respect for what they do – for example, if I seem to favour certain clothing brands or online shopping sites, I only do so while their style and taste continue to align with my own. If that ceases to be the case, I drop them without a thought – and when nothing really clicks, I keep looking around without discrimination.

If I do fall in love with something I don’t hesitate to tell others to give it a go. Usually, this is something related to food – a surprising but delicious pairing of ingredients, an amazing new restaurant – but sometimes, it’s fashion. I don’t expect people to take my word for it; I’m not often swayed by others either – I won’t be fooled by the fact that dress looks great on you, because I can tell at a glance whether it will also look good on me or whether it’s “me” at all. People who “copy” or “channel” others’ fashion and steal their shopping finds will never come to discover their own distinctive style or identity. That said… it can never hurt to broaden your horizons and at least contemplate new things.

Let me tell you about a “New Thing“. Today, we’re going to take a little break from examining food to enter a very different world.

When it comes to beauty and haircare products, I’ve always been all over the place. I rarely wear makeup and never foundation, so obviously sticking to a particular makeup brand or product range isn’t really a “thing” for me – I haven’t had to find the perfect shade for my skin tone or type. My hair, however, needs a little bit more love.

Being a colour nerd means I can never leave alone for long the bland black locks that nature gave me. Generally speaking, my hair is healthy and soft and it doesn’t take much bleaching to lighten it enough to re-colour it. However, keeping it up does mean sustaining a bit of damage, especially to my ends; and knowing this, I’ve always been careful to avoid “supermarket brands” of haircare whenever possible. But that hasn’t stopped me from buying all sorts of different brands of nicer shampoos and conditioners over the years – I’ve never settled on one as I’ve never quite been able to tell the difference! I can see the obvious quality discrepancies between a bottle of $6 supermarket conditioner and a $25 salon quality brand conditioner, but not as clearly between all the different $20-$30 products. So I keep trying different ones, in the hopes that one day, one will stand out.

Then I started using Osmo. Hailing from the UK from humble “cult” roots, Osmo arrived in Australia only this year and my good friend Kasia (who is not one to advocate for something she doesn’t believe in whether it’s her job or not!) handles the PR for the country’s only distributor. Osmo offers a range of salon-grade products accessible to both professionals and the average home user.

When I bought my first Osmo products, my hair was purple from the ears down. Not purplish-tinted, but actual purple. Being that my locks tend to require minimal maintenance otherwise, my first priority was to keep the purple vibrant. My second priority was to continuing keeping my ends healthy, and a very close third, to add body and volume to my thin hair.

My very first order contained a 1 litre bottle of Colour Mission Colour Save shampoo and a 1 litre bottle of Extreme Volume conditioner – the big bottles were a leap of faith, but not a giant one as so many friends had already tried and loved Osmo. The Colour Save product, containing anti-fade magic and UV filters, promised to prevent colour loss when shampooing my hair as well as provide it with much wanted moisturising, and the conditioner was said to make my hair weightless, strong and full bodied.

The verdict? Bad news first, though there isn’t much of it at all – my only complaint was that I’m not at all fond of the fragrance of neither the shampoo nor conditioner; but as they’re not strong, it hasn’t been an issue.

The Extreme Volume was extremely effective, and more so than the vast majority of the expensive salon volumusing conditioners I’ve ever tried. At times it worked almost too well and I had to take care to comb and style while blow drying to ensure my hair didn’t poof up all over the place from the fantastic lift the product gave to my roots! Yup, I could definitely see a difference here, and that was using only the conditioner without the Extreme Volume shampoo!

The Colour Save shampoo had less obvious effects, though I have no complaints whatsoever. It’s a lovely, pearly shampoo and leaves my hair moisture rich and the colour reasonably sharp after several washes, so yes, it does its job and does it quite well – however, I will not say that it is a big notch above other good quality colour protection shampoos I have used.

But then… with my next order came the amazing product my hair colour really couldn’t do with out. Meet Osmo’s Colour Revive range.

osmo_colourrevive

If you read the instructions for use on the bottle, it reads a little like a temporary hair dye like Fudge Paintbox, but it’s far from it! In fact, Colour Revive is totally natural, ammonia and peroxide free and infused with Avocado Oil, vitamin A and vitamin B and also acts as a deep moisturising hair treatment. And yet, not only does it protect and prolong colour, it adds it – by using it only once a week, it gave a very strong boost to the colour of my hair and prolonged the sharpness of the purple by at least 50%.

At the time, my hair was coloured using a combination of purple and pink shades of Manic Panic Amplified and Special Effects semi-permanent dyes, which tended to fade and lose its vibrancy every 3 weeks or so. With Colour Revive, my hair stayed shiny and purple for over 2 months, and also gradually changed a little to veer towards the deep violet tint of the Colour Revive shade I was using rather than the fuchsia-purple I originally had. This is by no means a bad thing – by the time you want to recolour your hair, the treatment easily comes out with a few shampoos and you’re all set for your next hair adventure!

Fresh semi-permanet colour

^ Fresh semi-permanent colour

6 weeks later, using Colour Revive

^ 6 weeks later, using Colour Revive

After a year and a half as a purple-haired Asian, I was ready for a change, though I didn’t realise it until I booked a last minute appointment at a salon and impulsively turned my purple dip-dye into a blonde-brown-black ombre. Here’s what my hair looked like the day after I took the plunge:

Immediately, I bought the Colour Revive in Platinum and squeezed less than a quarter of a bottle into my conditioner. By this time, I had also acquired the Colour Save conditioner and started using that on my ends for extra moisture, while still using Extreme Volume on my roots for body. As the toner the salon put into my hair washed out, the Platinum Colour Revive (silvery in appearance) kept my lightened ends pretty and blonde by neutralising the yellow tones in the bleached hair.

But I still had over half a bottle of Violet Colour Revive left – whatever was I going to do with it?! Early one morning, on a whim in the shower, I got creative. Using my previous mixing idea, I grabbed another bottle of Osmo Colour Save conditioner and oozed a whole heap of Violet into it and just squirt or two of the Platinum for good measure. I estimate that the Colour Revive to conditioner ratio was a little less than 1:3. I then shampooed and rinsed my hair as usual, squeezed out most of the excess moisture and slapped on my Conditioning Colour Concoction (say that three times fast!) almost haphazardly. I tied up my hair and went about my other showerly activities for about 4 minutes, then rinsed out the “CCC”.

Here was the result:

I was beyond pleased! I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen, but this was pretty much what I’d hoped for or imagined. I’m not sure what I would have done if it was a disaster, as the next thing I had to do was head in to work. To my corporate job. Now, I’ve decided to use my purple-ised conditioner once every two weeks or so to get the occasional pastel pink dip dye effect, and my silver-ised conditioner the rest of the time to maintain my blonde. It’s a perfect routine, and I thank Osmo for it!

osmo06

Some of my friends are developing slightly worrying Osmo addictions, because it’s that good – I’m not quite there yet, but let me tell you about a couple more products I think are pretty cool.

Every girl with long hair needs good dry shampoo in her life. Because of its fineness, my hair becomes oily quite quickly, yet I don’t want to use shampoo everyday for various reasons (hair health, laziness, colour prolonging, though that’s no longer applicable), but cheap dry shampoos smell cheap and are only semi-effective, and others leave powdery white residue visible on my dark roots. I’ve used just a few which have been good, including some designed just for dark hair. Osmo’s Day Two Styler is not specifically for dark hair, but it brushes through remarkably evenly leaving not a trace. It is as effective at removing oil as any of the better products I’ve used, better than most at adding volume, and best of all, it actually smells amazing with notes of citrus.

Lastly, the Power Dust is potent stuff! Just a couple of dabs of this miracle powder and your hair will rule the universe! Ok, not really, but it will double in size and drama, and if you have super soft hair like me which just won’t stay put without hair spray, this will help, too. But beware about using too much – not only is it unnecessary, an excess of the stuff will also make your hands and hair sticky.

After months of trials and experimentation, I think finally found a haircare brand I can be “loyal” to… for now. Are you as convinced as I am yet? I have no doubt I’ll gradually make my way through Osmo’s entire product range and I promise to report back with my verdict on each one.

In the meantime, you can try Osmo’s products for yourself; and while you’re at it, why not follow them on Facebook for tips and tricks, and success stories from other real, happy customers? Go on. Don’t just take my word for it.

Neon Happiness

You know when you buy something so awesome it inspires you to launch into dress up mode immediately? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

Solestruck recently had one of their famous 20/30/40 sales. I jumped in on the final day and bought some bronze high tops (Jeffrey Campbell, of course) and randomly threw in a pair of ankle boots by Gold Dot, who I’d never heard of before, purely on the basis of its amazing neon perspex insert in the heel.

I’m obsessed with neon right now. I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve never really been one to follow trends when they’re trendy. Neon is just the ramped up version of the standard bright, happy colours I like to surround myself with and this winter I’ve armed myself with as much of it as I can find. My hypothesis: you can warm yourself up starting with your attitude, which is reflected in what you wear, and vice versa. I wear the same colours in summer and winter – read: alllll of them! I don’t discriminate – but I definitely receive more surprised remarks from people during winter when everyone seems to expect you be swathed in black all the time.

So anyway, these boots. They are called “Helga” and other than the fabulous neon lime-y yellow detail, also feature shiny charcoal snakeskin side panels (which haven’t photographed very well anywhere), and have a 5¾” heel with a 2¾” platform. With those perfect “sweet spot” dimensions – thick heel, between 4 and 6 inches, 3 inch incline or rise – it was still an impulse buy, but as my order got en route, I became inexplicably more and more excited about their arrival..

The day the box arrived and I ripped it apart and immediately put on the boots – my, are they amazing?! I don’t know what it is about these. They’re ridiculously comfortable and as if a sign, the neon insert perfectly matched one of the shades of the Aurora Skye leggings I happened to be wearing on the day.

Ever since I’d put the shoes in my cart online, I’d been visualising them paired with my neon pink beetlejuice leggings. So clearly, that had to happen a.s.a.p.

Ow My Eyes!


Helga boots: Gold Dot
Beetlejuice neon pink leggings: Black Milk Clothing
Neon yellow stars and stripes top: ZARA
Breanna beret in Sulfur Spring: Cotton On
Merino ruched sleeve longline cardi in Black: Glassons
Wool blend puff shoulder peplum coat in Black: Glassons
Black chiffon shirt (worn underneath)

It was a Friday night, and I just wanted to head out and grab some Malaysian takeaways for date night in, so I changed back to my original outfit which I’d worn to work…

Bright Skies, Brisk Morning


Helga boots: Gold Dot
Aurora Skye leggings: Black Milk Clothing
Peter Pan collar coat in Teal: Oasis (Sold by ASOS)
Breanna beret in Gardenia: Cotton On
Emo scarf: Pieces (Sold by ASOS)
Chiffon placket top with bow in Moonlight Jade: Vero Moda (Sold by ASOS)
Long chunky knit cardi in black: Jay Jays
Disembodied Legs in Black Milk: Indie

Sorry about the delay in posting Part 2 of my non-leggings nylon winter styling experiment. I have travel photos coming out of my ears that I want to try and get rid of first, so it might be another week or so away. Soon: promise.

Non-leggings Nylon Winter Challenge: Part 1

Whenever I complain that it’s cold on a Melbourne June morning, people brush me off and make one or both of two assumptions.

One: that I should be used to cold because “where I come from” is very cold, because I come from New Zealand, right, where there is snow and stuff?

Two: Melbourne isn’t cold because it’s in Australia, right, and don’t they have desert and stuff? (That one is mostly from people who don’t live in Melbourne, obviously).

Ok firstly, I am from Auckland – the summers are mild, the winters are merely cool, and the average daily low in the coldest month of the year is above 7°C. Secondly, Australia is a big country, ok? Does Texas have the same climate as Maine? Up in the north, winter doesn’t exist. Here in Melbourne, more than occasionally we travel to work on 2°C mornings with Victoria’s impressive oceanic wind chill factor dropping that another 5 degrees or so, and that’s not even the overnight temperature. Sure, it’s no Canada, but we have Canadians here and they ain’t saying that it’s balmy!

So what happens in the coldest state (Tasmania doesn’t count) in the Land of Shiny Nylon when it’s one of those said mornings and you just want to inject some Shiny Nylon goodness into your day? Most will go for the leggings, maybe with some tights under them for extra warmth. But see, I have a lot of nylon that isn’t leggings and I don’t want a huge chunk of my wardrobe to go to waste every year while Melbourne has its five-month weather hissy-fit.

For the non Black Milk initiated, non-leggings items mostly consist of skintight, thin bodycon dresses, hip-hugging mini-skirts, swimsuits/bodysuits and shorts. Things that don’t scream “winter”.

There was only one way to encourage myself to claw out these pieces from the back of the drawers on a crisp July morning – I challenged myself to come up with a dozen general ways to style non-leggings Black Milk for winter. Here are the first six “results”.

These outfits are nothing to rave about (or repost on Tumblr) – they were actually all thrown together rather quickly and photographed in my living room in one afternoon. However, I feel they’re a demonstration of the many types of possible combinations of garments and accessories you can style with nylon pieces to make them cold-weather-feasible. In other words, at least for myself, they will be great starting points or formulas for creating a warm and stylish outfit!

Note: Where an item was still available for purchase at the time of writing (as far as I was aware), I have used a shopping icon which will link you to a store.

1. Weekend Fun
Shorts with opaque tights and a baggy jumper

I would wear this: out to a hot chocolate and shopping date in the city on Saturday, followed by cupcakes. All the cucpakes.


Gingham red shorties: Black Milk Clothing
Nico Shoe in Black Canvas: Jeffrey Campbell
Maffefka sweatshirt: StaffByMaff
Opaque coloured tights in Tomato: Sportsgirl
Boucle pom pom beanie in Red: Cotton On
Rainbow swirl earrings

Aren’t those JCs with the rainbow cork wedge amazing?

2. TGIF Drinks
Knit or jumper tucked into a skirt

I would wear this: on a Friday evening to meet friends for a drink or two


Metallic velvet gold skirt: Black Milk Clothing
Mya Spike shoulder Jumper in Khaki: Boohoo
Lita shoe in Taupe Suede: Jeffrey Campbell
Opaque coloured tights in Moss: Sportsgirl
Lurex knit stripey scarf
Amber and bronze teardrop earrings
Chocolate brown leatherette hairband with gold detail

3. Suit Up
Swimsuit over collared shirt, tailored pants and blazer

I would wear this: to a meeting I’m running, to be stylish and impressive at the same time


Revolution swimsuit: Black Milk Clothing
Sonita T-Bar Shoes in Tobacco: ASOS
One-button Blazer in Vanilla Bean: Victoria’s Secret
Pearl studded collar chiffon blouse: ZARA
Wide-leg tailored pant: Forever 21
Eden Eternity Scarf in Lapis Blue: Cotton On
Brown belt: came with some skirt I bought

4. Cute and Cozy
Dress with chunky or waffle knit jumper and tights

I would wear this: while hanging out at a friend’s place on a lazy Sunday


Beer dress: Black Milk Clothing
Lauren Batwing Jumper in Lilac: Boohoo
Lita shoe in Mustard: Jeffrey Campbell
Opaque coloured tights in Purple: Sportsgirl
Pom Skull Beanie in Burnt Orange: Cotton On

5. Brunch Date
Dress or swimsuit with cardi, tights and a comfy skater skirt

I would wear this: to look cute going to brunch with the girls in South Melbourne


Suicide of Morozumi dress: Black Milk Clothing
Ponti Skater Skirt in Red: Glassons
Lita shoe in Gingham: Jeffrey Campbell
Ruffle Cardi Sweater in Black: Victoria’s Secret
Feather Fedora: Forever 21
Red hoop earrings
Black 80 denier tights

6. Casual Date Night
Dress with “repeating” print over a collared shirt with crop jumper and knee high boots

I would wear this: on a relaxed date night with the boyfriend – Mexican for dinner, and a movie


Chopin dress: Black Milk Clothing
Pleated chiffon crop shirt in Black: Supre
Cropped Fluffy Jumper in Black: ASOS
Knee high wedge heel boots: Hannah’s (New Zealand)
Paisley and Leopard Scarf: Forever 21
“Sharkie” necklace (temporarily removed from original chain): Planet Rawr
Black and chrome chunky necklace
Thick cotton knit stockings with gold flecks

As this is my first “fashion” post, you might have noticed that (arguably other than my addiction to Jeffrey Campbell), I tend to shop at pretty ordinary stores rather than opting for expensive labels. I don’t believe that a scary price tag nor a groundbreaking design are necessary to putting together a unique style.
I would maybe love to shop for one-off boutique pieces all the time but that’s not reality, nor is it that important – I’ve chosen instead to have an expansive and versatile wardrobe of simple pieces with which to throw together styles in which the creativity comes from me.

Tune in soon for part 2, the second installment of my Winter Challenge with the final six ways to style non-leggings Black Milk when it’s brrrrrr!

The Swimsuit to Tank Top Experiment

When looking for a swimsuit to wear, I’ll never choose a one-piece, which I find hide the best features of my figure – yet I own about 13 of them, thanks to Black Milk Clothing.

Black Milk swims make me wish I did actually wear maillot-style bathers. You don’t know how many hours and dollars I used to spend every summer hunting down the perfect bikini – not only did it have to fit my small build with DD/E chest, but it had to be a design I liked and which was “me”.

Swimsuits

As one of the three most stocked garment types, and with new printed designs released at least twice a month, I never have problems finding designs I love in Black Milk’s swimsuit collections. And like many sharkies, to get full (or in my case, any) use out of them, I wear them as bodysuits as part of everyday non-aquatic outfits.

The only problem with only ever wearing these beautiful prints as bodysuits is that they obviously have to be tucked into the skirt, pants, shorts or whatever bottoms one is wearing, often cutting off a crucial or attractive part of the design. This is especially an issue with high-waisted bottoms. See the below example, where you can tell most of “Alice” would be hidden from the gorgeously illustrated Cheshire Cat scene if this swimsuit was worn as a top.

Cheshire Cat Swim - BM

This means that I regularly and unhappily decide not to purchase a number of pretty swimsuit designs simply because I would never be able to display the full print.

When Black Milk started releasing “long torso” length swim sizes, a theoretical solution formed in my imagination: I could cut off the crotch section of the swim to convert the piece into a true tank top which isn’t required to be tucked in.

I anticipated three problems in taking this approach with a swimsuit in my normal size.

  1. The top would be very short, ending up around the belly button if not stretched down without the crotch panel to pull it taut.
  2. If the top is fitted and tight, which it would generally be in my normal swimsuit sizing, it would definitely roll upwards due to the nature of the stretch fabric and the fact that there is no crotch panel to keep the piece from moving up.
  3. In the smaller sizes, print placement is often a little different and more of the print may be cut off simply by removing even the very bottom of the suit (ie. the crotch), hence defeating the purpose of converting the swimsuit into a top for print-retention purposes.

Problems 1 and 3, I decided, would potentially be solved by using a LT (long torso length) sized swim. I’m a mini-sized person, so even the normal swims are a generous length for my torso. For problem 2, I figured that sizing up width-wise would help prevent roll-age.

Excitedly, with these ideas in mind, I purchased a Cheshire Cat swim LTL (Long Torso Large).

I still had concerns. $90 is a big investment on an experiment that had the potential to fail completely and while I’d had Black Milk leggings and dresses altered before, I’d be cutting up a swimsuit for the first time! Among my doubts was whether or not the L, 2-3 sizes larger than my other swim pieces, might be too baggy on me; but generally speaking, bodysuits are very tight and formfitting, while some of my normal fitted tank tops in my own size are much larger. In other words, what is a little loose by swimsuit standards can still be fitted by tank top standards.

Here is what the swim looked like before the alteration, worn with a skirt and with Alice cut off at the bottom:

Cheshire Cat Top

And here is the result of its transformation into a top:

Cheshire Cat Top

I would write a tutorial on the actual alteration process, but I am not handy with a sewing machine (not that I have one anyway)! I simply took the swimsuit to my trusty tailor (who has worked with other nylon pieces of mine before) and instructed him to remove the crotch and cut a straight hem to convert it into a tank.

TANK TOP: Converted from Cheshire Cat Swimsuit by Black Milk Clothing, $90 SKIRT: Katie Box Pleat Skater Skirt in Turquoise by Boohoo, $20 CARDI: Ruffle cardi sweater in blonde-heather by Victoria's Secret, $29.50 USD; SHOES: T-strap Espadrille Wedge by Colin Stuart, $29 USD

TANK TOP: Converted from Cheshire Cat Swimsuit by Black Milk Clothing, $90
SKIRT: Katie Box Pleat Skater Skirt in Turquoise by Boohoo, $20
CARDI: Ruffle cardi sweater in blonde-heather by Victoria’s Secret, $29.50 USD
SHOES: T-strap Espadrille Wedge by Colin Stuart, $29 USD

So, all in all, a success! The tank is long enough so that it doesn’t sit in that awkward space between crop top and normal top, and roomy enough that it doesn’t roll up every time I move, and not so large that it looks ridiculous on me. A few minor issues to note, though:

  • Although the top isn’t hugely prone to riding up, it still does so a wee bit, if you’re moving around quite a lot. This certainly isn’t nearly as much of a problem as the ride-up issue can be in Black Milk dresses and skirts! And luckily, wearing a cotton cami underneath pretty much resolves the issue 100%.
  • Due to the larger size, around the armpits, the tank isn’t really well fitted, but it mostly sits quite well everywhere else. If you’re altering a piece yourself, it might pay to also take in the underarm area by a centimetre or so if you are an XS or small S.
  • Since the purpose of the tank is to not be tucked in, and the nylon fabric is quite thin, it looks better when worn on top of bottoms that are themselves not too thick. For example, if you are wearing it over jeans, be aware that the denim fabric, belt loops etc. might show an imprint through the bottom of the top. More rigid thick fabrics may also exacerbate the otherwise quite minor roll-up issue.

So, should you go for it? Should you buy a swimsuit, take the plunge and cut off the bottom?
If you a) are normally a size M or below and b) don’t require a long torso size as your normal swim size, and c) have been super disappointed at a swim you couldn’t buy because the print wasn’t suitable for wearing as a bodysuit… then YES, DO IT!

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