Tony Moly I’m Real Aloe Moisturizing Sheet Mask Review

By now, everyone knows that Korean sheet masks are the holy grail for radiantly hydrated skin. Backed up of course, by the stunning skin of the Korean actresses, celebrities and bloggers who tell us they use them daily! I wanted to share with you my favourite sheet mask, which also doubles as being a really great intro to the world of sheet masks.

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Tony Moly is a brand that knows how to balance adorable packaging with amazing skincare. My boyfriend loves their Egg Pore range (shaped, of course, like an egg) and I love their Peach hand cream and lip balm – both of which look and smell like peaches (although dirtier minded friends of mine think they look like nipples – I have no idea what they’re talking about).

When I was in Sephora in Paris looking for a suitable sheet mask to introduce me to their many wonders, this one was the first to catch my eye. It seemed like a perfect option for my sensitive, dehydrated but otherwise fairly normal skin. I didn’t need a nourishing mask and I didn’t need a brightening one – quite apart from not really needing those qualities, I was worried about what those added ingredients would do to my skin. The main ingredient in this one is aloe vera so I felt safe trying it out.

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And I have to say, I wasn’t wrong! I was hooked as soon as I applied the cooling, saturated paper to my face. It smells gorgeous, a very subtle, natural scent, and it feels soothing as soon as it touches the skin. The most important ingredients are all hydrating: glycerin, panthenol, water, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract and bamboo juice. There’s also star anise extract for an antioxidant effect. It’s a very simple, cheap and cheerful sheet mask.

The mask fits really well to your face – I know in the picture it’s quite wrinkly but I was being lazy, and it also sticks really well in case you have to get up to hunt for your phone or  answer the door or something. After you remove it, the liquid absorbs beautifully as you massage it in, and the skin is left plump, smooth and radiant. I like to bring some of the liquid down and massage it onto my neck and chest too – skincare doesn’t stop at the chin! I really recommend it if you’re simply looking for a hydration boost, have sensitive skin or aren’t sure where to start in the world of Korean Skincare.

You can get Tony Moly Sheet Masks from Sephora and Cult Beauty for £6. But to be honest, I get mine from eBay for £2.10 each and free shipping. It depends on whether you want to take the risk or not to be honest. The seller I get them from has 100% positive feedback from 1500 people…so I’m happy to trust them. It’s totally up to you.

A beginner’s guide to body oils

Several years ago, a colleague of mine was talking to me about how much she loved a body oil made by the company we were working for. I replied that I didn’t really understand oils – didn’t they just make you sticky? She insisted that I take home a bottle (perks of the job if you work in beauty) and told me I would end up addicted to the silky soft feeling of freshly oiled skin sinking into bed.

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A good body oil won’t make your skin sticky, just silky soft and smooth. Nothing soothes skin after shaving like an oil, and nothing feels more luxurious. I’ve been obsessed with oils now for ages, and I know that there is SO much choice. Unlike with skincare, you don’t really have a body skin ‘type’ so I thought I’d make it easier for you to pick your new favourite bodycare by talking about the different types of oil out there (and sharing some faves of course!)

Before we begin, there are a few things all body oils should have in common. Their base should be natural oils such as jojoba, almond, rosehip, coconut, sacha inchi, sunflower, avocado and apricot kernal. They shouldn’t be based on mineral oil, as this really defeats one of the main purposes of body oils – that the skin is able to absorb it fully, and really benefit. Their fragrance should also be totally natural – given that they’re absorbed so completely, do you really want some weird-ass ‘blue’ or ‘amber’ notes being sucked into your skin? The oils and extracts used to fragrance an oil should usually have some skincare benefit too, or at least smell like heaven in a bottle. Anyway, lets get started!

The All Over Body Oil: These are oils that can be used on your hair and face as well as body. Most oils can be used like this but some are specifically designed for this purpose – they tend to use rosehip, jojoba and almond oils which are lighter and particularly beneficial for the skin of the face, and easily absorbed by the hair. Their perfumes tend to be gentler as well. Divine Oil from Caudalie is a wonderful example of this – although it’s intensely nourishing and has a heady, sensual scent, it’s really gentle and sinks straight in. This also makes it perfect for the summer!

The Coconut Oil Body Oil: Everyone should own a coconut oil based body oil if you ask me. The heaviest oil you can put on your body, we all know about it’s miraculous qualities. You can use it on your body for intense nourishment, and the hair as a daily or pre-shampoo treatment. Good coconut oil products will be solid at room temperature (anything that isn’t is either very diluted or very chemically – avoid). Hei Poa make the best ones, using monoi which is an absolutely heavenly scent. They aren’t easy to get in the UK but Amazon carries them.

The Detox Oil: These are often marketed as anti-cellulite or slimming oils (especially in January.) I’m fine with this claim in many ways – first of all, many actually do help, and second, how are you supposed to know what they do if they don’t write it on the box? But at the same time, there are brands that will say things like that to play on women’s insecurities. I trust a brand like Weleda to be doing it for the right reasons, and their Birch Cellulite Oil is magic for not only getting to the dimples that exercise can’t, but also giving your skin more radiance, by stimulating drainage and circulation. Look for oils containing stimulating ingredients like rosemary, birch, lemon and cypress.

The Stretch Mark/Scar Fading Oil: These are usually marketed towards pregnant women, but there’s no reason that anyone with stretch marks or scars can’t use them. To be honest, most oils will help as they feed the skin and help it to renew. For pregnancy, ones with arnica are great as they help with the stretching, and for scars, anything with rosehip and jojoba is best as these are most similar to the skin’s own sebum which means they get absorbed really effectively. You can even use rosehip on acne scars, it’s that effective! Look for healing ingredients in oils like these, such as arnica, rose, vitamin E, calendula, lavender, and if you’re really serious about this, retinoids – but NOT when you’re pregnant, ok?! Save retinoids for when the only contact you’re having with a baby is cuddles.

The Budget Friendly: Once you’re addicted to oils, your regular body lotions and butters will be about as appealing as a sticky an old tub of aqueous cream. So you might need something a bit cheaper for your everyday post-shower routine. There are lots of options, but this is where you get into the territory of rubbish, artificial flavours and mineral oils. Play it safe and get Lush’s Elbow Grease, not only is it the best smell on the PLANET, but it’s super nourishing, lasts for EVER, and comes in cheap for what you get at £5.95.

The Sports Oil: If you do lots of exercise, are planning a big hike or are just about to start a new spin class, it’s a very good idea to get an oil specifically for soothing and relaxing aching muscles. I love Weleda Arnica Massage Balm which has a massive amount of arnica in it, but look out for oils with peppermint, thyme, rosemary and ginger too.

The Massage Oil: Any oil can be used for massage, but sometimes it’s nice to get one especially for a nice rub down with your partner (and you can make sure they like the scent too!) – For this, I always recommend Lush’s massage bars. They have a massive range, and because they’re solid they’re perfect for a long, slow massage as they don’t sink in as quick.

The Eczema Oil: Now I’m not a medical professional and never claim to be, and eczema IS a disease, so check this with your doctor or derm if you feel you need to. The key when looking for an oil for eczema prone or hypersensitive skin is to look out for simplicity. You do not want essential oils anywhere near you. Look for calendula, chamomile, evening primrose, rosehip, sesame, safflower, almond or jojoba. They should be 100% natural, and ALWAYS patch test first!

The Luxury Oil: Everyone needs a treat every once in a while, and a really nice way to treat yourself, or someone else, is with a really luxurious, beautiful body oil. Applying oil is an act of self care, especially if done slowly, after a bath and before bed. REN’s Moroccan Rose Otto Body Oil is rich, beautifully fragranced with rose oil, and amazing for the skin. At £34 it’s not super expensive either! When buying a luxury oil, look for a story behind the oil or the extracts it contains. You’re looking for something precious to pamper yourself with!

No Spend September

It’s so easy in today’s world to end up spending way more than you need to on cosmetics. Especially when you have an active interest in cosmetics anyway. Now, I never spend more than I can afford, but I definitely spend more than I need to. So I have decided that throughout the month of September, I’m not going to buy ANY cosmetics, even if I run out. 

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Obviously this is just a fraction of my collection, but I’m not tall enough to take a picture of them all. *dies of embarrassment*

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to focus on what I have, rather than what I want to try next, as well as making a bit of space in my flat! Also I’m hoping I’ll be able to do a good empties post at the end of the month so you can see which ones I enjoy and what I don’t. I have kind of a mixture of things I haven’t really used much but really like, some things that I didn’t love but didn’t hate enough to throw away, and things I just haven’t gotten to. So this should be a great opportunity to get through some of it! Who knows, depending on how low I get with my staple products I might keep going into October too…

Have you ever done a no-spend month? How did you find it?

 

 

How to pack your makeup bag

When it comes to daily life, I’m a big believer in convenience and practicality, combined with a healthy dose of prettiness. I never buy dresses or skirts without pockets for example, or a bag (no matter how small) without a zip up compartment. My makeup bag reflects this, as I hate nothing more than carrying extra stuff around with me – so I thought I’d share how I put it together!

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Let’s get the unglamorous essentials out of the way first. Money – you should always have an emergency stash of money in your makeup bag. For tipping, an unexpected empty Oyster card or a Big Issue you actually want to buy. First Aid – I always have plasters, antacids and paracetamol. You, or someone you know will undoubtedly need one at some point! Nail File – this one should be self explanatory, as should a Hair Tie. Anyway, now for the more interesting stuff:

Hand Cream – You really should carry hand cream at all times. I love this Dexeryl stuff by Pierre Fabre, it’s a really cheap, plain emollient for eczema but it sinks into the skin without any greasiness whatsoever, and doesn’t smell, making it perfect for an everyday cream.

Deodorant – Especially if like me, you don’t use anti-perspirant! This Weleda Sage Deodorant is amazing at eliminating any smell. I use a salt deodorant in the morning that works really well most of the time, but it’s never going to stand up to a 35 degree tube carriage or running to a meeting you’re late for.

Concealer – You know that point where there isn’t enough left in your concealer tube to properly cover things up in the morning, but you can still get a bit out of it? I use these semi-empty tubes in my makeup bag to top up throughout the day. You don’t need a thick layer when you’ve already applied, so it’s perfect for refreshing your look after lunch or before a date. I use NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer because it’s simply the best I’ve ever tried.

Blotting Paper – These work better than powder for refreshing your makeup and getting rid of shine. I am utterly obsessed with them, and these DHC ones are only £4! An absolute handbag essential, your friends will love you for them too. Amazingly, they don’t disturb your makeup at all, even if you’re wearing full contour/highlight/blush.

Hand Sanitizer – It’s nice to have, even if it doesn’t kill as many germs as people think. I really like the Merci Handy gels, and they have about a million scents/colours to choose from!

Lip Balm – Everyone has a preference, and you should never be without yours. I adore this Hurraw Coconut Lip Balm because it melts onto the lips instantly and leaves a lovely sheen of nourishment. Make sure your fave is in your makeup bag at all times!

Caudalie Beauty Elixir – There are a million facial mists out there, but this Beauty Elixir is my new favourite. The scent is bewilderingly refreshing and unlike anything I’ve smelled before, and your skin really does feel incredibly good after using it. The herbal mixture restores radiance and helps set makeup, so it really is the perfect mist for your handbag. Plus I don’t know any other facial sprays that come in a 30ml handbag size!

Perfume – These little perfume atomisers are amazing – you fill it by pumping directly out of your perfume bottle so the scent doesn’t degrade by coming into contact with air. This is perfect if, like me your perfume is bloody expensive.

Your Lipstick – This is a really good habit to get into: when you finish applying your makeup (I assume everyone else does their lips last too?) just pop your lip product directly into your makeup bag. As soon as you’ve put it on, go to your bag, take out yesterday’s and put today’s in. One of the easiest ways to refresh your makeup is to reapply your lipstick, so this really is essential.

This is how I pack it. You’re less likely to want easy access to hand cream, deodorant or a nail file as you need privacy or a few minutes to use these. So put them on the bottom, and fit everything else on top, depending on how often/much you’ll use them. My makeup bag has these perfectly sized pockets that all the small stuff slots into as well.

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As you can see, I’ve packed quite a lot in to this little bag. It’s an Oliver Bonas makeup bag, and while I think this lovely design is probably sold out by now, they always have loads of them with the same shape and different cute prints. I really love this shape of bag because you can pack loads in without it looking like it’s about to explode. I have one of their washbags too (just a bigger version of this shape) and they are SO practical. Check them out on the Oliver Bonas website here – link

What do you keep in your makeup bag? Anything I’m missing?

Pixi Glow Tonic Review

Let’s get this out of the way first: my skin is sensitive. Like, really sensitive. Most moisturisers, toners, SPFs and anything with salicylic acid in it are totally off limits for me. So when I first started hearing of the hype around Pixi’s world famous exfoliating toner, Glow Tonic with 5% glycolic acid, my first thoughts were ‘definitely not for me’. That was until a friend (who has far more severe skin problems than me) and I wandered into Pixi’s Covent Garden shop, and she told me that her dermatologist has got her on a glycolic acid serum to treat her sensitivity. 

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It makes sense if you think about it – by gently exfoliating your skin with an acid toner you make the skin healthier – less dead skin to block it up, more chance for it to successfully regulate itself. As we spoke, I started to think it might be worth a go. After all, I have a boyfriend who loves to receive my skincare cast offs when a product doesn’t work out! So, I picked up a bottle of Glow Tonic, and tried it out that night.

Ok…I didn’t try it out that night. It took me about three days to pluck up the courage to sweep a cotton pad sprinkled with the tonic over my skin! I was so convinced that I’d have the same experience as I do with salicylic acid. Yet when I woke up the morning after, my skin was totally fine and calm. And it was fine the next time I used it too. So I carried on – slowly at first, only twice a week. Over the course of a couple of months I built it up to about five or six times a week, which is how often I use it now.

I have to say that Pixi Glow Tonic lives up to every hype ever created around it. My skin is radiant, soft, smooth, clear, scars and redness are reduced, plus I swear my skin is less sensitive now! I went through a bit of a purging period to begin with where some blocked pores came to the surface, but now practically every pore on my face is empty and invisible. Honestly I cannot believe what a transformation my skin went through! I’ve been working hard on my complexion for a long time, but this is without question the thing I was missing. Just look at my face now!

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This is how my skin looks 90% of the time now. I used to always have at least one spot hanging around, or a blotch of redness or a dry patch. Now my skin’s default position is this, which is amazing! For someone with such sensitive skin, it’s an absolute revelation to be able to use a product like this. I suspect there must be witchcraft in the formula – that or Petra Strand is a skincare genius.

I recommend that literally everyone gives Pixi Glow Tonic a try – pick it up on the Pixi website for £18 – link

The products that transformed my skin

I’m so excited to share this post about my skincare journey. It was a long time coming, but I wanted to wait until my skin wasn’t just going through a temporary good patch. It took a lot of product, a lot of experimenting and a lot of perseverance, but I finally have GOOD SKIN! Read on to see how I got there. (P.s if you want to read more about any of the products, I’ve put all the links at the bottom of the page)

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Since I hit puberty I’ve pretty much always had spots. However, I never had acne. Genetically, my skin is great, it was just these constant painful spots that I couldn’t shift. This carried on until my early twenties, when I started working in the skincare industry, and learned that my skin is hella sensitive. It took me two years to get my skin looking like this and I used a lot of products along the way! I want to share with you all the products that really helped make a visible difference to my complexion. Obviously I didn’t use them at the same time – this is a long journey we’re talking about!

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After I realised that my skin was sensitive, I thought the most important place to start would be my moisturiser, considering that it was the only thing I was leaving on my skin at that point. I switched to pure rosehip oil and everything was looking up. My favourite was Fuschi Organic Rosehip Oil, which is great quality, super cheap, and lasts foreverHowever, after a while my skin started to get congested. I had blackheads and blocked pores which began to turn into spots. So I switched to the only moisturiser I could think of – preservative free, super calming Avene Skin Recovery Cream…
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Again, this was great for a long time (over a year!) and my skin was clear, calm and comfortable. I added in REN’s Omega Skin Oil for added hydration and a bit of nourishment, which really helped me to smooth my skin out. But then my skin started to look dull and a bit rough. I thought it might be the mineral oil in the Skin Recovery Cream – while mineral oil is great for protecting irritated skin, it’s too heavy to be a long term option. So when Avene launched their 99% natural, super light, preservative free Tolerance Extreme Emulsion I switched straight away. My skin went from ‘ok’ to RADIANT. Seriously, I’ll do a blog post on this one soon, as it’s probably one of the best products I’ve ever used on my face.

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As for cleansers – I hate cleansers. I find them SO easy to get wrong most either don’t clean properly, or totally strip my skin, and I don’t realise until my skin is either spotty or dried out. There are only two cleansers I’ve ever loved, and those are Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser for spring/summer and REN Gentle Cleansing Milk for autumn/winter. I’ve tried so many others, but I come back to these every time because they’re the only decent cleansers on the planet, frankly. A lot of people favour no-rinse products when they have sensitive skin, but my skin isn’t bothered by tap water anymore. If you’re struggling with your skin though, make sure you keep this in mind. I’m picky about make-up removers too – when I was first using the Avene Skin Recovery Cream I really needed to clear my skin out somehow (after using rosehip oil for ages!) so I used their Cleanance Micellar Water. This was great – it’s a very effective make-up remover and it really cleared my skin out. But it wasn’t something I could use in the winter, or for an extended period of time. I didn’t find another make-up remover I liked until I tried Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Balm, which changed everything. It’s so gentle and soothing, but more importantly, so effective.

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Next up; toners and exfoliators! The Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub might not be for everyone – I know loads of people with sensitive skin who shudder at the thought of using a physical exfoliator, but I love it. Its gel consistency soothes the skin, while the small, gentle particles lift dead skin off without being too abrasive. It smells divine, and a tube will last you 6 months at least. I’ve tried millions of scrubs and this is the only one that leaves my skin soft but not traumatised. Around the same time as I started using the scrub, I added soothing Avene Water into my routine. After I finished cleansing I would spray this on and pat dry to remove the mineral compounds in London tap water. When my skin was raw and recovering, this was an essential. I still use it after I do intense face masks, but I’m happy to report that my skin is strong enough now to be able to skip this step for everyday! And finally…everyone’s favourite Pixi Glow Tonic. I have a friend with astonishingly sensitive skin, who’s dermatologist got her on a different glycolic acid product a few months ago. So when we wandered into the Pixi shop in Covent Garden, she convinced me to try it. I took it very slowly, once every three days at first, until now, I’m using it almost once a day. After the normal adjustment period, my skin looked incredible. And I even feel that it’s become less sensitive?! I really recommend giving this stuff a try, literally whatever your skin type. IMG_1970.jpg

Last but certainly not least, face masks! I use a lot of face masks, but these are the ones that really helped me achieve blemish-free skin. The first one I bought, two years ago, was the Eve Lom Rescue Mask – thinking that the expense would make it a good choice. I have to say, it really did help when my skin was very spotty and I even repurchased it – but I had to stop using it after everything calmed down. Now my boyfriend uses it instead. It’s a great option for blemishes, but it’s not the gentlest product in the world. Instead, a few months ago I opted for Origins Original Skin Mask, which is a gentler, cheaper version. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for deep cleansing and radiance. However, the mask that really, really made all the difference was Lush’s Rosy Cheeks fresh mask. With calamine and rose to calm and soothe redness, as well as kaolin clay to draw out impurities, this is everything that sensitive, red and spotty skin needs. I’ve been using it for over a year and I love it so much!

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I know that not everyone has skin that responds to conventional cosmetics, and have a much harder time with blemishes and sensitivity than I do. It’s also true that diet and lifestyle play a huge part in the condition of your skin – at the moment I’m happy and healthy, but I haven’t always been. My skin won’t always look like this, it’s completely unrealistic to expect to have perfect skin forever, and you should never feel bad if your skin isn’t completely flawless. That being said, I hope reading about my approach, and the things I did to improve my skin might inspire you to try a different method, or at least give you a few ideas about what to do next!

Here are links to all the products I mentioned:

Fuschi Organic Rosehip Oil – £14.50

Avene Skin Recovery Cream – £16.50

Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion – £13.50

REN Omega 3 Skin Oil – £25

Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser – £28

REN Gentle Cleansing Milk – £16

Cleanance Micellar Water – £16

Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm – £20.50

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – £22

Avene Water Spray – £7

Pixi Glow Tonic – £18

Eve Lom Rescue Mask – £35

Origins Original Skin Mask – £23

Lush Rosy Cheeks Mask – £6.95

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My favourite uses for Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap

I’ve used Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap on and off for a good few years now so I thought it was time to share a few of my favourite uses. My favourite scent is the Rose one, although I also really recommend Green Tea and Lavender!

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