Five of my favourite face masks

I’ll be straight with you. These are not my 5 all time favourite masks. But I am obsessed with face masks, and I want to talk more about them! Think of this as part one of an introduction to my mask collection. These masks are all very different, and funnily enough I realised I’ve managed to pick five from different countries and different skin concerns! Let’s get stuck in!

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Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask – A New Zealand skincare brand, Antipodes have some of the nicest smelling products in the world, the Manuka honey reviews are really good – their hand creams are divine, and I’ve been dreaming of their Juliet Brightening Cleanser for years (soon, my love…). I was very cautious about trying this mask because a lot of people with sensitive skin do react to honey in cosmetics. But I’ve found it to be unbeatable on problem areas! I don’t usually put it all over my face, but when I get hormone-chin it is The Best. It hydrates, soothe redness and inflammation, and purifies with the honey’s antibacterial properties. I will also often dot it on spots when I get in from work and leave it there until I go to bed.

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Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask – Origins are well known as The Mask Brand, and rightly so, their masks are out of this world. But I especially love this active charcoal mask both for myself when my skin is super congested, and for my boyfriend, who has oily skin and open pores. Because I trial a lot of skincare products, some of them don’t work for me and I do occasionally have a skin meltdown where a cleanser hasn’t been working well enough, or a face oil has been way too thick for me. This is my go-to rescue mask for when that happens – over the course of a couple of week’s use it clears my pores and prevents them from turning into spots. Love it.

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Tony Moly Aloe Sheet Mask – This is probably the simplest sheet mask of all time from one of the most famous South Korean skincare brands. With aloe vera to soothe and bamboo water to hydrate, this is a seriously cheap and cheerful mask that anyone can try. It leaves your skin plump, soft and calm. I’ve tried more complicated sheet masks, and they are great, but for me I like to be careful about what I leave on my skin (remember with these other masks they get washed off) so this has become my go-to for when my skin needs a moisture boost.

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Lush Rosy Cheeks Mask – Ok so I may have about 20 favourite masks but if I could only choose one as my all time favourite, it would be this. A pink clay mask with a beautiful rose scent, this mask has everything. Kaolin to draw out impurities and deeply cleanse, glycerin to hydrate, calamine powder to calm redness or irritation and rose extracts to soothe and balance. Honestly, it does everything, and it leaves your skin feeling absolutely wonderful. This is one of my top five all time skincare products. It is absolutely incredible.

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Caudalie Moisturising Mask – Everyone needs a moisturising mask in their collection, and this is one of the best. With hyaluronic acid to hydrate, grape water to soothe (also hydrate) and reduce sensitivity, and Vinolevuere, a hydrophilic active ingredient that draws water into the skin as it’s absorbed, this is a powerhouse of a moisturising mask. It also contains grape-seed oil, a nourishing but light oil packed full of anti-oxidants that will both nourish and protect your skin. This mask can be used on the eye area, which most masks can’t, so if you’re into multi-masking you can always put this around your eyes to give them a treat too.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this mini world tour of my mask collection! If you have any questions about any of these, let me know in the comments.

 

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Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion

If you have sensitive skin, Avene is the only brand you need to know. They are the brand. The ultimate. No brand knows sensitive skin like Avene does. So when they launched a new range for all skin types with no more than seven ingredients per product, I was so excited. I was particularly excited by the new Tolerance Extreme Emulsion, and was immediately convinced that it would become my new holy grail moisturiser.

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Preservative and mineral oil free, with only 6 ingredients, this is a pretty incredible product from the start – a facial moisturiser with so few ingredients is practically unheard of!  A moisturiser will usually have anywhere from 20 to 50 ingredients, sometimes with three or four different preservatives that could irritate or leave your skin unbalanced.

So what does it actually do? The idea behind Tolerance Extreme Emulsion is that it soothes the skin whilst providing protection and all day hydration. The oil free formula doesn’t actively mattify the skin, but it does sink in without a trace, thus making it a wonderful base for makeup. The Emulsion gives normal to combination skin everything it needs to function healthily, with nothing that could be potentially irritating. It’s perfect if you have sensitive, redness prone or combination skin, or if you just want a light moisturiser that doesn’t have any hidden nasties in it. It’s also 98% natural!

Since I’ve been using this moisturiser, my skin has been quite simply amazing. Before when I was using a cream with mineral oil in it, I felt that my complexion was getting a bit dull (mineral oil is great for protecting irritated skin while it heals, but isn’t ideal for long term use.) After using Tolerance Extreme Emulsion for three months, my skin was radiant, calm and clear. I didn’t have any blocked pores, dry patches or redness. Makeup would sit happily on my skin all day. And I found that I was able to use a wider variety of products on my skin without it reacting – the formula had actually made my skin less sensitive!

Here’s my skin:

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You might be thinking ‘Oh my god no, I need this, this and this in my moisturiser otherwise my skin will look awful!’ and that’s true if you have a skin problem like acne or extreme dryness. But here’s something a lot of people don’t understand; the thickness of a moisturiser prevents a lot of ingredients from penetrating deep into the skin, where things like micro-hyaluronic acid, retinol, anti-oxidants and collagen boosters can make the most difference. For those, you need to use a serum. Everyone should use a serum tailored to their individual needs, and when you do, follow it with Tolerance Extreme Emulsion to give you the perfect hit of moisture and protection without another unnecessary load of ingredients.

Ready to try this innovative, game changing yet uniquely simple moisturiser? Click here to buy it at Boots for £13.50!

Massive September Empties Post

So at the end of August, I decided enough was enough and it was time for a spending ban. I didn’t buy a single product for myself – no cosmetics of any kind, whether I needed them or not. And I finished off a massive TWENTY products! My drawers are so much lighter, and I’ve decided to carry it on throughout October too. But of course, I had to share my thoughts on all these used up products, didn’t I! Read on to find out which I loved and which I didn’t.

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I decided it might make it a bit easier if I broke the photo up throughout the blog post – so here’s 1-4:

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1.Boots Extracts Cocoa Butter Scrub – Do not, and I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT buy this. The stickiness is unreal. Both my boyfriend and I have been completely unable to rinse off the sticky residue this scrub leaves behind. I couldn’t even tell you if it leaves my skin smooth, because it’s just STICKY. Plus, Boots were very patronising when I moaned on twitter – they told me ‘The instructions say to rinse it off’. Seriously. That was their response. If by rinse you mean ‘attempt to get it the hell of your skin by washing with every shower gel and shampoo in your bathroom before eventually giving up and cringing as your sticky legs stick to your towel’ then yes, Boots. I will rinse it off. This one isn’t empty – I just cannot stand to use it again.

2. Lush Elbow Grease – I am OBSESSED with this solid body oil. The fragrance is a tropical and flowery, with orange blossom and ylang ylang. It nourishes the skin wonderfully, it lasts for ages and the packaging is so sustainable! It’s literally just a bit of greaseproof paper. Also, the only time it melted was the hottest day of the year, and I’m sure if I’d just put it in a dark corner, it would have been fine. I’ve already bought a new one because I couldn’t stand to be without it!

3. Caudalie Divine Body Scrub – This is a gorgeous scrub, really luxurious and nourishing. My skin feels incredible after using this, so soft and smooth, and yet the scrub itself actually feels really gentle on the skin. This is the perfect way to pamper yourself with a little bit of luxury, and the smell is HEAVEN.

4. Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser – love this stuff, always have and always will. Its gentle formula deeply cleanses without stripping the skin at all, and I have no doubt that had a huge part to play in me achieving the best skin of my life.

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5. REN Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm – A good, effective cleanser with a lovely scent, but one I simply cannot recommend to anyone. If this gets anywhere near your eyes, the stinging is unbearable – honestly it hurts more than shampoo, shower gel, anything. It’s such a shame because otherwise it’s a really nice product, but nothing should sting that much, and it’s not like I’m even properly getting it in my eyes, this is just an everyday occurrence when you use it.

6. Klorane Eye Makeup Remover – This is another product that I loved when I first bought it, but I felt like it became less effective the longer I had it. Maybe it evaporated a bit, because it started to smell very chemically too – almost acrid, like nail polish remover. I didn’t have a reaction or anything, but I certainly didn’t enjoy using it as much as I had, and I’ve found other products I prefer.

7. Korres Bergamot Pear Shower Gel – Still my all time favourite shower gel, this is the best scent on the planet and leaves your skin clean and super smooth. I love it, and will repurchase foreeeeever.

8. Weleda Almond Cleansing Lotion – I like using this to remove my makeup – it’s very gentle and reasonably effective. But if you use it to remove eye makeup it leaves a horrible oily film over your eyes. I used to love it, but I’ve definitely discovered better makeup removers recently (that, like this one, are also 100% natural).

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9. Lush Big Shampoo – This is Lush’s salt shampoo, (you can’t see because I decanted it ages ago into a smaller pot) and is supposed to volumise the hair without stripping it of oils. I used it once on my scalp, and while I think the concept is solid, the salt is just too rough. My scalp felt raw and I was really concerned about the effect the jagged crystals would have on my hair. I used it on my feet and the backs of my arms instead – but even on them it felt a little too rough.

10. The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter – This is such a shit product, honestly. It leaves a layer of grease on your skin after rinsing, doesn’t remove makeup properly in the first place, and cannot remove eye makeup at all. It smells lovely, but it doesn’t even have a natural formula. I really don’t think there’s any excuse for cleansing balms or oils not to have natural formulas as the natural oils are the bits that do all the hard work, and this product 100% proves that theory. Someone on instagram suggested to me that I use the rest on my legs when I shave, and it did a very nice job as a shaving balm. But I would obviously only recommend that if you’re trying desperately to use up this tin of rubbish you spent £10 on – otherwise stick to shower gel and remember how to prevent ingrown hairs!

11. Serge Lutens Fleurs d’oranger – My one and only, beloved perfume. I can’t imagine ever wearing another scent. It fits me perfectly. I’ve been using it for a year now, and it makes me happy every single morning.

12. Jurlique Jasmine Shower Gel – This is one luxurious shower gel. Both price wise and quality wise. The jasmine fragrance is heady and intense, while the later is super thick and rich. It lasts for ages too, and I think it makes a great treat for yourself or someone else (unless paying £17 for 300ml of shower gel is just par for the course in your life in which case go forth and enjoy!).

13. Eve Lom Cleanser – This was described by Vogue as ‘probably the best cleanser in the world’ and to be honest, yep. It is amazing, however it is also prohibitively expensive, and sometimes the oils in it smell like fish. I think Trilogy’s Cleansing Balm is a much better option for these two reasons, though I do accept that this is a particularly gorgeous balm.

14. & Other Stories Fig Fiction Body Scrub – These sugar scrubs are so nice, and really cheap! They smell amazing, and are lovely to use. They’re only £5 and come in a wide variety of fragrances, making them a pretty solid choice.

15. L’Occitane Peony Shower Gel – This shower gel put me in a good mood whenever I used it. The foam was lovely and my skin felt soft, and the scent is uplifting, sweet and clean. I adore the smell of peony, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this next time I need a new shower gel.

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16. Kerastase Oleo-Curl Cream – I liked the smell of this, and it did a reasonably good job of re-defining my curls between washes. But it wasn’t very nourishing, and it has a shimmer in it for some bizarre reason. Probably ok for people with less porous curls, but not something I enjoyed using, or saw any benefit from.

17. Pit-Rok Salt Deodorant – This is just about the best natural deodorant that exists. It keeps smell at bay, ALL DAY EVERY DAY. Can you believe that? It’s just salt. It works so well. You must try it. I use it every morning.

18. Weleda Sage Deodorant 100ml – I keep the 30ml in my bag at all times incase of any underarm smell throughout the day. It’s really good at eliminating body odour, but does absolutely nothing to prevent it. I’ll keep buying the 30ml, but I don’t need the bigger version as I only use it on the go.

19. REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk – I used this last winter, and kept a tiny bit back in case my skin ever reacted to any new cleansers. I loved it – my skin got very dry last winter and this helped to keep it smooth and soft, but still really clean! I would use it twice, the first time I’d apply and then wipe my makeup off with cotton pads, and the second time I’d wash it off to refresh my skin. I decided to finish it off this month, and it was just as wonderful as I remember.

20. Nuxe Prodigieux Scented Shower Oil – Honestly don’t know what the point of this shower gel is supposed to be. It has a gold shimmer in it – which doesn’t leave any effect on the skin but which they feel the need to mention on the packaging, and the scent is really artificial and boring. My skin did feel reasonably soft after using it, but if you want nourishment from your shower product, use Eucerin’s shower oil instead.

Phew! That was a long one. Congrats if you made it to the end. What did you think? Did I slate any of your faves, or warned you off something you were just about to buy??

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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How to Multimask

I don’t know about anyone else, but when multimasking became a ‘thing’ it was a complete revelation to me. It was one of those moments where you just go ‘Oh THAT’S what I’ve been thinking about all this time!’

I’ve been multimasking twice a week for a year now, and I can honestly say it’s been one of the best changes I’ve made to my skincare routine in a long time. I thought I’d share my method, as I’ve refined it a little bit over the months, and might help you get the most out of it too!

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Avene Tinted Compact SPF50

I’ve had a nightmare with SPFs over the past few months. I used the Benefit Dream Screen last year but I started to get the feeling it was drying my skin out, so this year I tried a couple of others, and WHAT a mistake. My skin was sore, red and itchy. It was a mess. Luckily, I found an alternative – a really perfect alternative. In fact I’ve started referring to Avene’s Tinted Compact with SPF50 as the ‘BB Cream for super sensitive skin’…

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My Skin Saviour: Avene Skin Recovery Cream

I have never written a post on a moisturiser before. Seriously, have a look, I’ll wait. ‘What kind of skincare blogger doesn’t write about moisturisers?’ I hear you ask…

Well, one with very, very sensitive skin, is the answer. I had absolutely rubbish skin for the longest time. Spots, redness and dry patches were the norm for most of my life. It didn’t matter how expensive or gentle my moisturiser was. Two years ago I discovered rosehip oil and while this was a revelation in lots of ways, it still wasn’t the perfect moisturiser because it blocked my pores, so I was still (cautiously) on the lookout for my holy grail. I was definitely dubious when I tried Avene’s Skin Recovery Cream, but as their XeraCalm oil sorted my eczema out in no time at all, I decided to trust them. I have been using Avene’s Skin Recovery Cream and Rich Skin Recovery Cream for a year now so I thought it was time to talk about them…

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These moisturisers saved my skin. I started with Skin Recovery Cream as I had lots of blemishes and wanted something light. From the first day, I could see that this cream was different. It sank into my skin immediately, leaving it comfortable and hydrated without any oily residue (or tightness, my skin can go either way). Make-up sat perfectly on it, and within a week I could see the redness and irritation I’d grown so used to was disappearing. I honestly never thought I would be able to find a moisturiser that could do this for my skin. It felt incredible.

After a while, my skin started to get a bit drier, which always happens to me in the winter. Instead of having to panic about needing to change my moisturiser, I simply switched to the Rich version. With shea butter added to the formula, it nourished my skin but still absorbed immediately, leaving a perfect base for make-up.

So what is it about these creams that make them so perfect for my skin, when NOTHING else worked? I think it’s to do with the fact that there are no preservatives in the formula. This is pretty much unique for a cream – even E45 and other aqueous creams contain preservatives, even if they say they don’t. Brands get around this by using ingredients called ‘incidental preservatives’ which are registered as performing a different function (in the EU every cosmetic ingredient has to be registered with a specific use), but also have a microbial effect. Why is this bad for the skin? Well, it doesn’t matter why you’re applying an anti-bacterial agent to your skin, it still has the effect of killing bacteria. And for sensitive skin, your microflora levels can really make a difference between hot, irritated, red skin, and calm, soft smooth skin. I’ve tried so many moistuirsers over the years that I really think this must be the answer.

Of course, if brands could make a formula without preservatives just like that, everyone would be doing it. Avene have to be very clever about how they protect this formula, and they do it with the packaging. This cap is called a DEFI cap, and it prevents any air or contaminants from getting into the tube when you squeeze the product out. You see the circle in the middle, with the smaller circle inside it? When you squeeze the tube it comes up, and the product comes out around the smaller circle.

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Through a series of valves, this cap ensures that the product inside doesn’t come into contact with the air, so there’s no need to preserve it. It a bit weird to use to begin with as you actually have to concentrate on squeezing it, (the valve is pretty stiff) but that is a very small price to pay for smooth, calm, clear skin.

These creams have transformed my skin, and I am so happy I found them. They are my HG product and the fact that I can go make-up free now because my skin is so calm has genuinely changed my life. Get them from Boots, or online at Look Fantastic – link

Do you have sensitive skin? What do you find works for you?