Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion

I’ve used Weleda’s Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion on and off for years, so I thought it was time I finally wrote about it!

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This is a very basic, simple product that I come back to time and time again, particularly when my skin is playing up and I need a gentle make-up remover. With only seven ingredients, it’s perfect for people with sensitive skin who need to keep their exposure to skincare ingredients to a minimum.

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Just in case you needed proof that I really love Almond Cleansing Lotion! I bought a load on Black Friday to keep me going. I know no matter what other products I have on my shelf, I’ll end up reaching for it frequently.

The consistency is kind of like a thin facial cream – not quite liquid, but not entirely solid either. When you squeeze it out it looks like there’s little balls in it, but you can’t feel them when you massage it into your skin. I squeeze it out onto my fingers and apply it all over, rubbing lightly and in small circles to loosen the make-up. Then I wipe it off with cotton pads. Usually I have to apply and remove twice to get all the make-up off, unless I was wearing a bb cream, in which case once is fine.

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The smell is lovely, it’s a light almondy/marzipan scent, though obviously the product is fragrance free. Despite having two lovely, nourishing oils in it, the lotion leaves my skin feeling so clean and fresh, and for that reason, I find myself reaching for it when my skin is oily. This deep cleansing effect comes from lactic acid (an AHA) and alcohol, so I wouldn’t suggest it for people with dry skin, but for any other skin type, it’s great!

I love this cleanser. I started using it around the time I first realised I had sensitive skin, and the fact that I’ve come back to it so much ever since really says something about it’s effectiveness, gentleness and quality. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Weleda are cruelty free and environmentally conscious! Get it for £9.95 off Look Fantastic – link

Skincare and make-up for sensitive eyes

I have the most outrageously sensitive eyes. At the faintest whiff of stress, harsh products, or god forbid, heavy eye make-up, they get weepy, and the skin around them breaks out in eczema patches. I have recurrent styes in my right eye too, which is particularly annoying as it means I can’t buy expensive mascaras or eyeliners since I have to chuck it out every time I have one! I have a skincare and make-up routine in place now that has kept my eyes in check for a long time now, so I thought I’d share!

Skincare

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Cleansing and eye make-up removal can be a big problem for many people with sensitive skin, but the solution for me was a lucky find – Klorane’s Gentle Eye Make-up Remover. Despite having fragrance and colour, this eye make-up remover is the most soothing product I’ve ever used. Even when I have eczema flare-ups (yes I still use make-up, leave me alone), it doesn’t sting. After cleansing, I use a normal eye cream most of the time, but when my eyes are bad, at night I apply XeraCalm Cream from Avene*. This stuff is super thick, and unbelievably soothing. It’s so so good for eczema flare ups. I love doing a little ‘eye mask’ with it in the evenings, and it’s great for my extremely dry, often itchy hands too. I can’t use it during the day though, as it’s so thick, so in the mornings I apply a soothing aloe vera gel like this one.

Make-up

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It took a loooong time for me to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t wear mascara when my eyes were irritated  – and even longer to get my every day make-up to a point that I was actually happy with the way I looked without it. I’m more than happy with this look though – I love it! It’s pretty basic, but I’ll explain anyway. I start with Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation all over my face, and then dot their Radiant Creamy Concealer on blemishes, and on the inner corners of my eye area. After that, I brush a thin layer of Clinique Almost Powder all over my face, followed by Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush on the apples of my cheeks. I fill in my brows with Benefit Brow-Zings, and then finally, on the outer corners of my eyes and over a bit of the lid, I pat on some BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener. The Brow-Zings and brightener are kind of like a replacement for mascara – they give my eyes a wide awake, noticeable look, equivalent to that of mascara. Here’s the finished look:

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I usually throw on a bit of Lipstick Queen Frog Prince too, which balances my face out nicely. Even though I do put the foundation, eye brightener and powder near my eyes, it doesn’t affect them because they are high quality products, and they aren’t absorbed. In fact, they form a protective layer which is actually quite good for the skin!

Do you suffer from sensitive skin or eczema? How do you cope? I hope you found my skincare routine helpful!

REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk

Let me tell you a little story about REN and this cleanser.

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I went to Scotland a couple of months ago, and when we were halfway up the motorway I realised I’d forgotten my bottle of Gentle Cleansing Milk. I panicked, and tried to use REN’s store locator on my phone, but with the shoddy signal it wouldn’t load. So, I took to twitter…

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Just a couple of minutes later, REN replied:

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I loaded the address into my phone, and an hour later we were back on the road (because we stopped for lunch too, obviously) with a new bottle of Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk in my bag! Thank you REN!

So anyway, you’ve probably worked out that I have some pretty strong feelings about Gentle Cleansing Milk by now. Here’s why.

This cleanser has not only cleared up the red patches I was getting because of sensitivity, it’s also smoothed out flakiness, improved my skin’s radiance, AND kept blackheads and oil at bay. This is an absolute powerhouse of a cleanser, and when you look at the ingredients it’s easy to see why!

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To nourish the dryness so commonly associated with sensitive skin, Gentle Cleansing Milk has sesame oil, sunflower oil and shea butter, three rich oils that are easily tolerated by reactive skin.

Calendula and geranium extracts are both gentle antibacterials, so help to keep the skin healthy and promote healing – something that sensitive skin needs more than most. Then fennel extract helps to decongest and reduce puffiness, while chamomile soothes and calms. Finally, ho wood oil helps to relieve irritations by cooling the skin.

As for radiance? Blackcurrant seed oil helps to reduce roughness and has a rejuvenating affect on the skin, while oryzanol (rice bran extract) is great for sun damage and as it’s easily absorbed, can have a lasting affect on the condition of the skin even in a cleanser. Then there’s Sea Buckthorn extract, which is fantastic for radiance, with high concentrations of vitamins A, C and E as well as omegas and anti-oxidants.

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The texture is wonderfully thick and creamy, which makes it a joy to massage into the skin, and the scent is beautiful – it’s like a warm, slightly floral scent with a bit of a woody undertone. Another thing I love about this cleanser is that it’s quite versatile in terms of removal. You can rinse it off like I do, but you can also use a face cloth or cotton pads if your skin is very dry and you can’t use tap water on it. This is such a good option to have!

If you have sensitive skin and you’re looking for a fuss-free, gorgeous, and not-too-expensive product to leave your skin perfectly clean without being stripped of oil, I cannot recommend REN’s Gentle Cleansing Milk enough! Get it here for £17 – link

Stress, eczema and Eau Thermale Avène

I’m not going to go into much detail about why I abandoned this blog (a blog that I was really quite proud of to be honest) for six months. What I will say however, is that about two months ago I woke up to an itchy rash all over my torso. Having never seen anything like it before, I was horrified. Apart from dry hands I haven’t had any issues with the skin on my body at all. I ran off to my doctor immediately, and was diagnosed with eczema. When I told the doctor that this was the first time I’d had it, he seemed confused. Was I under any particular stress, he asked.

After I described to him exactly what kind of stress I was under, he sent me off with a steroid cream prescription, an IAPT appointment and instructions to come back if it got any worse. Suffice to say, I am coming out of this experience MUCH stronger, and FAR wiser.

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As I walked from the GP’s to get the prescription, my skin was on fire. I sent my boyfriend a text screaming for help, and he suggested a bath. What on earth was I supposed to put in a bath when I had this all over me? Everything I use is full of essential oils something you should never put on eczema. Lucky for me, my lovely local pharmacist knew exactly what I needed. Eau Thermale Avène Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil.

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I put about five pumps of this into a mildly warm bath, and my skin was so, so soothed. The irritation went right down, and I actually didn’t need to use very much steroid cream at all. I used the Cleansing Oil for about two weeks in the shower after that, by squeezing it onto a sponge and using it like soap. It foams up really nicely, and leaves the skin feeling clean and soft.

If you’re struggling with your skin I can’t recommend it highly enough. The soothing nature is incredible, I found that my skin felt calmer as soon as I rubbed it on. I’m so happy I had it.

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Since my skin healed quite quickly, I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the bottle (you get a LOT for your money). Then one night I ran out of the makeup wipes I’d been using. I thought this stuff, being so gentle, must be ok for use on the face, and boy was I right! My waterproof mascara melted away after I lathered up twice. So if you decide to try the Cleansing Oil for a pesky skin condition, (which it then ends up curing) I highly recommend using the rest as a makeup remover.

I was having a rough time, and I would like to take a end by saying that IAPT stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, and is the NHS’s attempt to make sure people can get help when they first need it. If you’re struggling with something in your life, and haven’t gone to a doctor about it, you CAN now. This initiative is designed to prevent irreparable damage being done to your mental health, and no matter how mild you think your problem is, they have something in place for you.

Super Facialist by Úna Brennan – Rose Hydrate Brighten & Refine Facial Scrub

Well after that fairly heavy post yesterday I thought I’d share something a bit more lighthearted today. Una Brennan is a professional facialist and skincare expert, but whether or not the products are actually developed by her its not clear. Now, ok, I’m going to get negative here but believe me, it’ll end with a massive positive…

Super Facialist is a trademark of Brand Architeks Ltd, a brand-building company that produce Good Things and Dirty Works skincare too. As soon as I found this out I was immediately put off because I think brands like that are 90% marketing 10% product quality. I generally try to buy from brands that make and love their products, where the person who developed them works alongside the person that markets them, where the person that puts it in the bottle is employed by the same company that employes the IT guy, and so on. Well, even if Super Facialist isn’t like that, there really was no need to doubt the quality. Because this Rose Hydrate Brighten & Refine Scrub is amazing. 

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I spoke a while back about wanting to avoid scrubs, because I felt like they were too harsh and stuff. Ones with apricot kernel fragments I still wouldn’t touch with a bargepole because I remember them from my teens, and hello that’s not microdermabrasion, that’s just plain old abrasion. Yuck. But I did realise, after a week of unbelievably dry skin, that I would need more than just a Konjac Sponge to slough it all off. I spent about half an hour in Boots looking at all the different scrubs before finding this one.

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The packaging promised to do exactly what I wanted, all while being suitable for sensitive skin! Perfect. It contains menthol, which gives it this gorgeously refreshing, tingly feeling, and I haven’t had any irritation from it at all. My skin has improved in softness SO MUCH. This was what I started using when I gave up cheese, and couldn’t believe how soft my skin had become. I’m incredibly happy with it. Rosewater, mallow, willow bark and geranium, together with the menthol, are an incredible herbal cocktail for improving the skin. Then cocoa and shea butter help to moisturise, while several natural waxes and tiny flakes of pumice provide the exfoliation.

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You can see how tiny the exfoliating particles are in that photo (the black bits are the pumice). I like to warm my face with water first, before squeezing out just over half an inch (its really thick so comes out in a line). When I massage it in, I do it really slowly and gently, first spreading it over my whole face and then focussing on each specific part, rubbing in small circles. I think this reduces the abrasiveness, whilst retaining all the exfoliating qualities. It also gives the plant extracts a chance to get to work and provide effective care, and lets the moisturisers really skin in and nourish the skin. When my face is nice and tingly, I rinse it off gently with lukewarm water and follow with my Rosehip Oil and an eye cream. My skin is so much smoother, clearer and brighter since I started using this – plus its really affordable, and easily available from Boots too!

How I sorted out my sensitive, combination skin

Like many people, I consider my skin an absolute pest when it comes to getting it to look its best. For years it was dry with a tendency towards sudden, inexplicable spots – sometimes even the skin around my spots would be flakey and dry. How on earth one is supposed to deal with that I have no idea, so mostly I just went with it and covered it up as best I could. This of course left me with loads of scars. Then after a while my skin started to get oily all over, which presented a whole other mess of problems I had no idea how to deal with. Fun, right?! I decided I had sensitive, combination skin, and started looking into how to deal with…that.

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These are the products I now use on my skin. And when I say they’ve transformed my skin’s condition, I am definitely not exaggerating. I think this collection is almost perfectly balanced – cleansing and exfoliating, yet calming and gentle. Originally I didn’t use a moisturiser because of the oiliness, but I’ll explain why I started needing one in a minute.

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So first of all, my cleansing routineThe sensitivity of my skin means that oily-skin cleansers and abrasive scrubs send it crazy – I don’t like scrubs anyway because the exfoliating granules are rarely biodegradable, which is starting to cause problems with water pollution. But I still need to get rid of dead skin, and that’s where this wonderful combination comes in. 

Jurlique Replenishing Cleanser is supposed to be for dry skin, but the ingredients really spoke to me. Macadamia nut and avocado oil are both nourishing yet light, easily absorbed oils, perfect for combination skin. Mallow extract protects sensitive skin, allowing it to re-balance, calm and strengthen itself. Calendula does a similar job, helping to reduce inflammation and heal almost every skin problem known to humankind. Used with my amazing Konjac Sponge, it deeply cleanses my skin leaving it gently exfoliated and really smooth.

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This Balancing Facial Oil was a free gift with my Replenishing Cleanser, and I am so glad I got it. I often don’t bother with free cosmetic gifts because my skin is such a diva, but reading about this one I thought it could be just what I needed, and surprise surprise, it was! It’s an amazing combination of powerful plants, including jojoba oil, Shea butter, rose extract, macadamia oil, evening primrose oil and daisy extract. There’s mallow extract in there to protect, chamomile to sooth the skin, viola pansy to smooth dryness, echinacea to purify and calendula again to promote healing. You can really see how this thing balances the skin, with a formula rich in both purifying and nourishing ingredients. My combination, out of control skin drank it up, and I noticed that something very interesting began to happen to it. Remember when I said that I used to have dry patches? Early on when I started using this product, the oiliness went away, and that dryness came back, without the spots. It was like my skin was shedding its problems and going back to its natural state – literally, going back into balance!

Of course, this meant that I needed a moisturizer again, which I’m not complaining about because of all the skin problems in the world, dryness is definitely the easiest to deal with. I decided to go with Weleda Almond Soothing Cream because the two Jurlique products I use have LOADS of ingredients, and this cream has nine, and is basically just water and almond oil with binders. Couldn’t be purer. I have to be careful not to use too much, as its very nourishing and rich, but its lovely to use something on my skin knowing that I definitely won’t react to it.

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So there you have it! If you have unhappy, sensitive, combination skin I would really recommend this routine…but I would also suggest you have a good think about what your skin needs, and what it’s real problems are. Don’t pay any attention to marketing – if I had I wouldn’t have bought a cleanser for dry skin – pay attention to ingredients, and their properties.

P.S. I decided that calendula was definitely the star of this blog post, so there’s a beautiful bunch I picked this summer.