Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Breakdown of Acne Breakouts

Acne is sadly a common problem - not just for teens but also for adults. In this modern world of ours, it's difficult to know what causes it. Hormones? Diet? Pollution? Skincare routines? Something else? My own skin story is here; the latest evolution of this saga has been a visit to a dermatologist, where they've suggested Roaccutane, and I'm considering whether or not to go through with it.

Luckily, this handy infographic from Advanced Dermatology can help to break down symptoms and possible treatments. Maybe it could help some of you - so I've agreed to post it here. Feel free to let me know your experiences and views in the comments!


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Radox Nourish Shower Cream

 RRP: £1.25/250ml
 
--What does the promo say?--
"We've selected and combined natural ingredients with our feel good fragrance to create this nurturing blend. Your Nourish shower cream, with shea butter and ginger, will leave you feeling confident and ready to take on the day."

--Packaging--
The opaque plastic bottle is an ergonomically pleasing shape, meaning it's not only attractive aesthetically but is also less likely to slip out of your hand in the shower. Plus, the flip-top lid is easy to open, closes securely, and doesn't seem to promote leakage. The red plant design is also eye-catching against the shower cream's pale orange colour.

--Application--
Rub into wet skin while under the shower, and then rinse off. Simples, as they say.

--Appearance--
The pale orange cream becomes a luxurious white lather that doesn't leave any visible residue on the skin.

--Scent--
You have to sniff hard for the ginger, but it is there - so great for those that don't like the smell of ginger to be too overpowering. It also tempers the shea butter, meaning that it, too, is not overwhelmingly chocolatey.

--Texture and consistency--
Builds up to a silky lather without being sticky, runny or irritating. 

--Effects on the skin--
Has a softening effect that lasts all day. Not bad for £1.25!

--Value for money--
Excellent. An inexpensive treat. Even though mine was free from Radox's PR, I would definitely recommend this to others and purchase a further bottle for myself.
 
perfect partners
Nourish Liquid Handwash, £1.90/300ml
Nourish Herbal Bath, £1.25/500ml

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Dr Hauschka Cleansing Milk

RRP: £22.95/145ml

--What does the promo say?--
"Cleansing Milk gently removes dirt and make-up prior to cleansing with Cleansing Cream. For sensitive skin, Cleansing Milk is a daily cleanser with harmonising, protective properties to calm sensitivity and help diminish the appearance of redness, whilst maintaining the skin’s natural moisture balance."

--Packaging--
The glass bottle with shiny metal pump action mechanism is elegant, but not travel friendly. The ubiquitous orange band at the bottom of the label makes it clear that this product belongs to the Dr Hauschka family, and the minimalist colour scheme makes the bottle look clean and sophisticated.

--Application--
There are several ways to do this. You can apply to wet skin for cleansing (before rinsing) or apply to damp cotton pads to remove makeup. Alternatively, you can just smear it around your face and remove with a dry cotton pad, which is what I prefer to do, as then any excess essential oils can be absorbed into the skin.

--Appearance--
A slightly beige-coloured cream that leaves no visible residue.

--Scent--
I'd say the jojoba and almond are most obvious (although who knows what woundwort smells like?).

--Texture and consistency--
A rich, luxurious cream that nonetheless won't clog pores.

--Effects on the skin--
Removes makeup effectively, and leaves skin feeling matte and moisturised. Technically a one-step/all-in-one product in my opinion.

--Value for money--
I'd take this even at the UK RRP, as I think it's excellent quality. However, as always, try to buy in Germany, where it can be had for as little as €15.95 (around £13.30).

perfect partners
Facial Toner, £22.95
Rose Day Cream Light, £23.95
Rejuvenating Mask, £33.95
Eye Contour Day Balm, £29

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lacura Clear Effect Daily Facial Gel Wash

RRP: £2.99

--What does the promo say?--
"This new facial wash gently and thoroughly removes impurities and make-up to reduce shine and greasiness. Including magnolia extract and BioEcolia this gentle wash is formulated for daily use to help protect and strengthen the natural and biological defence system of the skin, leaving a clear fresh complexion."

 --Packaging--
The transparent plastic bottle means that the blue gel is easily visible, giving a bright and cooling effect (plus, it's always handy to be able to see how much product remains). The flip top lid is also durable and practical.

--Application--
Lather up and apply to face before rinsing off. Use twice a day. Nothing difficult about this.

--Appearance--
The blue gel doesn't lather up much, but it does create a white film that washes off easily.

--Scent--
Clean without being clinical, floral or chemical.

--Texture and consistency--
A little gel goes a long way, so don't take too much - a 5p sized amount will do your whole face. The gel glides over the skin easily, and as mentioned, can be washed off without difficulty.

--Effects on the skin--
Sadly, only a small improvement in skin condition was noted. 

--Value for money--
Cheap is all very well, but only if you get results. It won't be a bad thing in my book if Aldi doesn't bring back this Special Buy - but if you really want to give it a go, try hunting on eBay.

perfect partners
Soothing Night Cream, £2.99
Tinted Day Cream, £2.99
Mattifying Moisturiser, £2.99
3 in 1 Cleanser, £2.99

Monday, 24 March 2014

Radox Eastern Spirit Bath Soak

 RRP: £1.25 for 500ml
 
--What does the promo say?--
"Enjoy a blissful bath, containing the exotic aromas of this bath soak. Inspired by Oriental traditions, Eastern Spirit - with sacred lotus flower and orange blossom - creates a bathing experience that will revive your senses, leaving you feeling uplifted."

--Packaging--
The large bottle is sturdy and proud, with the screw cap not eluding even the slipperiest of fingers. 

--Application--
Pour into the bath at leisure and watch the bubbles build up.

--Appearance--
The pink-orange gel turns into white bubbles that leave no visible residue on the skin.

--Scent--
Fruity and exotic, almost as if lightly spiced. The fragrance leaves you feeling genuinely transported and relaxed - I just wish there were hand and body creams available too, to make it last even longer.

--Texture and consistency--
A smooth gel that softens the skin.

--Value for money--
Just £1.25 for a huge bottle like this is great value - I was expecting such a moment of spa-style relaxation to cost more. Would definitely recommend.  

perfect partners
Eastern Spirit Hand Wash, £1.25 for 300ml
Eastern Spirit Shower Gel, £1.25 for 250ml
Enjoy a blissful bath, containing the exotic aromas of this bath soak. Inspired by Oriental traditions, Eastern Spirit with sacred Lotus flower and Orange Blossom, creates a bathing experience that will revive your senses leaving you feeling uplifted.  Ingredients »
- See more at: http://www.radox.co.uk/products/bath-therapy/eastern-spirit#sthash.vUZNLKDz.dpuf
Enjoy a blissful bath, containing the exotic aromas of this bath soak. Inspired by Oriental traditions, Eastern Spirit with sacred Lotus flower and Orange Blossom, creates a bathing experience that will revive your senses leaving you feeling uplifted.  Ingredients »
- See more at: http://www.radox.co.uk/products/bath-therapy/eastern-spirit#sthash.vUZNLKDz.dpuf
Enjoy a blissful bath, containing the exotic aromas of this bath soak. Inspired by Oriental traditions, Eastern Spirit with sacred Lotus flower and Orange Blossom, creates a bathing experience that will revive your senses leaving you feeling uplifted.  Ingredients »
- See more at: http://www.radox.co.uk/products/bath-therapy/eastern-spirit#sthash.vUZNLKDz.dpuf
Enjoy a blissful bath, containing the exotic aromas of this bath soak. Inspired by Oriental traditions, Eastern Spirit with sacred Lotus flower and Orange Blossom, creates a bathing experience that will revive your senses leaving you feeling uplifted.  Ingredients »
- See more at: http://www.radox.co.uk/products/bath-therapy/eastern-spirit#sthash.vUZNLKDz.dpuf

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Bakewell Soap Company Foot Soother

RRP: £6.95/30g

--What does the promo say?--
"Highly effective on dry skin, bruised, sore soles and cracked heels. All-natural and kind-to-the-skin with active cineols and sesquiterpones that reduce bruising and inflammation."

--Packaging--
Comes in a small tin that's perfect for travelling. The lid clips shut easily, so no danger of it leaking. The bright green label is also cheerful and modern.

--Application--
Massage into feet and calves to moisturise dry skin and cool the affected area. Easy really (although you may need to dig your nails/fingers into the wax a bit to get started).

--Appearance--
An off-yellow wax that disappears invisibly into skin.

--Scent--
The peppermint and arnica are very obvious, making for a great wakeup call. However, as this balm also contains lavender, it is also soothing enough scent-wise to prepare you for sleep.

--Texture--
This wax is quite densely packed into its tin, meaning your fingers will just skim over the top of its smooth surface initially. However, use your fingers (or a spoon!) to dig into the pot to make a well in the centre. Then you should be able to get hold of enough to rub into your skin. For this reason, it would be helpful if the pot came with a spatula.

--Effects on the skin--
As good as any commercial body butter, and better - it softens skin really well and the essential oils have their own calming qualities too. Also a worthy rival for Liz Earle's Superbalm, which is a little more than twice the price.

--Value for money--
I was sent mine for free by the company's PR (thanks guys!) but I would definitely purchase this once my pot runs out (although when that'll be, who knows, as one pot seems to last ages too). Without doubt a brand to watch.

perfect partners
Sea Mint with Kelp soap, £3.95 (comes with matching cotton bag for an extra £3)
After Exercise Soothing Deep Muscle Rub, £8.95 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Palmers Co Wash Cleansing Conditioner


RRP: £5.99 for 473ml
 
--What does the promo say?--
"Palmer's® Olive Oil Formula® Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner is a unique, all-in-one cleansing cream that replaces shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner and detangler. This gentle, no-lather cleanser contains an exclusive blend of natural Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vitamin E, Keratin Protein and natural herbal extracts to moisturize, soften and detangle hair for the gentlest daily cleansing possible. The salon-quality formula is a safe way to pamper dry, frizzy and over-worked hair and scalp.
Formulated without Sulfates, Detergents, Lather, Phthalates, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil or Harsh Chemicals."

--Packaging--
The large green plastic bottle would definitely stand out on the shelf, as this isn't at all a common colour scheme for hair care bottles. The colour is natural, not lurid, and so accurately reflects the idea of olive oil being the main component. It's sturdy, so stands alone in the shower easily, and the pump-action mechanism makes for quick and convenient use.

--Application--
The advisory notes on the bottle state that a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 40 pumps per use may be required depending on the length and thickness of your hair. As my hair is not that long (only down to my chest) or thick, I went for the lower end of the recommendation (12 pumps). You then smooth this through your hair and leave it on for as long as possible while washing. Finally, rinse it from your hair before drying and styling as normal. Alternatively, you can leave the product in your hair without rinsing if you wish to capitalise on its conditioning more than its cleansing properties.

--Appearance--
A pale cream that doesn't leave any visible residue in the hair.

--Scent--
A natural scent that perhaps surprisingly makes the most of several of the lighter-smelling ingredients (such as olive oil and camomile), while the stronger scents (for example, rosemary and peppermint) are not detectable.

--Texture and consistency--
Creamy and luxurious. I found it difficult to rinse out, however.

--Effects on the hair--
Sadly I found that this really weighed down my hair, even when I used less than recommended (e.g. 9 pumps). While it made it easy to style (as promised), I think this would only work if you also had dry roots as well as dry ends. As someone who has greasy roots and dry ends (grr - what a combination!), it didn't quite meet my needs.

--Value for money--
If this product works for you, then it's great value. At just under £6 for half a litre, it WILL last ages (although of course this will vary depending on your hair length and thickness). However, I'd be more interested in trying the accompanying hot oil treatment, as I've had more success with similar treatments in the past. In the meantime, I'll be passing the Co Wash on to someone with drier hair to see if they get a better result.

perfect partners
Olive Oil Smoothing Shampoo
Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner
Olive Oil Gro Therapy
Olive Oil Conditioning Spray Oil
Olive Oil Strengthening Leave In Conditioner
Olive Oil Invigorating Hot Oil Treatment
Olive Oil Moisturising Hair Milk
Olive Oil Hair Dress
Olive Oil Deep Conditioner Sachet
Olive Oil Curl Extend Hair Pudding  

Monday, 17 February 2014

Comparing beauty

With the arrival of the internet in virtually every home (and virtually on every phone too), consumers have become increasingly demanding as they realise the diversity of products available. Retailers have also stepped up to the plate, competing to offer the best prices and free gifts. This has also created problems for consumers: when buying online, how can you be sure that you're ordering from a genuine retailer and won't end up with a fake? How can you get the best price without wading through hundreds of web pages? And how can you know which products are right for you when shopping online, since you can't try before you buy?

the beauty biography page
Price comparison websites go some way to solving these problems, but they can't do it all. So, again, websites are needing to up their game in order to attract consumers. MyBeautyCompare is one of them, touting itself as the Match.com for beauty. It doesn't just want women to get the best price, but also to help modern, busy women find the right products for them.

New visitors to the site are invited to click on "find your beauty match", which is a button located on the web page's top left-hand corner. This leads newbies to complete the beauty biography, which asks questions about eye colour, hair type, skin concerns and more. This is quite detailed, although still quick to fill out. A few other important questions could also be asked without it taking too much more of users' time, such as body skin type or concerns (I have largely oily skin, for example, but suffer horribly with dry skin on my feet, meaning it doesn't make sense to treat my whole body as if it has the same skin type).

my recommended eye treatments
Once the beauty bio is complete, you are sent an email to activate your membership (which is free, but obligatory). Confusingly, once you have activated your membership, the "find your beauty match" button disappears. Your next step, therefore, is to select a product category in order to find your best product matches. This shows a few things: firstly, all of the products available to buy online, using MyBeautyCompare as an agent. You can narrow this down by selecting a further category on the left-hand side of the page (e.g., under 'cleansers', you can select a skin concern, such as hyperpigmentation). However, this does not mean that all of your work filling out the beauty bio at the beginning is in vain: at the top of the page are the four top products in that category, as recommended for your specific concerns. The price range of these four products is quite wide: for my skin type, for example, the four products ranged from Simple to Decleor (with prices starting at £3.80 and going as high as nearly £23). However, clicking on one of the products led to an error message, suggesting that some aspects of this site still need to be tweaked.

buy now!
When you do click on a product with a working page, though, the information is concise and has great potential, showing reviews, price comparisons (which shows the full cost of the item to you, including postage), and complementary products from the same brand as the product selected (NB not 'complimentary', as spelt on the website, which means something else entirely). While the range of retailers selling through the site perhaps need to be widened (I know for a fact that Dermalogica does not only sell through one website, for example), the whole set-up still strikes me as being very convenient: clicking the bright pink button that says 'Buy Now' takes you directly to the website offering you the price you're happiest with.

The range of products being offered is vast: there are more than 400 exfoliators (that's exfoliatOrs, not exfoliatErs, as MyBeautyCompare would have you believe!) on sale, for example. You can also narrow these numerous offerings down by price, as well as sorting them alphabetically, by ascending or descending cost, by popularity, or by those with the best reviews. There is also a completely separate category of the site for product reviews, which are written by site members, and which again are available in vast numbers and can be narrowed down by brand, key word, or even specific product. 

the homepage
This range of products can be accessed easily from the home page (or indeed any other) thanks to the chunky black toolbar at the top of the screen. The home page also offers direct links to best-selling brands (which vary from the most famous, such as Clinique, to the more niche, such as Matrix), links to latest forum posts and product reviews, and access to the site's blog, video tutorials, expert tips, offers, and treatments. These elements of the site also need to be made accessible from the main black toolbar so that users can reach them immediately from any page that they are on. Some of the homepage images appear to have been made cheaply, but other elements of the site are good: the blog in particular is clearly archived and categorised, and offers comments and hints on a range of topics of interest.

the slightly inactive forum
Finally, the site forum allows users to interact with each other on beauty-related topics. The forum seems well-organised, with members able to sort their queries by product type and category (for example, under the Hair section, there are fora for colour, styling and frizzy hair) as well as being able to chat off-topic in the Beauty Lounge. The fora in general are not highly-used currently, racking up only single-digit numbers of topics and replies in most cases. However, this will likely improve as the site racks up more users.

Any beauty addict would therefore do well to have this site bookmarked for the best hints, recommendations, and prices, so as to carry on staying on top of what's hot and where to buy it. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Glo Minerals Perfecting Powder

RRP: £27
--What does the promo say?--
"This truly translucent skin perfecting mineral powder absorbs excess oil to provide a matte finish. To eliminate shine year-round or simply control skin during the hot summer months, Perfecting Powder can be used as often as necessary over your foundation to give a shine-free finish. As with all glo minerals products Perfecting Powder is talc-free, non-comedogenic and fortified with our exclusive antioxidant blend."

--Packaging--
The press sample I was sent featured a clear plastic screw-top lid, whereas the one available for purchase online apparently has a black plastic flip-top. Difficult to see whether or not it has a mirror inside the lid, but if it did, that would be great.

--Application--
Apply after foundation and concealer, using a powder brush.

--Appearance--
I'd say that the 'perfecting' claim really does stand up; my skin looked a lot better after using this (compared to just using foundation and concealer). It really will finish your look off wonderfully. However, I wouldn't go as far as to say it's translucent and would even hazard that it's too pale for some (even though it works well for me). Plus, for the price it retails at, I'd expect it to be available in more than one shade, even if it does claim to be translucent.

--Scent--
None particularly. Newsflash: face powder smells of powder. Who knew?! (Well, slightly clay-like if you're going to force me.)
 
--Texture and consistency-- 
Light and not at all grainy. Blends well, without causing patches of powder to coagulate or collect anywhere on the face. 

--Effects on the skin--
As well as the visual 'perfecting' effect, this absorbs oil well as promised, leaving you without that greasy feeling. However, I wouldn't say this goes far enough to contribute to an overall improvement in skin condition over time.

--Value for money--
Given the choice, I'd go for Arbonne's pressed powder*, which is exactly the same price. While this gives a good visual effect overall, Arbonne's, to my mind, gives an even more radiant and long-lasting result (which is very valuable on a day when you have to leave for work at 7.20 in the morning and won't get in until 9pm thanks to parents' evening. EW.). 

*Just realised that for all my going on about this, I've never actually reviewed this. I have NO IDEA how that happened. Coming asap.

perfect partners
Powder Brush, £20
Camouflage Oil Free, £20
Under-eye Primer, £19.50 since reduced to £17.95! yay :)
Face Primer, £13
Protective Liquid Foundation Matte II, £30.50
Volumizing Mascara, £16
Cream Colour for Cheeks and Lips, £11.50

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Radical Age-Defying Exfoliating Pads

RRP: £45 for 60 pads
--What does the promo say?--
"Removing dull, dead skin becomes your first anti-aging gesture: its AHA and BHA-multifruit acid based pads, exfoliate, promote cell turnover, and accelerate Radical Skincare products performance. Reduce coarse crow’s feet by 50% in 2 weeks. Reduce pore size and even skin tone while significantly improving skin firmness, texture and elasticity."
--Packaging--

The pads arrive in a lovely shiny silver pot which feels good in the hands and looks good on the dressing table, as well as keeping the pads moist. However, if you like travelling light, you may find it a bit big or bulky. 

--Application--
Rub one pad over the face, neck and decolletage after cleansing. One pad easily does your entire face, neck and chest area, and what's more, as the pads are so moist, you could even cheat a bit and make one pad last two nights. Follow with moisturiser.

--Scent--
The lemon and tangerine scents shine through here, with the AHAs, witch hazel, aloe vera and salicylic acid giving a more medicinal feel. This combination ultimately creates a clean, cleansing smell.

--Texture and consistency--
The pads feel cool and refreshing on the skin. The exfoliant is chemical, rather than coming from bits of beach, so don't expect too much scrubbiness.

--Effects on the skin--
After cleansing your skin feels squeaky clean without feeling 'stripped', as with most deep cleans, meaning that moisturising is definitely the next step. Anti-ageing effects are of course better seen over time, but your skin will probably thank you loads in the years that follow. The presence of aloe vera, witch hazel, AHAs and salicylic acid - traditional acne fighters - also mean that those with problem skin are likely to see an improvement.

--Value for money-- 
This evening cleanse comes highly recommended for anti-agers and acne-fighters alike. While they're not cheap, you can expect a pot to last you two months at least (or four, if you eke one pad out over two nights).  It's even cheaper if you shop around: QVC has good discounts, for example. Definitely put this on your wishlist if you're off to the US, too. If you don't find anything better to suit you, though, it's not unaffordable at all for such a high-quality product. Radical Skincare, we salute you.

perfect partners
Hydrating Cleanser, £30
Peptide Infused Antioxidant Serum, £125
Anti-Ageing Restorative Moisture, £100
Eye Revive Crème, £80
Instant Revitalizing Masque, £40
Firming Neck and Decolleté Gel, £77
5-Piece Discovery Collection, £40¤
Radical Rescue, £120*

*contains a full-size cleanser plus 15ml sizes of two different serums and the anti-ageing restorative moisturiser 
¤contains 8ml samples of the youth infusion serum, hydrating cleanser and anti-ageing restorative moisturiser; a 5ml sample of the eye crème; and 15 exfoliating pads