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

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub

Lets talk about the best face scrub I have ever used.

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I love physical exfoliation. I know lots of people are all ‘oh no, you should only use chemical exfoliants they’re much gentler’ but I’m just here like, my skin is designed to come into contact with debris throughout the day, it is definitely not designed to have weird chemicals applied to it in a ritualistic fashion. Not that I’m against chemical exfoliants, I love papain, and I used retinaldehyde for the first time last night! But I don’t think there’s any truth to the claim that you shouldn’t use a scrub tailored to your skin type once or twice a week. What you should do is avoid ludicrous exfoliating particles like giant shards of walnut shell that’ll create micro-cuts in your skin.

Mario Badescu’s Botanical Exfoliating Scrub is, frankly, perfect in every way for my skin. I have very delicate skin on my face – in fact, the other day I was literally told by a top cosmetic dermatologist that I have the kind of skin that “doesn’t get blemishes’ because it’s so fine” (#humblebrag). I do get blemishes and am annoyingly sensitive, but still, she was 100% right in the sense that my skin is very delicate so absolutely can’t handle anything too rough without getting dry or red or angry at me.

Botanical Exfoliating Scrub has a very thick, gel like texture that contains finely ground palm seeds – the thickness of the gel prevents the particles from being too abrasive, and the fine-ness of the particles means they aren’t that harsh in the first place. However, the gel also holds the particles in one place against the skin, which means they scrub in small circular motions instead of following your hands in gigantic sweeps (a sure fire way to get micro-cuts on your skin.)

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The gel is made up of aloe vera, ginger, ginkgo, green tea and coconut – so it’s soothing, invigorating, antioxidant and nourishing all at the same time. The scrub has definitely made my skin smoother and more radiant, and I absolutely adore the smell, the texture, the way it glides over my skin and washes off in an instant. It’s hard to see in the picture, but when you squeeze it out it has this lovely opaqueness that almost looks glittery.

Mario Badescu’s Botanical Exfoliating Scrub is definitely the best exfoliator I’ve ever used on my combination, delicate and slightly sensitive skin. The antioxidants make it perfect for life in the city, the coconut is perfect for combatting winter dryness, and the thick, gentle texture makes it the kind of scrub you can use regularly for a very long time. Get it on Beauty Bay for £25! Link

P.S. Do you have oily, clogged, spot prone skin? I used to use a scrub that’s perfect for skin like yours. It’s too drying for me now, but my boyfriend is loving it for his acne-prone skin! Check it out.

REN Rosa Centifolia™ No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm

I really struggle to find a morning cleanser that fits my needs and isn’t outrageously expensive. I want something nourishing and hydrating, brightening, exfoliating and deeply cleansing to balance my sebum levels, but that will also moisturise and prevent breakouts. Eve Lom’s Morning Time Cleanser fit the bill for most of these, but at £50 a pop there was no way I was going to carry on using it, especially since I found it started smelling like fish after a while (literally the nastiest thing to wake up to ever, thank you very much Eve Lom).

IMG_8205I’m fully aware that my skin’s needs pretty much encompass everything skin could possibly need (dry, dehydrated, oily, breakout-prone, dull…come on skin, give me a break somewhere) but that’s just the way I am. I know that cleansing balms work great for me as they don’t dry it out, or leave a load of residue (like most tissue-off formulas) to get oily later. So when I had the opportunity to try REN’s Rosa Centifolia™ No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm* I jumped at the chance, being, as I am, a huge REN fangirl.

The first thing you notice about this balm is that the smell is absolutely stunning. Light, fresh roses – perfect for a happy morning routine. The texture is beautiful too – it’s smooth and spreads over the skin like soft butter (only not as greasy!) which makes for an incredibly enjoyable cleansing process, as you have to massage the balm into your skin for one or two minutes. I really felt my skin was deep cleansed after using this, and I think that massaging it in like this made a huge difference. Plus, I was living in Central London for most of the time I was using it. Massaging my sinuses every morning and evening definitely helped me to cope with the pollution!

After you’ve massaged it in, you apply a little warm water to turn it into a milk, massage it a bit more and then wipe away with a facial cloth (one comes with the balm, but if you’ve ever ventured into the world of cleansing balms before no doubt you have a few extras kicking around). I find that it comes off with absolutely no effort, which really surprised me because the balm is really quite rich! My face was left soft, but so, so clean. I really started to see a difference to a lot of areas of my face while I was using Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Balm, particularly in the congested area around my chin. It cleared my forehead of blockages almost completely, all while keeping the dry areas soft! I loved this balm so much.

However, I’ve had to stop using REN’s lovely Cleansing Balm recently. I moved house twice in the months that I was cleansing with it, and in that time I had a flare-up of eczema around my eyes which led to my whole face going completely out of control sensitive. The lovely essential oils in this balm made my eyes sting, so I had to move on to a different routine (still using REN though, my love runs too deep!) which, now I’m settled into a proper flat, I hope to talk about soon!

REN’s Rosa Centifolia™ No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm is an absolutely beautiful cleanser, and I highly recommend to anyone with normal or combination skin, especially as winter is fast approaching. If you’re very sensitive, eczema-prone and you’re planning to try and move house twice in London in the space of a couple of months, I wouldn’t recommend it, but to be honest, I’d probably try and talk you out of your crazy decision before I tried to talk you out of using this gorgeous cleanser. Link

Beauty Wishlist for Summer

I’ve never done one of these before, but there are certainly a lot of products I’ve been mentally wishlisting lately so I thought I’d make physical note, and you never know, you might get some summer inspiration too!wishlist

1. Jurlique Rose Finishing Powder – My No.7 Translucent Powder is about to run out, and I’ve been lusting after this light, gorgeously scented rose powder for as long as I’ve known what Jurlique is. I’m pretty sure it can be used over makeup, and if so, this is definitely my powder most wanted.

2. Lipstick Queen Frog Prince Lipstick – How on earth could you not want this in your life. First of all I tried it on my hand in Space NK and the colour was stunning – it’s a slightly translucent, beautiful pink, which is perfect for me because thick, heavily pigmented lipsticks just don’t work for me. I never really put anything luxurious on my lips, so this would be a lovely change.

3. Mario Badescu Flower Tonic Mask – I’m an absolute sucker for anything with a name like ‘Flower Tonic’ so this was always going to be on my list. However after reading that the ingredients include kaolin and Balsam of Peru (an extraordinarily effective healing extract) I was desperate to try it. Pore-clarifying and healing are two things my skin really needs.

4. Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – Living right up to the stereotype I made for myself in the previous paragraph, the name of this scrub got my attention right away. However this does look amazing, with extracts of basically everything you need to restore a healthy, glowing and balanced complexion. Ginger, gingko, green tea, aloe and coconut together with palm seed powder to buff away dead skin….like…hell yes.

5. Philip Kingsley Geranium and Neroli Elasticizer – The reviews of this stuff are amazing, as are the awards it’s been lauded with. I love the idea of a ‘pre-shampoo’, as well as the fact that you can sleep with it on your hair. I’ve never actually seen it in stores so I have no idea what it smells like, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t be absolutely gorgeous. I just can’t shake the idea that my hair would be left silky smooth after using this, so I shall have  to try it.

6. Sukin Natural Deodorant – I’m anti antiperspirant, but the summer heat in London is proving too much for the lovely Deo My BO solid deodorant bar from Lush (despite it working wonderfully before it got so hot!) I definitely want to give this one a try, as I love everything I’ve tried from Sukin so far.

7. Frog Prince Wash Bag from Catseye – I’ve been lusting after this for over a year – I love the happy, cute design and it’s the perfect size for all the stuff I bring with me everywhere. Really I should just get a grip and buy it, but every time I go into Selfridge’s and see it, it just seems so frivolous (it isn’t, it’s only £15 so I don’t know what I’m on about really).

8. & Other Stories Nail Colour in Dot Peach – I recently bought the most gorgeous sandals from Topshop, but I need a muted nail colour to go with my work clothes. & Other Stories have really lovely nail polishes, and I adore this cute pink colour.

9. Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads – I’m really curious about these. Both my boyfriend and I get ingrown hairs occasionally (it’s really common for guys to get these on their legs!) and they’re bloody annoying, so if these work it would be fantastic – it is shorts season after all!

What’s on your summer wishlist? Any of these?

Dr Paw Paw Tinted Ultimate Red Balm

I’d heard about the Australian love of paw paw as an ingredient years ago, when I used to use Aussie hair care (I am aware that Aussie isn’t Australian, don’t worry). So when people started talking about how paw paw ointment is a staple in every Australian’s life, I was curious. Dr Paw Paw isn’t actually Australian, but it’s a great product and I’ve really enjoyed using it.

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I stumbled across Dr Paw Paw in Urban Outfitters and decided to go for the red tinted one because I’m always on the lookout for fuss free ways to apply pigment to my lips (lipstick stresses me out SO much). As well as the un-tinted original, they do a peach pink colour, and a giant tube of the original version.

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The reason for the giant tube is that paw paw ointment is a multipurpose antibacterial and antimicrobiral balm. Fermented paw paw (aka papaya) is an antioxidant, and helps repair the skin. There’s aloe in there to help calm and soothe, as well as olive oil to nourish and petroleum jelly to protect. This is one of those multipurpose magic balms that does it all for chapped, irritated or dry skin. I put mine to the test on the dry, cracked skin between my fingers. Aside from looking distinctly pink from the red pigment, the skin is smooth and soft, with no white bits at all. That’s something that almost all hand creams and balms struggle to get rid of, so I’m very impressed, and will be purchasing an original colourless balm as soon as I can!

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As you can see, the Ultimate Red Balm is a gorgeously rich colour, and I’m actually really impressed with the colour payoff. It’s subtle, but way better than any other coloured lipbalm I’ve tried. Because my lips are quite full and there isn’t a clean line between my lips and the skin around them, I find it really hard to get lipstick to look good. So a balm like this is perfect.

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This balm is great. It’s only £6.95 for a 25ml tube, and leaves the skin soft and nicely coloured for a good while. I think the clear one will go down really well with my boyfriend, who’s lip cracks in the middle a lot (poor baby), as well as with my cracked hands. After applying the red stuff between my fingers, it’s actually kept the dryness at bay for about 3 hours now, which is really impressive!

Bioré Skincare Review

The last time I ordered something from ASOS I received two Bioré samples with my clothes. They were a brand I hadn’t tought about for a while, and so I eagerly set about trying these two new/reformulated products. There was a £1 off voucher in there too, so off I went to Boots to see what other products I could try.

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In sample form I got an Ultra Nose Strip – you know, their famous and fun strips that you use to pull the grime out. I love them, how could anyone not. I found it very effective, and they’ve added menthol it seems, so the skin is left feeling lively and refreshed afterwards. I also got some Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser. This uses charcoal to draw impurities out, and leave the skin super clean. I used it once a day, washing with my regular Jurlique cleanser the rest of the time.

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It starts off as a black gel, and smells very nice indeed. It has a mild tea tree/witch hazel scent, and as you use it the tingle of menthol really refreshes. My skin felt clean, fresh and it definitely looked clearer after I’d used this for a while. It’s really good. I probably won’t switch to this, just because I love my Jurlique cleanser so much, and my skin isn’t that congested so I probably don’t need to use it every day. But if you do, I’d recommend it.

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This is the product I bought with my voucher (I got some Ultra Nose Strips too but I imagine you all already know what those look like). It’s the Self Heating One Minute Mask, which comes in single use sachets, a sensible way of storing this kind of product as I think it reacts with air.

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You just tear one of these open and spread it over your face, before massaging it in for one minute and rinsing off.

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The thing I really liked about this is (if you’re still reading after seeing that ludicrous photo) that the mask gets much hotter than these ones normally do, and so it really felt like it was opening and clearing out my pores. My skin felt so fresh and tingly after I used it, and I could really see that my pores were clearer. It’s not often you can see the effect of something like this so quickly, which means this really is a great product. Well done with your reformulating, Bioré!

Blemish Treatment Review: Weleda Aknedoron Purifying Lotion

Weleda’s Aknedoron Purifying Lotion is basically a cocktail of everything your skin could ever need to take down a blemish. Its also completely natural which I think must mean its pretty much one of a kind – a super effective spot treatment without any chemicals like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. The ingredients list is long, so I thought I’d give a rundown of what they are and what they do (skip if you’re not interested, but I LOVE doing this with products because its like playing with potions!)

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Jojoba Oil – a nourishing oil that’s really easily absorbed, so doesn’t leave the skin greasy

Chamomile – calms and soothes redness or irritation

Calendula – antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, promotes healing, protects skin

Echinacea – treats boils and abbesses

Sulphur – acne treatment, reduces redness, even painful bumps under the skin

Witch Hazel – calms, soothes, anti-inflammatory, mildly astringent

Thyme – kills the bacteria that causes acne

Sage – stimulates cell renewal

Pine – antioxidant and disinfectant

Lavender – helps healing, soothes and calms upset skin

Lemon – brightens and exfoliates

If you read all that you’ve probably got a good idea of what I’m about to say – its really, really effective. Without a doubt, Aknedoron Lotion is the most effective spot treatment I’ve ever used. Sulphur is one of those ingredients that is commonly used for those nasty, painful, under-the-skin spots that never come to a head and just create a whole load of discomfort. So really, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work on acne. But don’t take my word for it if you have full-on diagnosed acne – ask your doctor! For general oily, problem skin or the occasional spot, it is perfect. I get the odd spot, and a couple of nasty red bumps a month. So, here’s how I use it.

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Wet a cotton pad with hot or warm water (I use really hot water because I feel like it softens a hard bump, and it opens the pores around a spot, but go for warm if you want to be gentle) and press it onto the area for about a minute. Stimulating the circulation before you apply Aknedoron Purifying Lotion just seems to make it work better, like opening the pores before washing your face.

Shake the bottle of Aknedoron, and when you take the lid off there’ll be a layer of product in the neck. Scoop it out with a cotton bud, and apply it on and just around the affected area. Rub it in with the bud, and clean off any excess with the other end.

If you get one of those horrible outbreaks where part of your face just goes to hell (my forehead likes to do this to me on occasion) this is also the perfect solution. Just cleanse and dry your skin like normal, then tip a bit out onto a dry cotton pad, and wipe it over the problem area. Moisturise the rest of your face like normal, but pay attention to how the problem area feels – remember that there’s jojoba oil in the Aknedoron so you might not need to use as much moisturiser there, if you need any at all.

Aknedoron Purifying Lotion is available from Look Fantastic here, and if you want to try the accompanying cleanser, which smells amazing and is perfect for freshening up your skin in the summer as well as treating spots and blemishes, you can read about it here 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.