Monday, 16 May 2016

The oil cleansing method

I promised a post on the oil cleansing method following my review of Kick Start Coconut Oil. And it's something that often seems more than a little surprising.

Oil, you say? I've heard of putting oil on my body, or even on my hair, but isn't putting oil on my face kind of gross?
And I already have oily skin as it is - won't this make it worse?
Cleansing with oil sounds messy and complicated!
Even if I do decide to do it, what type of oil should I use? I've heard that essential oils should be diluted and that you need to be careful with putting them on your face...

Time to debunk the myths, explain the method, choose your oil, and enjoy the effects. 

It sounds counterproductive, but putting oil onto already oily skin will actually do some good. The skin overproduces oil when the body thinks (rightly or wrongly) that it is undernourished. By letting it know that actually, it has enough (thanks to the natural oils you are putting on your face!) the skin scales its production of your body's natural oils right back to ultimately create a more balanced complexion. Naturally, the oil cleansing method also helps to hydrate dry, mature and combination skin types too.

So what is the method itself? Sometimes when you read about it online, it can sound overly complicated, but in the end you only need two steps:

1. Put oil onto your face. The easiest way of doing this is by putting the oil into a pump-action bottle (just clean the tube regularly with hot water to stop it from getting clogged) and pushing the pump down once to get enough oil out. If you are using a pot or bottle, you can always scoop with a spatula or pour (carefully!) into your hands before massaging the oil onto your face. (Got more oil than you need? Doesn't matter! Massage into your hands, neck, decolleté and arms too - you should moisturise everywhere anyway for maximum anti-ageing benefits.) The massaging action itself has benefits in terms of, say, your circulation - but what you really want to happen is for the oil to break down dirt, grime and makeup.

2. Wipe the oil off your face using a tissue or cotton pad. I normally go round twice, wiping with both sides of the cotton pad. Don't worry about getting off every last trace - part of the advantage of cleansing with oil is that the oil also serves as a moisturiser once you've wiped off any dirt that's accumulated during the day.

If I've been wearing makeup, I usually do this twice - once to get rid of the makeup and once to cleanse my face properly.

So what type of oil should you use for all of this? It's true that essential oils are highly concentrated and you need to be careful with them - so don't do anything silly like putting neat tea tree oil all over your face. However, you can also mix oils - so do feel free to put a few drops of any essential oil that helps you (e.g. lavender for sleep, or eucalyptus for healing) into your base oil. But what should this base oil be? Some of the most commonly-used are listed below:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Argan oil
  • Rosehip oil

Of course the oil can also be used as a hair mask and body moisturiser, so no matter what oil you use, it's a great multi-purpose product.

Obviously some of these oils will cost more than others, some will be more easily available than others, and some will work better for you than others (so do tinker with the type and balance of oils, as well as the frequency of use, before abandoning the idea completely). So it's a trial and error process - and if all else fails, make sure you've chosen a food grade/organic oil so that you can at least cook with it.

If you don't fancy making your own bespoke mixture, lots of facial, hair and body oils already exist that you can buy straight off the shelf - ranging from the bargainous Miaroma (around £3 from Holland and Barrett) and Dove, to the luxurious MoroccanOil, Decléor and Jo Malone, via the midrange oils by Wella, Fushi, Weleda and the Body Shop.

Oil cleansing is a method I've only recently begun to try, and I'm seeing good results so far - so do give it a go if you're feeling at a loss! The starting point could be right there in your kitchen.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Kick Start Coconut Oil

RRP: from £12

--What does the promo say?--
"Kick Start Organic Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil is pure virgin coconut oil from Sri Lanka. Kick Start Organic Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil has not been hydrogenated, bleached, refined or deodorised. It comes from the finest coconut palms on the west coast of Sri Lanka, which are grown using traditional farming methods and no pesticides. It is cold pressed and filtered in modern, hygienic conditions in Sri Lanka – from crop to shop. The large 920g tub is an economical and environmentally friendly way of buying Kick Start Organic Cold Pressed  Virgin Coconut Oil. This large tub will keep you going for longer and offers excellent value for money, the foil seal and screw top lid will ensure that your virgin coconut oil will remain fresh. Kick Start Organic Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil  has organic certification from three separate bodies: Soil Association, USDA Organic, and Control Union. Produced from the pick of the palms in Sri Lanka, the palms have been specifically planted and nurtured carefully to meet the strict criteria and high quality that you require. The coconuts are grown in the west of Sri Lanka and to the north of the capital, Colombo, and are traditionally harvested and cold pressed."

--Packaging--
The black and red colour scheme on a white background, with a preponderance of capital letters, is unisex and punchy, and as mentioned, the foil seal and screw-top lid do help to keep the product fresh. However, while tubs do enable minimal wastage, they're not the most practical in terms of scooping the oil out and making sure none gets on the side of the pot - a pump action bottle would be far more practical and hygienic. 

--Application--
How you use this depends on what you've been using it for; as you can probably see from my tags, I've been using it for basically everything. First of all, to remove makeup or cleanse skin, just rub onto the face directly with your hands before wiping off with a cotton pad or tissue. Any excess can be rubbed into your hands and cuticles, or onto other areas of your body. If there's any left on your face, it doesn't matter, as it's an excellent moisturiser. If using this as a hair mask, run the oil through dry hair and cover your pillow with a towel so that you can sleep with the oil in your hair overnight before shampooing it out in the morning.

--Scent--
A full, natural and unadulterated coconut smell; sweet without being overpowering.

--Appearance--
White and waxy when stored below 18°C. It begins to melt from this temperature upwards and by the time it reaches 24°C it turns into a transparent oil, which leaves no visible residue on the skin or hair.

--Texture and consistency--
As mentioned, it depends on the temperature at which you keep it - so, waxy or oily. However, it absorbs reasonably quickly into body skin and is easy to wash out of hair after using it as a hair mask. Go easy with it if you're using it as a facial moisturiser, though, as it can leave skin looking a bit shiny if you use too much.

--Effects on the body--
An excellent moisturiser for face and body, with facial skin in particular seeing fewer spots and generally looking less angry. (You'd think that using oil on already oily skin would make the situation worse, but it actually doesn't. Post on the oil cleansing method coming soon!) As a hair mask it's equally good, helping to detangle, defrizz and condition hair. It also removes makeup very well.

--Value for money--
With the website offering discounts for buying 2 or 3 pots, as well as upgrading to the bigger 920g pot, you can really spend as much or as little as you like, and watch the value soar when buying in bulk. However, one 460g pot costs a very reasonable £12 for the quantity and quality of the product that you receive. Mine was free, but I would definitely pay this as it's such a fabulous multi-use product (and I haven't even started on the fact that it's food grade too and you can therefore cook with it - look out for an upcoming post on my food blog soon!) that works well on hair, face, hands and body - and it's ethically sourced into the bargain. Bravo!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

17 Skin Wow Concealer

RRP: £4.99
# of shades available: 2

--What does the promo say?--
"SEVENTEEN Skin Wow Concealer does it all! Apply under the eyes to cover and reduce the appearance of dark circles and brighten the skin under your eyes. Leave your skin looking more healthy, more radiant and more luminous!Why not try it for strobing too? Skin Wow Concealer highlights your cheekbones, brow bones and cupid's bow! Give skin a WOW!"

--Packaging--
The gold pen-style packaging is elegant and reminiscent of Yves Saint Laurent's classic Touche Eclat - right down to the brushstroke tip and the push-down button that releases more product. So while pretty, it's not original - but does at least work well.

--Application--
After applying primer and foundation, dot over any blemishes that are still visible before blending in (firstly with the brush tip, and then with your finger if needed). As mentioned in the promotional materials, you can also use it to lessen the effect of under-eye circles (although as I am rubbish at strobing and contouring/don't see the point, I haven't tried it for this purpose!).

--Appearance--
Luckily, I was sent the lightest shade, as requested of 17's PR. This blended in perfectly, covered blemishes reasonably well, and matched my skin tone; however, with only 2 shades available, I doubt this would be the case for everyone, so I'd definitely recommend testing in-store first.

--Scent--
Nothing discernible really - so no need to worry if you're sensitive to overly-perfumed products.

--Texture and consistency--
As mentioned, this is smooth and blends in well. 

--Longevity--
Despite good initial results at the beginning of the day, I'm not convinced that this is robust enough to last all day once applied. At least the pen design means it's easy to slip this into your handbag for on-the-go touchups.

--Value for money--
At £4.99 this is priced reasonably (comparing favourably to other market leaders such as L'Oreal, Bourjois and Rimmel) and value increases thanks to Boots' regular special offers. It's elegant, convenient, smooth to apply, and matches my skin tone well (but with only 2 shades available this won't be true for all), so there's not a lot to dislike. It just needs to last a little longer so that it can stand up to my long working days - although possibly using it with partner products (listed below) might remedy this.

perfect partners
Skin Wow Primer, £5.99
Instant Glow Skin Wow Tan, £5.99

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Essie x Diet Coke

You know summer's definitely around the corner when you find yourself desperately reaching for a glass of something cold and realising that you should really sort your nails out.

Luckily, Essie and Diet Coke have collaborated to kill two birds with one stone: until May 24th, 2016, you can buy a 500ml bottle of Diet Coke and an Essie nail varnish in Cocktail Bling, Fiji, or Fishnet Stockings for only £5.99 at Boots. 

And what's more, Diet Coke has other tips for keeping your nails ice-cool, such as plunging your freshly-painted nails into a bowl of ice-cold water, keeping nail polish in the fridge for easier application, or even using a rolled-up Diet Coke label to create an ombré effect on your nails.

This all means there's more than one way to cool off this summer, with a nail shade for everyone and a refreshing beverage into the bargain. Cheers!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Rose and Co Rose Petal Salve

RRP: £3.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Our celebrated salve is packaged in a beautiful pink ointment tin and remains our best-selling product. A fabulous lip salve and also helpful for dry patches and rough skin, there seems to be no end to the uses of this magical little balm."

--Packaging--
The delicate pink and black colour scheme of the tin will appeal to girly girls as well as potentially those with a more Gothic side. The line drawings of flowers are creative and beautiful, and add a further sense of whimsy and quirkiness. The tin itself closes securely, while being easy to open when needed.

--Application--
Apply to any area of your body that needs a bit of TLC: lips, elbows, knees, cuticles... Be warned, though: a little goes a long way!

--Appearance--
While the salve initially looks a bit lurid in the tin, as it is a very bright pink, this effect disappears on application, with no staining (or indeed colouration of any kind) occurring.

--Scent--
Matches the rose imagery perfectly, although may be a little sweet for some.

--Texture and consistency--
Soaks into skin beautifully, and is soft without being oily or greasy.

--Effects on the skin--
This balm is non-irritating and will soothe any dry areas of skin with continued use. I would love a body lotion and foot cream so that I could easily harness this magic for the areas of my body that suffer most, over larger areas than this tin is designed for.

--Value for money--
At a mere £3.99 this does an excellent job using natural ingredients, and won't break the bank either. Very few all-purpose beauty balms retail in this budget bracket, so I'd advise hopping to it and getting yourself one ASAP (and at this price you can afford to get one for female friends and family, too!). I was sent mine by Rose & Co's lovely PR, but would definitely splash out my own cash for this handbag-friendly beauty.

perfect partners
Rose Petal Lip Balm, £3.00
Rose Petal Hand Cream, £5.00

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Native Unearthed Natural Crystal Deodorant


RRP: £6.49
# of varieties available: 4 (mangosteen, aloe, curcuma and natural)

--What does the promo say?--
"How do our Crystal Deodorants prevent odour?- By leaving an invisible layer of natural minerals on your underarms which works around the clock to prevent the build up of odour causing bacteria. Better still, whilst preventing odour, our natural deodorants don’t clog pores like normal deodorants. Instead, our deodorants still allow your body to continue it’s normal course of eliminating toxins from the body whilst providing round the clock protection. Choose Native, Choose confidence."

--Packaging--
The pinky-purple packaging of the mangosteen deodorant that I was kindly sent gives the product a delicate feel as well as perfectly reflecting the colour of the mangosteen fruit itself. It capitalises mainly on strong lettering and a modern, edgy spiral design that simultaneously seems to reflect the idea of plants growing abundantly, making it seem new and different to other deodorants on the market. The twist-up mechanism is of course familiar to users due to its usage in existing mass-market products, and the clear lid shows you exactly how the product looks before buying.

--Usage--
Run the crystal under some water before rubbing it underneath your dry underarms. No need to rinse off. Wait until it dries (no more time than your usual deodorant) before getting dressed.

--Appearance--
The crystal itself is a pale off-coral, pinkish colour, although the other varieties reflect their ingredients with their respective colours (green for aloe, yellow for curcuma and white for natural). When applied wet under your arms, it goes on invisibly and this does not change when the deodorant dries. Bonus: no white marks on clothing, either!

--Scent--
Surprisingly, none. This, along with the invisible appearance, can make you question whether or not it is really working! But stick with it :-)

--Texture and consistency--
Goes on smooth and wet and dries smooth too, with no graininess resulting once the deodorant dries.

--Effects on the skin--
No irritation, and it works as effectively as, if not more so than, high street deodorants. Great work!

--Value for money--
At £6.49, this is clearly more expensive than high street deodorants (similarly-priced deodorants can be purchased from brands such as Davidoff, Christina Aguilera and Pierre Cardin). However, it competes well with the natural deodorant market, with deodorants by Weleda, lavera and Green People all retailing similarly. I was also sceptical initially as I had tested another natural deodorant in the past, to poor results. However, with this I was pleasantly surprised: not only does it work very well, and leave no white marks on clothing, but there isn't the wastage that you would get with a spray (or even some roll-ons, where you seem to get more on your clothes than your body). Would definitely recommend :-)

Friday, 6 May 2016

Diptyque Infused Facial Water

RRP: £35

--What does the promo say?--
"This water, enriched with Damask rose hydrosol, infused with nasturtium and a blend of nine traditional plants and flowers, is also bursting with the vitamins, minerals, and moisturizers skin needs, preparing your face for the next skincare step it so deserves."

--Packaging--
My sample was in a small white tube with the classic black diptyque logo, but the full-size version appears to come in a transparent bottle, which I always prefer as I like to see how much product I have left. Equally, the pump-action mechanism is better for ensuring minimum wastage.

--Application--
Mix with the Radiance Boosting Powder for a perfect cleansing paste, or pump onto a cotton pad for toning post-cleansing. The diptyque website also says you can use it to rinse off your cleanser instead of water, but this seems a bit extravagant to me.

--Appearance--
It appears orange in the bottle, but I didn't actually notice it having any particular colour during usage - either on the cotton pad or on the face. No visible residue remains, at any rate.

--Scent--
Perhaps the rose is most dominant of all the lovely things it contains, but it's nicely balanced with the orange to create a scent that's still bright as well as floral.

--Texture and consistency--
Light, non-grainy, and non-irritating.

--Effects on the skin--
Cleanses effectively in conjunction with the radiance boosting powder or alone after washing your face. Skin feels smooth and moisturised after use, before you've even touched the diptyque moisturiser itself.

--Value for money--
Expensive, but worth it - especially as part of the deluxe face care gift set. Packed full of goodness to improve your skin while simultaneously being a luxurious, fragrant delight. Simply divine.

perfect partners (click the links for reviews!)
Radiance Boosting Powder, £38
Protective Moisturising Lotion, £44
Deluxe Face Care Gift Set, £48

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleansing Wipes

RRP: £3.99

--What does the promo say?--
"Introducing NEW Neutrogena Visibly Clear® Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleansing Wipes, specially formulated to help prevent blemishes.
Each ultra-soft wipe clears dirt, excess oil and make-up to help to prevent breakouts without overdrying skin. The invigorating pink grapefruit fragrance uplifts the senses and gives skin a burst of freshness."

--Packaging--
The bright pink colour is uplifting and unusual, and the resealable flap closes securely for travel, even when the pack has been open for a while.

--Application--
Sweep over face to remove makeup, and then again to cleanse. One wipe is sufficient for both of these actions.

--Appearance--
The white wipe unfolds when you have extracted it from the packet, and is soaked in a transparent liquid solution that helps to dissolve makeup and clean off any excess dirt and oil. No visible residue is left on the skin.

--Scent--
A zesty pink grapefruit that acts as a real pick-me-up.

--Texture and consistency--
The wipes are sufficiently robust to remove both makeup and excess grime, and even when used thoroughly on both sides, they do not tear or stretch. Result.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin is not only thoroughly cleaned but looks calm and feels nicely refreshed as well as moisturised - so have no fear of these being too abrasive or stripping the skin of natural oils (which we all need to a certain degree!). Over time, an improvement in overall skin condition (i.e. reduction in spots) can also be noticed.

--Value for money--
At £3.99 these hardly break the bank, and some retailers regularly have special offers on Neutrogena too (such as buy one, get one free) to increase value further. Not only are they inexpensive, but they are also convenient, work well, and add that extra zing to your skincare routine. Brilliant.

perfect partners (click the links for reviews!)
Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Daily Scrub, £4.69

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Diptyque Radiance Boosting Powder

RRP: £38 for 40g

--What does the promo say?--
"Natural white clay powder, which purifies and remineralizes skin, is combined with powdered rose, jasmine, and neroli petals to hydrate. With a splash of water, Radiance Boosting Powder turns into a creamy lather that leaves skin clean and clear, ready for the next steps in your skincare ritual."

--Packaging--
My sample from Diptyque's PR arrived in a convenient travel sachet, whereas the full-size version appears to come in a bottle, which seems a little bizarre but will hopefully minimise wastage compared to, say, a pot with a wide opening. The black and white colour scheme is minimalist and unisex, and the botanical logo is both beautiful and informative, summing up the diptyque philosophy inherent in its plant-based products.

--Application--
Place approximately half a teaspoon into your cupped palm and rub in enough toner (diptyque's, or your own preference) to make a paste that's thick enough to massage into your skin. This can be left on for a while and used as a mask, or wiped off immediately with a wet flannel. This was fun to do and surprisingly efficient - no powder all over your bathroom :)

--Appearance--
The white powder becomes a slightly grainy paste when mixed with fluid, but leaves no visible residue on the skin.

--Scent--
Despite the essential oils of orange, neroli and jasmine, the clay itself was the overriding scent.

--Texture and consistency--
The powder gels into a spreadable paste easily upon contact with liquid and does not go runny and insipid easily. As mentioned, this has a slightly exfoliating effect, but is non-irritating and is easily rinsed off.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin appears calmed and more matte while simultaneously increasing in radiance. The use of salicylic acid in the product also meant I saw an improvement in my acne while using it - win :)

--Value for money--
While expensive, it remains an affordable luxury - particularly given that a mere two grams of this product lasted me around a week, and probably would have lasted even longer if I'd tried hard (I was not sparing with the powder!). This means the 40g in the bottle would last 20 weeks minimum (around 5 months) if used every day. It's an extremely high quality product which gave me rapid results, mattifying my skin and just generally making it less red and angry. Would recommend.

perfect partners (click for reviews!)
Infused Facial Water, £35
Protective Moisturising Lotion, £44
Deluxe Face Care Gift Set, £48

Saturday, 30 April 2016

This Works Deep Sleep Stress Less

RRP: £12 for 10ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Clears your head so you can breathe more deeply and stress less. this works Deep Sleep Stress Less is a soothing natural remedy to help you breathe more easily and calm your senses promoting a better nights sleep. Refreshing eucalyptus cleanses, invigorates and helps to counter physical and mental fatigue. Frankincense essential oil acts as an antiseptic to help fight infections and to help you relax physically and mentally whilst rejuvenating the skin. Lavender oil is the most effective oil in helping hypertension, nervous tension and insomnia. this works Deep Sleep Stress Less is a multi-purpose aromatherapy blend that can be used anytime to de-stress or at night-time to help promote a restful sleep."

--Packaging--
A soothing blue and white colour scheme fits well with the purpose of the product, and the minimalist design also fits well with this works' general aesthetic. The roller ball design is convenient, secure and easy to use, making it handy for travel too.

--Application--
Roll onto pressure points, such as your wrists and neck, as well as chest area, to enable inhalation of the essential oils' vapours throughout the night. Can also be rolled onto tissues.

--Appearance--
A clear oily liquid that leaves no visible residue.

--Scent--
The lavender is the most obvious essential oil in this blend, but it's counterbalanced well by the eucalyptus in particular, which would also make it a good choice to help you sleep when you have a cold. I love a good multi-use product :)

--Texture and consistency--
While it is of course oily, it rubs well into skin and won't stain bed linen or nightclothes. 

--Effects--
Will not irritate skin during use, so great even for sensitive skin types. I am a perennial insomniac, so my experiences will obviously always vary, but I would definitely say that it has a calming effect and can aid sleep. As mentioned, it's also excellent for other purposes (e.g. helping you breathe more easily during coughs and colds).

--Value for money--
While it appears on the expensive side, this is made with high-quality essential oils and one bottle would last you a long time. Equally, it's not much for a multi-use product (which I was sent for free by this works' lovely PR) whose ingredients are proven to help you destress, sleep better and even decongest. As we know, a good night's sleep is not called beauty sleep for nothing! Would recommend :)

perfect partners
Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, from £16
Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle, £25
Deep Sleep Night Oil, £25
Deep Sleep Dream Cream, £18
Deep Sleep Body Therapy, £20
Deep Sleep Bath Oil, £80