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Cosmo team blog

  • Diary of a health retreat
    2:59AM, Aug 6 Leigh Campbell

    I’ve been a beauty editor for about eight years and I have never been to a health retreat. Criminal, right? I mean, all the celebs go to lavish spas and opulent retreats all the time, so I figured I really should know what its like. In the name of research, obvs.

    I booked myself into The Golden Door Elysia in The Hunter Valley in New South Wales. I’d heard so many good things and seen images of blissed out people and rolling hills, so I knew it was me all over.

    The first day I drove myself through the Pokolbin around lunchtime to arrive at the retreat for 1pm check in. It struck me how ironic it was to have a health retreat in the midst of our states biggest wine area. Maybe it was a test?

    This video of ballet dancer Misty Copeland will totally blow your mind...

    Once I’d checked in (at which point I was given my fancy gold water bottle which I was to carry with me at all times to keep hydrated, flush the toxins out, you know), I unpacked in my little villa. I was very pleased with my huge bathroom and generous bath. I was unimpressed with the lack of mini bar. An empty fridge and a few herbal teas? Where are the Kit Kats? I had to remind myself where I was.

    After reluctantly leaving my beloved phone in the villa (they are banned elsewhere. For reals.) I headed to the restaurant for lunch, where I would meet my fellow Golden Door-ers. Lunch was a lush vegetarian lasagna, which was clearly healthy but also delicious. The food got a big tick, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

    I got chatting to a few of the other guests as everyone compared reasons for being at the retreat. Many wanted to lose weight, some wanted to quit smoking, and few wanted to get off caffeine and slow down in general. I fell into the later category. I couldn’t help but feel that we were in some sort of rehab (Hi, my name is Leigh Campbell and I am addicted to social media).

    Post lunch we were given a tour of the property. It really was a stunning setting and I felt more relaxed already. The spa in particular was world class and I was looking forward to getting my paper g-string on in there later.

    Next up was my health assesment. The nurse took my blood pressure, then asked what I wanted out of my stay. I said I wasn’t there to lose weight (even though I was keen to shift 1-2 winter kgs ) as I feared they might take away some of the yummy food. I explained I wanted to see if I could go without coffee and my phone. Oh, how I missed my phone.

    Before I knew it, it was dinner time. The meal (a Moroccan tofu curry) was sensational again, which made me immediately purchase the cook book from the retreat’s boutique. Very clever.

    5 superfoods for under $5: Simple supermarket foods that’re so good for you, they damn well deserve a cape.

    Off to bed at 8pm. Most people were not sure what to do with themselves for the evening, but I’m an early-to-bed kinda person so I had a soak in the tub and passed out (but not before I searched my bags for the dark chocolate I thought I’d smuggled in. I must have forgotten it. Devastated).

    The next morning at 6am a friendly knock at the door woke me for sunrise Tai Chi. It was calming and scenic, if not a little slow (but then again, I’m there to learn to like the slow pace, right)?

    The rest of the day was filled with activities like Bocce, a walk or jog,  under water running, boxing, hockey and yoga. I dipped my toe in a few of the activities but if I’m honest, I naturally gravitated toward the spa. It’s my job, right?

    The day I got my face tattooed: Cosmo's beauty director, Leigh Campbell on her awesome new eyebrows...

    I had a Watsu treatment, followed by a heavenly 80 minute salt scrub and mud bath. I was covered in oil and Canadian sea salt, then rubbed in the same way you might prepare pork crackling. I was then left ot soak in a mud bath before 40 minutes of hot stone massage. At this moment I think I knew how it felt to be Kimmy K; I was truly pampered.

    The following day I hated everyone and the world. Hello, caffeine withdrawal. I considered escaping, but realised I’d have to tell them where I was going at the gates. Laps of the pool, a few sessions in the steam room and a jog of the property helped. And I left my phone in the room the entire time – where is my medal?

    I left after my three day stay feeling very relaxed, if not a little bored. I certainly slowed down, recharged and felt lighter as I drove out of the gates. If only I’d kidnapped that chef and put him in my boot.

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  • What’s my ideal weight?
    2:14AM, Jul 30 Julia Naughton

    We all remember the Body Mass Index (BMI) right? If not, it’s a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight that tells you whether you’re underweight, overweight or average. Except that it’s bullshit.

    I remember calculating mine in high school PE, only to be severely confused: I was underweight. Great! I remember doubling my Curly Wurly intake immediately.

    What we know now though, is that the BMI is seriously flawed. Mainly because it doesn’t differentiate between amounts of fat versus muscle.

    Enter DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) – a new way to calculate what your ideal weight should be (that’s actually accurate). Last week I popped down to MeasureUp where Jarrod, the Exercise Physiologist there let me try out the fancy new screening machine.

    Before we got started, he asked what he asks all his patients: “do you have a specific goal for your body?” I told him that like most women I know, I’d love to lose a few kilograms.

    He told me that for women especially, it’s not so much about weight but instead, what’s made up of the weight you carry. So whether that’s fat tissue, muscle or our actual organs – weight itself isn’t the most important factor. Makes sense, I thought.

    The three-minute scan (which you’re fully dressed for) measured my total body composition (fat, lean muscle mass, total muscle mass which includes organs and bone density inallareas of my body). From that, it was able to calculate my total body fat percentage (mine was 28.6%). It also determined my risk of osteoporosis. According to Jarrod, osteoporosis risk is 80% genetics and 20% lifestyle factors (so, diet and how much you work out).

    It also calculates your resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories you need each day to survive (put simply, if you’re unconscious in hospital this is how many calories they’ll feed you through a tube to keep you alive).

    The best part was that the scan was able to divvy up exactly how much protein, carbohydrates and fat (in grams) I should consume per day based on my metabolic rate of 1448 kcal/day and my original goal of losing 2-3kg of fat tissue.

    If, like me, you’re serious about reaching your goal weight body in a healthy and sustainable way, this scan will be a much bigger help than any amount of protein powder.

    I’m heading back there in 10 weeks’ time to be re-scanned. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

    Yeah science!

    FYI the scan’s not covered by Medicare, but it is covered under most private health funds as an “Exercise Physiology Consultation.” You’re looking at $85 for the first session, and $77 for the second.

  • Fresh new sound: Lewis Watson
    3:23AM, Jul 16 Julia Naughton

    We chat to 21-year-old Oxford singer/songwriter, Lewis Watson about his debut album, the morning and how, this whole fame thing kind of happened by accident.

    image

    You have a HUGE online following, with 5 million plus Youtube plays. How did that happen?

    Well it’s kind of an accident to be honest. YouTube was really new when I started making videos. I was trying to teach myself how to play guitar, so I’d post videos of me singing a song, and I thought no one would see them, really. Then I’d go back a week later and look at me playing and see what I was doing wrong and see what I was doing right.

    What was the first song you learnt on guitar?

    The first solo I learnt was probably a City and Colour song, Comin’ Home.

    And if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

    Well just before this took off I was in college studying music technology. So I guess I’d probably be at uni or I’d just be playing gigs as often as I could.

    What’s currently on repeat on your playlist?

    I love Coldplay’s new album, and I’ve been listening to Matt Corby probably for about four years now. He’s kind of been a constant since I first heard his EP.

    We’re big fans, too. What about any Aussie female artists?

    I love listening to Gossling, and Julia Stone is just fantastic. Emma Louise as well, I think she’s brilliant.

     

    the morning is out now

  • I know what you did last summer
    2:08AM, Jul 8 Leigh Campbell

    Hyperpigmentation is the fancy scientific word for sun damage that results in dark spots and patches on your skin. It occurs when you sun yourself sans SPF (which we all know is very naughty). Its extra tricky because, often, pigmentation doesn’t make itself knows for several years, so even if you’ve been diligent with the sun lotion for the last few years, it still might surface from your earlier years. Hardly seems fair, does it?

    Winter is the ideal time to treat pigmentation because we’re in the sun far less. Most ingredients that are used to fade or lift pigmentation marks make your skin more susceptible to sun damage (while you’re using them), so you need to be extra careful. Basically, sunscreen is your BBF 24/7/365.

    So, what are your treatment options? Employing a pigmentation lifting skincare routine during the cooler months is the easiest approach. You can invest in a full set of products including cleanser, serum and cream, though it’s the serum and moisturiser that will be doing the hardest work. Most skincare systems take around three months to take affect (so you can see visible results), so get started now!

    Look for ingredients such as hydroquinone, alpha hydroxy acids and Retinol, as they boast powerful pigmentation fighting properties (say that three times fast!). If that’s too confusing (we don’t blame you), look for words such as ‘whitening’ and ‘brightening’  on the packaging, as that’s a good indication that the product is designed to even out skin tone.

    Beyond products, you have a few treatment options. Omnilux Revive is a light therapy system that rejuvenates the skin by stimulating the natural renewal process. The treatment is painless (ironically, it kind of feels like laying under the warm sun, its bliss!), and its recommended you have a course of sessions.

    Clear and Brilliant (nick named ‘baby Fraxel’ in the industry) is a laser treatment that resurfaces the skin, urging the complexion to rejuvenate itself. Numbing cream is applied before the laser is used, as the sensation is uncomfortable, but not unbearable. The joy of this option is that most people only require one session.

    Fraxel is another laser option. It’s like Clear and Brilliant’s big sister. The treatment is more intense and requires a few days downtime. Expect your skin to flake and peel as it sheds away to reveal a fresh complexion. This is a great option for acne scarring also; just makes you do your research into the process – it’s not for everybody!

    Whichever approach you opt for, make sure you apply sunscreen from this point on (like your life depends on it!). If you do get further damage, you’ll have undone all your hard work!

  • The day I got my face tattooed
    10:53AM, Jun 26 Leigh Campbell

    My brows are sort of my beauty ‘thing’. Some girls are known for their cascading hair, or ability to wear a bright lip without looking like a clown (oh, how I envy you). Me? My signature is the two clusters of hair above my eyes.

    Exhibit A:

    image

    I’ve had them shaped and maintained once a fortnight religiously for years by the truly talented Kristin Fisher, based in Sydney’s Paddington.

    However, due to the tadpole trend of the 1990’s (cheers, Drew Barrymore), my shape is still a little sparse and patchy thanks to excessive over plucking. Each day, I comb the hairs up then fill in the gaps (and create a sharp edge at the start of the brows) with brunette wax, setting it with dark powder.

    This is all well and good except for when I go to the gym first thing in the morning; I can’t exactly have brown streaks running halfway down my face, so I have to go with un-filled-in brows. The injustice! And, when I am getting about, all (almost) fresh faced on weekend, I still have to fill in my brows. Not ideal. Plus, I have oily skin, so I often find my brow product shifts throughout the day.

    For all of these reasons I decided to try Feather Touch Brow Tattooing.

    Enter, Amy Jean. She’s one of those annoyingly stunning women who are equal parts nice and talented. You just want to be mates with her. Anyway, I visited her in her Sydney salon, though she has locations in Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, New Zealand, and even New York!

    During my initial consult she discerned that I was a candidate for Feather Touch Tattoo (as not all people are), then filled in my brows to give me an idea of what they would look like.

    The day of the treatment I went in an hour early to have numbing cream applied before the procedure. Then, she tidied and filled my brows in again to confirm we were on the same shape-page. Next up, show time! I was expecting a noisy traditional tattoo gun, but the reality is a lot more civilised.

    Amy Jean uses a tiny scalpel-like instrument with several heads to gently scratch the skin, before the colour is applied. That’s the trick to getting hair-like stokes – not a heavy block shape.

    The process is that simple. I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve been asked if it hurt. No, it’s a tad uncomfortable, but totally bearable (and the numbing cream is a dream). I’ve also had people assume that the actual brows are removed beforehand. Not so – you keep your own brow hairs – this just helps to bulk them out visually.

    image

    I will go through the process once more in a months’ time, as the first application fades quite considerably (depending on your skins ability to hold the pigment). Results last for about a year, and can be easily topped up if you feel it’s needed.

    As a lazy beauty girl, I’m clearly a fan. Now, if they could just invent a robot to cleanse my skin before bed, I’d be happy. 

    For more deets on Amy Jean, including the other treatments she offers, visit her website.

  • The one item you need this winter….
    11:20AM, Jun 25 Nicole Adolphe

    It’s time to get familiar with the turtle neck. This piece is a stylish way to keep warm, especially if you plan on shrobing (that’s shoulder-robing) your jacket and wearing leather shorts or ankle grazing trousers through winter.

    Good news! I’ve done the shopping for you, and showed you how to style it up.

    Seriously, it couldn’t get any easier…

    1. Add a quirky necklace for extra fun in the dreary cold.

    image

    Turtleneck, $35, River Island.

     

    2. Layer it under a cool jacket and ditch the scarf. This winter, it’s about finding clever ways to stay warm without drowning in layers.

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    Turtleneck, $65, Hello Parry.

    3. Team with a sleeveless vest for work day polish.

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    Turtleneck, $129.95, Witchery.

    4. Black is always safe but layering with grey or white works with like a charm against this season’s gelato jacket shades.

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    Turtleneck, $19, Mix @ Coles.

  • The TV Workout
    11:43AM, Jun 20 Lauren Smelcher

    It’s winter. It’s cold - and we live in Sydney, where it’s relatively warm, compared to the likes of folks in Canberra and Melbourne and Hobart and Wellington and, like, pretty much everywhere else (except Darwin. Enjoy these balmy months, Darwinites).

    Anyway, it is cold. Nobody wants to exercise. Everybody wants to sit on their lounge and drink tea and watch TV because everybody is normal. But exercise is (annoyingly) good for you so we’re going to do you a solid and let you in on our little secret: the TV workout. Simple exercises you can do in front of the telly while watching your favourite show and dreaming about your boyfriends, Jon Snow and Rick Grimes. And Danny Castellano. Bless you, Danny Castellano.

    If you’re watching… Game of Thrones

    image Do five push-ups every time Cersei is a major b!tch.

    Do ten sit-ups every time Jon Snow looks sad.

    Do five lunges (on each side) every time a Stark child almost meets another Stark child… but then decides to go somewhere else entirely (Sidenote: get it together, Starks).

     

    If you’re watching… The Mindy Project

    image

    Do ten tricep dips every time Mindy wears something fabulous.

    Do five burpees every time Danny says something you can totally hear your Dad saying.

    Do ten squats every time Mindy nabs another amazing celebrity guest star as her boyfriend (If we ran our own shows, yeah, we’d totally do this too).

     

    If you’re watching… The Walking Dead

    image

    Do ten squat jumps every time Daryl totally saves the day.

    Do fifteen oblique crunches every time the gang meets someone and invites them to join their gang and you just know it’s going to end really badly.

    Do fifty burpees every time Carl takes his hat off (Ha! Obviously this is a joke. Don’t worry, we’d never make you do 50 burpees).

     

    If you’re watching… Orange is the New Black

    image

    Do ten Turkish get-ups (yes, these are a thing!) every time Piper cries.

    Do five kettlebell swings every time Pennsatucky shows her teeth.

    Do five jump lunges every time you think, “Jesus, these women are allowed to get away with murder in there.”

     

    If you’re watching… Girls

    image

    Just do a shot every time they are all The Worst™.

  • Beauty news worth knowing about
    4:46AM, Jun 17 Leigh Campbell

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    Create your own custom skincare:

    Who doesn’t love something that’s tailored just for them? Bespoque is a new skincare brand that is literally mixed from scratch to match your every skin need. You head into a Terry White chemist and use the Bespoque screen to fill out a skin survey. During, you nominate your concerns, the scent you would like, you even get to name your potion and choose the packaging colour! From there the trained staff custom-mix your formula. So fabulous. http://www.bespoque.com.au/

    A free treatment for acne sufferers:

    Having spots is no fun, let alone proper acne; it’s legitimately depressing. That’s why I think it’s so awesome that the Clear Skincare Clinic is offering a free SGA treatment (valued at $300) to anyone who signs the Clear Skin Pledge. “SGA is a revolutionary new drug free treatment that permanently treats the cause of acne and breakouts,” says founder Dr Philippa McCaffery, who developed this new technology in January 2012. It boasts a 90% success rate after six to 10 treatments, with no side effects (it involves a needle being injected into the problem area). Head to http://clearskincareclinics.com.au/join-our-clear-skin-pledge-today for full details.

    Give back (and get great skin):

    Not only does skincare brand Emergin C boast powerful and effective organic products (think luxe potions for the posh green girl – the Kombucha Cleanser is divine), they also create innovative initiatives to give back to nature. Launching in a few weeks is their latest, called Emergin Ceeds (cute, huh?). With every online order you receive a packet of seeds to plant your own edible garden. Seeds are apartment friendly, meaning you can literally grow your own lettuce. No excuses! They also plant a tree for every single product sold. Legends! http://www.emerginc.com/

 
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