Category: Travel

04
Apr

Can you take a toddler to the Maldives?

Yep. And you can do it very cheaply if they fit into your suitcase and are good at being quiet.

I jest! I jest. Luggage restrictions are so tight these days that it would actually cost more to pop your kid into your Samsonite than pay for his or her seat. (Also, where will all of your vacation Crocs go?)

It’s a valid question.

Last year we went to the Maldives – a destination typically thought of as being a Honeymoon destination, a lover’s paradise, a rekindle-the-flame getaway, and the perfect place to renew your vows or propose.

In short: couples, not multiples.

But while the bulk of resorts in the Maldives are perfectly and expertly crafted to exclusively accommodate couples, featuring the kind of luxurious over-water bures that would give any parent a heart attack, extremely sophisticated fine dining, and not a single Pixar offering on the in-house movie menu, what you may not know is that many resorts and islands in the Maldives, (an increasing number, in fact) understand that some families actually like each other enough to want to holiday together, and it can be terrifically bonding and the genesis of life-long memories.

And it’s no longer just the super swanky 5-star resorts, either: from nannies, to kids clubs, kids-only pools, and healthy, fresh menus for children, if you do your research, you’ll discover you can take the family to the Maldives, and if you’re clever, still thieve a respectable amount of couple time, too. (Bandos and Kurumba are among the better-priced resorts with kids clubs.)

Read the full article here.

But not here.

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Responses to this drivel: 2 Comments
02
Feb

Hey, man, we went to Hayman!

I know, what a brilliant blog title. No wonder I won the 2015 Blogger of the Year*.

But look, I know you’ve been wondering if you should check out the One & Only Hayman Island, it’s all you ever talk about with your friends, so I wanted to share with you my review of it, the latest “job” in my role as Expedia’s Cutest and Most Adorable King of Travel. (Self-titled.)

I went there with my husband (ooooooh, Zoe’s got a huzzzz-band) in December because as fun as it is to travel with a toddler, sometimes it’s fun to drink cocktails at noon, and read books and sleep on a holiday.

With these ludicrous fantasies in mind, my husband and I left our small human with his grandyhuman and nicked off.

We flew into Hamilton Island, then onto a brand new luxury launch to Hayman. We (“I”) arrived famished so went straight to the poolside restaurant, Aquazura, trying not to notice the 4000 small children splashing around the pool as we were seated. (Partly cos we already missed our own little guy, but also because: romantic getaway).

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Crisp chardonnay, a kilo of fries (and some fish, I suppose) and some creamy fig and honey gelato revitalized our weary bodies, and woozy and happy, we headed to our room for a nap. A NAP. In the afternoon! With no alarm or small baby to wake us! Goodness! Such living dangerously! Much craziness!

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Said room was completely fantastic with a side of amazing. We were in a stunning all-new villa, complete with an inside-outside atrium in the middle, which boasted a sexy pool and a little bar, and also the trees and the sky. I got a real kick walking from the bathroom (enormous bathroom, dream bathroom) outside past the pool, and back inside to the fully beachfront bedroom and sitting area. This might be because it reminded me we were in warm, tropical far north Queensland, where you can have indoor-outside living, (as opposed to Melbourne, where winter spans between 8 and 15 months a year) and it actually works, but it also might be because I’m six years old.

Read the rest of my review here.

Read how to care for your frogs, here.

 

*Criteria: worst puns and laziest posting schedule.

Responses to this drivel: 1 Comment
12
Nov

How to pack for a beach holiday with a baby.

It’s easier than packing for a beach holiday with a pet tiger, I suppose, but there’re still some challenges. And by challenges, I mean: suitcase space. Once I’d packed all of his stuff, I just squeezed in one sandal and a swimsuit for me.

It’s different depending on the baby’s age, obviously. This time last year we went to Europe for a month and all we really needed to pack was some clothes, a few colourful, rattly toys and my boobs.

This time he was 13 months old, eating normal food and wanes of toys in 20 seconds. And so, here’s how we chilly Melbourne cats packed for our magic trip to the Maldives with our teeny, non-verbal little buddy:

What I packed for baby

Swim pants (I prefer these over swim nappies, although I packed a few swim nappies too) plus a full body UV 50 rashie/swimsuit because sunscreening a baby is about as easy as pushing toothpaste back into the tube. (I like the Babes in the Shade ones as they’re cute and don’t feature angry animated sharks.) Sandals and walking shoes, a wide brim UV 50 hat with chin cord, and a cap. Assorted shorts and t-shirts and onesies… enough for one outfit a day and a few spares. (Special nod to Pure Baby’s little summer onesies.) I packed several Bonds Wondersuits because we adults had the air con at night, so these PJs ensured he’d stay warm.

Read the rest of this piece on Expedia, whom I wrote it for because I’ve tricked them into thinking I know heaps about travel, here.

Read about when to use the word ‘whom’ and when to use ‘who’ here.

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Responses to this drivel: 2 Comments
08
Jul

Your ultimate guide to Queenstown.

[This was originally posted on Expedia, cos I am their blogging Travel King, although weirdly they refuse to call me by my proper title or send me the crown I asked for. ]

Until a few years ago, I’d never been to New Zealand. No real desire to, either. I figured it would be like Australia, but, you know, colder. What a goose.

But in 2010 my husband filmed a feature film on the South Island, and I went along to write a novel without the distractions of friends/shopping/Sydney/reliable internet. It wasn’t long before we escaped the ‘bustling metropolis’ that is Invercargill, ahem, and headed to Queenstown. The attraction was instant and profound; this is a remarkable, astonishingly beautiful slice of the earth. Queenstown is now my favourite place in the world and we now head over there a few times a year.

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My spiel to Aussies who are yet to endure the grueling 2-3 hour flight over there goes something along the lines of: OH BUT YOU REALLY MUST. Queenstown and its surrounds has the most breathtaking scenery you can imagine: aquamarine lakes set against jagged, snowcapped mountains and rolling hills, plus outstanding dining, beautiful hikes, world-class wines, every ridiculous physical extreme activity you can imagine (read: good for kids or daredevils) and five-star snow fields.

My more specific spiel is as follows:

DINE, WINE, BUY

Queenstown sits in the Otago region, which produces arguably the best Pinot Noir in the world. While there are several billion excellent wineries to visit, I recommend Amisfield Winery (book in for lunch and pray for sun so you can sit outside and soak up the surrounds) and definitely buy some wine and have it shipped home before you leave, and also Gibbston Winery, who make award-winning Pinot Noir but also some of the very best chardonnay you can guzzle, and serve a fantastic lunch also.

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GO IN AUTUMN

To be fair, each season is as good as the next in Queenstown. Winter brings snow and sees this resort town heaving with funseekers from all over the world, Spring and Summer are picture perfect and ideal for hikers and bike heads, but Autumn is magic. Never have you seen such vivid colour (and such a spectrum of colour). Your best vantage point is in the beautiful little goldmining settlement of Arrowtown, around 20 minutes out of Queenstown, where you should take one million photos and keep an eye out for international car advertisements being shot on the winding, tree-lined streets.

SPEAKING OF ARROWTOWN…

It’s a secret foody go-to spot of ours. We love the breakfast and lunch at Chop Shop, and some early evening tapas at La Rumbla, and never miss a chance to pig on at the award-winning Saffron for lunch or dinner. (Get the curry or forever regret it.) A flick at Dorothy Brown afterwards with some wine and cheese is the perfect full stop.

JUST REGARDING PIGGING ON

Queenstown offers some exceptional dining options. It must! It spends most of the year catering to a well-heeled international crowd who demand good grub. My top pick for a fancy feast is Rata, which is owned by Michelin-starred chef Josh Emmet, and which is probably the most ‘fine dining’ option available. Next would be Botswana Butchery, which does the most succulent lamb shoulder for two on earth, and offers a warm, relaxed, dining-in-someones-house, feel. It’s perfect for a group dinner since they have private rooms, and it can’t be beat on a sunny day for a lunch outside overlooking Lake Wakatipu. (Start with Peking duck; finish with local cheeses.) Some other favourites are Madam Woo, which has a Sydney/Melbourne vibe, and offers hawker style Chinese/Malaysian food in a chic, modern restaurant (start with an Asian-style cocktail and prawn dumplings then definitely order the chicken roti hawker roll), and finally, there is VKnow, which is five minutes out of town and which does some of the most exceptional homemade Italian pizza and pasta you can imagine coupled with an outstanding wine list. The best breakfast in Queenstown is at Vudu, and it goes without staying (but not writing, apparently) that you must try a burger from the world-famous Fergburger. Queue too long? Grab a pie (and a Boston bun) from the Fergbaker next door instead. Deeeelicious.

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 OH, SNOW ON THEN

There are two main ski areas in Queenstown: Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, which are open mid-June to October-ish. Coronet Peak, (depending on weather conditions/icy roads) is a much gentler and more pleasant way to get your snow fix (and better for kids) than The Remarkables, which a bit more serious, and which can only be accessed by a hair-raising road brimming with hairy cliff drop offs.

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DO ALL THE ‘THINGS’

You know… the Bungy jumping, the skydiving, the helicopter rides, the parasailing, the paragliding, the gondola up to the luge, the mountain bike riding, the Shotover Jet… all the things. This is an adventure town, after all.

WALK!

Queenstown is home to numerous tramps and hikes. This is New Zealand, land of walking/biking/camping, after all! Try a three or four day hike like the Routeburn Track, which traverses the magnificent Southern Alps, or the Milford Track within the movie-set beauty of Milford Sound. For those who want a quick hit, try the fierce incline of Queenstown Hill (the views are worth it, and you will really earn your Fergburger), or the Moonlite Track, which is as long as you want it to be, and kicks off at Arthur’s Point, five minutes out of Queeny, or a stroll around Lake Hayes, which is scenic and gentle.

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RUB IT DOWN

Any ski town must offer decent massage options; all those poor snow battered bodies need desperate TLC. My pick is either Le Spa at Sofitel, (ask for RiRi if possible), who offer excellent deep tissue massages, and also a fantastic pregnancy massage should you happen to need one, or else make a trip to the spa at Millbrook and watch bunnies hop by a stream as you wait for your treatment to begin.

 HAVE A DRINK BY THE FIRE

Have five! You’ve earned it with all that walking and skiing and that, uh, massage. I love standing by the hearth at Bunker or Bardeaux (both in town) with an Old Fashioned or a Martinez to cap off a night.

A BED FOR THE NIGHT

From the superluxe Matakauri Bay (Prince Willy and Katie stayed here), or the cosy, luxurious comfort of Azure, (both ten minutes out of town), to the boutique feel of Eichardt’s Private Hotel or The Spire (perfectly positioned in town) to the English countryside elegance of Millbrook in Arrowtown, to the familiar names like The Sofitel or The Novotel, there are options for every budget, taste, or group size in Queenstown.

From backpackers to grimy teenage snowboarders to families and honeymooners and the superwealthy, private jet folk, Queenstown caters to everyone. It really is the best holiday you’ve never been on. GO.

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 Expedia’s blog has four zillion great travel articles. Read some, why don’t you?
Responses to this drivel: 3 Comments
19
Mar

My New York City list.

In my role as Grand Priestess of Travel Writing for Expedia (they are still to formally agree to this title) I was asked to write my ‘must do’ list for New York City.

Of course, tell anyone you’re going to New York City and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I must give you my list.’ This is BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A LIST and they are all supposedly “really good and different”.

So here’s my list. It’s really good and different!

I make no apology that 80% of the recommendations are food based. New York IS food.

Get joyful in Harlem

Red Rooster in Harlem is on a lot of people’s lists (their fried chicken is justly famous), but if you can, book Sunday brunch at Ginny’s Supper Club downstairs, and be treated to BRAINBENDINGLY uplifting live gospel music (I may have cried with joy, a hangover from my Sister Act 2 obsession) and a buffet that includes fried chicken on waffles with syrup. Add mimosas and there might not be a better Sunday.

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Pig out at Shackshack.

The ‘shack is said to have the finest cheeseburger and fries on the planet, a claim strenuously backed by me. Ignore the calories. Have a peanut butter shake. Grab a red wine and make a meal of it. Regret nothing!

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Buy tickets for something.

Go to a basketball game or concert at Madison Square Garden. See a Broadway show. See an off-Broadway show and wish you didn’t. Watch some stand up at The Comedy Store. (Get there EARLY.) See an exhibition uptown at the Met. Even if it’s just one thing and you shop the other five days, do it.

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Read the rest of the article here.

But not here.

Responses to this drivel: 13 Comments
05
Dec

Don’t take four serums overseas.

As a beauty editor, frequent flyer and now mother, I wrote a piece for Expedia on the golden rule of travel beauty, which is: take heaps of bubble gum.

No, wait. It’s: keep it simple. Or, pay the price. (Literally. In luggage weight charges.)

Preparation is king.

Travel isn’t the time to be wasting precious minutes on boring stuff like applying mascara, blow-drying hair, fake tanning, manicures and so on. So, do all you can before you leave to make your holidays a, ‘I’m up, let’s go!’ experience, rather than, ‘Just give me half an hour.’ Get eyelash extensions. Have a keratin smoothing treatment put through your hair. Get a spray tan. Get gel polish on your toes and get a nude manicure (no polish or clear) on your fingers so you won’t have chipped, skanky nails a week in. (Natural is the new black anyway.) Waste time on your appearance before you leave, not once you arrive.

Pack everything a week out.

Then, the day before, when you’re adding your daily essentials, (sunscreen, cleanser, foundation etc.) remove 30% of what you packed. You do not need four serums. Nor do you need your hair curler and hair straightener, plus three brushes. Travel provides a wonderful opportunity to do a beauty detox. I’m not asking you to look like a banshee for two weeks, but I am asking you to reconsider how much of your suitcase you are dedicating to stuff you don’t need and won’t use during two weeks in Peru.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

DON’T READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

Responses to this drivel: 4 Comments
14
Nov

Yes. You CAN travel with a baby.


As part of my fun role as a travel-type writer for Expedia, I decided to write a piece reminding new parents they are allowed to travel with their baby. Especially if that baby is about four months old – the golden travel age. It’s ambitious, but worth it…

‘We’re heading to Europe for a month!’ I’d say to friends.

‘With your baby?’ they’d say, incredulously.

‘Nah, he’ll go back to the family of possums we found him in ‘til we get back. Ha ha ha! But seriously. No chance. Babies are the worst at traveling. He’s going to stay home and mind the cat.’

And so went the hilarious back and forth prior to our trip with a four-month old. But guess what! We DID take him to Europe! And he was excellent. Especially considering he had to deal with jetlag, teething, flying to the other side of the world, and a new home every couple of days. (There’s a reason people say travel before they can crawl; I understand that reason very much.)

In fact, he even made us better travellers. We had to keep it together for his sake. And in stressful situations – say, a cancelled ferry and a six-hour wait on a stinking hot day at a filthy, windy, dusty port – his calm, smiley, no-idea-what’s-happening mood actually made us calm down. He reminded us that really, not much mattered so long as we were safe and had each other and he had food. (‘Me.’)

Here are a few tips I have if you’re about to do some summer travel with your baby.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE.

CLICK HERE TO LOOK AT MY LITTLE PONY CAKES.

Responses to this drivel: 5 Comments
11
Nov

Regarding very delicious burgers in Melbourne.

I’ve written/sooked before in my Sunday Style column about how people who say, “This is the world’s best burger” are dinguses, because they have not tried every burger in the world, and therefore their opinion is not actually qualified.

So let’s all agree to just say things like, “This burger sure is tasty!” and “Wow! This burger is the best I personally have ever tried!” and “Gosh this burger tastes wonderful, a fact which I’m sure you would agree should you ever sample one of the same!” so that we don’t fall into the very modern dilemma of unsubstantiated hyperbole.

Now, onto great burgers in Melbourne. A subject I never tire of, and nor do my greedy little tastebuds.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but last week those cheeky In-N-Out bastards (In-N-Out, for those unaware, is only available in the USA. Their wares are delicious. Make sure you try said wares when next you’re there. LA is your best chance) did a pop-up for three stupid hours in Melbourne with no warning so pigs like me couldn’t plan and line up like a grease-desperate d-bag. They pulled the same shit in Sydney in 2012. We can only hope these frustrating litmus tests are occurring to ascertain whether they should open a store here permanently. Here’s the answer to that, In-N-Out: Yes. Yes you should.

Shake Shack, who make my absolute favourite burger, have never done pop-ups in Australia, and probably never will. But that’s fine by because it’s a special treat when in NYC, and in a world where everything is rapidly homogenising (we now have Zara, Topshop, Uniqlo and H&M here, something I thought I always wanted, but actually don’t because now shopping overseas is that little bit less special…. that said COS is opening and I fucking LOVE COS, and this makes me take everything I just wrote back.)

ShakeShackShake Shack, you glorious bastards.

Also last week, Broadsheet, that gorgeous bible of tasty eats, published their best burgers in Melbourne list. (Here’s their Sydney one for the NSW cats. My favourite up there is the cheeseburger at The Fish Shop on Potts Point, which used to be on the Lotus menu and which they smartly retained despite changing cuisines and restaurants altogether.)

I don’t agree with some of Broadsheet’s choices, but I REALLY agree with Le Bon Ton’s wagyu burger being on there, which my piggy of a husband and I discovered and subsequently moosed down last week because we felt we deserved a treat since we hadn’t slept for about a month due to our son insisting on having “teeth.”

 

The_Burger_Adventure-LeBonTonLe Bon Ton’s masterpiece.
(Pic from The Burger Adventure a site I, as a burger rat, like to visit.)

Le Bon Ton’s is my new most loved Melbourne burger, an honour previously held by Belles Diner in Fitzroy, which no longer exists, because it’s now Belles Hot Chicken.

Try it if you can.

Also try unicycling if you can, but don’t be afraid to give up if it’s too hard.

 

 

 

Responses to this drivel: 8 Comments
20
Oct

I. Love. Greece.

I have a new gig writing for Expedia’s travel blog.

As you can imagine, it’s awful. They make me stay in nice places and see beautiful things and then I get to write about it. It’s the worst.

Anyway. Here’s my first piece, I wrote it on Greece. I just returned from there, ysee, and am quite the fan…

Thermal Springs SantoriniMe having a wonderful time despite the farty smell in the volcanic Santorini thermal springs.

 

GREEK ISLAND HOPPING 101.

I just returned from some time in Greece and wanted to rub everyone’s nose in it with a post about it. Sorry, I mean, recommend some things.

This is my fifth trip to Greece. I’ve been to the islands of Paros, Ios, Naxos, Santorini, Folegandros, Mykonos, Corfu, Zakynthos and of course, the capital, Athens, where I snuck into the Acropolis at night and had a frappe under the moonlight*.

Here are some of the things I’ve loved and advocate – because I love a recommendation when I travel – on my two favourite Greek islands, although Athens certainly gets a mention.

Handy and a little bit aggressive hint: Go in September. It’s the BEST time to go. The weather is perfect, the sea is at a delicious temperature and there are still enough visitors to make it buzz, but not the heaving crowds you get in July and August.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE.

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT HOMEMADE SOCKS.

 

Folegandros frappeSonny, his thighs and I enjoying a frappe on sweet little Folegandros

 

Responses to this drivel: 4 Comments
15
Oct

Rather Good Things.

Here’s a list of some Rather Good Things. I’ve mentioned before how much I crave recommendations on everything, so I just arrogantly assume others feel the same way.

Oh come on. I know you love lists. Seen you on Buzzfeed, getting your list fix. Cute animals. Seeing if you’re a real 90s baby. Etc.

1. Cinnamon Scrolls from Oregano Bakery in Sydney.

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I found these cult scrolls when my friends bought me a six pack of them the day before The Logies a few years back. Which seemed a bit cruel at the time, but they weren’t to know I was in pre-event tight-dress sashimi and berries only mode. I of course ate two the moment I got back to my hotel room post-Logies. Obviously. That Gelato Messina did an Oregano Cinnamon Scroll flavour earlier this year has only strengthened my adoration. Obviously.

 

2. The iPhone 6 Plus.

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Oooh, toooo big, I thought. Then I got one. Day one started off with ooh, too big, why am I using an iPad posing as a phone? And then, by lunchtime I had changed my tune to, ooooh, so big! I LIKE THE BIGNESS IT WOULD SEEM. I like it because I can see more of everything. More of my emails. Text rallies. Webpages. And Instagram pictures look phenomenal.  While I am a complete Apple tragic, and I have a Macbook Air and an iPad Air because of their lightness and littleness and ease-of-use-anywhereness, I seem to still do everything on my phone. All my emails. Millions of texts. Researching online. Social media. All of it is done on my phone. (Especially since I am often breastfeeding or holding my tiny giant and have only one hand.) Now I am not peering, now I am reading properly. Everything feels fresh and new!  You Samsung kids were really onto something after all. (AND, it has a ‘recently deleted’ photo album in case, like me, you always accidentally delete pics you didn’t mean to.)

NB: I bought a case for it because the bigness and slipperiness made me feel like I was going to drop it all the time.

3. Surrender, by Slow Dancer

I found this album by serendipity on Rdio and it has been thrashed in our house. Because it is marvellous. Slow Dancer is an Aussie lad, it transpires, which is great but mostly I just want to say that this perfectly edited ten-track wonder is smooth as heck and the perfect dinner or driving music. (Listen for free here.) I tend to pop it on at about 5pm and it makes the whole evening feel groovy and pour-us-a-winey. Put in on and impress your friends, why don’t you.

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4. Bright Starts Lots of Links

Another mum gave me these when Sonny was about three months. Said she found them useful, maybe I would too? Since then they have proved themselves invaluable about 17 frillion times. I go to text her daily to applaud her vision. They are perfect for his fat little paws to gab onto, they make anything playful, you can jam any toy, teething ring, soft toy (by the tag) and dangly whatsit on a ring or five and you have instant toys. They hang off prams and activity centres, (those play mats you lay on the floor with the overhanging bridges) cots, and they keep muslins clipped over the pram when Sonny sleeps. And they were a bloody lifesaver on our international flight/trip last month because we had new toys and new variations thereof hanging off errthing always to excite our baby and we were total hero parents. That’s what I’ve heard anyway.

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5. The DermaQuest Power Alpha Peptide Resurfacer treatment

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Cool turban, babe. Not so cool pigmentation.

 

I have had two of these at Me Skin and Body in South Yarra (Brooke, the owner, is pretty much in charge of my skin these days) in the past fortnight since I got back from being overseas in a sunny climate which, as usual, made my hyperpigmentation come out, and because of all the flying and sunblock, made my skin dry, dull and just so shit. The idea being that it will help bring out and fade that pigmentation but also brighten the skin in general, clear out all the grubby clogged pores, retexturise the skin and make it JUICY with hydration.

The professional-only treatment (in other words, you have to have it in a clinic or salon) combines lactic and glycolic acid to perform a gentle peel (this is pretty much the ideal combo of AHAs in my opinion for visible results but no flaking or swelling or even redness afterwards) with peptides, the darling of anti-ageing skin care, to rebuild and strengthen the skin, stop inflammation and diminish fine lines. The perfect treatment to get skin looking happy and healthy again. (Peptides become more important for us when we are in our forties, but they certainly don’t hurt to get into if your skin needs some extra TLC.)

I will likely have one more (since it’s racing season and I am doing some events it doesn’t hurt to have nice looking skin, ay) and then just maintain at home with my Go-To cleanser/face cream and Exfoliating Swipeys, plus a brightening serum, like Aspect Extreme-C. Triffic!

 

 

 

Responses to this drivel: 13 Comments