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.

 

Five of my favourite face masks

I’ll be straight with you. These are not my 5 all time favourite masks. But I am obsessed with face masks, and I want to talk more about them! Think of this as part one of an introduction to my mask collection. These masks are all very different, and funnily enough I realised I’ve managed to pick five from different countries and different skin concerns! Let’s get stuck in!

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Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask – A New Zealand skincare brand, Antipodes have some of the nicest smelling products in the world, the Manuka honey reviews are really good – their hand creams are divine, and I’ve been dreaming of their Juliet Brightening Cleanser for years (soon, my love…). I was very cautious about trying this mask because a lot of people with sensitive skin do react to honey in cosmetics. But I’ve found it to be unbeatable on problem areas! I don’t usually put it all over my face, but when I get hormone-chin it is The Best. It hydrates, soothe redness and inflammation, and purifies with the honey’s antibacterial properties. I will also often dot it on spots when I get in from work and leave it there until I go to bed.

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Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask – Origins are well known as The Mask Brand, and rightly so, their masks are out of this world. But I especially love this active charcoal mask both for myself when my skin is super congested, and for my boyfriend, who has oily skin and open pores. Because I trial a lot of skincare products, some of them don’t work for me and I do occasionally have a skin meltdown where a cleanser hasn’t been working well enough, or a face oil has been way too thick for me. This is my go-to rescue mask for when that happens – over the course of a couple of week’s use it clears my pores and prevents them from turning into spots. Love it.

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Tony Moly Aloe Sheet Mask – This is probably the simplest sheet mask of all time from one of the most famous South Korean skincare brands. With aloe vera to soothe and bamboo water to hydrate, this is a seriously cheap and cheerful mask that anyone can try. It leaves your skin plump, soft and calm. I’ve tried more complicated sheet masks, and they are great, but for me I like to be careful about what I leave on my skin (remember with these other masks they get washed off) so this has become my go-to for when my skin needs a moisture boost.

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Lush Rosy Cheeks Mask – Ok so I may have about 20 favourite masks but if I could only choose one as my all time favourite, it would be this. A pink clay mask with a beautiful rose scent, this mask has everything. Kaolin to draw out impurities and deeply cleanse, glycerin to hydrate, calamine powder to calm redness or irritation and rose extracts to soothe and balance. Honestly, it does everything, and it leaves your skin feeling absolutely wonderful. This is one of my top five all time skincare products. It is absolutely incredible.

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Caudalie Moisturising Mask – Everyone needs a moisturising mask in their collection, and this is one of the best. With hyaluronic acid to hydrate, grape water to soothe (also hydrate) and reduce sensitivity, and Vinolevuere, a hydrophilic active ingredient that draws water into the skin as it’s absorbed, this is a powerhouse of a moisturising mask. It also contains grape-seed oil, a nourishing but light oil packed full of anti-oxidants that will both nourish and protect your skin. This mask can be used on the eye area, which most masks can’t, so if you’re into multi-masking you can always put this around your eyes to give them a treat too.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this mini world tour of my mask collection! If you have any questions about any of these, let me know in the comments.

 

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!

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?

 

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.