Spring Skincare Favourites

While I don’t believe in changing your body in preparation for warmer months, I do think there’s a lot we can do with our skin. In colder weather the skin can wind up dull, dry, lifeless and clogged, and unfortunately it’s often ignored because full coverage foundation and concealer are much easier to slather on in 7am half-darkness while you’re still basically asleep (this is how I spend my winter mornings, don’t know about you). I get a red nose in cold weather too, so there’s no point even thinking about going foundation free! In the spring, all I ever want to do is take a layer of makeup out of my routine, but to do that and feel confident, I need radiant, smooth and soft skin. Over the past few months I’ve been using some amazing products that have renewed and rejuvenated my complexion, so I wanted to share!

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The first product I wanted to talk about is Caudalie’s new Vine[Activ] Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum. This serum contains a complex of four anti-oxidants that increase your skin’s ability to product anti-oxidant enzymes by 255%, thereby helping protect the skin from pollution and stress. which for someone who works in central London, doesn’t sleep very well and is stressed all the time, is an absolute lifesaver. I’ve been using this for four months (one bottle lasted 2.5) and I have never seen a product work such wonders on my skin – it literally glows from the inside out, as well as being super hydrated, calm and smooth. It absorbs immediately, smells gorgeous and is 98% natural. It’s oil and silicone free, contains an exclusive anti-oxidant patent created by Caudalie, and is just about the highest quality product I’ve ever used. Get it for £36.

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Next up is Aesop’s Parsley Seed Cleanser. I adore this thick, gel cleanser and it’s gentle exfoliation from lactic acid. It leaves my skin soft and ready to absorb my skincare. I’ve been using it for quite some time now and it is honestly the best cleanser ever for helping to boost your skin into ‘only wearing BB cream’ territory. If you’re worried about pollution, using this together with the Caudalie Vine[Activ] Serum is the absolute dream team, because the Aesop Parsley Seed Cleanser helps to slough pollution particles away from the skin at the end of the day, while the serum defends your skin from the free-radicals during the day. Get it for £27.

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I feel like I’ve been looking for a BB Cream that won’t make my skin react or break out since the beginning of time. The Bobbi Brown BB Cream is the only one I’ve found that has a good SPF without containing any of the ingredients that my skin hates, and I absolutely love it. It’s so important to use an SPF everyday, so if you want to use a lighter product than your usual foundation and you have sensitive skin, this is PERFECT. The formula gives much higher coverage than I expected, and I feel like it evens out my complexion flawlessly – obviously it doesn’t cover blemishes completely, but I actually don’t feel the need to use concealer under my eyes, which is a bloody miracle. The coverage lasts all day and my skin feels nice and soft when I use this too. They have 9 shades and definitely don’t serve the darkest skin colours, so I wouldn’t usually recommend it, but my skin is SO picky and this really works for me. Get it for £29.50.

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Pixi’s Makeup Fixing Mist has become my favourite part of my morning ritual. It’s gorgeous light scent and fast-drying, refreshing consistency is absolutely perfect for perking my face and my mind up. I feel like it puts me in a positive mood whenever I use it, and it helps my makeup stay put ALL day. Seriously, it’s soooo good. My skin also loves it as a primer to help prepare for a full coverage face, but recently I’ve just been using it over the Bobbi Brown BB Cream and it’s leaving my skin looking smooth and radiant every day. Get it for £16.

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The last product I’ve been obsessed with over the past few months is Jurlique’s Skin Balancing Face Oil. This stuff is perfect for when your skin is just losing its mind, which always happens to me at the change of the seasons. It contains a blend of herbal extracts including marshmallow (protects and soothes), evening primrose oil (heals), macademia oil (nourishes without being heavy) rosehip oil (anti-wrinkle, healing) and chamomile (calming). I find that when I use this at night, dry patches and areas of irritation disappear. The scent of this product is absolutely unbelievable, it smells like a fragrant meadow in the sun, which just makes it even more perfect for use in the warmer months! It might not be suitable for hypersensitive skin types though, as it’s heavy on the essential oils. But I absolutely adore it. Get it for £30.50

What are your spring skincare essentials?

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Murad Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum

Murad is a brand I’ve always been curious about, and on my seemingly endless hunt for the perfect serum this one jumped out at me as a perfect way into the brand. I’ve tried Avene’s Hydrating Serum, Weleda’s Pomegranate Serum and Caudalie’s Hydrating Serum and while I loved the Caudalie one, but the bottle didn’t seem to last very long. Long story short, I don’t recommend any of them. REN’s Omega 3 Serum was good for a while but a few months ago it completely stopped working for me. So I went back to the drawing board, and decided to give Murad’s Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum a try…

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The Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum is part of their Redness Therapy range, which is formulated to tackle the causes of irritated redness, and soothe the effects of it too. By intensely hydrating the skin with hyaluronic acid and glycolipids the Soothing Serum helps the skin to maintain its protective barrier. There’s also chamomile, cucumber and camellia extracts to soothe and calm any redness or irritation. Mallow extract provides an invisible protective shield to support the moisture barrier, and there’s also goji berry extract for, I assume, antioxidants. I was really surprised to see all these plant extracts in the formula (there are even more than I’ve mentioned here; ginseng, elderberry, ivy, arnica, seaweed and yeast extract all feature) because it looks like such a plain, basic product on the outside!

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I am so incredibly impressed with this Skin Soothing Serum. The texture is a bit like hair gel, but without being sticky. It leaves my skin super calm, it sinks in immediately and my skin is soft and plump all day, and it lasts for ages (I’ve been using it for months and it isn’t even half gone). It was nothing like I was expecting – I think Murad have struck the perfect balance between pharmaceutical and plant based skincare, and even though this serum is really simple, it’s amazingly effective. It’s perfect for anyone who’s skin gets tight after cleansing, or blemish prone skin types that can get dry patches (as these are usually caused by dehydration so you need to hydrate your skin rather than add oil to it). It’s also perfect for anyone with red patches or sensitive skin, and according to Murad you can even use it to soothe razor burn, sunburn and after waxing so you know it must be gentle!

I really like Murad’s Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum. If you’re looking for a good starter serum because you aren’t sure where to start with them or you have sensitive skin, this is definitely the one for you! Get it here for £47.

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Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser

Aesop is fast becoming one of my favourite brands, so when my boyfriend presented me with their Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser on my birthday, I was so excited to try it! This is a cleanser unlike anything I’ve used before, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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The idea behind Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser is that it helps to keep your skin immaculately clean in polluted environments. Something I recently learned is that microscopic pollution particles stick to your skin like you wouldn’t believe – even after cleansing. Unless you have a layer on your skin protecting you during the day (obviously many of us wear foundation, but this is a flaky layer which doesn’t actually stick to the skin consistently) then you will end up with this sticky pollution layer which is slowly absorbed by your skin, and is almost impossible to get off with conventional cleansing. Because of the way Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser works, it is uniquely able to combat this problem….

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What looks like a pretty normal gel cleanser is actually an acid exfoliator as well. With lactic acid in the formula, it very gently eats away at the upper parts of the stratum corneum (layers of dead skin) – not just to leave your face smooth, soft and radiant, but also to completely remove that pollution! To use this cleanser, you gently dampen your face, then gently apply it all over, without massaging. Then, leave it on for a couple of minutes (they say moments but uhhhh, it’s £27 per 100ml, you leave that stuff on your face for 2-3 minutes baby). After that, you wet your hands and massage it into a lather, then rinse it off. My favourite way to use it is just before a shower, because I can wipe the excess gel onto my neck and chest without worrying that I’ll create a huge mess when I wash it off.

I was really expecting my skin to be at least a little bit red, flaky or irritated after using this, but it’s been completely calm. This is an incredibly gentle cleanser, and the exfoliating effect is just absolutely perfect! My skin is left feather-soft just after leaving it on for a couple of minutes. It’s been radiant and bright, and much softer than it usually would in winter.

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Along with the lactic acid, this cleanser contains a mixture of antioxidants – parsley seed extract, liquorice root and blackcurrant seed oil to help the skin to process the free-radicals it has already absorbed. There’s also soothing, anti-bacterial lavender, and two types of chamomile to calm the skin. The cleansing base is SLES, the more skin-friendly version of SLS, along with olive oil cleansing compounds. This means that it effectively washes away dirt, without upsetting the balance of the skin. The bottle has an open mouth, which I expected to make it difficult to dispense the right amount, but the gel is very thick so you have good control over it. The scent it a light herbal/floral concoction that is absolutely wonderful – soothing and refreshing all at once.

Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser is absolutely perfect for people in their 20s and 30s, looking to prevent ageing but also to give the skin what it needs right now – oil balancing, soothing, radiance and redness prevention. Yes, it’s a bit expensive for a cleanser, but you only need to use it in the evening, and you can use it 3-4 times a week to make it go even further. I’m confident that it will make a huge difference to my skin in the long run, as it’s made such an amazing difference already. Get the 100ml bottle from Beauty Expert, or the 200ml from Cult Beauty.

 

My 5 Favourite Hand Creams

Hand cream and I have a long and complex relationship. My hands are so dry that during particularly cold weather, I often can’t bend my fingers without a slick of hand cream. If I go too long without moisturising in winter, my knuckles can actually crack too. So it’s safe to say that my house is constantly littered with tubes of hand creams, and I’ve tried nearly every brand out there. Over the years there have been a few that I’ve kept reaching for, or that I’ve missed once they’re gone. Or that I’ve bought recently and am bloody well obsessed with. Since it’s dry hand season now, I thought I’d share these with you.

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From left to right: Korres Almond Oil & Shea Butter Hand Cream, Weleda Almond Hand Cream, Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream, Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Cream, Dexeryl Cream. 

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Dexeryl Cream £6 – This very light but effective emollient feels quite watery when you rub it in, but it is extremely nourishing. It’s the perfect hand cream for on the go, and is also amazing for when your skin loses its mind and starts cracking or breaking out into rashes, because it’s formulated for eczema sufferers, so is super gentle. With no fragrance and minimal ingredients, this is the perfect emergency care for the hands.

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Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm £19 – This is a very thick, luxurious formula with a beautifully uplifting scent. With almond and coconut oils to nourish, and a fragrance blend of mandarin, cedarwood and lavender, it’s a gorgeous experience for the senses. Definitely better for using before bed as it is quite heavy, but the gorgeous scent is also ideal for a pre bedtime ritual as it’s so soothing and indulgent. Again, hands are left very soft and smooth.

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Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream £12 – This is thick, rich and luscious with a beautiful orange blossom scent. Despite being so thick, it absorbs very quickly and immediately leaves your hands ready to go back to whatever you were doing beforehand. It contains antioxidant polyphenols from grape seeds which helps prevent your hands from ageing, as well as avocado oil and shea butter. The reviving scent makes it perfect for the morning, to refresh your senses before you leave for work – and your hands will be soft for hours afterwards too.

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Weleda Almond Hand Cream £9.95 – Being 100% natural this one is perfect for anyone with sensitive skin who only wants to use natural products. I love how this one transforms into an oil as you massage it in, and I love to use it when my hands are painfully dry – it just seems to soothe that tight feeling better than anything else. Plus, it smells of marzipan.

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Korres Hand Cream with Almond Oil and Shea Butter £9 – This comes out of the tube like a body butter, and has a beautifully warm, cosy scent. The formula is extremely thick and nourishing but actually absorbs pretty well. Like with all the others, hands are soft and smooth for hours afterwards. There’s aloe vera, jojoba and beeswax in this one to soothe and protect the skin as well. With its comforting scent and intensely nourishing texture, this is definitely a perfect winter hand cream. Actually, while we’re talking about Korres, has anyone tried their new Bergamot Pear Hand Cream?! That is my favourite body care scent, I must get my hands on one…

Blemish targeting skincare

It’s a sad but irrefutable fact that every single adult human is going to get a spot at some point in their lives. While it might not be as frustrating and horrible full-blown adult acne, breaking out is still bloody annoying. I’m certainly no stranger to the odd facial eruption (and true to cliched form, stress and important events break me out every time). I’ve come up with a really effective emergency treatment routine though, so thought I’d share.

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First up is Caudalie’s Purifying Mask. Unlike most clay masks, this one doesn’t dry, and therefore doesn’t suck the moisture out of easily dehydrated adult skin. Instead, ingredients like sage, zinc and clay work to draw out impurities and purify the skin, while grape seed oil stops it from getting dry. While drying out a spot might seem like a great idea on paper, it can lead to further irritations and imbalances, so you should avoid it. The great thing about this mask is that you can use it as a targeted treatment on your blemishes (and because it isn’t drying you can even leave it overnight!) as well as using as a ten-minute mask all over your face. I like to use it as a preventative when I can feel that my face is starting to get out of balance, as well as use it as an overnight treatment on anything that does pop up unexpectedly.

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Another great ‘on the spot’ treatment is Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask. This is also non-drying and is supposed to hydrate the skin, while the manuka provides an anti-bacterial, healing effect. I love this mask because it smells and feels wonderful, and I can really see that the redness and inflammation of an angry spot is visibly reduced after I’ve used it. However, I can’t use it all over my face as it stings my more sensitive areas. What I like to do is leave gaps around spots when I do a regular mask, and apply this to the spots afterwards (see above photo). It really is amazing for inflammation, which is why I still recommend it despite not being able to use it properly. If you don’t have sensitive skin, I’m sure it would make a fantastic all-over mask too.

Lastly is a product I wasn’t quite sure how to use when I bought it but am now a firm fan of – Elizabeth Arden’s Fragrance Free 8 Hour Cream. My boyfriend and I have both found this to be an amazing product for healing popped spots over the course of a couple of nights. It really is amazing. I also use it as a lip treatment whenever I do a face mask – I apply a thick layer and it leaves my lips healthy and soft.

What are your favourite blemish hacks?

 

Massive September Empties Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Moly I’m Real Aloe Moisturizing Sheet Mask Review

By now, everyone knows that Korean sheet masks are the holy grail for radiantly hydrated skin. Backed up of course, by the stunning skin of the Korean actresses, celebrities and bloggers who tell us they use them daily! I wanted to share with you my favourite sheet mask, which also doubles as being a really great intro to the world of sheet masks.

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Tony Moly is a brand that knows how to balance adorable packaging with amazing skincare. My boyfriend loves their Egg Pore range (shaped, of course, like an egg) and I love their Peach hand cream and lip balm – both of which look and smell like peaches (although dirtier minded friends of mine think they look like nipples – I have no idea what they’re talking about).

When I was in Sephora in Paris looking for a suitable sheet mask to introduce me to their many wonders, this one was the first to catch my eye. It seemed like a perfect option for my sensitive, dehydrated but otherwise fairly normal skin. I didn’t need a nourishing mask and I didn’t need a brightening one – quite apart from not really needing those qualities, I was worried about what those added ingredients would do to my skin. The main ingredient in this one is aloe vera so I felt safe trying it out.

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And I have to say, I wasn’t wrong! I was hooked as soon as I applied the cooling, saturated paper to my face. It smells gorgeous, a very subtle, natural scent, and it feels soothing as soon as it touches the skin. The most important ingredients are all hydrating: glycerin, panthenol, water, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract and bamboo juice. There’s also star anise extract for an antioxidant effect. It’s a very simple, cheap and cheerful sheet mask.

The mask fits really well to your face – I know in the picture it’s quite wrinkly but I was being lazy, and it also sticks really well in case you have to get up to hunt for your phone or  answer the door or something. After you remove it, the liquid absorbs beautifully as you massage it in, and the skin is left plump, smooth and radiant. I like to bring some of the liquid down and massage it onto my neck and chest too – skincare doesn’t stop at the chin! I really recommend it if you’re simply looking for a hydration boost, have sensitive skin or aren’t sure where to start in the world of Korean Skincare.

You can get Tony Moly Sheet Masks from Sephora and Cult Beauty for £6. But to be honest, I get mine from eBay for £2.10 each and free shipping. It depends on whether you want to take the risk or not to be honest. The seller I get them from has 100% positive feedback from 1500 people…so I’m happy to trust them. It’s totally up to you.