Natural Instinct

Natural Instinct are an Australian skincare and haircare range. They use all natural ingredients, are vegan, and do not do any animal testing.

As a long time acne-sufferer (PCOS), I was excited to try Natural Instinct’s 6 week challenge, which would become the gateway for me to discovering other products from the brand. I will begin by discussing my thoughts on the 6 week challenge and then exploring the brand and some of their other products in greater detail.

(TL;DR? I give an overview at the end of the post if you find the break down of the individual products too wordy).

The 6 Week Challenge

Cleanse, nourish and brighten your skin with this natural day and night skincare regime.

Bursting with natural ingredients rich in vitamins and antioxidants – it will leave skin glowing, soft and smooth.

The 6 week Challenge was a 3-step morning and night process, in which I was required to use:

1. The Skin Refining Cleansing Oil

With 6 nourishing oils for Oily, Dry & Combination skin, this anti-oxidant natural facial cleansing oil gently cleanses without stripping the skin of its essential oils.

A beautiful lightweight blend of six botanical oil extracts to gently dissolves away dirt, makeup and excess sebum leaving a non-pore-clogging ultra-nourishing glowy sheen.

  • Delivers 20%* skin tone improvement.
  • 100%* of women saw an improvement in evenness of skin tone revealing smooth, refined and youthful skin.

*Tested under dermatological skin specialist control – 30 women after 6 weeks of application of the product. Laboratory measured Skin tone, Miravex Antera testing 2016, Centrum Kosmetykow, Dr Koziej.

2. The Plump & Renew Serum

The secret to youth and beauty – skin looks refreshed, supple and glowing.

This highly effective, multi-action natural serum visibly improves wrinkles, hydration and corrects skin tone for youthful brightness when used daily.

  • 87%* achieved a reduction in skin fatigue and stress.
  • 57% *achieved a visible reduction of wrinkles.
  • 73%*of women agreed it plumped skin and tightened pores.
  • 63%* of women achieved significant improvement with deep moisturising and soothing skin better than a moisturiser alone.

3. The Skin Radiance Facial Moisturiser in the morning; or,

Ultra-nourishing, this naturally derived facial moisturiser will fight the visible signs of ageing and improve skin elasticity and firmness.

With natural ingredients such as Goji Berry and Kakadu Plum, which are rich in minerals, amino acids and Vitamin C, this moisturiser will improve your skin quality over time with daily use and has been proven to:

  • increase skin elasticity by up to 25%† in just 3 days
  • deliver up to 50%† improvement in hydration in 4 days

4. The Vitamin C + Camellia Oil at night

A high powered, lightweight anti-ageing facial oil that helps support collagen production and reduce the visible signs of damaging free radicals

Struggling to fall asleep, combat that wired and tired feeling with Geranium Oil and Rosemary Extract to promote – emotional wellness, calm the mind and relax, brighten the skin, improve skin clarity and rejuvenation, and release tension.

The promise was that in 6 weeks using only natural ingredients would cause “amazing” results. But, was Natural Instinct able to deliver on this promise?

My observations after trying the 6- week challenge are as follows:

  1. No change in break outs.
  2. Improved scarring
  3. Smaller pores

I was initially worried that the oils would trigger an acne break out for me, as I thought my acne was caused by an oily face. However, I didn’t notice any change in break outs, despite the oils being noticeably… oily.

While I’m slightly disappointed that my break outs didn’t improve, I still think the 6-week challenge worked*!

Why?

  • I have tried many different cleansers and most leave my face feeling dry and uncomfortable, with some causing peeling. In contrast, this routine left me feeling refreshed and clean.
  • No cleaning routine has ever improved my scarring. This means that while I did not notice a change in my acne on the Natural Instinct routine, I am over the moon that at least my scarring has improved, especially since new scars can often be indistinguishable from active pimples. Therefore, improved scarring still means less spots!

One promise that came with my 6-week challenge was an invite to their Facebook group. This group was meant to be a community of supportive women (and men, I’m sure), who are all in this together. Unfortunately, when I looked the group up, it appeared to be inactive, and they never accepted my join request.

I would rate the 6-week challenge, 3/5.

-1 for not reducing my acne and -1 for the inactive group.

My favourite product from the 6-week challenge is the Plump & Renew Serum. I also really love the Cleanser and the Vitamin C + Camellia Oil. I found the moisturiser to be average.

*I would say it took longer than 6 weeks for the challenge to noticeably improve my face, but improve my face, it did!

Pink Clay Cleanser

Cleanse, detox and brighten skin with this gentle Pink Clay Cleanser.

Formulated with French Pink Clay and rich in silica, minerals and antioxidants, it draws out oil, dirt and impurities, visibly reduces the size of pores and leaves skin clean, fresh and bright.

I’ve never used a pink clay cleanser, so I bought this one to try out of curiosity. You know how you usually feel cleaner after washing your face? The Pink Clay Cleanser just doesn’t give me this feeling… It doesn’t feel as though the cleanser soaks into my pores; and I’d describe it as feeling as thought I am just washing my face with water.

1/5.

 

Radiance Mist

A unique hydrating facial mist that detoxifies, re-mineralises and brightens, leaving skin radiant and refreshed.

Formulated with Earth Marine Water and Rose Water (Magnesium + Potassium rich) this mist will visibly reduce the size of pores by up to 10%.

Love, love, love this!

This product is exactly as they describe, and it works so well that I sometimes use it in the place of moisturiser.

5/5.

+1 Bonus point because it smells like musk sticks. 6/5.

Dark Circle + Wrinkle Correction Eye Cream

A natural eye cream that intensively hydrates, reduces puffiness and smooths fine lines.

Designed to hydrate and plump the delicate layers of the eye skin, smooth fine lines, promote skin renewal and eye radiance through intense hydrating, firming and anti-inflammatory active ingredients.

25%† WRINKLE REDUCTION
93%* achieved a rapid wrinkle and dark circle reduction

I liked this product, and did notice an improvement.

(In saying this, Proactive’s Eye Brightening Serum works better for me. But, the Proactive also comes at about triple the price, which isn’t worthwhile for me for the minor difference.)

4/5.

Gentle + Soothing Facial Wipes

Beautifully soft, natural cleansing wipes that will nourish, fight skin fatigue and hydrate skin with Rosehip and Argan Oil.

Cucumber and Aloe Vera help to gently and easily remove impurities of dirt, oil and make-up. Naturally rich in Antioxidants, Green Tea extract to help protect skin from free radicals and boost skin cell regeneration and feel soft, refreshed and hydrated. Dermatologically tested for sensitive skin.

I also love these facial wipes! They definitely are gentle and soothing, as Natural Instinct claim. The only con is they aren’t the best wipes at removing make-up.

4/5.

Overall

I love this brand and will continue using it! My skin truly feels healthier, smoother, and my acne scarring has improved massively.

My 3 favourite products from their range are the Plump & Renew Serum, the Vitamin C + Camellia Oil, and the Radiance Mist.

Overall, I rate Natural Instinct 8.2/10.

+1 because the brand are vegan and do not do any animal testing.

 

Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsed by Natural Instinct and have not received any commission for this post. This is an honest review.

 

 

GPK Erina Fair

GPK (Gourmet Pizza Kitchen) is, as the name suggests, a pizzeria located in the Hive at Erina Fair. GPK also serves pastas and alcoholic beverages; and is conveniently located near Hoyts, if one wishes to follow food with a trip to the movies.

Food

I ordered the Bacon & Mushroom pasta. I thought the meal was average. While it wasn’t bad, the pasta lacked the oomph that would have made it delicious.

My friends, who ordered a variety of pizzas and pastas, also found their meals to be bland.

2.5/5.

Drinks

I ordered a piña colada.

I thought the drink was thicker than other piña coladas I’ve had in the past, however I still enjoyed the taste of it. Despite the piña colada containing white rum and myself being a bit of a light weight, I never felt even the slightest bit tipsy, which does make me wonder if they forgot to add the alcohol… but, hey, maybe I was just having a heavy weight kind of day *shrug*.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine, who considers herself a piña colada connoisseur found the drink lacked the pineapple-y taste that usually characterises piña coladas, and she agreed that it was a bit thick.

2.5/5.

Service

We were served by the owner and we found the service exceptional!

My friend had a voucher for two free pizzas… and we somehow ended up with four free pizzas! One of these extra pizzas was due to kitchen forgetting to leave off an ingredient. They caught the mistake themselves, so the pizza wasn’t brought out to us before they offered to give it to us anyway. A friend that joined us later in the evening ended up eating this pizza rather than buying one for herself. The other extra free pizza was because a friend went home sick… His leaving had nothing to do with GPK, yet they offered us a free pizza anyway!

On top of this, the owner was funny (or as funny as you may find some lame dad jokes). He made the night enjoyable for our group.

5/5.

Overall

While we found the food and drinks to be very average, GPK’s service was some of the best I have seen. Altogether, I rate GPK 6.6/10.

Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms

Luke and I recently visited Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms in Wollongong because they were closing down their Ancient Egypt -themed room The Tomb (to make way for a new room!).

Décor

The escape rooms are designed around the story of the mad Professor B, and this theme is reflected in the unique décor of the bar. As both a nerd and a romantic, as well as someone who just generally appreciates good art, I felt like I was right in my element.

5/5.

Drinks

Of course, I had their Cleopatra cocktail. Concocted from Four Pillars, lemon, and Pimms, it was one of the nicest cocktails I’ve ever had.

Luke had their Lava Lava beer. Despite the sheer force of lava (and its sourness), he somehow survived!

5/5.

The Escape Room

You can read all about the escape room here. In summary, we loved it.

5/5.

Board Games

In the corner of the bar, we found some board games stacked on top of a piano. After many years, we decided to ignite some childhood nostalgia by versing each other at the notorious game of Guess Who?. I’d like to say I won, but I’m fairly sure he bested me 3/3.

I love that Breakout Bar & Escape Rooms have board games available. I feel like it’s something that sets them apart from other bars we’ve been to.

5/5.

Overall

An outstanding bar with an ingenious concept. Definitely worth visiting!

10/10.

Sweet Surprises Terrigal

There’s a new sweet shop in Terrigal called Sweet Surprises (and it was actually a surprise for me since I didn’t know about its arrival!)

They have an amazing range of international foods and otherwise interesting lollies… I felt like I was in heaven visiting!

I bought some pickle-flavoured Pringles (honestly, who knew that was a thing?!) and some Lucky Charms, which I’ve wanted to try my whole life.

The shop is set out nicely, it’s neat and well-faced (apart from the boxes in the above photo lol), and the staff are friendly. The location is convenient: located right on the esplanade of the beach; making the shop a great stop for some cheeky snacks on your day out.

I would definitely recommend visiting if you are on the Central Coast!

5/5 stars.

The Oodie

I knew I was going to fall in love with The Oodie the moment I saw the ad for the wearable blanket and I was not wrong! 😍😍😍

What is it?

The Oodie, with interior made from warm sherpa fleece and exterior soft flannel fleece, is the cosiest piece of clothing and the only thing helping this insomniac sleep through the cold, winter nights. It comes as a one-size fits all, which I find is very roomy. The cuffs wrap onto my wrist, locking the heat in, yet the arms are also big enough that I can keep my hands in the Oodie for extra warmth. If you’re worried about cold leggies, The Oodie also sell their own trackies!

You have the option of buying The Oodie in your favourite colour or in a cool design. For example, the selection below shows some of their available options. I own both the Cat Oodie 🐱 and the Navy Oodie and couldn’t be happier with either.

Your Oodie arrives to your house delicately wrapped in a ribbon like the gift to your life it is. It feels as though Christmas has come early as you unveil it. 🎁

If you already toddle around the house cocooned in a blanket then the Oodie is perfect for you. Being a wearable blanket, you don’t have to hold it up yourself. This frees up your movement so you can get things done while staying warm. The bonus? It has pockets!

I completely love my Oodie (and so does our puppy Maddie!) 🐶

What makes The Oodie extra great?

They have a 30-day refund policy if you do have any issues with your purchase (you won’t!).

🇦🇺 It’s Australian-made 🇦🇺 . Therefore, you’re supporting local when you buy your Oodie. (But they do ship internationally 🌍 too!)

The Oodie are cruelty-free. 🐑

You can purchase using Afterpay. 💵

Your Oodie is machine-washable.

Rating

5/5 stars.

I could not recommend The Oodie more. I initially bought my Oodie for our trip to Melbourne because I knew how cold it would get as we went south – and I have loved every moment of owning it! I even had to buy a second one so Luke would stop stealing mine!!

🤑 Save, save, save 🤑

Use code COSYXT8 to save $20 when you buy your Oodie today!

Albury Railway Station

Our Albury Airbnb host recommended we visit the Albury Railway Station before leaving the area.

The heritage-listed station, built 1880-1, is well-known for the length of its platform. As the terminus for trains at the NSW/ Vic border, the length of the platform is due to incompatible track/ train designs between the two Australian states, wherein commuters were required to transfer trains at the station.

Still in use, the station’s historic design makes you feel as though you are boarding a train through time.

Complete with waiting rooms, the station is truly stunning. The inclusion of a modern TV screen, an anachronism that blends the past with the now.

Here’s an interesting read: A newspaper article on the opening of the station, published on the 5th February 1881.

Looking for things to do around Albury-Wodonga? View Days 2-3 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Photo credit: Pictures not taken by me were taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing

Grease Monkey, Canberra

My partner and I were told the Braddon precinct was the best place for food in Canberra. We had a quick look around and decided to eat at Grease Monkey as it looked enticing, busy, and came recommended by locals online.

Atmosphere

Busy but not noisy.

Great music.

Great set-up with plenty of seating and heaters, as well as bottles of sauce and paper towels across the establishment.

5/5.

Drinks

My partner ordered a beer, which I (of course) had a sip of. It was their equivalent of a house beer and on their menu was called the Greasy Lager. It was cheap, costing only $5. I thought it tasted a lot like a Great Northern. We both loved it!

My partner also bought me a cocktail. He couldn’t remember the name of it and I was unable to find the drink on their website, but it was made up of rum, passionfruit, pomegranate, and came garnished with a lemon slice. I don’t usually drink rum but I really loved this drink!

My drink also came with a paper straw. I’ve always loved the idea of supporting the environment by using straws alternative to plastic, however I find that I don’t like paper straws much as they break easily and their texture feels gross… What I really loved about this particular straw is it stayed solid and was pleasant to drink from.

5/5.

Food

I ordered the Grease Burger (below, left). It’s a typical beef burger with pickles, lettuce, mayo, cheese, and onion. For $15, it was incredibly disappointed. It seemed basic with not a lot on it, and tasted as plain as it looked.

My partner ordered the Parma Burger (above, right). It was a fried chicken burger and was just as lacklustre as my Grease Burger. I even managed to find a bone when I took a bite into his burger, which could’ve been potentially dangerous had I swallowed it.

The chips were also disappointing. They looked and tasted flat and had a strong peppery taste. If this peppery seasoning had more flavour to it, the chips could have potentially tasted great. The tastelessness of these chips weren’t helped by the fact that the only sauce available was self-serve bottled tomato sauce. Having a great side of sauce may have made these chips amazing.

1/5.

Amenities

Toilets were clean.

I wasn’t a fan of the hand wash basin as it was open to the bar and eatery and I felt exposed as I washed and dried my hands. It also seemed like the noise of the hand drier was super distracting for other patrons because a few people did look over when I used it.

2/5.

Overall

I would highly recommend the Grease Monkey for their bar.

However, I would definitely not recommend eating here.

It was a nice establishment, but the bathroom section should be separated from the rest of the bar/ restaurant for privacy and sound management reasons.

6.5/10.

Looking for other activities near Canberra? View Days 1-2 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Raiz

What is it?

Raiz (previously named Acorns) is a micro-investing platform. Raiz operates both online and through a downloadable app on both the Apple Store and Google Play.

Raiz is perfect for those who are new to the share market and don’t yet fully understand how investing works, as well as those who do not have thousands of dollars to invest in one go (hence, Raiz is known for its micro-investing!). This means Raiz is perfect for young people, as we often fit both of these categories.

Features

Round Ups

A setting that you can toggle on and off, Raiz Round Ups literally rounds up the spare change of purchases you make using a connected bank account to the nearest dollar figure. The idea is that you generally won’t miss a few cents but man do those few cents add up. In 6 months, I have invested just over $280 from round-ups alone.

Raiz Rewards

There’s a list of brands on the app that, if you shop through their online websites, will invest a certain percentage or figure back into your Raiz account. The great thing about this is there are plenty of brands on offer, many of whom you probably already shop through – so, why not gain a little back every time you splurge!

I’ve already made some money back from Raiz Rewards through brands like Book Depository, Boohoo, Lacoste, Priceline, and Sephora. Since Raiz has a massive range of brands on their list, I always find it rewarding to check before I buy anything online because I’m usually not disappointed.One example of how Raiz Rewards would work is if you were to buy a DNA test from MyHeritage, Raiz would invest 7% of your purchase price back into your account.

Recurring Investments

While lump sums are also available, the option to invest on a regular basis is what truly makes Raiz rewarding for me. You have the option to set up a savings goal, which tells you how much you need to invest to reach that goal depending on if you’d like to invest daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.

Knowing what amount I invest regularly works great with their portfolio predictions. If I were to invest $300 weekly ($1,200 monthly) using the moderately aggressive profile, I can see I would have over $200,000 accumulated in ten years and approximately an additional $60,000 in returns!

 

Profiles

While we’re on the topic of profiles, Raiz offers 6 options: conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, aggressive, and emerald. These options mean you can err on the side of caution (conservative) or you can choose to have your finances fluctuate depending on the market for a quick return (aggressive) or you can choose somewhere in the middle, or you can even choose a long term option and make the maximum in returns but over a longer period of time (emerald).

In saying this, while there is always a risk of losing money with shares, that risk is minimised with Raiz as they invest their money in various EFTs (Exchange Traded Funds). Generally, your money will rise in the long-term though there may be short-term setbacks.

The images below show how much you will save + market returns depending on how much you invest per month. You can drag the graph up/down within the app to adjust the amount invested/ results. I have used $1,200 monthly for consistency.

My Finance

Raiz shows how much you spend every month, your average, and how you are tracking for the month. I tend to ignore this feature because it shows where I waste money… #guilty

Other features

Raiz also offer their own Super account and a kids account. However, I haven’t explored these myself and don’t know a lot about how they work so I can’t really comment on these.

How safe is Raiz?

I was initially dubious about handing over my bank details and money to an app. However, there are many facets of Raiz that I have learned through research that allow me to feel more secure about entrusting them with access to my money.

Firstly, Raiz is a public company trading on the ASX (ticker ‘RZI’). This means there is a lot of disclosure about the company. In fact, when you first open a Raiz account, they provide their PDS (Public Disclosure Statement) for you to agree to. I also found it quite reassuring to learn that Raiz is an Australian company operating out of New South Wales with an Australian Financial Services licence, and is overseen by ASIC.

If Raiz were to go bankrupt or be wound up, Raiz customers wouldn’t be left out of pocket because the Raiz deposits are transferred to ETFs, which are overseen by an independent custodian.

There is also always the possibility that cybercriminals could hack into Raiz and steal customers’ money, however Raiz is alert to this threat and has consequently implemented a “robust information security program.” In other words, this risk is very similar to that of having your money in a bank, which is something most people don’t worry about.

Professional opinions on Raiz.

In summary, the professionals think that due to account fees (which are only $2.50 a month for balances up to $10,000 and 0.275% for balances over $10,000) there are ‘cheaper’ methods of investing money. However, these cheaper options are often inaccessible to the main demographic of Raiz, young people, therefore Raiz is a great option for new investors.

My experience using Raiz

I love it!

I’ve only been using Raiz for six months, but I’ve already seen my savings grow exponentially; and not because of market returns, but because Raiz offers me an account to put my savings in that is hard enough to access that I won’t splurge but easy enough that I can draw on my money when needed (withdrawals are processed in 5-7 business days).

In terms of market returns, my account is currently sitting at +4.47% (while my partner’s is about 13.4% for the past year), which just goes to show how much you can make through market returns. I’ve additionally loved making additional money through dividends and Raiz Rewards.

I can’t recommend Raiz enough! It’s been the best thing for my savings!!

Interested in making your own account? Join Raiz today and both you and I will receive $5 straight into our accounts.

Lazerpig, Melbourne

Lazerpig is located in Collingwood and in a great area to go bar-hopping if that’s your desire.

We went to Lazerpig for dinner in-between Parts I and II of the Cursed Child at the nearby Princes Theatre.

We nearly gave Lazerpig a miss due to some bad reviews online, however since Lazerpig was recommended by a friend, we decided to give it a risk. And we did not regret this decision.

We arrived just before 5pm, so their restaurant wasn’t actually open when we got there. However, we were able to order food, so we sat in the bar area to eat and drink.

Atmosphere

It wasn’t busy but it was only off-peak.

Music was at a good volume.

Beautiful, dim lighting. Really made the bar look alive.

5/5.

Drinks

I bought and drank the Rhubarb Pie Cocktail while I waited for my food. The drink comprised of sfumato rabarbaro, sazerac rye bourbon. jameson, tasmanian leatherwood honey, lemon, cassia bark, and came with a strawberry garnish. I was shocked at how similar it tasted like Rhubarb Pie. It was also warm, so made for a great drink on a cold winter evening.

I could really see that a lot of love had gone into making my cocktail. 5/5.

Food

My Ronny J pizza came quickly, coming only after about ten minutes. Some reviews we read said the food took up to an hour to come out, so perhaps we got lucky since we went to Lazerpig at an off-peak time.

I expected my pizza to be hot from the jalepenos but I could barely taste them (I mean you know it’s not hot if Luke can tolerate it because he’s weak af for hot foods). On the other hand, the honey gave a lovely undertone to my pizza that I really enjoyed… It was tasteful in such a way that the honey was subtle yet added a unique twist to the pizza.

Though unique, my pizza could have been a little more flavoursome. 4/5.

Ammenities

It was a bit of a maze to find the toilets but they were clean.

3/5.

Overall

I had a great experience at the Lazerpig. I loved their drinks, they definitely had some unique food, their music was good, and the design was great.

I’d love to return!

8.5/10.

Check out Days 3-5 of my itinerary here to view other things to do in and near Melbourne!

Film Review: The Edge of Seventeen directed by Kelly Fremon Craig

The Edge of Seventeen (2016) by Kelly Fremon Craig is an American ‘coming-of-age’ dramedy in which depression is explored as the central theme of the film. I found this film to be relatable, enjoyable, and engaging, and, though there was an aspect of the film I did dislike, I highly recommend the film.

3.5/5 Stars.

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

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