Thursday, 30 April 2015

YouTube Q&A

Hi Everyone!
I'm filming a Q&A tomorrow so if you have any questions please do leave them below and I'll answer as many as possible. 
Any topic - not just skincare! 

Keep 'em clean. ;) 

Well, as much as you can. 

Paula's Choice Resist 2% BHA Daily Pore-Refining Treatment

I've been using Paula's Choice BHA 2% on and off for a few months now.

What is it?
'Wrinkles and breakouts at the same time? Not anymore. This lightweight leave-on exfoliant removes old cells on the skin’s surface and inside the pores, while repairing signs of aging.'

Who is it for?
It says combination to oily skin, but it's gentle enough for any skin type - I would even say sensitive. Zero tingle factor, very gentle. Be ye not afraid.

What’s in it?
Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol (slip agents and penetration enhancers), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid exfoliating agent), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier) Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (cell-communicating ingredients), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (anti-irritant), Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid (antioxidant), Oleanolic Acid (anti-irritant), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-repairing ingredient), Allantoin (anti-irritant),Trehalose (skin-repairing ingredient), Panthenol (skin-conditioning agent), Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), PEG-60 Almond Glycerides (emulsifier), Caprylyl Glycol (skin-conditioning agent), PEG/PPG-18/4 Copolymer (solvent), Methyl Gluceth-20, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane (skin-conditioning agents),Glycereth-26 (emollient thickener), Sodium Metabisulfite (stabilizer), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Carbomer (gel-based thickener), Disodium EDTA (chelating agent).

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
Not really, it has glycols and pegs that some people don't like - but I don't concern myself about them - and clearly neither does PC.

Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?
Man made. Vegan.

Tested on animals/sold in China?
No./No. Paula loves a bunny.

What's not in it?

How do you use it?
You apply this as you would an acid toner, on to cotton pads and then all over the face avoiding eyes. Follow with serum/treatments etc

What’s good about it?
This, to my mind, is an essence rather than a 'treatment'. That's why it's more expensive and in a smaller bottle size. The highlighted ingredients above are far more than you would normally find in an acid toner product. This is called a 'treatment' and for good reason. Salicylic acid means it is great for unclogging stubborn pores and the peptides help with the signs of aging, making it a good starter/introduction product to the Resist line for those of you (us) with either adult acne or hormonal breakouts on the other side of your 20's.

What’s not so good about it?
Although I understand that it contains more than the usual acids - this is £25.00 for 88ml. The same size in the US is $28.00. I don't know about you but I've been seeing US brands translate dollars into pounds almost on a like for like basis for over 20 years and I'm bored of it now. In today's exchange rate this should cost you £18.00. £7.00 extra because we happen to live in the UK. Even allowing for taxes, import duties and shipping etc it's a hard pill to swallow. Even more so because Paula's Choice is only available on their own website, cutting out any margin for a third party retailer. You also have to pay for shipping. Something that most of the large online retailers now offer free as standard. You have no choices here. It's the only stockist.

I know it works both ways, UK brands are frequently pound for dollar, and none of us have it as bad as the poor Australians. Sorry chaps, you have it much worse than anyone else. And so to prove fairness to PC, I'm adding another heading to my reviews to include prices in the brand's home country. Because you know: CASH.
But that is my only (albeit long-winded) gripe. The product itself is great. Sorry Paula.

Where to use in your routine?
I use this at the acid toner stage but I don't follow it with a spritz. I usually go straight in with her Retinol 1%.

Similar products?
Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion (no peptide action though)
Clarins Gentle Exfoliator
Some essences, but it's a fairly unique product.

Paula's Choice BHA 2% is £25.00 and available from or .com in the US.

I've liked the PC products I've used. I'm going to start working my way through the brand. Taking one for the team. ;)

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Confused skin: what do you treat first? And with what product?

Only a very select few have what would be termed 'normal skin'. Which is why I find it odd it is called 'normal'. It's far from the norm for most people!

For the rest of us, there are multiple issues to contend with. Pigmentation, dry, oily, combination, sensitive, rosacea, dehydrated - you name it, you probably have at least one of them. 

But what if you have more than one? What if you have 3 of them? FOUR of them?
It would not be uncommon to see a dehydrated, hyper-pigmented, sensitive, ageing skin with hormonal breakouts. Dr Leslie Baumann wrote about her 16 skin types years ago - and she was spot on, although I think there's more than that..

What do you do in that situation? 

You treat by the potential your issue has to cause pain and/or long-lasting damage such as scarring or broken capillaries.

For that reason, the first thing you do is take care of the sensitivity/rosacea. Inflammation will exacerbate the rest of your issues. For example, if you had rosacea and acne, and used a foaming traditional acne 'wash', your cheeks would scream at you. That's not good. That's not what you need or want for your face.

Sensitivity is King. Best product choice: moisturiser for sensitivity.

Followed by Dehydration. A dehydrated skin drinks anything you put on it, but you have to do it repeatedly. Your anti-ageing serums end up just filling a gap in your skin rather than actually doing their job. 
If you are dehydrated, which 95% of us are, you need to treat the dehydration. You can leave the house in the morning with a perfectly hydrated, bouncy face and be dehydrated to the point of it showing on facial machinery by mid-morning. No matter what you do, what you use, how old you are, and your lifestyle, you can be dehydrated just by waking up. 

Dehydration is Queen. Best product choice: the toning phase - both acid and spritz and serum. Acid on cotton pads to gently strip it back and spritzes and hyaluronic acid serums to follow. Neither of these two products should irritate any of the other issues....

Then you can start to be more general. 

As long as you are keeping your redness under control and your skin hydrated you can tackle anything. But the best product choices for these skin types/conditions are, for the most part...

Dry - facial oils and oil in products including balm cleansers - no foam, ever. Dryness frequently crosses issues with dehydration - if you're both, treat both simultaneously and if you are unsure which you are read this: Cheat Sheet - Dry or Dehydrated
Ageing - targeted serums - think *retinoids* and peptides
Pigmented - dedicated serums for pigmentation and retinoids and SPF (not suggesting you don't use SPF normally, it's just the priority if you scar easily, get sun spots etc)
Oily - acid toners and essences are great as are the right moisturiser. Don't over-embrace oil-free and foaming. 
Acne - acid toning phase is key, as is your moisturiser. Please, please think carefully about how you will go about replenishing the oils in your skin if you use an oil-free moisturiser. If you want to try and keep your oil under control by mid-afternoon, use an oil-free moisturiser if you want to - but use a facial oil dedicated for acne/combination underneath it. I promise a drop or two can make all the difference. We're ahead of the game now, the market has plenty. The old 'foam wash, strip tone, oil-free moisturiser' routine is dead and buried. Or should be.

And finally, a special mention to the sufferers of melasma - or chloasma as it may be called by your midwife if you're pregnant. Melasma and pigmentation are different things. Pigmentation, for example, can be caused by sun damage, acne scarring, picking spots or inflammation and can normally be treated with topical products - glycolic, kojic and azaleic acids, retinoids, and licorice for example with some success.
Your best product choices would be peels, targeted serums containing those ingredients and SPF.
And if you still get no joy, go to a dermatologist before you spend any more cash and see if it isn't in fact...

Melasma can be triggered by those things but is also linked to hormones (hence the link to pregnancy, the pill and peri-menopausal women), illnesses, such as Addison's Disease, Lupus and Celiac disease among many others. Female sufferers outnumber male 9 to 1.
It's basically your melanocytes throwing their toys out of the pram by doing this:

Instead of behaving politely like this:

Something that Into the Gloss managed to misinform its readers of last week by recommending $300 serums to treat melasma:

Sali*, a melasma sufferer, tried to get them to talk about it/correct the piece, to no avail.

You best product recommendation for melasma is time, a laser and sun block. I had mild melasma with pregnancy, it eventually cleared up on its own. Some people aren't that lucky.
Yes, peels (clinical) can help, but if you want it gone, it's a laser. And the bad news is that even if you stay out of the sun and wear a complete sunblock, it will probably come back, because your melanocytes hate you that's what it does. Please make sure you know what you have before you part with your hard-earned cash. 

*I obviously asked Sali's permission to post these screen-grabs and mention her melasma and I refer to the ITG article purely because it led to questions from readers for both Sali and I.

Comments Part 2.

Me, last night and today. :)
Hello lovely people! So it turns out neither third party option I tried to install was good enough. The first one had glitches and only worked on the Sjal giveaway post from yesterday, and the second one - Disqus, removed every single comment from 5 years worth of talking to you. I don't bloody think so.

So we're back to commenting, still with signing in, but it's a step forward. The blog is being rebranded over the next month - the new comment system will have to wait! Thank you for your patience and for those of you who commented on disqus yesterday and whose comments are lost, my apologies - but it was for the greater good!

NOW: I'm going back to talking about skincare! 

Also - this may seem smallfry to some of you but I fixed the coding on the comment section myself. This, from the mother of 4 who cannot operate an X-Box control*.

*Sidebar: whoever invented the X-Box controller is a freak.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A word about comments.....

Lovely, lovely readers. Comments have always been a massive part of the success of this blog. I read every single one and (although I am behind as I type this) I try and respond to as many as physically possible, even if it's not always immediately.
My ongoing comments and discussions with you are the best part of running this blog.
The blogger host is known for having huge spam issues though - and I receive all sorts of spam about everything from enhancing body parts to spambots trying to phish your details. Spam easily outnumbers real commenters 10-1. So on a day where I have 50 comments - there are 500 spam. I wish I was exaggerating.

There is also the issue of these things:

I don't get a lot of trolls by any stretch of the imagination, but some of them are particularly vicious and frankly, I have neither the time nor the inclination to keep giving them a voice, something which anonymous commenting provides.

So you'll notice if you've tried to leave a comment on the previous post, or this one, that you now have to log in. Most of you already do this - usually via Google+, but now it is mandatory. You will only have to register once and if you are a lovely, treasured, regular commenter *waves to all of you* it will show how often you have commented and build a profile of you. It does not reveal any personal information on your comment, just a profile picture and username. You do, however, have to leave an email, which is only seen by me. So if you want to have an intense debate/argument about something I have written, that's absolutely fine and dandy. You just need to show your face. Electronically-speaking. If, however, you don't want me to know who you are, then you may have to rethink your strategy. Sorry not sorry.

If you read the blog from your PC, you can stay logged in. You can ask to be kept informed if anyone responds to your comment - you can vote a comment up or down - it's just better. It makes it much more interactive for all of you, and me, and I'm only sorry I didn't do this 5 years ago.

I hope you understand and support the reasons behind my decision, my goal is simply to interact in an easier way with all of you without dealing with spambots and trolls. Life is too short.

Sjal Bio-Regeneratif Serum and Rose Aura Cleansing Set Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of their beautiful Bio-Regeneratif Serum, Sjal are offering one lucky reader the opportunity to win not only the new serum, but the beautiful Rose Aura Cleansing Set pictured below.

The set contains a Balans Deep Pore Cleanser, a Mineral Kalla Energy Tonic, a 10ml size of the lovely Cela Intuitif and a konjac sponge.

The Bio-Regeneratif Serum is £205.00 and available now.

For more information on Sjal and their philosophy visit

Sjal is available in the UK from

To enter, simply do so via Rafflecopter below. Full T&C's are in the app below when you enter, but for ease, it is UK only.That's all! Good Luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 27 April 2015

Cheat Sheet - When to use natural, when to reach for the chemicals

Before you read on - when I use the below terms I take them to mean:
Chemical-led: products that contain non-'natural' ingredients - anything.
Natural-led: products that would make the 'natural' consumer happy - may contain some non-natural ingredients, but the main bulk is natural.
Organic-led: would be endorsed by the green brigade and Gywneth. 
And remember - nearly everything is technically a chemical, including water. It's how a product is marketed that makes the distinction.

One of my most-asked questions re ingredients is 'Is it natural?' and my answer is always 'Yes, if that's what you want.'

If you look closely at Instagram pictures of my routines that I've been sharing for a few months, you'll notice a pattern. I invariably tail end with natural-led products - and sandwich a lovely chemical serum in the middle.

See above for example, a Tata Harper sandwich with a Vichy and Kate Somerville filling.

This is by no means set in stone.

Exhibit B above: Clinique to massacre my makeup. That's what they should have called this product by the way, 'Massacre'. Or 'Destroyer'. I digress. Clinique removes makeup, followed by a natural-led Oskia and finished with organic-led May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon. But before May Lindstrom, comes Sunday Riley Luna. That's not made of apples y'all. In the best way.

Exhibit C above: The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser - proper organic here - no faffing about - Sjal to finish, which is natural-led but by no means 'green' and chemical-led Kate Somerville Mega C serum in the middle.

Why do I do it this way?

Predominantly because:

The best eye makeup removers invariably contain chemicals - case in point: Bioderma, Nars, Clarins and Charlotte Tilbury. That's removing surface junk so it's no problem for me personally...if you want to go natural you can go down the almond oil route, but I find that a tad heavy for my baggy eyelids and the residue can make them puffy.
Second Cleansers/skin cleanser are at some point going to used for facial massage, so I steer towards good oils/milk ingredients for that. Not always, but in general/most of the time. 
Acid toners/Essences are by their very definition, chemical-led. Lovely.
Eye creams can be either, although I would probably go natural-led if your only concern was dryness/dehydration and chemical for everything else. 
Serums for me are nearly always chemical-led. Here's why: if you are out of your 20's and have lived any kind of life (I mean 'any', I'm not being facetious) you will have signs of ageing on your skin. And I'm sorry, but at a certain point, if you want to reverse those signs of ageing, you need to embrace the chemical. You, for 'green' reasons, may decide against that. That's 100% your prerogative obviously. But, for example, I have yet to meet a 'green, organic' product that can actually reverse sun damage, pigmentation and scarring as well as chemical-led retinoids. As much as people harp on about rosehip oil for scarring, it has nothing, nothing on retinoids available on prescription. It may be marketed as 'a natural alternative to retinol', but in reality that means that the proof has to be in the pudding, and they are just very, very different ingredients. See also: peptides. 
Your serum is the product that will penetrate the most - it's the most 'active' product that you use. It's where you should embrace the chemical and be a bit more spendy.

Again, as in the above picture, there are days where I reach for something organic in the serum department - usually when I want to get my glow on, really hydrate or if I am using a particularly silicone-heavy moisturiser. Which leads me to:
Moisturisers are probably the category where I mix it up the most. I love organic/natural-led hydrating, soothing moisturisers. I like how the majority (not all) of them are under makeup and I tend to use them on days where I am applying self-tan afterwards. The lack of silicone makes for better tanning. :)
If however, I feel my face needs some oomph and a little kick, I would probably use something hi-tech. For example: a Kate Somerville/Zelens serum under a Tata Harper moisturiser works a treat. Likewise, a Tata Harper serum under a Zelens/Kate Somerville moisturiser is also a good plan. Those three brands are probably the only ones where I would use both their serum and moisturiser together without an issue, but not very often. I like to mix it up a little.

The reason I invariably mix up the final two stages is silicone. A silicone serum, followed by a silicone moisturiser, followed by either SPF and/or a silicone primer makes for the higher possibility of 'rolling'. And I hate it when my products 'roll', it makes me feel dirty and like I have to do my entire routine again. Weird maybe, but that's just me. You have to do you.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The best things about being in your 40s.

Every time I see someone on social media having a panic attack because they're 'almost 25' or 'OMG my last day in my 30s? I want to reach out and say 'Please relax. PLEASE. I promise you it only gets better.'

I'm not saying this applies to everyone, or that not being 23/28/37 is a breeze, but it does bring a certain way of thinking that I, for one, didn't perhaps grasp in my younger years. :)
  1. You no longer care what other people think. Genuinely. About you, your politics, your religious views, your Kardashian TV choices, how you dress for the school run, nothing. 
  2. This doesn't give you free rein to behave badly or treat people any differently than you would like to be treated. This doesn't mean you don't mind if people don't like you, but you like to know their reasons first before you decide if they just don't 'get' you or if, actually, they have a point and you have behaved a tad twatishly.
  3. You understand the importance of loyalty and backing people up. Whether it's work colleagues, relatives or your friends. You've got their back. And they know it.
  4. The words 'on trend' mean absolutely nothing to you. And this doesn't concern you. You know how you like to dress and what suits you, and if that has nothing to do with 'trendy' or 'fashionable' so be it.
  5. You know exactly how you like your hair and makeup. And so does your hairdresser. You could give a rats-ass about Coachella/Glastonbury 'vibes'. See point 4.
  6. You can spot an asshole from a thousand paces. Whether it's a woman, man or politician. Your gut instinct has never been more on point and you trust it more with each passing year.
  7. Rudeness is unacceptable and intolerable. 'Please' and 'thank you' are not options, they're requirements. You've been known to bellow 'You're WELCOME' after holding the door open for someone who forgot their manners in response. 
  8. When younger people mention your age in a negative way you respond with 'I'm younger than Madonna, the Chili Peppers and everyone in Classic Rock magazine so you can kiss my ass Happy Meal.'
  9. When you are out with your twenty-something sons, people look at you as if you are a cougar. You are unsure if you should be offended or not.
  10. You wouldn't dream of reading a magazine with anything to do with 'how to have a better sex life' or 'how to find the man for you' on the cover. You know what you like and frankly, the man should come find you.
  11. If you want the cake, you're going to eat the cake.
  12. You don't count calories, you think: will this give me indigestion?
  13. The answer to No.12 is increasingly 'yes.'
  14. You have learned that tearing down a person does not make you a better one.
  15. You know that tearing down another person is a sign that you still have work to do on yourself, it has nothing to do with the other person.
  16. You stop putting yourself down. The dialogue in your head is a confident one.
  17. You don't pretend to know everything. You ask questions and realise that this makes you inquisitive, not stupid.
  18. You know your own mind. It doesn't bother you that you don't fit in with certain circles. That's cool.
  19. You stop 'putting up' with things. Shitty acquaintances, people that drain you, people that are rude, people that are obnoxious. Ain't nobody got time for that.
  20. You have no problem saying 'No.' 'No.' is a complete sentence, not the beginning of a negotiation. (Editor's note: you may have to leave the corporate world behind and start you own business if this happens before you're 40. Just sayin'.)
  21. You have no problem teaching people how to treat you. If they continue to be disrespectful you drop-kick them out of your life, not worry for days about something you hypothetically did to upset them.
  22. You think that people who insist on leaving the house on New Year's Eve are borderline insane.
  23. You're happy for other people, not jealous.
  24. You know the difference between jealousy and envy.
  25. You will go to the shops happily in no makeup and with your hair in a wet bun but draw the line at slippers and/or pyjamas. Get a grip, put your clothes on.
  26. Telling the truth may be scary, but it is essential.
  27. You know that  people only think Daniel Craig is the best Bond because they didn't grow up with Sean Connery. 
  28. You have learned that towels, sheets and wine should never be cheap.
  29. You realise that you still have so much to do, and that scares you a little bit.
  30. The people whose opinions of you actually matter is very small - and probably limited to people who would be at your deathbed. That's not morbid. It's the most freeing thing in the world.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Stationery Porn Alert - Daily Greatness Business Planner and the Bullet Journal

Ooh Lordy! Two hits of gorgeousness for my fellow stationery freaks today. This landed on my desk this morning just in time for a new week and a new month. This planner - aimed at female entrepreneurs (I don't know why - it's very unisex?!) is literally designed to take business planning to the next level and help guide you through the process of business or a project start-up.

It has the normal week-to-views across two pages and then pages and pages of other lushness such as planners for budgets and meetings along with weekly, quarterly and yearly breakdowns.

If you run/are planning to run your own business you may want to check this out. If you're a stationery/planner/Filofax addict it may be right up your street.

The Daily Greatness Business Planner is £34.95 and available from - be warned: there are other planners available.

Alongside this - I came across the Bullet Journal last week and quickly decided I was getting on board with that also.

I ordered the yellow Leuchtturm1917 from Amazon - there are a ton of other colours available if you search through the mobile app.

They are available here for around £12.00 - and are available on the US site also. They are listed as being available in Waterstones but they don't have them online...worldwide stockists are available on the dedicated Leuchtturm site here.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm Special Edition 200ml size

Heads up fellow Cleansing Balm freaks. (We really should start a support group)

To celebrate the success of Elemis' Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm, it is being released in a 200ml supersize. 
200 fat mls of juicy, velvety, cleansing waxes just waiting for you to savage. Ok. I know. I really need to get a grip.

The Supersize is available now on and is £55.00 - it's worth over £75.00 taken ml for ml.

Not all good things come in small packages. Go get yours.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Jo Loves Shot Candle Collection

On Monday I visited the brand new Jo Loves Shot Candle Studio at the back of their beautiful flagship Elizabeth Street store. Two hours of blissful smelling and mixing later - and those of you that watch my videos will know how much I a: love a good candle and b: love a good whiff...

Although I have the layered candle of Frangipani, Wild Reseda and Tuberose...

which is divine, I had not yet experienced all of the newer fragrances including the mango fragrances, which were in all honesty, astounding.

The latest innovation from Jo is a patent pending new way to enjoy candles and make it to your own desired fragrance. The Shot Candle is so ridiculously simple in its execution that it seems strange that no-one has done it before.

You choose from a base scent, then simply pick your 'Shot' to sit on top of it. When lit, it gently burns down infusing both fragrances in the loveliest way.

I chose a Gardenia base (I know, quelle surprise) and my shot choice was Mango. Sounds random, smells blissful. To be clear, because I was confused at first, this isn't the size of a shot glass, it's a proper, fat candle!

The Shot Candle service is £75.00 and includes your one-on-one consultation. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I'm going back with Mum.

For more information call the store on 0207 259 1430 or visit 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

5 Days, 5 Faces

Having lost the will to live with the horribly bad camera in the iPhone 6 Plus, I caved and am now the proud owner of the Canon G7X - which means I am taking pics again! Loads of them. YAY.

Tata cleanse, Clinique Mild Clarifying, Tom Ford Essence, Dennis Gross MD eye, Kate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair and Tom Ford Intensive Infusion Ultra Rich moisturiser

The last five days have seen my usual swapping and changing - the only constant has been the Dennis Gross MD Ferulic + Retinol eye cream, which I am loving. Tom Ford Essence has become a regular, hard to describe exactly what it does other than to say my skin looks 'tighter' and 'fresher'. I'll do a proper review when I can form a complete sentence.

The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter cleanser, FAB pads, Tom Ford again, Dennis again, Kate AGAIN, albeit in the Mega-C, not Deep Tissue Repair and Sjal Cela Intuitif

If you haven't yet tried Sjal, it is really worth looking in to. It works out expensive in UK£ which I think has impeded their popularity somewhat, but the range contains some beauts.

Emma balm, Tata 2nd Cleanse, P50, Clinique Moisture Surge Spray, Dennis Eye, Sunday Riley Luna with BioEssence Water Droplet mask on top. 

Ooh this was a good night. :) I literally only have to double cleanse when I wear makeup and I haven't worn a lot recently as I have better control of my diary and tend to do all my meetings in one day, so this was a real treat. The BioEssence mask compensates with extra moisture on top of Luna while it gets to work.

Tatcha oil, Dennis Gross MD Alpha Beta Pads, Bioderma Crealine spray, Dennis eye, Kate Mega-C and Lauder Revitalizing Supreme.

If you follow me on social media you'll know that I recently had a cartliage piercing that was painless to have done and then OWWW for days after. Really bad, to the point that I couldn't sleep. Ridiculous behaviour!
Anyway: the Bioderma Crealine spray worked wonders. It contains zinc, potassium and magnesium and definitely speeded up my healing time. Meanwhile, those Dennis Gross pads hidden between Tatcha and Bioderma continue to be utterly brilliant.

Tata cleanse, Clarins Gentle Exfoliator, Dennis - again, Vichy Aqualia Thermal, Kate Deep Tissue and Tata Repairative Moisturiser

That Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser is SO lovely. This was my attempt to bump up my hydration levels - the Vichy serum works wonders on top of the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator and Tata's Repairative Moisturiser seals the deal.

I'm looking forward to being able to get back to taking more pics, not just of skincare - in general!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Second Cleansers/A.M. Cleansers

I do love a good cleanser. Maybe you've noticed? All details are in the description box below the video. When you press play on the video there is an option to 'watch on YouTube'. That's where you'll find the details. ;)

Monday, 20 April 2015

Quick grab - What to look out for depending on your skin issue

A quick bullet point guide to ingredients/formulas that you may want to look out for when selecting your products. This list is obviously not exhaustive and I can add to it as and when other ingredients are suggested/recommended, but this is just to give you an idea of what to look for high up on an ingredient listing (within reason - it could go on forever!). Please feel free to suggest more in the comments - this will be a 'rolling' post i.e. updated regularly. :)

Dry skin:
Look for:
  • glycerin
  • jojoba oil
  • coconut oil
  • almond oil
  • avocado oil
  • borage seed oil
  • GLA (gamma linoleic acid)
  • helianthus oil (sunflower seed)
  • macadamia nut oil
  • evening primrose oil
  • palm oil (only if it comes from a sustainable source)
  • squalane/squalene
  • lactic acid
  • alcohol
  • mineral oil
  • soap
  • menthol
  • camphor
  • SLS
  • strong essential oils - rosemary/pine etc

Look for:
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • biosodium hyaluronate
  • hyaluronic acid
  • glycerin
  • jojoba oil
  • almond oil
  • SLS - sodium lauryl sulfate - too drying and dehydrating
  • alcohol
  • soap
  • menthol
  • camphor
  • SLS
  • strong essential oils - rosemary/pine etc

Look for:
  • salicylic acid
  • benzoyl peroxide (not in high %'s - too harsh)
  • glycolic acid
  • lactic acid
  • shea butter high up on the ingredient list
  • mineral oil
  • waxes (some plant waxes are ok, as in Darphin Purifying Balm for instance - this can understandably lead to confusion!)

Look for:
  • glycerin
  • aloe vera
  • bisabolol
  • almond oil (assuming you do not have a nut allergy) 
  • rosehip oil
  • alcohol
  • soap
  • witch hazel
  • menthol
  • facial cleansing brushes - no matter how many 'heads' they sell
  • camphor
  • SLS
  • fragrance
  • harsh scrubs
  • menthoxypropanediol

Look for:
  • jojoba oil
  • aloe vera
  • bisabolol
  • glycerin
  • almond oil
  • rosehip oil
  • alcohol
  • witch hazel
  • menthol
  • camphor
  • essential oils
  • synthetic fragrance
  • scrubs
  • soaps
  • facial cleansing brushes - of any kind
  • strong peels
  • SLS

Sunday, 19 April 2015

What's New?

My latest 'What's New?' has just gone live over on the Tube of You. :)

Hope you enjoy - all the product info and links are in the description box under the video.

Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Jo Malone White Lilac & Rhubarb Charity Candle

Charity projects always put me in two minds: is the money reaching the end target? Are the brand doing it purely to satisfy their CSR demands? 
So when something like this comes through, it puts my sometimes-too-cynical mind at ease.

When you purchase this new candle from Jo Malone they will donate the full retail price (less VAT) to a number of charities including the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, St Mungo's Broadway in Bristol, the Kirkdale Country Garden, Rotunda Limited in Liverpool, Redhall Walled Garden, Scottish Association for Mental Health and Thrive - the Society for Horticultural Therapy in Battersea.

Working with community charities across the UK and the USA, through the sales of items such as this, Jo Malone supports their work with adults living with mental health issues and the fourth Jo Malone charity garden will open this June in Bristol. With the help of homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway, it enables homeless clients to gain horticultural qualifications that could lead to long-term employment. 

The candle itself smells exactly like you would expect, soft fruit mixed with the white lilac. I am breaking my Limited Edition rule and already burning into it on my desk.

White Lilac and Rhubarb Scented Candle is available for £42.00 in all Jo Malone stockists including (although it is not showing on there as yet)

Friday, 17 April 2015

Cheat sheet - Consumer and Clinical trials, In Vivo vs In Vitro and ORAC testing

I am often met with claims of 'clinical trials' and 'independent studies' when reviewing skincare. It's to be expected, brands want to give the consumer 'evidence' that their product does what it says on the box.
The problem arises when they make those claims based on inadequate or irrelevant testing and put it in language that isn't easy for the customer to break down.

In its simplest form:

Consumer trials - you always see these in the small print on ads. They say something like 'In a study of 80 women, 67% found that X product increased hydration in the skin.'
The major problem with these 'trials' is that you frequently have no idea what demographic and skin type makes up that 80 women. If you put a really hydrating moisturiser on a 70-year-old woman that has only ever used soap and water on her face, she may think it's amazing.
If you put that same moisturiser on me, I may think it's doing absolutely nothing. Consumer trials, in a lot of cases, are really just marketing dressed up as facts. It may be a fact that 35 out of women 'found that the product enhanced the firmness of their skin', but what was their skin like before? What is your base level in the group of women? How old are they? Were they wrinkled to begin with? Did they have acne? Did they have sensitive skin? We will never know. These trials are based on the participants feeding back their thoughts on paper, not studied in detail under a microscope in a clinic. That's a consumer trial.

Clinical trials - these are, rather obviously, done in a clinical environment, on people, not petri dishes. (They will generally be classed as in vivo - see below.)
They include monitoring the participants before, during and after and gauging results by scheduling tests, procedures, applications and dosages; and the length of the study. While in a clinical trial, participants following a protocol are seen regularly by research staff to monitor their results and to determine the effectiveness of the products.

In vitro (latin for 'in glass') testing is the most widely used, the problem is that testing skincare in a petri dish does not replicate testing it on a live human being. Therefore, I tend to disregard any claims made around in vitro. It's basically saying 'this might happen if you use it on your actual skin! or you know, not'.
It's the equivalent of Jamie Oliver cooking an entire meal for you without tasting the food once during the cooking process. It should taste nice, but you don't know until you actually eat it.

In vivo (latin for 'within the living') is the most reliable form of testing as the products are tested on people, not samples in dishes. (In the old days of beauty testing it used to mean animal testing too - it doesn't now, don't worry) This testing, however, is extremely expensive to perform and understandably not easily available to smaller brands who would struggle to find £35-£50,000 to test one product. Most studies around in vivo are limited to under 50 people and for around 4-12 weeks - usually for cost reasons. For the simple fact that it is testing done on living, breathing human skin, it's still the most reliable though.

ORAC testing - ORAC testing is based on antioxidants and free radicals and originated in food testing. All that talk about blueberries and coffee berry being amazing antioxidants? That would be ORAC testing. There are three major problems with ORAC testing in skincare.
1: it was designed for food.
2: it uses in vitro - see above.
3: it has been completely disregarded by both the FDA and the EU as a reliable source of rating antioxidant capability in both food and skincare on human skin.
So, for example, to claim your product is 300 times more effective than other brands is at best, unethical and at worst, borderline illegal. If you made that claim as a blueberry farmer the EU and the FDA would take you to court. It's a minefield and if I was one of the other brands being targeted by the 300 times stronger crew? Frankly I'd be calling my lawyers.

So where does that leave you and I, the consumers who part with hard-earned cash?
While I always take the results of a full clinical trial seriously, honestly, the only voice I listen to these days is word-of-mouth. If a friend has used something and really rates it, I want to check it out. If another blogger that I respect raves about something - I always want to check it out.
Do you read the small print? Do consumer/clinical trials make any difference to whether you try something or not?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Choice Books - Food. The New Health Rules by Frank Lipman M.D. & Danielle Claro

Adding to my obsession with lovely books that are not only beautiful to look at but actually full of good info, this one is a really simple, interesting, easy read that pulls you in as soon as you open the cover.

It contains beautiful photography alongside sections including Eating, Moving, Boosting, Healing and Living that are easy to follow and not 'preachy'.

You can imagine how happy I was when I saw this page..... :)

The New Health Rules is priced around £13.00 (the same as Amazon) and is available from - who also do free delivery and pay their UK taxes. ;)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Significant Empties

So it's time for me to cut open tubes and scrape out the contents before hitting the recycling bin.
Next video is on Sunday - thanks for watching.

Also - stay tuned to the end for my endearing chat with my son (not).

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Zara Home Pure Gardenia Candle

I'm kind of worried about posting this one. Mainly for selfish reasons. If you, like me, are a candle lover (obsessive) and have not seen Zara Home's selection, you are missing a big, fat, smelly, cheap trick. :)

These candles are pure vegetable wax, twice the size of 'other' famous candles, (a lot of which, incidentally, are paraffin wax), double-wicked and burn for 80 hours.

And they are £19.99. Yes. £20 for 80 hours. Obviously, my favourite fragrance is the Pure Gardenia, but they come in a whole host of other flavours including Black Vanilla and Ginger Lily - both also beautiful.

If there is no Zara Home near you, they are available online from Just do me a favour - please don't buy them all. :)