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!

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Eve Lom Rescue Mask Review: Does it live up to the hype?

A while ago, my skin was in a bad, bad way. One or two new spots would crop up every day, with older ones taking forever to heal and fade away. My skin was so dull, but even with all these spots, it wasn’t oily enough for me to use traditional spot-fighting skincare. I was at a total loss. After reading multiple glowing reviews of Eve Lom’s celebrated products, I decided to invest in a tub of Rescue Mask.

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At £55 this was a pretty bold move for me I must admit, but my skin was the worst it had ever been. I wanted to invest in something that had to work. So I started using it twice a week, applying a thin-to-medium layer over my entire face. The mask has a smell that you might not be familiar with – it contains camphor, a herbal ingredient known for its blemish-healing qualities. I don’t see it in many products and I get the impression it can be an irritant if used incorrectly, so it shows the quality of this mask that I’m able to use it on my sensitive skin. Along with camphor, the mask contains kaolin clay to absorb impurities, and honey to purify and soothe.

Once you apply the mask, leave it to dry, and then when it’s dry, you slowly rub your fingers all over your face, creating exfoliating beads that slough off dead skin and pore build up (do this over the sink!!!). It’s a really gentle process, but you won’t believe how effective it is until you touch your face afterwards. It leaves your skin so silky smooth and radiant – I’ve never used a mask that has such an immediate effect.

One thing to note it that this mask contains straight up alcohol – so if you have very red, irritated skin it may sting. However I believe that the alcohol is there to make the formula dry out when it’s applied (the alcohol is liquid in the pot, thus allowing it to keep the mask spreadable, but evaporates once it’s spread onto the skin). One of the things that makes this mask so incredible is that it exfoliates your skin SO well, but it can’t do that unless the mask is dry. Anyway, my point is, don’t let that put you off. As long as you apply a serum and moisturiser after the mask, you’ll be fine.

So how did Eve Lom’s Rescue Mask work on my out-of-control skin? Well…it’s one of three products I credit with saving it. After a couple of weeks I started to see a dramatic improvement in my overall skin condition, and I know that it helped my skin to become healthier, as well as fading scars and reducing the redness of current blemishes. Nowadays I save it for hormonal/stress related skin crises. It really does rescue your skin, so if you’re in a similar situation to me, give it a go if you possibly can. Get it here

If you want to read more about my skin transformation, click here

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Pixi Glow Tonic Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

The products that transformed my skin

I’m so excited to share this post about my skincare journey. It was a long time coming, but I wanted to wait until my skin wasn’t just going through a temporary good patch. It took a lot of product, a lot of experimenting and a lot of perseverance, but I finally have GOOD SKIN. Read on to see how I got there!

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Since I hit puberty I’ve pretty much always had spots, but I never 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 actually 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 Fushi 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 hated cleansers. I find them SO easy to get wrong as 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 had tried so many others, but these worked for me so incredibly well. A lot of people favour no-rinse products when they have sensitive skin, but personally this tap water has never been an issue for me. 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.

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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 because I loved it so much – 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 – £55

Origins Original Skin Mask – £23

Lush Rosy Cheeks Mask – £6.95

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REN Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil Review

Do you ever find a product that just slips so perfectly into your routine that you kind of forget it’s there? Then a year or so later you’re like ‘huh, I actually couldn’t live without this stuff’…

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That’s what REN’s Vita Mineral Skin Oil is for me. Their customer service team recommended it to me about a year ago – and I’ve just ordered my third bottle. I had pretty upset skin at the time, and while I’d just found a moisturiser that was working, I was really struggling to find a serum that would hydrate without irritating my skin.

The product is basically a serum, and I find that texture is quite unusual – it’s a fast absorbing oil that leaves your skin feeling really soft and plumped, as though you’d slathered on a great big layer of rosehip oil, without any greasy feeling at all. I have combination skin and it works great on both dry and and oily areas. Omega 3 Skin Oil contains rosehip oil for vitamin A, along with algae extracts for the omega content and rice germ oil for vitamin E. It’s quite a simple serum, with each ingredient carefully chosen to support the skin’s natural protective barrier, promote cell renewal and basically just keep the skin hydrated, radiant and revitalised without anything complicated or potentially irritating.

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This is the perfect serum for someone like me who has combination, sensitive, easily irritated skin. From the first day I started using it my face felt softer and smoother, and after trying a couple of ‘stop/start’ tests I can tell you that it really does make a difference, because my skin looks dull and dehydrated when I haven’t used it for a while! I’m so glad I found a serum that works for my skin, and even better, a bottle lasts for at least 6 months. Thanks for another great product, REN! Get it here for £25 – link

Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm Review

I absolutely hate taking my make-up off. It’s a hassle, its not a particularly comfortable experience for my delicate skin (cotton pads scraping across my face, urgh) and most of the make-up removal products I’ve tried leave my skin irritated. Wipes and micellars are a nightmare, and most creams leave my skin feeling dirty. It’s a hard life. I’ve found a few gems though, so let me tell you about my latest love…

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I’ve been curious to try Trilogy products for years, but I’ve just never gotten round to trying them. However I was invited to try something from the range and I settled on Make-Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm.* I was actually pretty sceptical, because the things I’ve heard people say about this product defy belief. That it lifts make-up away effortlessly and completely, that it leaves skin perfectly cleansed, that even sensitive skin becomes soft, clear and comfortable after using it…

To use, you scoop out a serving (I push my thumb in and gouge out enough to generously cover my nail) and massage it well into dry skin. If you’re wearing eye make-up, eyebrows or lipstick, give it a really good massage to loosen the make-up. Dampen the soft facecloth that comes with it (or another clean flannel/face cloth – just make sure you only use them once and then wash them! NOT OPTIONAL!!) and wipe the balm off your face. I usually rinse the flannel, turn it over and go in for another swipe afterwards, just to be sure.

After this, you’d probably assume that you’ll need to double cleanse, to really get the make-up off, right? Wrong. Trilogy’s Cleansing Balm has removed every iota of make-up from my face every single time. I check by spraying my face with Avene Thermal Water Spray and gently wiping my face with a cotton pad…my face is always perfectly clean. It’s insane, I don’t understand how a balm can be so effective!! But there it is. Now, I never use waterproof mascara or heavy eye make-up because I have very sensitive eyes, but I can tell you that it removes normal mascara as easily and quickly as it removes the rest of my make-up.

The balm is a blend of sunflower, olive, coconut and their famous rosehip oils, together with soothing camomile extract and antioxidant vitamin E. It smells gorgeous, and I love the way it instantly melts onto the skin. At £19.50 it isn’t cheap, but it’s 100% natural and leaves my skin feeling amazing.

Would I buy it if I hadn’t been gifted it? Yes! Despite it seeming fairly pricey, it’s lasted twice as long as my other favourite make-up remover and I still have some left, so it’s definitely worth the price!

Get it on Look Fantastic – link

Origins Original Skin Retexturising Mask

I’ve been wanting to try this mask since it first came out, but I had a good rhythm going with my skincare routine at the time and I didn’t want to risk upsetting months of calm, clear skin by changing things. Fast forward a few months and that well and truly went out the window, after a stressful winter my skin was in an absolute state. Origins had a pop-up store in central London at the start of the year, and I ducked in before a meeting one day and couldn’t resist picking up a tube of this gorgeous rose clay mask – my skin had become so rubbish I had nothing to lose!

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Original Skin Mask contains Canadian Willowherb, which is a natural anti-microbial that kills of acne causing bacteria whilst soothing redness and inflammation. I’ve never had acne, but I have been getting lots of spots recently, and the red patches from all the irritation I had when I was stressed were driving me crazy. Rose Clay, another key ingredient, is a really gentle kaolin clay (all clay absorbs toxins from the skin, but Rose is a very gentle one so it doesn’t strip combination skin types).

Now here’s a funny thing. One of the other key ingredients is a plant extract called Persian Silk Tree, which is native to Asia and South America. It’s an antioxidant that helps restore radiance to dull, tired complexions. When I was googling it to find out what it does, I found a few pictures and my first thought was ‘umm…I’ve seen one of those somewhere before’ – and a quick scroll through my photos revealed I was right! I spent two months in the Amazon rainforest a few years ago, and one day on a trek, I stumbled across a mysterious pink flower. I photographed it, meaning to look it up when I got back home, but I completely forgot. Well, now I know! Here’s the specimen I found, deep in the jungle in Peru:

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I really, really love this mask. I’ve found that the formulation is gentle enough that it doesn’t irritate my skin, but at the same time it deeply cleanses and purifies my complexion. It brightens and smooths my skin without drying it out, and it really was exactly what my skin needed. I tested it out on my boyfriend too, who has oily, acne prone skin, and he loved how soft and bright it left his skin. Although, he probably wouldn’t use it regularly as he has the kind of skin that would benefit from Origin’s Charcoal Mask three times a week!

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If you have normal to combination skin, the occasional blemish or dullness and red patches, I cannot recommend this mask highly enough. Get it at Boots.com for £23 – link