Sunday, 29 September 2019

Should teenage girls wear makeup?

I try to read a variety of media, and while the Times and Financial Times are mainstays, I also read the Guardian regularly, and from time to time reactivate a free trial of the Telegraph. In the latter, I recently read Annabel Jones' 'Should teenage girls wear makeup? I think it's fine - and here's why' - and I tend to agree with her.

I started playing with makeup in the pre-teen years: when I was 11 or 12.

Puberty is starting younger and younger - I started my periods a month after my twelfth birthday and developed acne at the age of 10. This is also now happening to even younger girls, due to environmental factors such as diet. So if you do have acne, it's natural that your self-confidence would feel dented - and even though I do see the argument of letting the skin get some air (and even as an adult ensure I have at least two makeup-free days a week), I also think a bit of concealer does more good than harm (especially if, like I was, you are also bullied). This is one of the first points made by the Telegraph's beauty editor also.

I would probably just go for a lighter mineral concealer, rather than the cheap stick foundations and concealers that I used to slather on, which were quite thick and cakey. ELF does good affordable ones that will cover blemishes while allowing skin to breathe.

I also used to love messing around with nail varnishes with my cousin, and would argue that such experiences are good for bonding - though this is also an argument for cheap clothes and nail polishes, as well as plenty of nail varnish remover, as chances are it will go everywhere! I didn't have a particular favourite brand, but used to go for the classics that pervade the aisles at Boots and Superdrug - Maybelline, 17, and so on. I was mainly about the colours, rather than brands, and especially all about the glitter, for which Barry M is a good choice. It also teaches you about science - namely, not to use nail varnish remover to clean up accidentally spilled nail polish from the top of a plastic TV casing...

Experimenting with eyeshadows - especially pink glittery ones - was another favourite pursuit, and as well as being just plain fun, helps you to see what colours suit you so that you can develop a sophisticated style long-term. I wouldn't be so keen on pink glittery eyeshadows now, but would go for dark purples, blues, browns, metallics or even greens to highlight my grey eyes.

This argument is even more persuasive when it comes to foundation. While young skin doesn't specifically need it, there are plenty of lighter foundations available, as well as tinted moisturisers, and even BB creams, which didn't exist when I was an adolescent but are a great option for teen skin, not just for breathability but also their other functions (such as SPF). I wouldn't recommend cheaper options in this case - even now, I'd say investing in the base is everything so as to not damage your skin. Furthermore, more expensive brands tend to have a wider range of shades available, meaning you have a greater chance of a good-looking result. It's perhaps more important and higher-stakes than you might think to get this right at a young-ish age - I went for my first job interview when I was 15, and who wants to go with a massive tide mark along the jaw line because the shade isn't right? It's a good lesson for young people too: if you want to wear makeup, then look professional. While quite a few of the cheaper high street brands have upped their game since I was trying out foundations for the first time, most still have their 'palest' shade pitched either too dark or too orange - so I would recommend trading up. Try Lily Lolo for mineral foundations that are kind to acneic skin.

Even though I started wearing makeup at a young age, I'm forever grateful to my (otherwise strict!) parents for their laissez-faire attitudes regarding this. Annabel Jones mentions in her article about picking your battles and not restricting the amount or type of makeup your teen wears - and I tend to agree, as doing the opposite would only breed resentment. It's something your teen has to work out for themselves - and, as I have mentioned above, in their own time (and plenty of it).

As she also mentions, good skincare routines and products are vital too. Steer clear of the cheap and artificial as far as possible - brands like Lush, Zao, Couleur Caramel, and Lamazuna are environmentally friendly too. Conversely, don't be afraid to seek prescription products if really needed for teen skin conditions.

Annabel Jones' most important comment though, is that makeup is about enhancing - not disguising - who you really are. And that, for teenage girls who may be feeling more insecure by the day, is crucial.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Yes to COCONUT Ultra-hydrating moisturising coconut oil stick

product photo
RRP: £9.99

--What does the promo say?--

“Yes to going (coco) nuts for coconut oil and this first ever, do-it-all moisturising miracle in a stick, which is a clean, easy, mess-free way to apply it. It can be used on the face, body or anywhere you need extra hydration. It has a non-greasy texture and melts on contact with the skin. Consider this your holy grail of head-to-toe hydration, especially when on-the-go.”


The product is in a wide stick dispenser, with a clear, screwtop lid and a twist-up mechanism at the bottom.  Of course, as with so many beauty products these days, it is a ‘single-use plastic’ and needs to be recycled. Attractive and eye-catching, it has a brown and white label with golden coconuts on it and a wide gold band around the lid.  Full instructions can be found on the back of the label. The advantage of a moisturiser in a stick is that no matter how much of the product is used, the stick will always stand neatly in your bathroom, unlike tubes which tend to topple over when nearly empty.  It is also a handy travel size and would fit into your handbag if you wanted to re-moisturise during the day whilst at work. As on all Yes To packaging, "Literally, front and centre on all our products you’ll find our seal showing each and every product contains at least 95% NATURAL INGREDIENTS." (See their mission statement on their website for more!)


Designed to be mess-free, this way of applying moisturiser is unique and highly successful.  You simply swipe it across the areas you wish to moisturise. I found that one swipe the length of my arm enabled me to moisturise virtually my entire arm (I do have quite thin arms though!).  The product spreads even further once you have applied it. It is definitely a clean and mess-free way to apply moisturiser as you do not have to rub it in if you do not wish to.
A thick, opaque, creamy-looking solid stick. Once on, it leaves your skin with a wonderful silky shimmer after application.  It looks great on tanned legs too. A finishing touch for going out on a summer evening.
Delicious and unmistakable.  Great if you like coconuts! Reminiscent of suntan lotion - though others may find it overpowering and sweet.
--Texture and consistency--
The texture is thick and creamy. Silky on application and non-greasy, as promised.
--Effects on the skin--
This moisturiser is a WOW for dry skin.  Lines and dryness disappear completely. Some people may find it rather too shiny and thick on the face but on the body it is just what dry skin needs.
--Value for money--
Compared to other products on the market, Yes To products are extremely well-priced.  You need to bear in mind, though, that you probably need to buy these sticks more frequently than you would buy a large tube or pot of moisturiser, especially if you are using it over your entire face and body - my satisfaction with the quality of this product has meant that I am already on my second stick.
perfect partners
Yes to Coconut 2-step lip kit, £4.99
Yes to Coconut Ultra-hydrating paper mask, £2.99
Yes to Coconut Ultra-hydrating Micellar cleansing water, £6.99
Yes to Coconut naturally smoothing lip balm, £3.79
Yes to Coconuts Coconut oil cleansing balm, £9.99
Yes to Coconuts Energising Coffee 2-in-1 scrub and cleanser stick, £9.99
Yes to Coconuts Energising Coffee super eye mask, £2.99

by Sarah Cross

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Petrolhead by ByKathryn

RRP: £35 for 15ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Our PETROLHEAD perfume packs a punch and empowers you to Write Your Own Rules: Fearless and modern, vivaciously bold. Live life on your terms!
Jo Polley, racing driver, is our PETROLHEAD perfume Ambassador. We are so excited to be headline sponsor for her Mini 7 S Class for the 2019 racing season. Jo simply embodies our PETROLHEAD vibe.
Designed to be taken with you PETROLHEAD comes in a hand luggage sized 15ml perfume spray bottle in colourful eye catching packaging to keep your perfume at peak performance."
I received a 2ml sample/travel size from ByKathryn's PR - thanks for your generosity! So mine took the form of a glass tube around the size of my pinky, with a spray top, and encased in a paper sleeve decorated with an iridescent oil design. Very attractive by all accounts that gives a good impression of the brand's packaging overall.
Spritz onto pulse points such as behind the ears, onto the wrists and - one random one I heard lately - behind your knees. You can also spray the air and then step into the fragrance so that it spreads more evenly over your hair and clothes for an overall effect.
The liquid appears mildly yellow in the bottle, but leaves no visible residue on skin or clothes.
The notes on ByKathryn's website describe this fragrance as having citrus in the top notes, jasmine and woody scents at its heart, and a spicy, almost oriental base. 
I love jasmine (it appears in some of my favourite perfumes) but I felt it to be overridden by the woody notes (the website says conifer), making this fragrance a little too masculine for my taste.
I would describe this perfume as leathery and smoky - definitely great for making a unique first impression and without doubt living up to the product description: fearless, bold, vivacious and modern.
Despite the fragrance not being truly what I would normally go for (preferring fresher, sparklier scents), I was genuinely impressed by the staying power of this one, compared to many other lesser-quality perfumes whose scents fade away much more quickly over the course of the day. I could still smell this on myself by the end of the morning and I am told it was still detectable by the time I went to bed at night as well - so I would say it lasts at least 12 hours.
--Value for money--
This was a little tricky to compare as 15ml isn't actually a usual perfume bottle size; most are available in 30ml, 50ml, and 100ml bottles. So comparing to bottles that are around £70 for 30ml, or £110 for 50ml (as opposed to ByKathryn's £35 for 15ml), this is priced equally to high-end brands such as Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, and Ralph Lauren. I would argue that this is worth it for the quality of fragrance provided, even if I myself would not choose the Petrolhead variant. I would certainly be interested in testing ByKathryn's other fragrance in future, named Padstow Rocks, which promises a more floral scent (accented by citrus notes), and which I think I would prefer. In short, ByKathryn is definitely a brand worthy of your time and money - especially as there are options available for every budget (see below).
perfect partners
Travel Lite Minis, £5
Petrolhead Perfume Sachet, £6.50
Mini Perfume Gift Set, £7
Luxury Perfume Gift Set, £65
Write Your Own Rules accessories pouch, £16.50

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Kalme Skincare Basic Kit

RRP: 39.95GBP

--What does the promo say?--
"The Basic KALME Skin Care Kit contains the Kalme Day Defence SPF25, Kalme Night Cream and Kalme Cleanser.
The Kalme Range is a combination of unique skin care innovations to reduce redness.
Five separate actives work together to nourish, repair and protect you skin.
Derma Sensitive is a natural active from young caper buds. Scientifically shown to create clear and uniform skin tone. It also reduces skin's reactivity and increases feelings of skin comfort and suppleness.
A broad sprectrum Sun Filter SPF25 with UVA & UVB coverage
24 hour moisturisation from a natural plant active keeps your skin supple and comfortable.
A super antioxidant active neutralises free radicals and lowers the oxidative stress on your skin.
Perilla seed extract is a naturally rich source of skin beneifical Omega 3 and Alpha Linolenic Acids."
The green and white packaging reflects its botanical content and the flip top lids are generally practical. However, the day cream is quite runny and often seeps into the lid, so consider storing upside down. Long-term I'd also like to see the recyclability credentials of this packaging increasing.
--Application and usage--
"Suggested regimen for the Kalme skincare pack:
AM: Cleanse with the Kalme Cleanser do not rinse off with water.( If using) first apply Undercoat then the Day Defence SPF25 to whole face, or just Day Defence on its own. If using then apply Kalme Chameleon Concealer to whole face rubbing in gently until the required tone match is achieved. Additional cosmetics can then be applied if required.
PM: Cleanse with the Kalme Cleanser do not rinse off with water.( If using) first apply Undercoat then apply Night Repair Cream, or just the Night Repair Cream on its own."\
This is all very easy to do. It also works fine if you use a damp flannel or muslin to remove the cream cleanser.
All three products are white lotions of varying thicknesses. None leave a visible residue on the face.
All smell fresh and natural.
--Texture and consistency--
The cleanser is very thick, creamy and luxurious, whereas the day defence feels more like a very runny sunscreen. The night repair cream is somewhere in between, feeling more like a normal moisturiser. None are greasy or sticky and the moisturisers absorb well, leaving no residue. The night cream and cleanser especially feel luxurious to use.
--Effects on the skin--
Redness is dramatically reduced, as promised, and I also saw an improvement in my acne. However, I felt like the day defence dried out my skin too much, especially on my neck, so I ended up using an alternative day cream to rectify this. The cleanser also removes makeup effectively (I cleansed twice in order to achieve this), and I love that the day cream contains SPF25 (I can confirm that I did not get sunburnt while out and about with this on!).
--Value for money--
Individually this amounts to just over 13GBP per product, which seems reasonable. This is a significant reduction compared to actually buying the products on their own online (they retail at 14.95GBP-19.95GBP). So the bundle of products is definitely the way forward if you want a complete regimen. I also think it's worth the money in terms of the effectiveness of the cleanser and night cream - though for myself I would give the day cream a miss. Nonetheless, I would recommend the range for anyone with sensitive skin.
perfect partners
Chameleon Concealer SPF20, 19.95GBP
Kalme Skin Care Kit (Full Range), 52.95GBP*
Kalme Undercoat, 9.95GBP
Day Defence Cream+SPF30, 19.95**

*contains all the products from the basic kit plus the concealer - representing a saving of 6.95GBP.
**note that this differs from the SPF25 cream included in the basic and full kits

Sunday, 14 July 2019

FutureYou Vitamin Supplements

Products tested: Co-Enzyme Q10+; Vitamin B Complex+; Vitamin D+; Vitamin K2+; Cranberry+
RRP: from £9 for 28 tablets (1 month's supply)

--What does the promo say?--
"Our range of natural health supplements are scientifically proven to deliver more of what your body needs.  We carry out research to create the highest quality supplements with proven absorption and clinical benefit.
The Company has close ties with Cambridge University and Addenbrooke's Hospital (Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust).

FutureYou's product development is supported by a high-profile medical board including, among others, Professor Alf Lindberg, former head of R&D at Wyeth and Aventis and former member of the Nobel Committee and Secretary of the Medical Prize; Dr Nicholas Shenker, a consultant rheumatologist and expert in chronic pain syndromes at Addenbrooke's Hospital; Mr Peter Kirkpatrick BSc MBCHB MSc FRCS, a leading Cambridge University vascular neurosurgeon and Michael Heinrich, Head of University College London's centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy."

Individual product descriptions can be read at .

All of the vitamins come in compact boxes containing 28 tablets each, in standard foil and plastic casings, making them practical for travel. The tablets are each individually labelled with days of the week on the foil that houses them, making you more likely to remember to take them each day. The images on the boxes clearly illustrate the capsules' content and/or their benefits, using relaxing ideas that evoke both relaxation and good health.

--Usage instructions--
Take one pill per day in all cases.

The fact of the pills coming in different colours is something that can be useful if you are taking more than one type (as you can see from the above, I was taking 5 during my one-month trial, thanks to the kindness of FutureYou's PR department). However, some might find the Day-Glo colours a bit disturbing in some cases: the Vitamin B Complex+, for example, is bright blue. However, they leave no visible residue in the mouth.

--Scent and taste--
None detectable.

--Texture and consistency--
Only mildly plasticky on the tongue - but as you swallow them whole with water, this metric is less relevant.

Addressing each of the supplements in turn:
  • The Co-Enzyme Q10+ has anti-ageing benefits, acting as a strong antioxidant. Your ability to produce this enzyme decreases with age - so to fight the free radicals that cause visible signs of ageing, this is a pretty good one to be putting into your body. Long-term, Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) has also been proved to combat Parkinson's disease, certain forms of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure, leading to health as well as beauty benefits. The paradox of anti-ageing products is that if they're working, then nothing should happen. However, I did receive one compliment on my skin while using this product, which is encouraging. The Vitamin K2+ is also important for anti-ageing.

  • As well as the anti-ageing benefits outlined above, the Cranberry+ capsules have naturally moisturising qualities (by boosting collagen production thanks to a perfect balance of fatty acids: omega 3, 6 and 9), as well as containing enzymes that control excess sebum production. The high levels of vitamins A and C can promote healthy hair, increasing lustrousness and growth. All this could explain why I also received a compliment on my hair during this trial, as well as noticing a visible clearing of my acne.
  • The Vitamin B Complex+ contains a range of B vitamins which bring a whole host of benefits, including those mentioned above. Vitamin B7, biotin, also strengthens hair and nails. I mainly noticed a strenghthening of the nails during the trial period, with them growing more quickly than usual and seeming less weak overall. B12 also helps with this. In addition, B-vitamins reduce skin redness, which is something that I noticed occurring during the trial.
  • Finally, while I was testing the capsules, I got about my third cold in 6 weeks. This I attribute to a perfect storm of going from being at home with my baby for 6 months to returning to work in a school environment (where approximately 1 million children have touched *everything* before you), undertaking a course of sleep restriction therapy, going on a calorie-restricted diet, and my little boy bringing home all kinds of awful from the crèche. So what impressed me was that I got over this third cold MUCH more quickly than the previous two. While this could be down to a number of factors, I also can't ignore that I was taking the Vitamin D+; vitamin D is well-known to help fight disease. It also repairs skin damage faster, and as I'm a person who bruises easily, and whose bruises usually take a long time to fade, I noticed, too, that one recent one cleared up much more quickly than usual.
--Value for money--
The one-time purchase prices are as follows:
Co-Enzyme Q10+, £12 (28 days' supply; 42p per day)
Cranberry+, £14 (56 days' supply; 25p per day)
Vitamin B Complex+, £9 (84 days' supply; 10p per day)
Vitamin D+, £12.50 (84 days' supply; 14p per day)
Vitamin K2+, £19 (28 days' supply; 67p per day)

As you can see, prices vary wildly. Value-wise, I'd be inclined to go for the K2+ myself if purchasing these again with my own money, as it covers many of the same benefits as the Co-Enzyme Q10+ and the Cranberry+ , as well as providing a host of health advantages, for less money overall. I would also consider the B and D packages at times where I noticed weakness that I needed to repair quickly, or times where I thought I might be more vulnerable (such as going into winter).
However, there are ways to save on whichever FutureYou vitamins interest you, either via their Subscribe & Save method, which gives you a discount for signing up for regular deliveries long-term, or by buying one of their bundles. (The Women's Health bundle, for example, costs £44 on a one-time basis and £35 on the subscribe & save package, whereas buying all of the supplements it contains individually would cost you a total of £62.50.) What I would really love to see is a beauty or anti-ageing bundle that would include maximum value for all the vitamins I trialled. FutureYou are doing great work producing high-quality supplements that I would definitely recommend.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Bioglan Beauty Collagen Effervescent Tablets

RRP: £8.99 for 20 tablets (10 days' supply)

--What does the promo say?--
"Bioglan Beauty Collagen Effervescent is specially formulated with readily absorbed hydrolysed Marine Collagen plus carefully selected vitamins and minerals to help support the maintenance of healthy looking hair, skin & nails. Each effervescent provides 500mg of Marine Collagen in a delicious berry drink. Just add 1 tablet to a glass of water or your water bottle to provide a good top up of Collagen levels. Bioglan uses Type I Collagen, which is the most abundant form of Collagen found in the body and the type found in hair, skin and nails. Biotin & Selenium contribute to the maintenance of normal hair. Vitamin C contributes to normal Collagen formation for the normal function of skin. Selenium contributes to the maintenance of normal nails."

The hot pink and navy blue combination against the white background is really eye-catching; the lid also opens easily when you pull, but closes securely when needed. Long-term, though, I'd like to see the company moving away from plastic packaging, for all the obvious environmental reasons.

Dissolve 2 tablets per day in cold water, and drink. This is easy to do. I have one with breakfast and another as a refreshing afternoon cooler (perfect for the current hot weather!).

The tablets are pink and create a pleasing pink fizzy drink that leaves no visible residue on teeth etc.

As promised, the berry flavour of the tablets is really very pleasant, making taking these no hardship.

--Texture and consistency--
The tablets are a little powdery but fizz away completely in the water to create a carbonated-style drink.

This product promises to improve hair, skin and nails. I definitely got a compliment about the condition of my skin while taking these (and while not changing anything else) - so I'd definitely say it works on this front, and that was while taking only one tablet per day. So taking the recommended 2 tablets per day would show even more dramatic results. When I trialled the gummies from the same range, by comparison, I took the maximum dose and saw significant strengthening of my nails during that time. I cannot say I've seen drastic results regarding my hair - but then again, as mentioned, I wasn't taking the maximum dose, so this is hardly a fair assessment. Again, in my review of the gummies, a greater effect was seen when using the product exactly as recommended.

--Value for money--
Much of what I wrote on the review of the gummies remains valid here. Happily, the effervescent tablets are slightly better value for money, at 89p per day when taking the maximum dose (compared to a staggering £1.58 per day for the maximum dose of the gummies). So if I was going to continue, it would likely be with the effervescent tablets: they are easy and pleasant to take, and produce clear results. Would recommend.

perfect partners
Bioglan Beauty Collagen tablets, £22.99 
Bioglan Beauty Collagen powder, £29.99

Friday, 31 May 2019

Skin Doctors Exfoliating Crystals

RRP: £18.99/100ml

--What does the promo say?--

"Skin Doctors present the Exfoliating Crystals; a refining scrub that utilises microencapsulated beads to deliver a powerful exfoliating action, without scratching or damaging skin. Working to buff away dead and dull skin cells, the advanced crystals minimise the appearance of visible pores, wrinkles, pigmentation and uneven skin tone, revealing brighter, smoother results.
Infused with Melaleuca Alternifolia (Australian Tea Tree Oil), known for its anti-bacterial properties, its formula helps treat infections, acne and blemishes so you can experience visibly improved, refreshed and clearer skin with every use. Skin is left radiant and velvety soft. Suitable for use on the face and body."
The monochrome scheme, with a discreet band of silver above the lid, is both sophisticated and unisex. The flip-top lid is practical and easy to use. However, for obvious environmental reasons, it would be appreciated to see the brand moving away from plastic packaging in the future.
Cleanse the face thoroughly and pat dry before rubbing a small amount of the product over the skin. Dust off the crystals with a dry face cloth. Rinse the area thoroughly and then pat dry again. Use 1-2 times a week. All very straightforward.
A white paste/lotion with barely detectable white granular particles. It is emphasised on the Skin Doctors website that these are *not* microbeads (without telling us what they in fact *are*).
The tea tree oil is subtly detectable.
--Texture and consistency--
Satisfyingly scrubby while still feeling moisturising.
--Effects on the skin--
Mattifying and calming in the immediate instance, while improving complexion long term and giving a brightening effect.
--Value for money--
At £18.99 a pop this is in line with other premium brands such as Ren, Clarins, Clinique and Kiehls, and quality-wise compares well with them, producing clear results. Would recommend.

perfect partners
pH Balancing Cleanser, £12.99
Gamma Hydroxy, £41.99

Monday, 29 April 2019

Poppy Sloane Tres Chic Mascara Reformulated

RRP: £15

--What does the promo say?--
"We have listened!  We have now made this more volumising, whilst retaining all the great features of the original formulation, and it is now vegan too.
This smudge proof mascara is fantastic for its waterproof, flake proof and smear proof qualities. Completely coating and tubing your lashes, this mascara is super stylish – there are no fibres as bamboo has been added to give extra volume and avoid a mess with the added bonus of being anti-microbial – good for eye health. It is easily removed with plenty of water and a little bit of friction. No special makeup removers are required and it’s best not to use makeup wipes or cotton wool/pads – just water and your fingers or a flannel.
  • Want to open up your eyes? Tres Chic mascara lengthens and volumises with a great curling and lifting effect with fantastic lash definition
  • This waterproof mascara is made entirely in the UK. It is not tested on animals and is now completely vegan 
  • The water resistant formula repels water, sweat and tears
  • Sensitive eyes? This mascara is hypoallergenic and free from parabens, palm oil, bismuth, lead, mercury and phthalates. As no harsh makeup removers are required it’s great if you have sensitive skin or eyes. It’s actually best not to even use makeup wipes or cotton wool/pads – just water and your fingers or a flannel. Perfect if you like swimming or wear contact lenses
  • The pigment that we use is based on an ingenious coating technology which feels unique. We offer an innovative formula based on selected raw materials which are especially suited for sensitive skin."
The look of this is really sleek and modern thanks to its black and silver colour scheme. However, I would perhaps prefer the tube to be made of bamboo so as to be more in keeping with modern sensitivities regarding the biodegradability of packaging - or, at least, to have more information about whether or not this tube is recyclable.

It's noted on the website that you can apply this product just like a normal mascara. They recommend building up layers quickly so that increased volume can be achieved before the mascara fully sets on your lashes. To avoid clumping, I usually apply one layer on the top lashes, then one layer on the bottom lashes, before going back to the top lashes and then finally repeating along the bottom - rather than repeatedly building up layers on one set of lashes before moving on.
It's also recommended that you don't use any primers or lotions before applying the mascara, as it needs a dry clean surface in order to properly set.

Increased length and volume is promised and delivered. The fact of it being available in black only suits me as my lashes are already very dark - but people with much paler lashes might wish for it to be available in lighter brown shades (which hopefully will be along in the near future).

--Texture and consistency--
I mentioned earlier about avoiding clumps - but the application technique described above is something I do as a general rule, with all brands of mascara. It may not be strictly necessary with this one as the formulation is extremely smooth, making it easy to apply.

This mascara definitely delivers when it comes to its waterproof qualities. I used it while swimming and even rubbed my eyes, but it didn't come off - a sheer testament to its powers and highly impressive compared to many of the flakier, heavier waterproof mascaras on the market.

Again, as promised, this is easy to remove when desired, according to your chosen method, or even just with slight pressure and normal water.

--Value for money--
This brand compares favourably to other high-end favourites in this price bracket, including butter LONDON and Dr Hauschka. The thought put into the ethics and quality of the product is obvious and it does exactly what it promises, performing well in the pool. Would definitely recommend.

perfect partner
Bamboo Cleansing Cloth, £5

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Neurocosmetics: the future of skincare?

With the rising trends of veganism and plastic reduction, UK-based luxury vegan skincare brand Vida For You looks like it could be a good shout. Made with sustainable, ethically-sourced, and cruelty-free ingredients (including no parabens and no gluten), it's focused on by-products of food production and inspired by the Mediterranean. The packaging is also eco-friendly, as it's fully recyclable and plastic-free. 

So far, so millennial.

But in a truly modern twist, Vida For You also claims to be part of the neurocosmetics revolution.

To a non-scientist like me (and I suspect many makeup fans), this can be tricky to get one's head around. So a little bit of Googlerummaging comes up with this:

Vida For You is of course not the only neurocosmetic range (although I suspect they might be among the first to also be vegan). AO Skincare makes clear links on their page between emotional stress and the effect of this on the skin - and how their neurocosmetic approach can "ensure skin stays healthy and youthful for longer." Taiva is also currently using patented neurocosmetic formulations such as Neuraguard and Neutrazen, which allegedly stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis, soothe irritated skin, and protect skin from UV light.

But the first mention I found of neurocosmetics comes to us all the way from 2013. The researchers - Morganti et al - emphasise the nano element of neurocosmetics - namely, their ability to penetrate multiple skin layers. They also provide handy background information, such as the basis of neurocosmetics not just in traditional Chinese medicine, but also in our nervous, immune, cutaneous and endocrine systems. Of course, our brain communicates with our skin, via the activity of various peptide-signals, in order to cause mitosis (cell generation) and apoptosis (cell degeneration). We've all heard of penta-peptides thanks to various skincare adverts, so this is all starting to sound familiar - and more than mere flimflammery. 

Nanoparticles of substances such as hyaluronic acid (yep, you've heard of that one too) present in neurocosmetics help to neutralise negative environmental signals (such as UVA/UVB). It appears that "brain and skin may be influenced by ingredients that activate many processes of cellular protection and regeneration, slowing down or stopping the premature cell apoptosis".

Two years after the appearance of this research, Gabrielle Moro and Pierre-Yves Morvan gave a webinar further linking the ageing of neurons to the ageing of the skin. Further to this, also in 2015, industry expert Belinda Carli commented on the increasing use of "feel good" chemicals that then "prolong cell life and/or regulate inflammatory responses" - promoting the idea of skin wellness, and tying in well to Vida For You's idea of enhancing the healthy appearance of the skin, while reducing fine lines and combating sensitive skin issues.

Vida For You's products claim to use ingredients that can stimulate the brain/skin signal exchange, which are also known as pattern-referred adaptogens. These adaptogens can affect the skin and respond to external stress and pressure by increasing internal protective forces, stimulating the immune system, and having a positive effect on the wellbeing and health of the user.

Founder Eddy Emilio said: “The mind-body connection is not a new philosophy and the relationship between emotions and skin reaction has been recognised for decades. The key to this exchange is neurotransmitters and the messages sent between the skin and the brain, so by activating or reducing this action our products are able to directly influence skin behaviour. Consumers will see dramatic differences in the overall wellness of their skin, including reduced sensitivities, wrinkle reduction and an overall rejuvenated glow, while bringing back their natural balance to help ensure skin stays healthy and younger for longer.”

In short, it sounds like this could be just what the current generation is looking for: ecological, ethical and effective skincare that meets individual needs, and all via veganism.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Lush Beak Street Shower Bomb

RRP: £2.75

--What does the promo say?--
"This luxurious Easter treat will sing a serenade to the senses thanks to its sweet and spicy scent. Take a sniff (and a selfie) before stepping into the shower and allowing this indulgent shower bomb to foam up in the palm of your hands. Sweep the custard-coloured foam all over your skin to lavish in the moreish fragrance of buttery popcorn while maize flour gently exfoliates. You’ll be in beak condition in no time."

In typical Lush style, this is minimal. Mine came in a brown paper bag.

--Usage instructions--
Rub over wet skin while showering to create a glorious foam!

This limited-edition shower bomb, made especially for Easter, is called Beak Street, thanks to being shaped and coloured like an Easter chick's beak. Its vibrant yellow-orange pyramid breaks down into a bright foam on contact with water. No visible residue is left on the skin.

While described as akin to popcorn in the promotional materials, I found that there was a citrus element too, which is more in keeping with the "sweet and spicy" description. I chose it because it seemed to have a lively and refreshing fragrance - perfect for waking you up in the morning or for that post-gym shower. I was not disappointed.

--Texture and consistency--
The foam is luxurious and plentiful, making for a real treat. However, it also has a gently exfoliating element thanks to the maize and flour starch that the shower bomb also contains.

--Effects on the skin--
Skin felt moisturised and exfoliated. I'd say that's a win.

--Value for money--
Your £2.75 gives you a generous shower's worth of foam. If you are careful (and have a tin in which to store the remains) you could be more conservative and make it last two showers. This makes it definitely a lot more expensive compared to a normal shower gel; we are definitely in treat territory here. However, it's cheaper than a bath bomb, and overall represents a smart move from Lush: in these times of increased environmental concern, it's worth promoting showers over baths, and proving that the former can be as luxurious an experience as the latter. As I love the scent, I'm hoping they will transfer it to other products available for longer-term purchase once Easter has passed - and in the meantime, I look forward to trying other shower bombs too.

perfect partners
Other shower bombs available (all at the same price): Karma, Sleepy, Strawberry Hill, Koyaanisqatsi, Not Sleepy
Shower Body Conditioners, from £8.50
Naked Shower Gels, £8.95
Shower Jellies, from £8.95
Shower Gels, from £5.95
Carrot Shower Oil, £4.95
Oaty Creamy Dreamy Shower Cream, £12.95