Thursday, 23 July 2015

Emma Hardie Protect & Prime SPF30 - Triple Giveaway


If you watched the first video of the 'In the Bathroom' Series that I filmed with Sali Hughes, you will have seen Sali pull this out of my stash.

Emma Hardie's Protect & Prime SPF30 is a lovely, lightweight, SPF that can be used alone or as a primer - killing two birds with one stone. It leaves a beautiful glow on the skin and no white/ash obvious remnants on darker skins.

The lovely Emma has given me 5 Protect & Prime SPF30 to giveaway to you lovely readers.

3 will be available to win here on the blog.
1 will be given away on Twitter. https://twitter.com/CarolineHirons
1 will be given away on Instagram. https://instagram.com/carolinehirons

Umpteen chances to make it yours. Good luck!

If you already have the SPF30, take a snap of it and upload it to Instagram tagging @emmahardieskicnare for a chance to win a pair of Tom Ford sunglasses. Details here: https://instagram.com/emmahardieskincare

Full T&Cs on the Rafflecopter entry.
Open Internationally.
Closes 2/8/15 at 11.59pm UK time.
You can enter once a day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 17 July 2015

A very special Giveaway - aka Whiplash Surprise No.1


So you may remember back in May I teamed up with Cult Beauty for my first box.
Now that the dust has settled, and the second half of the advance orders have all been sent out, I have one, final, box to give away to one lucky reader.

This is the exact box, containing all the full sizes as above and as the original set-up, is open Internationally.

To win the very last box available (until No.2 launches ;) ) simply enter via Rafflecopter below.
The giveaway closes at 11.59pm UK time on Sunday 2nd August and one winner will be chosen at random on Monday 3rd August. You can enter up to once a day and you don't have to do anything to qualify. I just want to say Thank You.

Thank you for your amazing support, both with the box and since my accident. You all rock.

Look out for more 'Whiplash Surprise' Giveaways over the coming fortnight.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

We interrupt this broadcast...


Lovely readers. As you probably know by now, I'm a 'live' blogger, meaning I very rarely schedule posts. I blog as and when I feel inspired/the urge/the necessity. 

This means that in situations like this, I don't have any fresh content waiting to pop up for you. 

Myself and my two youngest children were in the above car on Sunday evening when it got into an argument with a rather large coach. 
I can't go into details, but we'll be ok. And thankfully I took the brunt, not my babies. 

Please bear with while I sleep through the pain of whiplash etc - I'll be back towards the weekend. Unless of course the drugs are REALLY REALLY good and I feel inspired to share. ;)



Friday, 10 July 2015

SPF - CHEAT SHEET

When purchasing SPF the main questions to ask are:
What is the SPF?
Is it a Broad Spectrum product?

There are two main concerns from being in the sun: Skin-ageing and skin cancer.

UV Light causes sun burn and sun damage by damaging cellular DNA.
UVA (long-wave) causes the ageing and UVB (short-wave) causes the burning. 

Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have identified UV as a proven human carcinogen. Therefore, there is no such thing as a ‘safe tan. A tan is a sign of DNA damage. It is the result of a chemical reaction in your body as it tries (and fails) to protect itself from UV light. Brands selling SPF that use the term ‘safe tanning’ are at best misleading and at worst, clueless.

The majority of sun damage is done in the first 20 years of your life. Age spots/pigmentation appearing when you’re older are the fault of those Spanish teen holidays – not just the tan you got in Newquay last year. ;)

‘Natural’ vs ‘Chemical’
Physical (most commonly referred to as ‘natural’ in marketing materials) reflects the UV light. Traditionally 'chemical' SPFs absorb the light.
Physical sunscreen, contrary to popular belief and the GOOP website (please do not get me started), is not ‘natural’. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, most commonly used in ‘natural’ sunscreens have been shown to be toxic (and I use the word correctly) for fish/sealife - an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers’ bodies annually with the potential to cause damage to fragile ecosystems.
Zinc and titanium oxide are not biodegradable and invariably use nano-technology, which is also under question by Cancer research bodies because of its possible links to cancers in humans.
If your preference is to use ‘natural’ your closest bet is a ‘non-nano’ oxide. Bear in mind it's still technically a chemical, no matter what the EWG say. The term non-nano means nothing to the FDA, but it may be better for you. Still tough cookies for the fish though.

Government Guidelines
FDA standards are different from Europe and Australasia. In the USA, SPF labelling is a requirement because the FDA says it is a drug. In Europe, it is classed as a cosmetic and therefore stating SPF classification is not mandatory, it’s just for information.
Having said that, European manufacturers are allowed to use seven proven UVA filters whilst the FDA in the USA only allows three, meaning that technically a European product has the potential to be more effective than an American-made product.

SPF is only relevant to UVB light. PPD - Persistent Pigment Darkening is one way of measuring UVA light but is now considered out-dated. The PA++ system, developed in the Far East is another method used – however neither of these are allowed when making broad spectrum claims in the USA. It’s enough to make you tear your hair out.

An in vitro test to gauge a Critical Wavelength is really what a brand should be able to show to claim Broad Spectrum on their packaging in the US and the UK. Critical Wavelength tests measure the absorbance of UV light on skin and a critical wavelength of 370nm is what you are looking for on literature. Not that many brands will bother labelling that information but do your research or ask them directly.

Myths:
  • SPF does not accumulate. If you wear a moisturiser, primer and sunscreen you will only have the highest SPF that you are using, you cannot ‘add them up’.
  • Pre-cancerous moles are a myth. They are either cancerous or they are not. If in doubt, cut it out. A mole is a benign lesion. Any changes, any – it needs to be checked by an expert and removed.
  • Acne sufferers: whilst the sun may have a drying effect on your acne; but a lot of SPF products are comedogenic. Use oil-free sunscreens if possible. Avoid mineral oil in sunscreens (and your normal skincare).
  • Darker skin, whilst not as vulnerable to UV light as lighter skin, still needs to protect itself from UV damage and use SPF. Although darker skins can stay longer in the sun without burning and they do not need the same high factors as a Type 1 person, they should still use SPF.
  • No sunscreen is waterproof. They can only be listed as ‘water resistant’.
  • SPF should be repurchased fresh every year. It degrades.
  • Do not waste your money on a really expensive anti-ageing moisturiser with SPF. SPF is an all-encompassing product that will overtake any active/expensive ingredients in your skincare. Use your expensive skincare and apply a separate SPF on top.
  • 'SPF 60 is twice as effective as SPF30'. Not true. There is only a 1% difference between SPF30 and SPF50. SPF30 is my most recommended level for that reason. You're covered, but you have no false sense of security. 

‘Cruelty-free’.
Never were more ingredients tested on animals in the beauty industry than SPF products. This does not mean the final product is tested on animals, meaning that brands that state they are against animal testing are not technically lying, it means the raw ingredients were, at some point, absolutely tested on animals in a lab to ensure ‘efficacy’, especially in the USA, where they are classed as drugs. Whilst this is true of the entire beauty and health industry, I mention it not to make you feel bad, purely to counterbalance the nonsense of ‘vegan, animal-friendly, non-toxic SPF 50’ claims that are frankly, nonsense. 
PETA can say there are a wealth of cruelty-free brands * but the reality is that the ingredients were tested on animals at some point. They may be cruelty-free now, but the ingredients have probably been tested on animals historically. Again, not being negative, just giving the full story. 
Even Lush, the champions against animal testing and ‘natural’ claims, use octocrylene and octyl methoxycinnamate, both chemical UVB sunscreens. Again, I am in no way singling out Lush, merely offering balance to the over-use of the word ‘toxic’ in scare-mongering media and frankly, some lies written by marketing departments and celebrity websites.

Application: 
  • SPF is ALWAYS the last product to be applied to your skin.
  • Apply your SPF 15-20 minutes before you go in the sun.
  • Apply 2mg per Square CM which equates approximately to one teaspoon for your face and neck, two per chest, two per back, two per arm, two/three per leg depending on your height obviously. If you are particularly tall, or have a large frame, obviously use more. I use a tablespoon for face, neck and décolleté (fat head) - and I’m 5’11, so I use two tablespoons per body part.
  • Reapply every 90 minutes to 2 hours or more often if in water.

Children:
If you have children the best advice is to cover them up and keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible. 
  • Reapply their SPF every 90 minutes, more frequently if they are getting wet. 
  • If you have boys with short hair, remember the back of their necks and their ears. Every single person I have seen under a Wood’s Lamp has significant sun damage at the tops of their ears (women typically apply their SPF before they hit the beach and put their hair in a ponytail the minute they sit on the sand - EARS!) and above the eyebrows – and it’s always worse in my Australian clients. (Sorry Aussie friends – it’s true).
When asked what he would use on his child, Dr Marko Lens replied: ‘I would probably put a chemical sunscreen on my child. I would not feel comfortable using nano-technology on my child.’

And finally, my most-asked questions from my readers:
  • Personally, I would not dream of using a ‘once a day’ sunscreen on holiday, especially on my children. It gives a false sense of security. I checked Ultrasun’s website and according to them if I use their SPF50 with my skin type, I can ‘safely’ stay in the sun for 10 hours. TEN. HOURS? No. In fairness to them – and again I am not attacking them, merely using their own website to source information, they also state categorically that if you are going into the water or perspire heavily that you need to reapply, which makes it a normal SPF in my book (and makes them ethical!) Where once a day formulas might come in handy are…
  • Young children going to school. If, as mine do, your young children attend a school where the teachers are not allowed to touch the children, even with your permission, a once a day formula may be a good option. Your children may sweat a little, but they aren’t in the sea so should be protected still by 3.30pm. In theory. It still makes me uneasy, but it’s better than applying a typical 'kids' SPF15 at 8.30and that’s it for the day…. It’s your judgement call as a parent/carer.
  • If you are wearing SPF under your makeup and going to work you will probably not be covered by lunchtime. You either need to reapply (not likely I know), use a once-a-day product, which are far better suited to city living than beach in my opinion, or buy yourself a big hat and be done with it. You could also use…
  • Sprays. Here’s the thing with sprays: you have to make sure you have covered the entire area thoroughly and that is unlikely unless you are applying it to your child, in which case most of us show more due diligence than when we are applying to our own bodies. Use a spray over your makeup if you know you have applied it evenly and feel protected, otherwise, go down the once a day route or make like Jackie O and enjoy a hat and sunglasses. There is also cause for concern when inhaling sprays - something you will invariably do if the point is to apply it over your makeup. Your judgement call.
  • I am frequently asked about Institut Esthederm. They are a tanning brand, not an SPF brand. Make of that what you will. 
  • It is safe to use acid toners in the summer – just make sure you are using your SPF.
  • If you wear SPF please double cleanse!






Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Beautypedia bait that needs to STOP

We certainly agree on the importance of eyebrows.

This is one of those strange, unexpected posts that just pop up from the heart, not my blog schedule.
It's been happening a while, but has become more noticeable recently. It seems that whenever I write a review, I get comments either pointing out that Beautypedia 'hate it' or that I couldn't possibly seriously think this is a good product because it 'contains essential oils that Beautypedia says kill cells' or some such other comment comparing my opinion to Beautypedia's. And most importantly, repeating Beautypedia's opinions as solid fact.

I met Paula Begoun back in May. She was utterly charming, funny and intelligent and someone you would absolutely hang out with.
I have the utmost respect for her and what she has achieved in the industry. Anyone who writes a book called 'Blue Eyeshadow should be Illegal' is alright by me.
During our meeting, Paula told me point blank that she has absolutely nothing to do with the online reviews and hasn't done for years. She is only interested in product development these days. The reviews on Beautypedia are written by her large team of researchers headed up by her business partner Bryan Barron. Bryan was a Sales Associate working the shop floor when he met and started working with Paula.
Beautypedia write their reviews by reading an INCI list and reporting back on it, not by trying the products on the skin.

When Paula asked me what I was enjoying using recently, I laughed and said 'Oh you hate it. I'm loving Tata Harper at the moment.' Paula had never heard of Tata Harper. She had to defer to Bryan. She then said 'Oh don't get me started on french skincare brands. They're the worst.' To which I obviously replied 'Oh I bloody love me some french skincare!' And we laughed. Because it's ok for two grown women to disagree without being threatened or competitive.

Here's the thing: the entire beauty industry (like most) is built on opinion. Beautypedia, like this blog, is an opinion-led website.
It is not the word of God. Having said that, we actually agree on more than we differ on. We agree on parabens, animal testing, cellulite products, skin needling, acne, blackheads, the pointless word 'hypoallergenic' and so much more.

I personally - along with a whole host of other people/brands - disagree with a couple of key things, namely mineral oil and fragrance.
Paula told me point blank that the skin can breathe when mineral oil sits on it. I politely disagreed.
Beautypedia as a team stand by a research paper that Paula read over 20 years ago (again, her words to me) stating that fragrance - especially essential oils, cause cell 'death'. I, along with a lot of other people, other brands, other doctors and other papers published since, disagree.

That's pretty much it to be honest. There might be other smaller things, but those two are the ones that come up the most when Beautypedia is mentioned as having a differing opinion to myself/other brands. And that's totally fine by me.
For every paper saying parabens are the devil, there are others stating that they have been used effectively for decades.
For every paper stating that essential oils cause 'cell death' there are other papers 'proving' the opposite (not to mention an entire worldwide aromatherapy industry).

What is not ok is the underlying element of some commenters that are clearly trying to get me to speak negatively about Paula and her brand, whilst actively defending myself. I don't publish a lot of them. You're goading the wrong blogger people. She's a lovely, intelligent, charming, funny woman with a great brand. What's not to like?

Use Beautypedia as the great resource that it is - I often do, and use this blog the same way, but then take that information, apply it to what you know about your own skin, and make your own mind up.

I do not see me changing my mind about mineral oil and fragrance in a hurry. Nor will Paula. We're ok with that. I do wish you could be too.

Sell crazy someplace else. We're all stocked up here.




Tuesday, 7 July 2015

SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel


Updated 9.07.15*

What is it?
'This breakthrough serum-in-a-gel contains a synergistic antioxidant combination to help protect the delicate eye area from oxidative stress, while targeted actives revive under-eye skin and helps reduce the appearance of puffiness.'

Who is it for?
Literally all skin types and ages, but sit up and pay particular notice if you have issues with your eyes or are 30+ and/or smoke/drink/party. :)

What’s in it?
Aqua / Water / Eau, Dipropylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat., Ascorbic Acid, Undecane, Bis-Hydroxyethoxypropyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Tridecane, Phloretin, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Peg-10/15 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Polyglycerin-3 Crosspolymer, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium Edta.

What's not in it?
Mineral oil
Parabens
Fragrance

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
Silicones
Alcohol

Natural? Organic? Man-made? Vegan?
Man-made/Vegan

Sold in China/possibly tested on animals?
Unknown. If the brand confirm I will update the post.

What’s good about it?
Lord above this is the best eye cream I have used in years. It's up there with Zelens Triple Action and Tata Harper - both of which are very different products, but ones I use when my eyes are in certain 'states'.
This little powerhouse has an immediate firming and lifting effect and has taken years - years off of my lower eyes in particular. The effect is extremely noticeable (on me), to the point where I now find myself trying to ration it so I don't run out by using my usual heavy-handed dosage. Upon doing my research, I discovered that they recommend using half a pump per eye whereas I've been happily using a full pump, ggrrr.
It contains three antioxidants: 1% Phloretin, 5% Vitamin C and 0.5% Ferulic Acid
to help with all aspects of free radical damage and therefore pretty much all the signs of ageing along with ruscus aculeatus (it's an evergreen plant) and caffeine to counteract dark circles and puffiness.
And it works. 
I am still often asked if we 'really need an eye cream?' because 'it's all just skin Caroline'. Yes, it is all skin, but the skin around the eye is up to 10 times thinner than the fat stuff on your cheeks, meaning if you use a really thick, gloopy, mineral oil eye cream, it doesn't penetrate and swells the surface giving you puffiness ahoy. Even if you disagree with my stance on mineral oil, I would really, really, urge you to avoid it in eye creams.

What’s not so good about it?
The alcohol content is a little confusing for me personally, this is in no way drying or irritating, something that my skin would normally pick up on. I have asked SkinCeuticals to confirm that a: my inci list is correct (this is a reformulation) and to advise why they have used it. If for example, it is to mildly 'strip' (I hate that word but it makes it clear what I mean) back the epidermis to allow the other products to penetrate deeper, something we know that a lot of companies use it for? When I get a reply I will report back.

*UPDATE* - 09.07.2015
SkinCeuticals have replied to my email with: 
'The small amount of alcohol in AOX+ Eye Gel is necessary to solubilise phloretin. The alcohol, however, has a high flash point and quickly flashes off of the skin.'

It's £69.00. Not the cheapest, so if you have no problems with your eyes, still spend on your serum as the priority. If, however, you look in the mirror and think 'Oh gimme a break, look at my eyes!' then check it out.
Having said that, it's recommended for once a day use so will last twice as long as normal.
The other challenge is finding it - SkinCeuticals are not a high street brand - normally sold through clinics/spas etc - details are below.

Where to use in your routine?
Post-tone, pre-serum, in the morning. As it's a preventative/protective eye product they recommend using in the morning and another eye cream in the evening that is more directed at repair.

How do you use it?
Apply a pump to the top of your ring finger, tap onto opposing ring finger, and swipe/pat under both eyes. I take over the brow bone and end up in full circles.

Works well with?
SkinCeuticals Eye Balm
SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex

How much is it and where can I find it?
It's currently £70.00 sold as a kit with a Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF30 from www.my-dermacenter.com and other SkinCeuticals stockists.
As an aside, one thing I really like about the SkinCeuticals official websites is that they call out all of their unauthorised resellers: skinceuticals.com/authorize in a way that most brands are too afraid to do. Some of these retailers are known to get their products from old, deleted, stock - in some cases the goods are stolen and in others they are counterfeit. It's well worth having a look as I am asked frequently about some of the ones listed.

Similar products?
Zelens Triple Action
Dennis Gross MD Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream

Exchange rate – does it punish the UK?
Ish. It's $92.00/£69.00.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Zelens Instagram Giveaway

Hi Lovely People!

A lovely giveaway to start the week.

Zelens Intense Defence Antioxidant Serum and Daily Defence SPF30 are the perfect pairing for any climate, but particularly helpful in the current warm weather affecting the UK.


To win both of these brilliant products from Zelens simply follow Zelens and myself on Instagram.

That's it. Details can be found here: instagram.com/carolinehirons - Zelens Instagram can be found here: instagram.com/zelensskincare

Have a great week everyone! :)

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Empties June 2015


A week late but never mind! The full contents of the video are listed in the description box underneath the video. If you click on the 'watch on YouTube' in the bottom corner you'll find it underneath. :)
I'm not doing too badly using things up - one of my many missions this year! See you tomorrow!


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Zelens Intense Defence


This weather offers the perfect time to talk about Zelens Intense Defence.

What is it?
'A potent antioxidant serum formulated with a unique blend of synergistic ingredients to defend from environmental assaults.'

Who is it for?
Everyone.

What’s in it?
Aqua (Water), Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Squalane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Superoxide Dismutase, Thioctic Acid, Ubiquinone, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Bisabolol, Perilla Frutescens Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Pinus Strobus Bark Extract, Echinacea Angustifolia Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Dimethylmethoxy Chromanol, Hydrolyzed Sesame Protein PG-Propyl Methylsilanediol, Tripeptide-1, Lactic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Acrylates Copolymer, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Laureth-7, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polysilicone-11, VP/Polycarbamyl Polyglycol Ester, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Parfum (Fragrance), Linalool

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
Fragrance 

Natural? Organic? Man-made? Vegan?
Man made/vegan

Tested on animals/sold in China?
No/No.

What's not in it?
Parabens

How do you use it?
Apply underneath moisturiser daily. I use AM but it can be used both AM and PM.

What’s good about it?
Clinically proven* to reduce the amount free radical activity on the skin by 74% after an hour and 50% after 5 hours, Zelens put their money where their mouth is. This is like wearing a suit of armour underneath your moisturiser. Most antioxidant products only focus on one type of free radical damage, and use vitamin C to do so, when, in fact, there are 3. Oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. So using an antioxidant product that only attacks one group of free radicals is akin to leaving the house wearing a bra, blouse, sweater and fur coat and nothing at all on your bottom half. You're not fully covered. 
This serum also includes chromane, of which clinical studies show is more effective in the inhibition of oxidative stress than resveratrol, ferulic acid and vitamin E.
Being Zelens, they've thrown in an abundance of other actives - 18 to be exact, to enhance collagen production and act as massive anti-inflammatories.

What’s not so good about it?
Not much. It's not cheap, but then neither is the formula. Dr Lens is my first port of call for serums and anti-ageing. His day-to-day job is protecting the skin, he knows what he's doing.

Works well with?

Similar products?
Grown Alchemist Antioxidant +3 Detox Serum
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

Exchange rate – does it punish the UK?
No. Zelens is UK based.

Zelens Intense Defence is £125 and available at Zelens.com



*Papers published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (Assessment of the kinetics of the antioxidative capacity of topical antioxidants).