Sunday, 25 September 2016

Disappointing Beauty Products #7

When trying out beauty products there are always going to be some that you don't get on with but for others it's their holy grail. These are just my experiences if you use any of these products and love them then don't stop.

Sanctuary Spa Ultimate Salt Body Scrub 
I really wanted to like this body scrub especially as it has jojoba oil- a scent I love, as well as coconut and almond oil which are famous for their moisturising properties. The salt is anti-septic as well as being good for exfoliation. However after doing a patch test on my leg I found that it made my skin itch and look irritated which was a shame. I'm glad it was only a sample size and that I didn't buy the big jar (though it would look pretty in the bathroom.)

Marks and Spencers Island Escape Sea salt and Bergamot  EDT
This was in M&S's beauty box. While the bottle is really pretty and summery, tinted yellow for the sand and blue for the sea,  I really didn't like the scent. There is only a touch of musk, but to me this smells like men's aftershave- like toned down Lynx- yuk! On M&S's website there are lots of people raving about this but it did not appeal to me at all.

Laura Mercier Translucent Pressed Powder 
I liked this translucent powder because the colour is an off white cream shade, which meant that it didn't look ashy on my olive tanned skin. However whenever I use this on my forehead I end up with more spots for some reason.

L'Occitane Repairing Shampoo For Dry and Damaged Hair
L'Occitane's shampoo promises silky hair that shines and to repair dry and damaged hair. It has five essential oils (angelica, lavender, geranium, sweet orange and ylang ylang) together with plant derived amino acids they form an anti-breakage complex which helps to repair and smooth the hair fibers. It is silicon free and has a herbal smell due to the essential oils, rather like Neal's Yard products, but on application it smelt like aniseed to me, a scent I hate. The smell does disappear after washing your hair. However immediately after the first wash my hair looked really frizzy on the top of my head and the next day although it was clean it looked stringy and oily despite not actually being oily. My hair looked a little shinier but I don't know if it repaired any damage because my hair didn't really feel nourished. This was a sample, the full size is £17 for 300ml and I felt that there are much cheaper shampoos out there that do a much better job.

Merumuya Melting Cleansing Balm
This has so many good reviews and I felt that it cleaned my skin so well. Unfortunately the next day this gave me spots and the red patches on my face had got even bigger! You can see my full review here.

Primark Egg Makeup Sponge 
This sponge is very firm compared to the Real Techniques sponge and doesn't really increase in size when it's wet. While I found the pointed end useful to apply foundation around the eyes I found that
bouncing it/stippling seemed to darken foundation and sometimes remove it. I didn't really enjoy using this despite all the positive reviews and I found it harder to clean compared to the Real Techniques one.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

National Eczema Week 2016: Tips For Living with Eczema

Since it's National Eczema Week I thought I would share my experience and tips to help raise awareness. First of all eczema is a dry and inflammatory skin condition (also known as dermatitis.) Atopic eczema has a genetic basis and is often found in families or people with asthma and hayfever. For people with atopic eczema, "the function of their skin as a barrier to the outside world does not work well, so that irritant and allergy-inducing substances can enter their skin, and may cause dryness and inflammation." Atopic eczema can occur anywhere on the body including the face but it is most common on the creases of the skin, so back of the knees, inner arm, ankles, wrist and neck. It can also appear as coin sized areas of inflammation or small bumps near the hair folicles. Skin will be very itchy, red and dry, and scratch marks (and bleeding) are common which can sometimes lead to infection. It is not contagious at all.

Atopic eczema is common in babies and children, most who grow out of it although some still experience it as adults.  In the UK, 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults have eczema. For some people their eczema is worse in the winter with dry, cracked, sore skin while others find that the hot, sweaty conditions of summer irritates their skin.

My eczema is on my legs, mainly my ankles and knees. When I have flare ups (usually in the summer) my thighs and inner arms get eczema too. I usually use a moisturising/emollient cream prescribed by GP and then use steroids/ hydrocortizone during bad flare ups or if the skin becomes infected. These should only be used occasionally since they are known to thin the skin. I've also tried complimentary therapies, specifically homeopathy and Chinese herbal medicine. However my general advice is to get diagnosed by a doctor first.

Common Triggers 

The most common are dust and dust mites. Mattresses, duvets and pillows should be enclosed in non-allergenic covers. Vacuum rooms often to limit exposure to dust mites and clean surfaces with a damp cloth. Wash soft toys at high temperatures or freeze them for 24 hours to eliminate any dust mites.  Avoid hoarding and declutter! The more things you have in your room/house the more things you have that get dusty, attracting dust mites and requiring regular cleaning.

Animal dander (particles of old skin shed by animals.) Keep pets out of the bedroom, don't let them sleep on the bed because dogs and cat dander can make eczema worse. Vacuum the house regularly.

Heat Wipe sweat away with a cloth/soft towel. Wear loose clothing. Sleep in a cool room. Having a bath or shower everyday can actually be bad for eczema so spot clean with a flannel face, hands, armpits and private parts.

Cold dry air Buy a dehumidifier and try to keep the humidity above 40%, if possible.

Foods In 10% of cases eczema is triggered by foods such as milk, eggs, citrus fruit, chocolate, peanuts and colouring. While avoiding a certain food it is important maintain a balanced diet with fibre, vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates.

Reacting to stress by habit scratching. Break the Itch scratch cycle (scratching that makes itching worse, which makes you want to scratch more.) Try as much as possible not to scratch eczema. To relieve itching place a metal object against the skin (such as a spoon, drinks can, metal camping mug ) this will cool the skin. You could also wear cotton gloves at night if you tend to scratch in your sleep and use anti-scratch mittens for babies. Keep nails short to minimise the impact of scratching. Find ways to relax such as meditation, yoga and exercise to combat stress.

Tips for managing eczema 
  • Moisturise frequently with an alcohol free and unscented cream. I use Unguentum M twice a day (morning and evening) but have also used Diprobase (good) and E45 (ok) in the past. Other brands I have not used but may help include Aveeno Eczema Therapy, Cetaphil and Oilatum. Most creams can be prescribed by a GP and put on a repeat prescription form which is often much cheaper in the long run and available in bigger sized containers.
  • Wear cotton clothes instead of polyester, nylon, spandex. Cotton will let the skin breathe and absorb sweat.
  • Chuck out old clothing that is pilling (bobbly) if it's in direct contact with the skin. The surface isn't smooth and soft anymore and can lead to itching. If it can't be saved by combs or tools that remove pilling ditch it. 
  • Wash clothes in Non Biological washing powder and avoid fabric conditioner. (I use Persil Non Bio or Ecover.) 
  • Bathe in warm but not hot water.
  • Avoid bubble baths, bath bombs and shower gels. This is why there is a conspicuous absence of these on my blog. Perhaps it's not as fun but it means more money to spend on makeup!  Stick to unscented soaps and shampoo. Personally I just use Dove soap but this may not suit everyone. Doctors or a pharmacist will usually suggest a bath oil to clean and moisturise the skin, I use Oilatum bath oil . Be careful when using it to prevent slip ups in the bath. I also use Oilatum to shave my legs when I don't have flare ups. 
  • Some people swear by coffee scrubs. (I think this helps the kind of eczema that gets worse in winter.) Brands include Frank, Grounded and Bean Body.
  • Salt is a natural antiseptic (and cheap!) so adding a handful to a bath or cupful of salt if you have flare ups, is good for the skin. Adding colloidal oatmeal to your bath or applying it to the skin directly in the form of a paste also helps relieve itching.
  • After swimming in a swimming pool, rinse off any chlorine from the pool, as this can irritate the skin.
  • Apply moisturiser at least 20 minutes before bedtime to allow it to soak in.
  • Keep the bedroom cool and use cotton sheets or a light, natural-fibre duvet. If you have the money choose Egyptian cotton bed sheets in a high thread count. 
  • Wear silk Pyjamas. They are more expensive but they keep the skin cool and feel smooth and soft against the skin. It is one of the main things that really helped me. I got mine from Patra. Otherwise choose cotton pyjamas and nightwear and avoid synthetic fabrics like nylon.  
  • When you can't sleep because of itchy skin then consider taking antihistamines or at a last resort sleeping pills. These will knock you out and save your skin from hours of scratching and bleeding, sore skin. 
For more information contact the National Eczema Society,  The British Skin Foundation and Allergy UK.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Empties: Sample Edition

Garnier Moisture Match for Dull Skin (Wake Me Up)
This moisturiser is a clear gel which has a cooling effect that is very similar to anti cellulite creams. The gel actually smells like a perfume because it's so heavily fragranced and also has a strong alcoholic scent. The fragrance is fruity and fresh due to the grapefruit fruit extract and lemon fruit extract to energise you and wake you up. However the scent doesn't completely mask the strong alcoholic smell which irritated my eyes and stung a little on application probably due to the fact that alcohol denat is listed as the third ingredient. It does absorb quickly but I'm not sure how moisturising it is. It did wear well under my foundation (sleek oil free compact foundation.) It's also paraban free but does contain silicone (Dimethicone.)
Purchase? No. I like the concept behind this range- having moisturisers targeting different skin conditions but did not like the fact this has so much alcohol in it.

Merumuya Melting Cleansing Balm
This is probably the only negative review of  Merumaya's Melting cleansing balm which is such as shame as I was so excited and wanted to like it so much and it does seem to work for a lot of people. It smells like grapefruit (although there's no grapefruit instead it's citronelol: lemon.) It contains Echium Seed Oil (RevitElix ™) and Mangosteen extract too. The smell reminded me of Neals Yard's essential oil beauty products. The texture is very oily thanks to the almond oil and it's easy to massage onto dry skin while it emulsifies make up (the 'melting' part.) It then turns milky on contact with water. Then you're supposed to remove the balm with a cloth, I used one of the Liz Earle's muslin cloths. Merumaya recommend normal skins to repeat the cleanse and oiler skins to follow with Merumaya's Luxury Facial wash. Since this easily removed all of my Estée Lauder Double Wear Light foundation,  I can imagine that it would remove a much heavier foundation (i.e. Estee Lauder's Double wear foundation) without any trouble. It doesn't sting when gets into eyes. It can be used to remove eye makeup and I've read several reviews saying its fine but one who woke up with puffy eyes afterwards so I decided to err on the side of caution and to use a separate eye makeup remover instead (as I do with Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish.) The next day the red patches on my cheeks got bigger and became sore (they weren't before) and I also got six painful under the skin spots. I did actually test this on half my face and was fine so I then used it all over on a different occasion thinking I would be fine. I think those with sensitive skin or dry skin should not apply this twice in order to prevent dryness and irritation. While it's cheaper than Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish and Eve Lom, it is on the more expensive side compared to drugstore/high street cleansers, it retails at £16.50 for 100ml.
Purchase? No. It made my skin worse!

Body Lotions - These both lasted 2 weeks.

Aveeno body Lotion makes your skin feel so incredibly soft, however I didn't really like the smell (It's supposed to smell like oats, and although I eat porridge I couldn't really get with the smell) Purchase? I don't know. Maybe if it was on offer and if my skin was very dry- I would have to mix it with something that smelt nicer!

Garnier Body Intensive 7 days lotion  I absolutely loved the scent, it smells like Shea butter (which is one of the ingredients) sweet without being sickly. However it does contain alcohol and mineral oil which could irritate some skin types. This lotion does leave skin feeling soft  but I think Aveeno pips it to the post in the skin softening stakes and the softening effect lasts longer with Aveeno despite not having a 7 day claim. 
Purchase? Maybe if it's on offer.


Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance SPF 15
Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra radiance SP30 has received a lot of criticism for not actually protecting up to SPF 30 according to the Which? study testing sun lotion in 2014. This makes me a little wary of the SPF15. More confusing is that both products seem to be recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation judging by the stamp on the packaging. Anyway it smells so nice and summery, a floral scent combined with coconut and cocoa. The smell isn't overwhelming which is good as I'm sensitive to strongly perfumed cosmetics. The 'Ultra Radiance' effect is gold glitter which is noticeable in sunlight. This maybe a bit too bling/disco ball for some but it would give a glistening highlight when applied to the legs. However SPF15 is pretty low so I'd avoid this if you're pale or are going to be on the beach all day.
Purchase? Probably not, the sun protection factor is too low I usually buy SPF30-35.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
This is L'occitane's best seller and has even been in Vogue's Top 100 beauty products as well as wining a Bella Beauty award in 2015. This is their original 20% Shea formula, and while it does make your hands feel soft and moisturised with minimal grease, I really don't like the smell, it's sort of like baby talc powder. I prefer their Jasmine version.
Purchase? This one, no, but I would buy others in the range.


Kenzo Flower in the Air EDP
This perfume smells floral and sweet, however there is a hint of fruit (raspberries) and pink pepper that stop it being too sweet. I tend to go for fruity scents and steer away from sweet floral scents. The raspberries gives it a fruity feel, but more in a sweet way rather than the fresh, light feel of apples in DKNY Be Delicious or other citrus-y perfumes. The top notes are raspberry and pink pepper, the middle notes are floral including rose, magnolia and gardenia. The base note is white musk. This sample is actually a EDP which is unusual since most perfume samples are more often EDT. The scent was strong for the first hour but it did fade through the day. Around 8 hours later I could just about smell the scent on my wrists but no-none else would be able to.
Purchase? I haven't fallen in love with this scent and I would have to in order to spend £51+ on it for the EDP. The EDT is cheaper at around the £30 mark but again this is not a 'must have' for me.


everyday minerals soft bronzer swatch

Everyday Minerals Face Soft Bronzer 
I got this free with a brush I bought from Everyday Minerals. I think the 'soft' in the name refers to a soft, subtle warming bronzer for light skin tones. It's a pinky orange shade that probably won't show on medium and dark skin tones. On my hand it's close to my skin tone  but on my face it is a very subtle and more orange than brown (I'm roughly Mac NC25/BB warm sand/Estee Lauder intensity one.)  I applied it over liquid foundation and again on moisturised bare skin but it didn't look good either way.
Purchase? No. It's too orange and doesn't really show up. To be honest I'd suit a darker shade.


L'oreal Elvive Nutrigloss Luminiser High Shine Shampoo
I have fallen in love the scent of this shampoo, it's very fresh and floral. This shampoo is labelled as a 'high shine shampoo' that uses glycogel shine sealer technology to resurface the hair fibres of impurities that disrupt light reflection and help seal the cuticles, coating hair with a weightless gloss. Typically for a shampoo that promises smooth (and therefore shiny) hair it does contain silicon (dimethicone) but is is free of MI (Methylchloroisothiazolinone)  MCI (Methylisothiazoline) preservatives that can cause an contact dermatitis allergic reaction and nerve damage. My hair was shiny after using this shampoo but because I have straight thick dark hair almost all shampoos make my hair shiny. As promised it didn't weight my hair down but I still needed to wash my hair the next day as it didn't control my oily hair.
Purchase? Probably not because it didn't control my greasy hair as well as my regular Pantene shampoo. But it would be good for other hair types- such as normal or dry hair.

L'oreal Elvive Smooth & Polish perfecting Shampoo
This shampoo contains Keratin-polish to make hair smooth, control flyaways and calm static. The camellia extract also makes hair soft. As well as keratin it contains Silicon (Amodimethicone) but is MI (methylisothiazolinone) and MCI (Methylchloroisothiazolinone) free. The shampoo has a pleasant fresh floral scent (although I preferred the nutri gloss the most.) It left my hair smooth and shiny but as I said earlier that often happens with most shampoos. My hair does feel a little softer and did not get greasy until the evening of second day hair which is as good as my current Pantene shampoo. It does benefit from using a conditioner with it though as I noticed some frizz and my hair was a little drier using this.
Purchase? Yes. I would say it's best for oily hair, this is going on my shopping list, paired with a good conditioner this should be great.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Freedom Pro Strobe Palette & Pro Strobe Cream Review

Freedom Makeup is a budget beauty brand created by the same people behind the popular and successful Makeup Revolution. I was lucky enough to win this in a competition on Georgina's blog She Might Be Loved.

The Freedom Pro Strobe palette is sleek and compact, making it travel friendly with a good sized mirror and a brush to boot! I'm really impressed with the colours, there's not a sight of glitter or orange bronzer to be seen and the powders are finely milled. There are 6 shades, 3 highlight colours and 3 contour colours.

The contour shade in the largest pan is an ashy brown perfect for mimicking shadows and faking chiseled cheekbones. The middle shade is a warm brown which is great for bronzing and is also the darkest shade in the palette which is great for skin tones on the darker side of medium. The final contour shade is a pale brown which would suit lighter skin tones or those who like their contouring to look very subtle. Despite being lighter than the other shades it still shows up on my NC25 skin.

Surprisingly for a palette called 'Pro Strobe' there is only one shimmer highlighter and the other two highlighters are matte. The biggest highlighter pan comes in a shimmer finish, a pinky-silver shade and it gives such a lovely glow and highlights really well. This shade who be good for those with cool skin tones. I have a warmer skin tone and tend to suit more golden shades. There's also a yellow and beige highlighter. I have used the yellow highlighter to set my under eye concealer. The matte highlight shades could be used to 'bake' highlighted areas.

I was really happy that a brush came with the palette, I had a similar shaped Illamasqua one which fell apart and needs gluing. The brush is fairly small (about 14.5cm long including the handle) the same size as the palette, but it's far from useless. The brush head is oval shaped and so soft and dense. I found short strokes worked best and it seemed be better for placing the powder across on the cheek bone and using another brush to blend it (I used Zoeva's 110 face brush to blend.)  I did use the Freedom brush to apply contour along my forehead by dipping powder on one side of the brush and then turned the brush over and used this cleaner side to do the blending.

The powders are long lasting lasting about 6-7 hours on my combination skin. This palette would suit light to medium skin tones, any darker and the contour shades wouldn't show up. This palette is good value for money with 3 contour shades, 3 highlighter shades and a brush for £10.  However I would describe this is as a contour palette rather than a 'strobe' palette because there is only one shimmer shade that gives that dewy, glowing strobe effect. Nevertheless I totally recommend this palette- you get a lot for your buck and the powders are very long wearing!

Onto Freedom's Pro-Strobe Cream. Packaging wise I like the holographic label and the silver cap. The packaging is practical and won't leak if you pop it into your bag.  Freedom claims this cream gives 'a subtle and natural illumination and highlight to the skin.' You can wear it to highlight on top of your makeup to highlight certain areas or wear it all over as an illuminating base. The consistency is like a body lotion and it smells like amaretto (almonds.)

I used this over my foundation. Freedom recommends to use your fingers to apply this cream.  On application it starts off as a white lotion with a hint of pink, and while rubbing into the skin you get this glowy silver-pink dewy highlight. However after about 10 minutes it sinks into the skin and the effect becomes very, very subtle. So just be aware that the full power highlight disappears quickly, leaving a faint trace of colour and becomes more in keeping with the natural look. Unfortunately the Pro-Strobe cream seemed to irritate my sensitive skin. On the whole I think there are better liquid highlighters out there that make more of an impact rather than fizzling out as this seemed to. My Verdict: Priced at £8 I don't think it's worth the money; very disappointing, save those pennies instead.

Pro Strobe palette is available at TAM Beauty  priced at £10 and the Pro strobe cream is £8.
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