Sunday 27 February 2011

New Look!

Welcome to the new look BEskincareful! I hope you like the changes. It's only skin-deep boom boom, everything else is still the same. But I thought it was already time for a little face-lift boom boom again!

So, it would be lovely to hear your comments and feedback. If you fancy getting involved feel free to comment on the posts you like, or don't, if you agree or don't, if you have suggestions or questions or any ideas you'd like to share. I'd love to hear them.

I really love writing this blog and I hope it is giving you something else to read other than status updates on Facebook. Alternatively, you can stay on Facebook and visit me there. See the Like box on the sidebar to the right. Occasionally I might post something up there which might not make it over here like this:

So do keep your eye on it.

Big THANK YOUs to everyone for reading.

Love Sarah x

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Beauty Sleep Concentrate by Neal's Yard Remedies

There is certain sleep debt I have acquired, since filming for six months (I think that excuse is wearing thin given that the job ended two months ago now!) and from basically spending all night researching bits and pieces for the blog followed by wasting time in the wee hours examining the lines (or the threat of them) on my face...which ironically only serves to make them worse with all the worry and the late nights etc...So I thought I was in dire need of assistance. SOS! Beauty Sleep Concentrate by Neal's Yard Remedies.

I might just have to take a deep breath now and gather my thoughts into cohesive sentences because otherwise you'll be reading a string of OMGs, exclamation marks and extended vowels.

I love it. In three words, I LOVE IT! But a three word review isn't very helpful to you so I'll tell you why.

(I'm actually getting a bit fidgety that time is getting on because all I want to do is go and get ready for bed so I can use it again! Unheard of!)

The body naturally renews itself during sleep, with the process peaking between the hours of 11pm and 4am. This is when free-radicals get mopped up, cells are regenerated, toxins are rounded up and shot, sort of! It's the optimum time for the body to heal itself and eliminate the environmental stressors and pollutants absorbed and consumed throughout the day. So then, a good night cream should promote and support this process. And here we have a very good night cream. Good, because I think it works, even on waking you can see the effects! And good because it contains all natural ingredients that will really help the skin. (You can use it alone or with another night treatment actually.)

In fact there is some serious science going on in this product. The active ingredients include dormins extracted from the narcissus tazetta bulb. Dormins are responsible for slowing down cell division which is thought to essentially slow down the ageing process of a cell. It has been a common belief in anti-ageing that increasing cell turnover keeps the level of cells that are healthy and young to an optimum. But new research says that there may be a natural limit to the number of times a cell can divide before it starts to age. Therefore, increasing cell turnover may actually allude to cells ageing. In nature, dormins induce or control a rest phase. For example they suppress a seed from germinating before it's ready and they help a plant to resist harsh environmental conditions, like a cold winter. So you can see by including this very intriguing ingredient the skin's natural processes are supported during it's own rest phase and the ageing process is resisted. Amazing.

Also included in the formula is a bio-active tri-peptide naturally derived from palmitic acid found in plants. (Sorry, more science, I'll keep it brief) Peptides basically tell the cells what to do. In the Beauty Sleep Concentrate I believe these Peptides are saying 'Make more collagen!' and then the cells say 'Sir! Yes. Sir!' giving your skin a boost to help it look fresh and well-rested. Marvellous. You know, even after a very late night, looking in the mirror in the morning I could definitely see a plump, more evenly textured appearance to my skin. And this was only the second day of using it! Sure, the under-eye shadows were still there but I think I'd need God-in-a-Bottle to get rid of those. Well maybe just the regular eight hours would do it!

Right, now the important part is covered, let me tell you how gorgeous it smells. Like you won't believe. The aromatherapy blend of clary sage, cypress, orange, patchouli and ylang ylang creates the most soothing and sleep-inducing fragrance. I was asleep in moments. My heart skips to a merry beat just thinking about how heavenly this is. Seriously, it's odd, it has some strange power over me. It's very orangey, but very deep and warm, with a chocolatey undertone that I suspect comes from the cocoa seed oil that it also contains, further helping to reduce moisture loss overnight I might add!

The bottle, as you can see is a simple pump-action and you need maybe two or three pumps for a generous application. Four, if you really want to go all the way and include your neck. Which you should! Because no-one wants a turkey gobble and because it is bedtime and it's nice to treat yourself.

And so with that, I'm afraid I'm exhausted... Goodnight!

Neal's Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Concentrate £30 for 30ml
Available online at Neal's Yard Remedies and in stores nationwide.

Monday 21 February 2011

Brenda Anvari Products

As a rather unknown brand, Brenda Anvari products are probably something I would never have discovered if it weren't for my easy persuasion when reading other blogs. One of my favourite sites,  A Model Recommends (see link below) reviewed the lovely hand made range of skincare by Brenda Anvari and here I am using the Pomegranate Raspberry and Patchouli shower gel and feeling pretty happy about it too.

Before I launch into a flurry of adjectives, I'll tell you about the brand.

The range includes skincare, bodycare, bath products and candles too. The packaging is both simple, almost humble in its handmade charm and yet sophisticated and chic. Created by Brenda Anvari who, after a long career with Elizabeth Arden, opened her own treatment salon, Visage House in Exeter.

Now then, the important bit, what is it like? Well, it lathers like velvety mousse made from the sweet clouds of heaven and the first dawn dew. It's lovely and leaves skin feeling soft and fresh. But the smell is what intrigues me the most, a rather fascinating blend both fruity and musky. It's quite unisex, almost quite a man-type smell, but also floral. Actually it's very masculine, but with a delicate finish. A challenge to describe, what do you think Jilly Goolden?

Jilly? I said, what do you think? 

Intermission while I fetch it from the bathroom and sit here sniffing it...

Nevermind, Jilly...

Curious as to what made this dream-foam, I have researched what is quite a (reassuringly) short ingredients list. The main foaming agent, thankfully, isn't SLS (otherwise I wouldn't go near it with a barge pole! Nor any kind of pole for that matter and certainly not in a shower/bath situation). It is in fact cocoamidylpropyl betaine. This is a common replacement for SLS but isn't quite on the good side of natural. It is derived from coconut oil but is the result of that oil being mixed with another chemical far too long for me to try and type here! It is still a detergent but a much gentler one. That said, those with extreme sensitivity could still see irritation.

On the other hand, it also contains quilaja saponaria which is Soapbark. As you can guess, this is a natural soap (hoorah!) and so I won't let cocoamidylpropyl betaine take all the credit for that lovely lather!

Brenda Anvari say all products are paraben free and many have Soil Association preservatives and organic aromatherapy oils. And none are tested on animals.

All in all I am very satisfied with taking a little leap of faith and testing out something I can't see, smell or touch until it arrives on my doorstep. And I may just do so again!

Brenda Anvari Pomegranate Raspberry and Patchouli Shower Gel £7.95 for 250ml
Available from

My favourite beauty site:

Saturday 19 February 2011

Toxic Beauty Fact 1

I mentioned in a post or two ago that I was eagerly anticipating the delivery of some books from Amazon. After a bitter mix up I have re-ordered and now have in my hands Toxic Beauty by Dawn Mellowship. Here it is.

And from time to time, as I read it I thought I'd share with you some of the things I find out. 

Here is Fact 1.

Humctants are substances that keep in moisture. Oil-free moisturisers are based on humectants. They work by sucking in moisture from the surrounding environment. If you are in a nice moisture-plenty environment then all is good. If there isn't sufficient moisture in the air then the moisture that the humectant wants comes from the deeper layers of your skin. Drying it out. So not moisturising it all then. Bloody hell.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Dangers of the Anti-bacterial Triclosan

Forgive me if I'm being naive here but when it comes to washing your hands I was of the belief that a good bit of (SLS-free) soap and hot water would give you a nice squeaky clean that would see you through, especially if you wash your hands thoroughly, going around the fingers and nails, interlacing your fingers, tickling your palms, even taking it to the wrists! Maybe you like to pretend you have a little hamster running from hand to hand. And after drying on a clean towel you can't really get cleaner than that, right?

Well, in recent years, you may have doubted this simple truth. There are ridiculous adverts on TV designed to bring out the OCD in all of us, where washing hands is simply not enough. And even one warning you that your soap pump is germy and unhygienic. Doesn't really matter if it is right, because I'm washing my hands. My soap pump can be as germy as it likes because I'm going to wash those germs right off any second now. Obviously no one wants to be crawling with bacteria but is filling our cleaning or cleansing products with anti-bacterial agents the answer? Manufacturers of triclosan would have you believe that it's perfectly safe but it is currently under review by the FDA for very good reasons.

Triclosan is included in many toiletries like hand soap, detergents, toothpaste etc. and is supposed to give those bad bugs an extra kick up their bug bums that apparently soap and water can't do. But as it gets washed down the plug hole it gets washed up into the environment and has been found accumulating in the bodies of all sorts of critters. The higher up the food chain to goes, the higher these levels get. Apparently a Swedish study in 2002 found high levels in 3 out of 5 samples of human breast milk. Flipping heck! It belongs to a class of chemicals called chlorophenols which are suspected of causing cancer. And if that wasn't enough it seems to have strong links to dioxins, which are definitely highly carcinogenic substances which can effect us at relatively low levels. AND Triclosan can react with chlorine in tap water to create chlorinated dioxins, also highly toxic. These toxins could be sitting in your kitchen sink right now. 

Recently, (I'm really laying it on thick here) an article in the Daily Mail discussed how Triclosan is dangerous to pregnant women, as it can disrupt the blood flow to unborn babies, doing damage even before the baby gets a chance to get to that triclosan flavoured milk.

There might be some case to support it's use in hospitals where superbugs are concerned but there is little to support it's inclusion in household products. It even turns up in toys and kitchenware as part of this fad of anti-bacterial obsessiveness.Who needs an antibacterial oven dish, seriously!? If you're foods got bugs in that cooking won't kill then only God and Andrex can help you.

It's also worth noting that too much hygiene can actually lead to allergies and health conditions such as asthma, as the developing immune system doesn't get exposed to common allergens and microbes and therefore cannot defend against them when exposure occurs.

If you ask me, triclosan is worth getting paranoid about, not the silly germs they are supposed to kill. So check your labels people and avoid, avoid, avoid!!! Rant over.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Oskia, A Love Story

With it being nearly Valentines day I have to confide in you, I'm harbouring an intoxicating and dizzying love for Oskia skincare, never having used it.

It all started with a spare hour I spent wondering around the beauty hall in Liberty's. I didn't mean to fall in love. I just did. I was actually just looking at the Korres stuff because they have a natural tinted moisturiser I wanted to investigate. And as I walked aimlessly around, perusing the various counters and shelves, I came across the understated seduction of Oskia, on an unassuming stand with no heavy promotion, no blazing signs nor annoying shop assistant to sidestep. Just subtle and beautiful and sleek. And expensive.

Oskia's ethos is nutritional skincare, with its fundamental ingredient being MSM. This is not a little sugary chocolate sweet, nor a messenger service by a computer giant. It's methylsulfonylmethane, a naturally occurring and most bio-available form of sulphur.

Known as the 'beauty mineral',  it's found in plants and helps boost collagen production. It helps skin defend itself from the saggy and sad effects of ageing by bolstering itself with lovely, delicious plump new skin cells that make you look healthier and youthful.

But I won't know because I can't afford it.

To indulge my new found love I tested out the Perfect Cleanser, on my hand obviously, I didn't go rubbing it all over my face right there on the shop floor! And without having actually used it (properly) I can confidently say it is divine. It's like a very thick oil or a silky, milky balm. It's velvety. It's smooth. It feels nourishing. I did in fact want to rub it all over my face right there on the shop floor! But it would be better to use with water which does in fact turn it into a milk, removing dirt and all the rest for beautifully clean skin. It seemed a very luxurious cleanser and made my skin glow after tissueing it off with a bit of toner from somewhere else... (thanks Korres) It feels like it's worth every penny and every pound.

Equally the Day Cream is a silky lotion that for whatever magical reason did just convince me that it was going to to take my skin out for a good meal and maybe give it a kiss goodnight. A girl can dream.

Oskia say they use 98% natural or nature-identical ingredients. Although this suggests a little scientific synthesising, according to them, this means that we are talking about pioneering bio-active ingredients that are clinically proven to work. With nature comes a bit of science to formulate products that will support and rebuild skin cell health through the provision of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and glucides. These work to fight current and future signs of ageing. For the record the other 2% of ingredients are Eco-cert and Soil Association approved preservatives. So they certainly are doing their best. 

One point that Oskia make, and one that I have been wanting to discuss on this blog, is that beautiful skin needs feeding like any other organ in the body. If we don't eat enough of the nutrients our bodies need then it shows. We feel tired, lack the ability to fight off infection and skin looks lack-lustre. Every organ needs nourishing on a cellular level and since the skin is the largest organ of the body it surely needs feeding. So they also offer MSM tablets you can take which support your skin from the inside too.

So, as I've mentioned, the products are expensive. If you're feeling rich or you are rich I very much recommend spending your money on products that approach skincare in this natural and holistic way. You could certainly pay a lot more for a lot less if you compare to other luxury skincare brands.

And if you are feeling particularly touched by this Romeo and Juliet style love-affair (I'm pretty sure the cleanser loved me too) then feel free to send me your purchases instead. All of you.

Oskia Perfect Cleanser £38.50 for 150ml
Oskia Nutri-Active Day Cream £52.00 for 30ml
Available from and Liberty's

Friday 11 February 2011

Elle Voucher

I wrote this as a comment on the last post but just in case you miss it - Also with March edition of Elle is a voucher for 20% off at Neal's Yard Remedies. So you can treat yourself to something nice!

Good game.


Tuesday 8 February 2011

Eyeliner Freebie!

Quick post about something you may have already seen but I only saw yesterday whilst shopping in the supermarket. The March issue of Elle magazine are doing a rather fab little free gift which is a Neal's Yard (yes, again) black pencil eyeliner, worth £9.50. Superb.

I'm wearing it now it's a lovely smokey dark black. Not a jet black of the blackest black, but a good solid colour, great for a soft line, easy to smudge but good staying power. And natural Hoorah!

Natural make up is a tricky subject and I am working on finding the best alternatives that don't compromise on performance. So this is a good start and if you buy the magazine its free! FREE!!!

NYR have included white tea in their ingredients for this little beauty which gives it a bit of antioxidant power most welcome around the eyes!

Plus I love Elle so it's a winner.

Elle Magazine £3.80 available everywhere
Neal's Yard Eyeliner, available here

Monday 7 February 2011

Lazy Days and Rehydrating Rose

I'm not sure why I called this post Lazy Days because it's not quite reflective of the truth. What is true is that I haven't written a post for sometime which could be construed as laziness but really it's a symptom of indecision and not enough time in the day. I have several ideas for posts which I'm working on but unfortunately I have been a little diverted due to a mishap in the Amazon ordering process which meant that the books I had ordered for research got dispatched, delivered, returned and refunded, unbeknown to me. I failed to specify a flat number and Royal Mail took umbrage with this insignificant omission and sent back the goddamn books without even the courtesy of telling me. So that and a make up job involving a humanoid alien falling in love with a horse, shot in the gale force winds of Northamptonshire, go some way to explain my lack of presence on this here my very own blog. So sorry for that.

Anyway, what I have decided to get round to telling you is that I have been trying a few different products in the cleanse and moisturise routine. Again.

Ooh actually before that, newsflash - Trilogy Everything Balm succeeds very nicely as an eye make up remover too- work a cotton pad around and around to pick up a good bit of balm and use carefully on your eyes. You can also massage the balm into the whole face to dissolve make up and cleanse away the whole lot with warm water and a muslin cloth.

Right, yes, what have I been using lately...  I'm afraid I'm back to the old favourite, Neal's Yard Remedies, but trying out a few different things this time. Although I have quite an unhealthy attraction to the brand, I haven't actually used that much in their range. It is quite a big range though, in my defence. So I thought I would extend my knowledge and take advantage of their Trial Sized Essentials. There are four sets, for each skin type which are Rehydrating Rose (which I am using), Rejuvenating Frankincense, Nourishing Orange Flower and Youthful Powerberry.

In the Rehydrating Rose set you get the Daily Moisturiser, Facial Polish and Facial Wash.  It all smells amazing, a very clean floral scent, obviously being Rose based. Interruption, I'm finding it hard to concentrate because the Superbowl is on TV. I don't mean I'm really into American Football. I mean it's annoying. Anyway. Roses. Oh god that girl from Glee is singing a song about America. ROSES. The moisturiser is...Christina Aguilera is singing the anthem now... very light and very very spreadable. A little goes a long long way. I made the misteak (sorry getting all USA) mistake of putting way too much on and my skin was left feeling a little tiny bit sticky. A minor thing but not what I wanted. If you put the proper amount on the skin, it absorbs super-duper fast. So work quickly! But it is a very good daily moisturiser if you are looking for a light lotion.

The facial wash is gentle and forms a light but very soft lather. Best way is to work it over cheeks with the flat of your palm to get the optimum foam production. It's there, but like I said, it is very light. So I quite like using it with a make up remover too. Like my Trilogy Everything Balm!!! Skin feels cleansed but not stripped.

And the Facial Polish is gritty as you would expect, but not like sandpaper. It's actually wild rose seed that provides these exfoliating particles and they do a good job without ploughing great furrows into your skin and robbing it of all its natural oils which are important for maintaining the skins barrier function.

So as a quick little summary the set is a great way to try a few products without committing to the full sizes. You get 50ml of each product which feels like quite a generous size. And a little zip up cotton bag to keep them in. Delightful.  And if you um and er about it like I did you might get a few samples of other products thrown in there too! It's good to be indecisive.

I'm yet to see the radiance I hoped for but I can only blame myself for that, me and the humanoid alien and the internet and the neighbours who are noisily chatting beneath me and the housemates creaking about upstairs and the... stupid lack of sleep I'm getting or not as it goes. So maybe I should be investing in their new Beauty Sleep Concentrate instead... which looks very appealing...

Neal's Yard Trial Sized Essentials, £24.00 for Rehydrating Rose
Available here.