A Gender Neutral Valentine’s Gift Guide For 2018

It’s that time again! Time to celebrate and express the love, companionship, mutual respect and sexual chemistry that goes along with having a significant other. I’ve thought a lot about Valentine’s Day over the years and I’ve realised that just like with weddings and engagements, my problem isn’t with the thing itself, it’s how unbearably performative and consumerist they are. How we love doesn’t have to be controlled by outside forces; and what other people think and expect should never be a part of how you express your love for each other.

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But there simply isn’t very much inspiration out there for people who don’t want to browse through ‘for her’ and ‘for him’ gift guides which rarely feature anything your wonderful, unique partner would actually like. The decision to put something in a gendered gift guide is limited by the necessity that the things are masculine or feminine, and I think that’s a terrible way to choose a gift for your lover. So I thought I would try to help by providing some ideas for you to express your love with a thoughtful, unique and gender free gift! Throughout this guide, I’ve suggested a mix of luxury brands and smaller independent brands, so you can choose what kind of ‘special’ you want your gift to be!

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© Tartan Blanket Company 2018

A cosy blanket for snuggling under. I think these Tartan Blanket Company blankets are just absolutely delightful, and you can even get ones made out of 30% recycled fabric, which is awesome! They come in every colour type imaginable too so whatever your, and/or your lover’s home looks like you can find something that will be perfect!

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© Bloomtown UK

A massage oil or bar. Who doesn’t love a massage from their significant other? A luxurious oil, together with the promise that you’ll both get plenty of use out of it, is the perfect gift. There are so many different choices when it comes to scents and textures, but I think Bloomtown Botanicals has to be up there with the best. Their massage oils come in a variety of scents so you can pick one you know you’ll both love. One of my personal favourite massage oils is Aesop Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body Treatment which smells floral and heady without being too ‘pink’. It also leaves the skin phenomenally soft. If you want something with less packaging though, try a massage bar instead. Lush are definitely the masters of the massage bar, so check them out!

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© Life of Spice

Fancy herbs and spices. If your lover loves to cook, this is a great gift for them. Life of Spice make the most amazing herb and spices, both single and mixes and they’re available in sets too. I love the little tins they come in as well, very practical and cool looking.

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© Thought

Some really nice socks. Everyone talks about how socks are a super boring gift but seriously, have you put new socks on recently? It’s the BEST. Especially if they’re fancy, not a multipack from H&M. I don’t know about you but I wear my socks until they resemble a string vest because for some reason, buying myself new socks is an adult chore I’ve just never gotten into. Socks are a great gift, and I love the brand Thought for their sustainable selection which includes bamboo, wool and cotton. There’s a tonne of designs to choose from too!

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© Rustic Retro Furniture

A Bath Caddy. Does your love enjoy long soaks in the bath? A bath caddy is the perfect gift for anyone who likes to read in the bath too as there’s space for a book, candle and drink. They aren’t as expensive as I expected either, and this one from Etsy is really affordable, and has amaaaaazing reviews!

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© Emina Botanic Boutique 2018

Bath Salts. If you read my blog you should know there was no way I would ever not recommend buying someone a nice bath product. And if your love doesn’t have access to a bath, or doesn’t like them, what about a gorgeous body scrub? Soothed muscles and soft skin are a great gift to give someone you love. One of the best body scrubs to give as a gift is Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Scrub which contains pumice and bamboo suspended in a thick, geranium scented gel. It’s absolutely beautiful and very luxurious. If you’re looking for a luxurious bath oil, go for Olverum – it’s one of the oldest bath products in the world and has an absolutely stunning rosemary scent. If you’d like something by a small-maker, Emina Botanic Boutique does a gorgeous range of bath salts, as well as a Grapefruit Body Scrub. Or if your lover likes to exercise, what about this post-workout relaxation kit from Golden Rooster Balms? I also love the look of these Himalayan Bath Salts, it has jasmine and green tea in it! Can you imagine how soothing that must be? I think I might just treat myself to that one…

 

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An amazing cookbook. Another one for people who love to cook, or someone who wants to cook more from scratch. I cannot recommend Anna Jones highly enough, her recipes are beyond delicious and very nutritious in a ‘taste comes first’ kind of way. She uses ingredients and combinations that may seem unfamiliar at first, but will quickly become staples in your home because of how easy to make, and utterly delicious they are. I have all three of her books, A Modern Way to Cook, A Modern Way to Eat and The Modern Cook’s Year and any of the three is a great choice.

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© James Barker Draws

A cactus, succulent or houseplant. What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than adopting  a baby together? Just kidding. But still, everyone needs more plants in their life (unless you’re me and you live in a literal jungle already, in which case, what about a cute little plant themed embroidery gift? Or a leaf print shopping bag?) If they live in a small flat, what about a little selection of succulents from Plant Parcel, or a pretty little Pilea from Geo-Fleur? Or if they have a bit more space, a beautiful Monstera Deliciosa?

I hope these suggestions have helped inspire you! Happy Valentine’s Day when it comes!

 

 

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Moroccanoil Curl Collection* Review

Late last year I was delighted to be invited to Morccanoil’s launch event for their Curl Collection range. Moroccanoil is obviously a very popular choice with curly people as their treatment oil is super nourishing and fantastic for anyone who’s hair is frizzy, dry or damaged – all common problems for curls! This new range is formulated to support the Moroccanoil Treatment Oil, with an innovative curl wash, styling creme and moisture spray. Let me tell you more about them!

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Moroccanoil Curl Cleansing Conditioner – £26.85

This is a super interesting product. I was so surprised when I first used it! Designed to work as a shampoo and conditioner, the product is free of any harsh cleansing agents that can strip curly hair of precious natural oils. Instead of foaming up as you massage it in like most shampoos, this product foams as it comes out, like modern foaming facial cleansers do! I think that’s super clever, and looks really cool. The product distributes through the hair really easily too. It contains tea tree oil to cleanse the hair and scalp, as well as Moroccanoil’s signature argan oil. I’ve found that my favourite way to use it is to apply it first to my scalp and massage it in to remove buildup, then rinse it off and apply more to the rest of my hair, followed by a generous helping of the Moroccanoil Treatment Oil.

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Then, I detangle my hair with a Tangleteezer while the products are still on, and finally rinse. Doing it this way leaves my hair feeling really soft, and I found that the Cleansing Conditioner and Treatment Oil together are fantastic detanglers! I don’t find the Cleansing Conditioner to be nourishing enough on its own, but I think for a lot of other curly haired people definitely will be – my hair gets very dry. I find it great for holidays, hiking and swimming too – it’s the perfect way to wash out salt, sweat or chlorine at the end of the day without disturbing the natural oil balance of your hair. I can’t wash my hair very often because it turns to straw, but with this, I can finally do activities where my hair might get dirty, without worrying!

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Moroccanoil Treatment Oil – £29.50

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to using this cult product. I am obsessed with it and use it all the time now, when I wash my hair, when I style it, and when my hair is getting a little frizzy as washday approaches. It nourishes the hair so effectively and it is completely effortless to use. Every curly haired person NEEDS this in their life! They do a lighter version for people with thinner hair, but I find that the original actually has a really light texture too (though just to clarify; I have thicker hair than anyone I’ve ever met so make of that what you will) and doesn’t weigh my hair down at all. It leaves the hair shiny and soft for days after using it.

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Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream – £25.45

This is a really, really good styling cream. I combine this with the Treatment Oil too, and it leaves my hair very, very soft and well conditioned. The end result is a little bit less defined than I would usually go for – it’s much lighter than my usual products, but I thought it looked great. For me, this bouncy look is perfect for going out, when I want my hair to be a little bigger and more noticeable than it does on an everyday basis. I loosely twist it through each curl strand when wet, to define them and tame the natural frizz. Another thing I really like about the styling products is that my hair seems to dry naturally a lot quicker than with other products I use. I can’t use heat on my hair, so this makes it super convenient as well, and means that if I am going out in the evening, I can wash my hair in the morning and know it’ll look perfect! If you do use heat on your hair, this product is supposed to work with the heat to create a more set curl look, which makes it a multitasking product too!

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Moroccanoil Curl Re-Energizing Spray – £17.85

This spray is great – I use it to finish off my styling routine as it gives a lovely shine, and I also use it to refresh my curls during the week. It smells lovely, and is really, really effective at getting rid of frizz. I think it works better than pretty much any anti-frizz spray I’ve tried before, and that’s saying something! Used alongside the Treatment Oil you won’t believe how smooth and shiny your hair will be.

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I’m so impressed with Moroccanoil’s new Curl Collection, it seems like they’ve created products with curly haired people in mind – they’ve really thought about what we need from our haircare and what will make life more convenient for us. I highly, highly recommend it, and I can’t wait to try more of their products soon!

The 17 cleansers I used in 2017!

2017 was a lot of things to me; the year I got married, the year I had a mental health breakdown, the year I quit my job to pursue a dream. But for me, 2017 was also The Year of Clean Skin. I couldn’t quite believe it as I was packing up my cosmetics when we moved house not long ago, and saw how many cleansers I was putting into a box. When I counted them James and I couldn’t quite believe it but I’d used 15 cleansers in one year! Adding the two new cleansers I tried after we moved house, I couldn’t resist writing mini reviews of each of them to look back, to mark the end of That Year, and the start of 2018!

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Aesop Parsley Seed Cleanser – £40

Urghhhh I love this stuff. The light exfoliating action is perfect for removing pollution at the end of the day; essential if you’re working in one of the most polluted places in Europe, as I was for most of 2017.

Eve Lom Cleanser – £55

You can’t really argue with this product – it’s an extremely effective cleanser and I defy anyone not to love it. But the price, for heaven’s sake… listen friends. I’ve worked in the skincare industry for five years, and I’m here to tell you that there are limits to production costs. A cleanser never, ever needs to cost more than £30 because there is NOTHING you can put in one that would push the price beyond that! Especially not Eve Lom’s Cleanser. Looking at the ingredients I would estimate this probably cost a maximum of £5 to produce, if that. The tub is plastic and the main ingredient is the cheapest skincare ingredient on the market; mineral oil.

Trilogy Makeup Be Gone Cleansing Balm – £20.50

I was SO surprised by how amazing this cleanser is. In my opinion it’s every bit as good as Eve Lom’s Cleanser, but even better because of it’s ethically sourced ingredients, cruelty free status and the fact that it’s less than half of the price of Eve Lom’s! This is also the ONLY makeup remover I’ve ever used where I didn’t feel the need to do a second cleanse afterwards, and it makes my skin radiant, soft and clear.

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Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser – £30

This is the best cleanser I used in 2017, hands down. I’ve been using it for about 4 years and despite changing cleansers constantly, I always, always come back to it. It’s just SO lovely. It leaves my skin perfectly balanced, SO comfortable, and all of my ‘best skin’ periods of time have been when I’ve been using this. I adore the smell, and the foamy texture too. I’ve never found a cleanser I love more than this one.

Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion – £10.50

I enjoy this 100% natural, super ethical cleanser for removing makeup, but it’s very oily so you absolutely have to double cleanse. It partners very well with Glossier Milky Jelly as a nighttime cleansing duo! It does remove eye makeup, but you might need to go back in with a micellar water to get the last of it. It was my favourite makeup remover until I discovered Trilogy Makeup Be Gone and Caudalie Cleansing Oil.

Caudalie Deep Cleansing Exfoliator – £20

Every time I put this on my skin I brace myself for an extremely uncomfortable experience – I can’t shake the idea that this extremely grainy, grapefruit scented scrub is going to rip the skin off my face. But it doesn’t, at all. Even though it feels like I’m rubbing creamy sand on my skin, every time I rinse it off, my skin is left feeling smooth and super calm! I love this scrub so much for its effectiveness. I don’t use it often, because I think it’s probably easy to overdo it, but when I do, ohhhh I love it.

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Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water£9, £15 or £19

I travelled loads this year and when I travel I love to use a micellar water instead of my usual cleanser because it means that a) I only need to bring one cleanser and b) different water types aren’t going to mess up my skin. Caudalie’s micellar is the only one that hasn’t irritated my skin in some way, and it’s very effective at removing makeup. Just remember to finish with a toner or facial water to remove the dregs of the cleanser!

Korres Olympus Tea Cleansing Cream – £15.30

I was sooo excited about this one; it’s full of antioxidants and is supposed to be great for removing pollution – a cheaper version of the Aesop Cleanser, perfect for someone who’s going freelance as I did this year! But it didn’t quite deliver. I love the smell and texture but I think the ‘pollution removal’ claim is just because the cleanser is quite harsh and strips the skin. I found that my skin got really dehydrated after a while of using. If your skin is oily though, I think you’d love it.

Garnier SkinActiv Micellar Gel Wash – £2.66

Good god this is a shit cleanser. It barely took ANY of my makeup off, let alone any dirt, pollution and grime as it claims to. It stung my eyes like you wouldn’t believe, comes from a crap mega-company and claims to have ‘soothing grape extract’ in it but it’s the second to last ingredient … avoid, my friends. I started using it to clean my makeup brushes and it wasn’t even good for that! This launched in 2017, so really, are we surprised that it sucks?

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Caudalie Foaming Cleanser – £15

This is a great cleanser for gently but very, very effectively deep cleansing the skin, especially good for people who get stress breakouts, which I did A LOT earlier in the year. If you’re getting stress breakouts you might not need a cleanser for acne-prone skin, just something gentle to keep your skin super clean without over-stripping it. This beautiful foam is absolutely the product for you.

Pacifica Cactus Revive Face Wash – £10

I picked this up in America on my honeymoon because hellooooo it’s got CACTUS in it. This year, I’ve really gotten into my plants because I really needed their soothing, air purifying, green goodness. And now that I’ve moved into a new, lighter place, my cacti are flourishing. So I was really excited to try this, and I do love it! The smell is very natural (it literally smells like the inside of a plant) and I absolutely adore the texture; it’s super thick, and turns into a very milky foam when you add water. I find it leaves my skin perfectly balanced too! It’s hard to get in the UK but I’m pretty sure Whole Foods sell it.

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Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil – £18

Yep I used a lot of Caudalie this year. Why? Because I worked for them until I quit to pursue my dreams! I loved the company and the people but my mental health was suffering so much and working a 9-5:30 in central London wasn’t doing me any favours. Anyway, this is one of my two favourite makeup removers, I love how easy it is to use. Caudalie’s founder created it as a replacement for makeup wipes (which are terrible for your skin and the environment), and I actually think that this oil is both quicker and easier to use than makeup wipes, and obviously WAY better for the skin.

Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleanser – £19.50

This is a clay cleanser that is supposed to deeply cleanse all skin types. I found it ok, but just ok. It didn’t irritate my skin but I did find my skin was looking a bit lacklustre after using it, and it left my skin feeling like there was a weird residue on it. Don’t get it in your eyes either, oh my good god it stings.

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash – £16

I think this cleanser is probably aimed at slightly oilier skin types than mine, because when I used it my skin was left unbelievably tight and ended up flaking overnight. My partner who has oily skin didn’t like it either though, so perhaps it’s just a bit rubbish!

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Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser – £15

I couldn’t wait to try this and was on the website the second the UK site launched! I really like it, it’s very gentle and went perfectly with my recovery from my breakdown, where I was trying to make everything I did to myself as gentle as possible, because pretty much everything about me was run ragged. It’s so gentle and lovely to use; I think it’s perfect as a second cleanse or to use in the morning in the shower.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser – £11.50

I think of this cleanser as a more watery version of Glossier Milky Jelly. It’s just as gentle, but slightly better at removing makeup – in fact, it can remove mascara and bb cream all by itself! I’m not wild about the cucumber smell but that’s just personal preference. I absolutely love the gel texture, and it leaves my skin perfectly balanced and soft.

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – £23

This has been my regular exfoliator for about 3 years now. I love the thick gel texture, subtle plant-ish scent and very gentle exfoliating beads that get the job done without irritating or drying out my skin. Rich in coconut and aloe extracts, it hydrates the skin while you exfoliate. I love it, and could never be without it!

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So, there it is! All 17 cleansers I used in 2017. Not sure if I’ll manage to get up to 18 this year, but we shall see! 2017 was a rough year, but it’s little, enjoyable things that make your worst moments more bearable. Washing my face is a hugely important part of self care for me, and I’m very fortunate to be able to try out so many cleansers, so I can recommend (or recommend avoiding them) to you. Happy New Year!

 

Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil Review

I feel like it’s been ages since I wrote a straightforward product review, I’ve been really enjoying writing skincare guides and talking more about self care lately. However Jurlique’s Skin Balancing Face Oil deserves a review all of its own, and I have been meaning to write one for about four years! Seriously, I’ve tried SO MANY face oils over the years (check out the face oil photo in this blog post) and this has come up top time and time again, nothing even comes close. Let me tell you more about it….

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Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil is formulated for normal and combination skin types and the consistency is a light, almost dry oil. A dry oil is an oil that absorbs very quickly without a trace, but while Skin Balancing Face Oil absorbs fast, unlike most dry oils, it also leaves your skin feeling plump and soft. I love this because when I use something like almond oil, my skin still feels rough afterwards which makes it hard to know if it’s working!

This oil is formulated to protect against moisture loss, which makes it the perfect addition to a winter skincare routine, as it will help prevent central heating and bitingly cold weather from dehydrating your skin. Dehydration leads to unbalanced skin because by not having enough water, your skin produces more oil to compensate which leads to a huge mess (if you’ve ever thought “what the hell is going on with my skin?! Everything is wrong with it!!” then you probably have unbalanced skin). With this light, hydrating and protective oil the skin stays soft and supple, and the herbal extracts keep it calm and comfortable too.

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The oil base is amazing; avocado, rosehip, safflower, jojoba, macadamia and evening primrose oils, together with shea butter. These all have different qualities, for example avocado oil is rich in vitamin E, rosehip is rich in vitamin A and both are great for evening out the skin tone. Evening primrose oil is rich in brightening vitamin C, whilst jojoba oil is the closest oil to our skin’s natural sebum, so it’s the most effectively absorbed, and therefore helps the skin to absorb all the other goodness in the oil. Being so high in antioxidants, this is an amazing oil to help protect agains pollution as well as weather and central heating.

The herbal extracts are perfectly balanced too. With viola extracts to smooth roughness, chamomile to calm redness, calendula to support healing and comfrey to soothe, it leaves the skin feeling super comfortable and looking clear and balanced. Another amazing thing about this oil is the smell – imagine if honeysuckle and jasmine had a lovechild; sweet but not sickly, heady but not overpowering, fresh, floral, cheerful… every time I use this oil it puts a smile on my face.

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By hydrating, soothing, protecting and nourishing the skin, Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil is absolutely perfect for all skin types, but I think it’s particularly amazing for normal or combination skin that suffers in winter weather. I use it at night whenever my skin is looking dull or feeling tight and it leaves my skin soft, smooth and glowing by morning. A 50ml bottle is a generous size, and I find that it lasts for well over a year. Get it from Look Fantastic for £38 – click here

The Winter Skincare Essentials

If the news is to be believed, it seems that this winter is going to be pretty brutal weather-wise. Personally I love bitingly cold winter weather, but I come from a family of people with skin that doesn’t react well to it – think heels and knuckles so dry they crack until they bleed. Because of this, I’ve had to pick up a few habits to survive the winter, and I thought it was time to share! Plus, we all know that when it’s dark and cold our mood can suffer. Self care and little indulgent rituals become even more important at this time of the year. So I’ve put together a little guide, starting with the products you need to get you through the winter, followed by a few little hacks and tips for dealing with cold-ravaged skin!

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Skincare products for the wintertime

More than one of your favourite lip balm – Keep them everywhere, by your bed, in your bag, your coat pocket, your socks, wherever. Being without your lipbalm is just not worth the pain and suffering. I love Hurraw! Coconut Lip Balm which is raw, vegan, smells nice and melts onto the lips instantly. I cannot stand the chunky, vaseline feeling of mineral oil lipbalms and if you feel the same way, I highly recommend this one!

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A good, fast absorbing hand cream – Having a hand cream that absorbs quickly means you will be more inclined to reapply frequently. If you have to sit with sticky hands for ages after applying, you’re much less likely to break out the hand cream throughout the day, which means that your hands are going to get dry and crispy much sooner than if you had a light, pleasant hand cream to use. Caudalie Hand & Nail Cream is the fastest absorbing hand cream I have ever used, it smells amazing and it’s seriously effective too. This is one you won’t be able to stop applying!

An extremely thick balm – Of course, even if you are good at reapplying hand cream, sometimes the cold weather is going to get to your hands, or other parts of your body, and dry them out, especially if you’re outdoorsy or have naturally dry skin. When this happens it’s a good idea to have a gorgeously thick balm on hand to protect, nourish and soothe. Weleda Skin Food is the ultimate multipurpose balm if you ask me. There are other great ones, like Antipodes Saviour Balm, Trilogy Everything Balm and MOA Green Balm, but Skin Food really is the best. Apply to dry hands (and dry anything else too, even your hair and face) before bed and everything will be better by morning. A multipurpose balm also comes in handy when you get a cold or the flu – for soothing a tissue-ravaged nose!

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A facial oil – Lots of people will switch to a heavier moisturiser in the winter, but I’m not convinced that’s the best course of action. Your skin type doesn’t actually change with the weather, and for me at least, using a richer cream leads to blocked pores and spots even if it does prevent dry patches and redness initially. I prefer to ward off dryness with ‘treatment’ products rather than permanent replacements so I can use them whenever I need to. A facial oil is perfect for this – they last for a long time if stored right, and they have the added benefit of soothing the skin along with protecting, nourishing and hydrating. I absolutely love Jurlique Balancing Facial Oil (particularly amazing for sensitive skin and smells heavenly), Korres Brightening Facial Oil (really does give you a radiant complexion!) and Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil, (brightens the skin and can even be used by people with spots) which are all aimed at normal to combination skin like mine so aren’t too heavy, but are still super nourishing. If your skin is naturally on the drier side, try Trilogy Rosehip Oil + Antioxidant, or Caudalie Overnight Recovery Oil, both a little rich for me but absolutely beautiful for drier skins! I also like Pure Potions Salvation Oil but I can’t find it to buy anywhere else apart from their website so there might be shipping charges there.

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A moisturising mask – Again, like with the face oil, having a moisturising mask on hand for days where your skin feels super rough and tight is a great way to nourish your skin, but also protect and soothe it from the irritation of being dry. A nourishing mask is perfect for this, and I absolutely love Caudalie Moisturising Mask which contains grape seed oil and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and nourish whilst strengthening the skin too. I wouldn’t say you definitely need both – a mask or an oil will suffice, but I wanted to add them both since they do have different qualities. You can also apply a really thin layer of this particular mask when you go outdoors to help protect your skin from chapping.

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A gentle cleanser – Over cleansing and stripping your skin of its natural oils becomes a much easier trap to fall into in the winter. If your skin gets dull, dry and rough, don’t be tempted to slough it away with a rough exfoliator or cleanser. Often, the skin can become more sensitive in the winter, so make sure you’re treating it nicely. I love Trilogy Makeup Be Gone Cleansing Balm for removing makeup, and Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser for washing my face.

A gorgeous body oil – Just the same as for the face, except there’s even more of a self-care element to it. After you get out of your bath or shower, apply your body oil all over and snuggle into bed, preferably with some cosy jammies, a hot water bottle and a couple of extra blankets. The act of massaging the oil in, enjoying it’s gorgeous scent, and waking up with silky soft skin is one of my favourite things to do in winter. Just try to make sure you apply it in a warm room! My current favourite body oil is Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Treatment, but you can see a wider variety of my faves here too.

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A restorative bath soak – Essential for several reasons! Baths warm the heart and soul and are a perfect way to counteract a chilly day. They lift the mood, calm the mind and relax the muscles. They are also fantastic for the sinuses! I absolutely love a good bath product, I’m not so fussed about bubble baths and prefer oils, salts and soaks; they’re richer in natural plant and herbal extracts because they don’t have a a cleansing base or soap or surfactants like a bubble bath does. I always shower quickly before a bath (yes, you should do this) and wash myself, so I don’t need soap in the bath itself. My absolute  favourites at the moment are definitely Olverum Bath Oil, but it is prohibitively expensive so when I run out I will buy from the much more reasonably priced ranges of Weleda and Kneipp Bath Soaks.

Winter skincare tips and tricks

  • If you’re pushed for budget, or just don’t want to buy too much, I would suggest that instead of buying a facial oil, mask and balm, just go for Weleda Skin Food instead because not only can you can use it on your face as a night treatment, you can also use it to protect your skin from harsh weather, and it can double up as a mask!

 

  • Always exfoliate before applying your face or body oil, and never exfoliate unless you’re going to apply an oil afterwards. This will ensure you remove the rough patches of skin that can build up in the wintertime without actually making them worse by drying your skin out.

 

  • If you’re spot prone but still get winter dryness and dehydration, use a very small amount of your nourishing balm only on the dry patches (in a similar way to how you might apply an on-the-spot treatment gel for a blemish) to avoid clogging up the rest of your pores. Focus more on the hydration side of skincare too – think hydrating serums, sheet masks, moisturisers…while many people can get away with just protecting their skin with oils, you have to take the more difficult route of perfecting your skin’s hydration instead.

 

  • Avoid using mineral oil based products unless you are specifically looking to apply a thick, protective layer over your skin. Mineral oil does absolutely nothing but create a layer that prevents water and oil loss.

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  • If your forehead gets irritated by wearing a woollen hat all the time, try soothing it with a calming facial mist instead of scratching it. It might feel weird to spray a traditionally summer-time product in the middle of the winter, but you’ll feel so much relief afterwards that you won’t care! I would recommend Avene Thermal Water or Caudalie Grape Water for this, as they are the two that I personally find the most soothing, and they come in travel sizes. My absolute favourite would be Glossier Soothing Mist but that only comes in a big size!

 

  • If your body skin is getting dry, rough and itchy, try this to help relieve it. Take a square of cotton (muslin is best but you can use anything as long as it isn’t heavily dyed) and pile half a cup of oats into the centre of it. Tie it up with whatever you have, could be string, an elastic band or a hair bobble, then drop it into a warm (not hot) bath. Soak in the milky water and let it calm and soothe your skin. If you have any raw shea or cocoa butter then you can put a a teaspoon or so in the pouch as well, to nourish and hydrate the skin while you bathe.

 

I hope this helps you and your skin survive the winter! Wrap up warm! x

 

Self Care Ideas That Don’t Cost Any Money

In today’s world, self care is essential. It can be as simple as remembering to drink water, or as elaborate as a seven step skincare routine followed by 40 minutes of yoga. The type of self care you need depends on the level of wellbeing you are currently at. You shouldn’t feel pressured to engage in mindfulness meditation when you can’t even get out of bed! And you certainly should never feel obligated to spend money on making yourself feel better, despite how many magazines and websites say otherwise. Even the most well meaning self care ‘listicle’ is only really there to sell stuff. When brands are saying that you *need* the latest luxury bath salts or £40 face mask, it’s really just regular old marketing, re-spun, so that instead of saying ‘you’ll look better!’ they’re saying ‘you’ll feel better!’ Capitalism has taken the concept of self care and resold it to us as a commodity.

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You can absolutely look after yourself without buying anything new. I’ve complied a list of free ideas for people who can’t splash out, or are suspicious of the idea that self care should cost money. Obviously these are some of my personal favourite ways to look after myself, but I thought they might also be helpful as inspiration to get you thinking about creative ways you can rest and recharge on your own terms:

Turn your headphones off when you’re walking home in the rain – Listening to the rain is one of the most effective ways to soothe my brain and always has been, ever since I was little. I love walking home listening to the water hitting my umbrella. Perhaps it’s the same for you, or perhaps you love the sun and could try crossing the road whenever you can to walk on the sunny side. Or if you love the wind you could go to an open space on a blustery day and let it whip up into your hair and blow the cobwebs away.

Water and tend to your plants, then sit with them for a while – I have an enormous family of plants in my flat and I always feel more positive and recharged after I’ve spent a little time checking in on them; watering, dusting their leaves, repotting etc. I talk to them too. Houseplants are inexpensive, and do not take a huge amount of time to care for. If you don’t already have one, bringing some greenery into the home has been demonstrated time and time again to have lots of positive effects!

Read to your partner and have them read to you – James and I absolutely love doing this together, and usually read a few pages at a time before swapping. It’s lovely to do this while snuggled up under warm blankets and pillows, with bedside lamps just bright enough to read by. Everything you remember about how nice it was being read to as a child will come flooding back and you and your partner will be left feeling warm and fuzzy.

File the dead skin off your feet – Gross, fun and sooooo satisfying. Set aside 20 minutes for this, get right up in there with a pumice or file, then have a shower to wash it all off, and finish the job by rubbing in some body lotion, if you have any!

Cook yourself food and allow yourself to enjoy it – Anyone who has ever suffered from stress, exhaustion, physical or mental illness or financial difficulties will have been through a time where cooking food and letting it nurture them was impossible. I’ve been to that place. There are hundreds of reasons why someone may not have eaten properly for a while. If that’s you, when the time does come to give yourself a hot meal, try this method to make it as restorative as possible: Choose a meal that you know how to cook, and get the ingredients out before you start. While you cook, focus on the way the food feels in your hands, how it smells, how much you’re looking forward to eating it. Wash things up and clean as you go so you don’t have a pile of pots to tackle after you’ve eaten. When it’s ready, pour a large glass of water and bring your food to somewhere you find comfortable. Put some music on; don’t watch your shows while you’re eating today. Eat it slowly, let yourself enjoy the warm feeling that food can bring you. Drink your glass of water as you eat.

Make taking a shower into a cleansing ritual – For some, the simple act of getting in the shower is a taxing enough act of self care, and they should be proud to have managed to do that for themselves. But for other people, the way in which you shower can have a powerfully energising, restorative effect. It’s very basic, but the act of focusing the mind on something simple is so good for us. This is how I like to use my shower time to rest and refocus my mind: Get in the shower, squeeze out a generous amount of body wash, and massage it into every inch of your skin, from your toes to your neck. Pay attention to soaping up every part of your body, bit by bit. If you have a body brush or scrub, do the same with that and exfoliate your whole body. Just focus on the sensations, the smell of your shower gel, the heat of the water, the softness of the bubbles. If you want to, wash your face and hair too with the same degree of care, and finish by giving yourself a thorough rinse, letting the water wash everything away, leaving you shiny and new.

Get everything ready for bed, then run a bath and read in it for ages – I particularly love to do this when I’m reading a book I’m really enjoying. Get the washing up done, get your bag ready for work tomorrow, teeth brushed, alarm set, phone on charge, bed made. Then run a hot bath, put some bubbles in, soak and read away, until you’re ready to dry off and slip into bed.

Listen to an entire album that you love from start to finish – I suggest putting your headphones on for this, and lying on your bed. While you listen, try to focus just on the music, the emotions it stirs in you and any happy memories it may bring. Calmly but firmly steer your mind away from negative thoughts or worries that will try to creep in during this quiet time. This isn’t an opportunity for you to mull things over, make plans or ruminate – this time is for you and your brain to hang out together with something you both enjoy. If I do struggle to stop my mind racing, I say this to myself: “No. I’m not thinking about that right now. I don’t need to and I don’t want to. I am going to enjoy Zaba by Glass Animals until it is finished, because that is what I set this time aside to do.” Then, I will focus on the lyrics or pick out different instruments and follow them through the songs until my mind quietens down again.

Ecotherapy – Being out in nature is clinically proven to help improve mood and reduce stress. Jump at any chance to simply be out of doors, even better if you can take your shoes off and put your feet on the ground! In Japan this is known as ‘forest bathing’ and is regarded as essential, particularly for those living in densely populated urban areas.

Move around – Exercise is a personal thing and I don’t like to talk about it because it has the potential to make people feel bad when they haven’t done anything wrong. But still it seemed weird to leave this off the list, as it really does make a lot of people feel a bit better. If you’re able to, and you want to, I would definitely suggest trying exercise when you’re feeling down. It can be as simple as going for a walk or run, or you could try one of the millions of workout and yoga session on youtube. All completely free!

Some of these methods may seem trivial or pointless, and some of them might seem silly to you, but remember that I’ve tried to create a list that will inspire everyone, no matter what life situation they might be in. Whether you’re a student, a new parent, physically or mentally ill, in financial trouble or stressed at work, you are allowed to spend time on yourself. It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary for your wellbeing which means you should never feel bad for taking the time to do it. Spending money doesn’t validate your self care, and doesn’t necessarily make it more effective either. The most important thing is that you approach your self care with the intention of taking some time to look after yourself, because you, just by virtue of existing on this planet as a human being, deserve it.

How To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

When your skin is delicate, easily irritated or frequently tight and uncomfortable, it can be tempting to avoid exfoliation all together. If you have a medical condition that affects your facial skin, like eczema or rosacea, you might be right to avoid it. However you just have sensitive, delicate skin, not only are you really missing out, you might even find that exfoliating helps your skin to become less reactive! Yes indeed – removing all that dead skin can better allow your natural skin oil and your added moisturisers to work better, which has an amazingly soothing effect on sensitive skin.

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However, there are a few secrets to successful exfoliating when you have sensitive skin. The first is to pick the right kind of exfoliator. Chemical exfoliators, scrubs, face brushes and sponges are all popular ways to slough away dead skin, but for delicate skin you have to choose carefully. Personally I would avoid exfoliating sponges like konjac sponges because they create a lot of friction, even with a creamy product on them. They feel lovely, but I find my skin to be red and irritated after using them, and not very well exfoliated. Face brushes like the Magnitone or Clarisonic are a good option but they are expensive and it’s hard to know whether or not your skin will get on with one. Unfortunately they don’t make testers of these, so it’s a bit of a risky investment whenyou have temperamental skin! Chemical exfoliators can be a good option but you must be very, very careful with them. I’ve written a post already about how to use a chemical exfoliator when you have sensitive skin, you can read it here.

Finally, we get to scrubs. I find that when you choose the right scrub, they are the easiest, most convenient way to exfoliate delicate skin. You can easily control how deeply you exfoliate by the way you use it; how much of it, when, where, and even how you massage it onto the skin. I thought I’d tell you about my favourites and then give you a few general tips and tricks on using them; that way even if you find a different scrub that you’d prefer, you can still benefit from these exfoliation hacks for sensitive skin!

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Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream – £20

This is undoubtedly the richest scrub I have ever come across – the thick, creamy consistency contains small jojoba beads to very gently lift away dead skin and grime. The thickness of the cream protects delicate skin from the exfoliating particles, making it super gentle! It contains grape seed oil and honey to hydrate and soothe the skin, and it’s also perfect for dry skin types because of it’s nourishing, oil based formula. Tip: If you really want the gentlest exfoliation possible, try mixing a scrub with a creamy cleanser (like Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk). I was amazed the first time I tried this – I was expecting it to achieve absolutely nothing! But my skin was left super soft, clean and nourished. Get it here

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – £23

This is my favourite scrub ever. It’s not quite as gentle as the other two, but I only exfoliate twice a week so my skin can tolerate it really well. The exfoliating particles are made from finely ground palm seeds, and the super-thick gel texture creates a buffer between the granules and yours skin, meaning that they aren’t nearly as abrasive as theysound. The gel itself is very calming and hydrating, it’s an aloe and coconut base infused with gingko and green tea. It smells utterly delightful, and leaves the skin perfectly clean and unbelievably soft. Tip: if there are areas of your skin that are more sensitive than others, try using your exfoliator only the places that actually need it – for me that’s places like my hairline, jawline and nose, whilst I tend to avoid my cheeks which are very delicate. Get it here

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – £48

This is a total cult product, and I absolutely love it. It comes out as a powder that you apply to wet skin, where it transforms into a beautiful milk with very soft exfoliating granules. It contains a whole host of exfoliating ingredients, including rice enzymes and papain as well as salicylic acid. There’s also gingko, colloidal oatmeal (which you can totally smell when you use it!) and green tea to soothe the skin as you exfoliate. I know so many people with sensitive skin who love this, and I have never had an issue with it because the exfoliating enzymes are rinsed off (I can’t use any of them in products you leave on, but my skin loves them here). Tip: Massage your exfoliator in small, slow circles over your skin, applying light pressure. This means that your scrub will be less abrasive, because you will reduce the amount of friction between the granules and your skin, but it will still be just as effective. Get it here

I hope you found this little guide to exfoliating sensitive skin helpful! Let me know if you have any questions, or your own holy grail scrub to recommend!