Thursday, 26 June 2014

My Skincare Rules (Do and Don't)

This is just a list of my personal skincare do's and dont's that I follow. I'm not saying you should follow them too yes I am but it could help if your struggling. 

Skincare DO's

  • Do double cleanse your face- Once to remove makeup, another time to actually clean your face
  • Do use oils/creams/balms on your skin- Key to super nourished, hydrated skin. It will also balance out oily skin types.
  • Take the time to massage the skin- another reason why balms/oils are amazing, gives the chance to massage the skin. Gets the circulation flowing and removes toxins.
  • Use a facial massager- again, increased circulation, removes toxins and its just fun to use.
  • Layer moisture- skin NEEDS moisture, don't be afraid to give it to it. Oil cleanser, moisture mask, night oil. Lovely. 
  • Wear an SPF daily- either through makeup or skincare (I prefer makeup)
  • Be GENTLE- its your skin
  • Give your skin time to adjust to a new routine/product- it takes around 28 days to see the final results of a new product or routine
  • Layer masks- detox, followed by moisture etc. 
  • Have a suitable, stable routine and STICK TO IT- Every. single. day 
  • Know your ingredients- what to look for, what to avoid, what works for you.
  • Buy the skincare over the bag. Trust me. You've only got one face and the bag will be out of style in a few months anyway. 
  • Get to know your skin- Its type, condition, problem areas, what works for you, what doesn't. Only you can know your skin and what it is really like. This will also help a great amount when looking for skincare/talking to consultants about skincare etc. 
Skincare DONT's

  • Don't use anything foaming/containing sulphates- This strips down the natural protective layer on your skin (acid mantle, made up of sebum and sweat, mmm..) leaving your skin in a stage called alkaline. This is a breading ground for bacteria, the skin will also produce more oil as it has all been stripped away and you'll get more spots. Sound good? Didn't think so.
  • Scrub at your face with harsh beady scrubs- this is your skin, not the bathroom floor. What are you scrubbing for? Be gentle. 
  • Use blackhead removing strips- who's up for ripping their skin off, causing broken capillaries and redness? Yaaay- not me. (You'll also just leave a nice big hole for bacteria to climb into and have a party.)
  • Use face wipes- Just.. Just DONT. Clean your face properly, please. 
  • Put Vaseline ANYWHERE near your face (or your body, for that matter)- NO it does not clean your face, or make your eyelashes grow longer or help your lips for that matter either. Its cheap, nasty, pore blocking grossness. AVOID.
  • Aim for "squeaky clean". Your face should not "squeak" and if it does-you should be worried.
  • Think just because its expensive and the lady behind the counter told you its her favourite, that it's good. Know your ingredients! (Also, not saying don't trust the counter ladies, they're there for a reason, just know what works for you.) 
  • Only slap on a mask once a week and wonder why your skin isn't great- Really? Come on. 
  • Again, only use your "10 in 1 does everything moisturiser" and wonder why your skin isn't great- and again, really? 
  • Speaking of moisturiser- don't worry so much about it. Its your protective layer, what goes underneath is what counts. If you've got a good cleanser, toner, serum (at least) you can slap on any moisturiser (that is free from nasties and suited to your skin type OBVS) and be fine. 
  • Use anything that makes your skin feel "tight". See the first point, that is what has happened. Get rid of it and use something else.

REN No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm (UPDATED)

I love cleansing balms. It's no secret. So I had to pick up this one from REN to add to my collection. I got this a few months ago now but have only just got round to using it (I very clearly have too many cleansing balms. I'm okay with that)

This is the No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm. It'll cost you £23 for 100ml. It can be bought from the REN website  as well as various other online stores. I actually got mine from my local Marks and Spencer's, which is rather handy (and dangerous)!

First of all, I don't enjoy the packaging. Why have a thick balm in a tube? It's impossible to get out but I got there eventually. Eventually. 

It did start of in a tub but I believe it was discontinued. REN took out 50ml of product, knocked £7 off the price and stuck it in the tube. 
(Turns out you can buy the tub again. REN took it back after being bombarded with complaining customers! It's 150ml for £30.) 

It's a really lovely consistency and texture. It's almost the perfect mix between Emma Hardie Amazing Face (a more oily balm) and Clinique TTDO (less oily, more hard and waxy) 

It's thick but spreadable. It melts easily with the warmth of your hands and as you massage it onto the skin, yet it isn't too oily or greasy feeling but nourishing enough to leave you skin feeling moisturised and plump. Yay! 

The eyes? No. Nuh-uh. No way. Avoid the eyes. Made mine sting like nothing else. To the point where they were red and streaming and I seriously regretted immediately rubbing the product into them without a second thought. Why, why, why.

As for the rest of my face, it was lovely.
My skin felt so so so plump and nourished and most of all SOFT. 
It was really supple to the touch and looked fresh. I also found my skin FELT particularly fresh and clean, without feeling tight it stripped in any way. It was 100% comfortable. I was super impressed. 

Ingredients wise, it's got a lot of nice ones in there, the first being sweet almond oil. It also contains camomile, rose water and shea butter too- lovely. 

I found I was excited to use this again- which is always a good sign! 

So, if you don't mind taking your eye makeup off with something else and doing a mini work out trying to get the product out of the damn tube, I recommend this one! It made my skin feel great and it did it's job (apart from the eyes but I can forgive it for that. *runs to Bioderma*) 

Thanks for reading! 

Zoe x 

UPDATE: I'm really sad/annoyed to say that this ended up breaking me out- quite badly. 
I think it's due to the shea butter, it'll just be too heavy for my skin type. I thought it would be okay as I am rinsing the product off but obviously not. I've passed it on to my sister who has a much drier skin type, I imagine she'll get on much better with it! 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Empties #1

If you don't read blogs or watch YouTube, you probably won't be familiar with what an "Empties" post is about. 
But basically, I collect together all the products I've used up over the last couple months, stick them in a post and write my thoughts about them. It's basically just a bunch of mini reviews! So let's get started. Enjoy my rubbish!

1. Clarins Toning Lotion with Iris- Already repurchased (and in a giant 400ml size) Love and will continue to repurchase.

2. Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Blam- Again, looove and already repruchased! You need this. If you can find it that is. I had to go on a treasure hunt around Aberdeen for one. 

3. L'oreal Fibrology Thickening Shampoo- Meh. This is a shampoo that's meant to thicken your hair each time you use it. It didn't. It didn't really give a noticeable amount of volume either. Will not repurchase.

4. LancĂ´me Hypnose Mascara- Another meh. Nothing special considering it's a £20+ mascara. I'll continue to use my drugstore options!

5. The Body Shop Shea Sugar Scrub- Not quite scrubby enough for me. I found because it was sugar base it melted too quickly as you rubbed it in. Although, the day after I finished the pot one of the girls in work told me it was amazing on DRY skin. For right now, I won't repurchase.

6. Dove deodorant- I love this stuff! It's my deodorant of choice and I have repeatedly repruchased countless times. Smells good and stops me sweating, what more could you ask for?

7. The Body Shop Brazil Nut Shower Cream- The most AMAZING smelling shower gel in the world. Shame it's discontinued and only comes out in sale. I've got 2 backups though, so that should last me a little while! Loooove.

8. Caudalie Moisturizing Sorbet- Again, looove. And repruchased. Super light and hydrating on the skin. 

9. The Body Shop Deep Sleep Pillow Spray- Already started on another bottle. Although I have a really terrible feeling this is being discontinued. I might die if so... 

10. Soap and Glory Whipped Clean- This is one of those in shower moisturiser things. It was nice and thick and creamy but I can't say I noticed that much of a difference when I got out of the shower. Plus, the smell is really sickly. And that's coming from someone who LOVES sweet smells. Shall not repurchase. 

11. Caudalie Vinosource SOS serum- I totally fell out of love with this. This is my 3rd bottle and I just don't love it anymore. I find  that for £29 I go through it FAR too quickly and it doesn't make that much of a difference. My hydralouron has taken it's place. Sorry, Caudalie! No repurchase (anymore). 

12. Soap and Glory Supercat Eyeliner- I love this one, so easy to use and stays put all day. Although, I felt like this one dryed up much quicker than last time? Oh well, still have 2 backups of it. Looove. 

13. 2 teeny tiny little Pai samples- One of their Hydrating Cleanser; which I loved and repurchased. Super light and creamy, nice and refreshing to use in the morning.  
And the other was the Brightening exfolaitor, which I also really enjoyed! I just haven't repurchased as I've got so many acid toners that I don't need a manual exfoliator. (Plus, acids are far better for the skin!) 

14. Satsuma hand gel- Already purchased a few of these but in different smells. Currently using mango, which is amazing! Satsuma was so nice as well, always it comments on it when I'd use it. 

15- ELF Tone Correcting Concealer- My favourite concealer for adding brightness to the face. A really light, thin, buildable consistency. Can't keep count of how many I've gone through of these! And I have got 6 back ups... Like I said, it's my favourite.

Ahh, can we just talk about how satasying it is to throw out used up products? 

I am currently on "Mission Use Up All My Shampoos" because for some reason I seem to have collected a ridiculous amount. How? I don't know but I'm working my way through them. 

Okay, so that was my first empties post. Thanks for reading! I'm now going to throw all this in the bin *yay*

Zoe x 

Facial Oils

Facial oils are a product I love and recommend everyone use. Good quality, plant derived oils will provide amazing results for your skin and can help with a variety of different skin problems from blemishes to scarring.
Most people avoid using oils on their skin for the fear of causing breakouts. As long as the oils are plant derived and natural, all skin types will love them and see huge benefits from using them.
I have three I want to talk about and compare today. They range from affordable to more high end but are all pretty amazing products.

Monday, 9 June 2014

REVIEW: nSpa Skincare

Last night, on an emergency "I didn't know I was going to be staying at a friends house so I have no skincare with me!" trip, I discovered a few new skincare bits that I just have to share my first impressions on! 

I toddled down to the skincare aisle and immediately disregarded brands such as Nivea and Vaseline as I knew that they wouldn't be suitable for what I was looking for (and full of crap, ahem. *skincare snob moment*)
Then a brand caught my eye and I stopped to have a little look. 

It's called nSpa. I believe it an exclusive brand to ASDA. I was drawn in by the more simplistic yet pretty pastel packaging and by the fact it was a brand I had never seen before. 

I ended up picking up 4 things as it was on 2 for £8 (Which is a really good deal as most of the products were £6-7 anyway!)

I picked up:
- Melting Cleansing Gel £6
-Deep Hydrating Facial Oil £7
-Radiant Flash Serum £7
-Instant Blur Primer £7

I instantly looked for a cleanser to remove my makeup as that was the main purpose of this trip. There was two, the Melting Gel Cleanser and nSpas Micellar water. 
Like I said earlier I picked up the gel because a. Did I really need another Micellar water? And b. I kind of wanted to try something different. 

On the box, it is described as a:

"Luxurious gel that turns into a cleansing milk."

Hm, interesting. Tempted by the description I then checked out the ingredients... and was pleasantly surprised!

It was completely free from nasties such as mineral oil, sulphates etc. Something I expected to see in it as it was a gel (and a cheaper brand *skincare snob moment no.2*)
Instead it was full of plant derived oilsThe second and third ingredients are glycerin and vitis vinifera seed oil (grapeseed oil) It is also closely followed by citrus aurantium flower oil (bitter orange) and ginseng root extract. That is amazing!

The only thing that I wasn't keen on was there is parfum and it was quite high up the ingredient list, which could be irritating for more sensitive skin types. There is also alcohol near the bottom of the list, which isn't anything to worry about in this case as the volume of oils and glycerin completely cancels it out

(For any of you that don't know, ingredients lists go in order from highest to lowest. So the more of an ingredient there is in the product, the higher up on the list it is.)

So, how did it do?
Again, I was so impressed! 
I applied it to dry skin (that still had makeup on.) It started off as a thick gel. I massaged it over the skin for a few moment, giving it a chance to melt slightly onto the skin. It was nice and cooling and the smell was very pleasant. I then wet my hands and continued to massage my face. This is when it turned into the milk. It was very thin and light in consistency and moved easily over the skin. 
After massaging it all over the skin for a couple minutes, I took my flannel under warm water and proceeded to wipe the product away. 
It washed away so easily, not leaving any residue on the skin at all. 

I was very impressed so far. But now for how it made my skin feel after...

It was great! My skin felt so comfortable and plump. It did not feel stripped or tight in any way. I was expecting it to maybe feel slightly tight as this wasn't the usual oil/balm consistency my skin was use to but no, it was lovely. 
I also used it again this morning and it works just as well for refreshing the skin in the morning. Its great to use in the morning as it is so light and doesn't leave any residue, yet it is still moisturising enough. 

My next concern, after taking my makeup off, was then being able to get my skin some moisture. nSpa did have moisturisers available, both for day and night but they were creams and I prefer to use oils at night, just because I've found they have worked best for me and my skin is rather fussy with night creams, most of the ones I've tried in the past resulting in me breaking out and being a greasy mess in the morning (I'm looking at you Origins Make A Difference +... ) 

So I was very pleased when I saw a little facial oil. AND it was called the Deep Hydrating Facial Oil. Sold.
I love anything that claims to be hydrating to the skin as even though I have more oily skin, it is also dehydrated as well. 

So, again, after being very intrigued by the name, I checked the ingredients list, ready to be annoyed at familiar cheap and nasty ingredients printed on the label. BUT NO.

The FIRST ingredient being helianthus annuus seed oil (Sunflower Oil), the next being vulgare germ oil (Wheat germ oil: VITAMIN E!) 
There is also a seed oil called adansonai digitata, which is oil from a tree found in Australia, South Africa and Zambia. The oil gives of a beautiful nutty and gentle scent (Explains why this smells so good! Ill go into that later..) It is also super nourishing to the skin and is easily adsorbed. Its great for treating eczema and improves cells regeneration. Like, seriously, THIS amazing ingredient is in a £7 oil in ASDA! There's also another 4-5 plant oils in there also, that I won't bore you by listing but it's pretty amazing!

I almost collapsed on the floor. I was so shocked! Such amazing quality ingredients and in such high amounts! I was so impressed. I immediately decided I needed to have it. 

And as for how it applied.. 
I put it on straight after I washed my face. It was a more dry oil. This will be great for anyone that wants to use a facial oil but doesn't like the feel of oil on the skin. It was super light in consistency and I only needed a few drops to comfortably cover my whole face. 
The smell was lovely. It was so pleasant and comforting and I could continue to smell it on my skin all night. It wasn't a fake, perfumy smell. It was natural smelling without feeling like you've got dirt or grass on your face. (You know what I mean, natural smells aren't always the nicest.)
That will be down to the adansonai digitata oil that I mentioned earlier. 
It also sunk into the skin really well. I applied it at about 9.30 and by 12 it was completely sunk in, leaving my skin feeling plump and nourished with no greasy residue left over. SO. AMAZING.

Next up is the Radiant Flash Serum. I tried this this morning.

 I took it out of the packing and was instantly put off by the fact the actual product is shimmery.

 I applied it to the back of my hand first to see how it felt/looked after. It did leave a rather strong golden shimmer behind. I decided to give it a go anyway.

I applied this to a cleansed and toned face. I used one pump and patted it all around my skin. It was very light and thin in consistency and had a nice smell (Little theme going on with these products I think, so not complaining though!) 
It sunk in really well and became tacky on the skin, very similar to how my beloved Hydralouron serum applies! I then applied my normal Caudalie moisturiser on top and zoomed in close to the mirror to see if I looked like a disco ball. Annndd... I didnt! *yay*. 
The shimmers that you see in the bottle do not transfer onto the skin. They maybe would if you were to apply a more generous amount, however, one pump was a perfectly sufficient amount for my skin. I even went and stood out in direct sunlight and there was no noticeable shimmer. 
My moisturiser sunk in straight away and it honestly felt like I just had my Hydralouron on! My skin looks just as fresh and glowy and feels just as moisturised and plump. Another winner by the looks of it!!

The last thing I picked up is more of a makeup item, as it is a primer. This is the Instant Blur primer. I giggled when I saw the name. Definitely have to compare it to my No.1 InstaBlur primer, hah!

What this claims to do is: "smooth and perfect skin tone by making it more even and give a more youthful appearance." It also aims to reduce the appearance of large pores and minimise shine.

When I first applied this, it came out super watery but after a good shake that wasn't an issue (I think it has just settled from sitting on the shop shelf for a while.)

It does contain silica, which you can feel as it does have that slight slip to it, yet not as much as other primers. I feel like this is more water based. 

I applied this to the skin using my fingertips (As I always do with primers.) You can see it smoothing out the skin tone and taking away any excess shine in areas, without making the skin lifeless and completely matte. I noticed the biggest difference on my cheeks. They looked more smooth and any pores I had in that areas were reduced and filled in (Similar to the effect the POREfessional gives!) 

However, I felt like the more I blended this onto the skin, the less it did. I felt like it started just blending away to nothing! This might be because I'm use to thicker feeling primers, I'm not sure. 

It did however allow my foundation to apply nicely, I used my Gosh CC cream. I like that it didn't effect the application of the foundation, as in the past I have tried primers that have made my foundation hard to blend or look cakey. But this one didn't do that.

My only issue with this is the consistency. I just want it to feel like its doing more. Like I said earlier, I feel like it blends away to nothing on the skin if you work with it too much.
This would be great for someone who didn't have a lot to cover up and just wanted something to use as a nice and simple base for their makeup because it is lovely and light on the skin! 
The overall look is lovely, natural and perfected. 

So there you have it! Some completely unexpected skincare gems! I hope you found this helpful and try these for yourself. This is just my first impressions, I shall continue to use them (obviously) and report back if my opinion changes on anything! 

Oh, p.s- sorry for being ridiculous excited in this post. I just couldn't help it! 

Thanks for reading!

Zoe x

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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Perfect Partners: Masks

Everyone loves a good face mask for a little pamper session. Recently I've been finding that layering up different face masks has been making a huge difference to my skin. I've found a couple that work really well used one after the other and wanted to share my thoughts and results in a post. 

Before I get started on the masks, I'd like to say that before I apply any mask I make sure my skin is clean and makeup free. I'd do this by using my usual cleanser of choice, either the Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm or The Body Shop Silky Camomile Cleansing Oil. These melt away all dirt and makeup leaving a nice clean base for the mask.

Okay, firstly I use the Una Brennan Tea Flower Pore Purifying Clay Mask.

About the mask: 
This is your classic clay based mask. Clay masks are great for detoxing the skin as they pull out impurities and toxins from the skin that lead to breakouts and blemishes. They also remove excess oil from the surface of the skin, this particular mask is great as it does that without stripping the skin or making it feel dry.

It contains salicylic acid, one of my favourite ingredients. This ingredient is great for congested/blemished skin as instead of just working on the surface of the skin, is gets down into the pores and flushes out dirt, impurities and congestion, so your skin isn't clogged up from underneath. This means spots are less likely to form and your skin will be much healthier and pure from within the deeper layers. Its great for flushing away pesky blackheads, which I have noticed a visible difference in since using this mask more regularly. 

Once this mask has set, you can actually see where it has sunk into the pores and flushed them out. If you look around your nose/cheeks or anywhere you suffer from larger pores or blackheads, you'll see dots that are a slightly darker colour to the rest of the mask. That is where the salicylic acid has gone into the pore to flush them out. It's really cool to see.

It is then balanced with lots of lovely plant derived oils, that keep the moisture and balance within your skin. These include avocado, orange extract, honey and nettle. These include essential vitamins such as A, D and E to help keep your skin balanced and healthy. 

My results: 
After using this mask, my overall skin texture is much smoother. Pores around my cheeks are less visible and blackheads around my nose have been flushed out. Everything just looks much smoother and more flawless. Even though I always follow up with a good moisturiser and recommend that if you use this mask yourself to do so too, I don't feel like my skin has been completely stripped of moisture or feels uncomfortable and tight. 

Now, on to the mask I like to follow up with. This is the Vitamin E Sink In Moisture mask from The Body Shop. 

About the mask: 
This works perfectly for injecting moisture back into your skin after using a detox mask, or if your skin just needs a pick me up. I find this one works amazingly for dehydration. It would also work well for dry skin but the fact that it sinks in and really gets moisture down into the deeper layers of the skin is what makes it so great for dehydration. It is suitable for all skin types.

Vitamin E is a great ingredient to have in skincare. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your skin from damage caused by toxins and free radicals, while also replenishing and repairing skin cells that already have been damaged. 

After detoxing my skin and getting it as pure as possible, I move on to this mask. I see this as the chance to give my skin back everything it needs. The moisture in my skin is restored and overall my skin gets the chance to be nourished and replenished.

There are a few different ways to apply this mask, depending on how much you feel your skin needs it. 

Firstly, always apply a thin, even layer. You don't need much and the consistency is very thin. Don't be tempted to layer it on. 

1. Pop on for 10-20 minutes, the average time you'd apply a mask. Then simply wipe away with warm water and a flannel (always use a flannel, don't just splash your face with water), for a quick boost of moisture.

2. Leave on for a few hours. This is what I like to do. It really gives your skin the chance to absorb how ever much it needs. Again, washing away excess with warm water and a flannel. 

3. And lastly, sleep in it. Apply to a cleansed face before bed and sleep in it. It will sink in over night and in the morning you'll just have to wash your face as normal as there will probably be a small amount left over on the skin still. 

I find that when I apply this after using my detox mask, it has a really cooling effect on the skin that lasts the entire time you have the product on. It's really soothing and comforting. Ater using the detox mask, I feel this mask is able to do its job better and really sink down into the deeper layers of the skin. It really feels like a true pamper! 

I love that it really is doing good for my skin as well. I feel like detox masks or masks along those lines, just work on the appearance of the skin, working on spots and pores, whereas this one gives you the chance to really treat your skin from beneath and take care of it from not just the surface, so your skin is genuinely healthy instead of just looking it. 
My results: 
Super plump, fresh looking skin. My skin feels and looks much healthier after using this. You can really tell the mask has just given the skin everything it was lacking and restored it to the best condition. Overall appearance of the skin is so fresh and healthy. It's hard to describe really but everything just looks.. Better!

Results after using both: Your skin is detoxed and pure, blackheads removed and pores visibly reduced. Your over all skin texture is super smooth and soft. Then your moisture mask just treats your skin, giving it everything it needs and leaves it super nourished and fresh looking. You basically have a new face. Seriously! 

I really recommend trying these masks. Whether you want to use then separately or together, they work amazingly either way. But for the best benefit to your skin, pairing them up does it wonders! Both masks are suitable for all skin types. 
The Una Brennan mask costs about £7-9 and is avaible in Boots. 
The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink in Moisture mask is £12 and is avaible from Body Shop stores and online.

If this "Perfect Partners" post goes down well I think I'll start it as a little series because I've got a few skincare duos that work really well together and thought it would be helpful to share them. 

I hope you found this post interesting and helpful and try out these products for yourself! 

Thanks for reading.

Zoe x