Tuesday 26 April 2011

Neal's Yard Rose Formula Hydrating Eye Cream

As I mentioned in the last post, I had a lovely facial at Neal's Yard (again you can read it here) a while back and along with the Lemon Balm and Rose Tea I was also given the Rose Formula Hydrating Eye Cream. How nice!

So the reason I was given this particular cream was because although I was concerned about the onset of fine lines around the eyes (in which case the White Tea Toning Eye Gel is also a good option) I was actually more interested in finding a cream to plump out my under eye area for a more wide awake look. So many eye creams drone on about relieving puffiness and being cooling etc... as if you might suffer from a permanent black eye on the brink of swelling up like a baboon's behind. Now I might be alone in this but I don't really get puffy eyes (unless I'm sobbing my heart out to Beaches or something) so I'm not really in the market for this kind of effect. Instead, I'm more prone to the reverse, looking a little sunken if that isn't too scary a thought. And obviously, I know the only real cure to this is to get more sleep, but I think it's almost too late for that. I might have to live out the rest of my days asnoozin' on the veranda, stacking up the Zs to chase away my dark shadows. By which time I might wake up in my nineties and my sunken eyes won't be the problem,  it'll be my hips, my knees, my teeth! Good god what a shocking glimpse of the future. Ugh.

Anyway. Luckily I have help before we get to that stage. The Rose Formula Hydrating Eye Cream is a very soothing and very, well... hydrating treat for the eyes, that has now become firmly lodged in my skincare routine. 

Years ago, I didn't really care much about eye cream. I guess I didn't have to. But the more I think about it the more I realise how important it is to protect and feed the skin around the eyes, as it's the thinnest, most delicate and the first place to go, so to speak, when age sets it.

The rose formula is suitable for all skin types as it's extremely gentle and calming. I use it twice a day and like to take a minute carefully patting it in though it does absorb really fast. Witch hazel is the first ingredient, not aqua (water) which is almost always the first ingredient in a cream. And witch hazel is a great toner but apparently it also has an anti-oxident effect to reduce those fine lines for a smoother appearance. It's got a whole host of other goodies in there too, like pomegranate seed oil, avocado oil, starflower oil and propolis extract. It tightens the skin in the nicest possible way. And it promotes collagen production. All that, along with the hydrating effect, will help to get that lifted, plumper look.

It's a real nice and easy cream and I love that the pump delivers exactly the right amount. But it maybe more helpful to praise this cream for what it doesn't do as I have used many eye creams that have left me a bit underwhelmed - where I haven't noticed I've applied it at all except for that sticky, tacky feeling. This one isn't too rich, isn't too icky, spreads very smoothly and quickly, absorbs very fast, doesn't leave a residue, doesn't have a weird smell, actually smells quite nice, but not too strong and isn't mega expensive. In fact it's quite reasonable.

You just can't go wrong.

Neal's Yard Rose Formula Hydrating Eye Cream £22.50 for 10ml
Available online and in store at Neal's Yard Remedies

Friday 22 April 2011

Neal's Yard Lemon Balm and Rose Tea

I have long enjoyed green tea, so much so that I can't really muster up much interest in a regular cuppa these days (Earl Grey I will still make time for you, of course). But in recent months I have really been hitting the herbal teas and one of my favourites is Neal's Yard Lemon Balm and Rose Tea.

I was given this tea when I went for my facial at Neal's Yard (read about it here) as it was something that was recommended for my overall wellbeing after the holistic consultation. The infusion is a great nerve tonic, relieving symptoms of tension and stress and promoting calmness. And its yummy. And very easy to drink.

But with all this lovely hot weather, sometimes a hot cup of something isn't really what you fancy. I'm feeling quite pleased with myself for having the bright idea, in this lovely balmy sunshine, of brewing it and then chilling it, to make lovely iced tea. (Except I can't be bothered with the ice part, my fridge is pretty cold.)

It makes such a refreshing drink and is even better than water, which is a very bold thing for me to say because I am the self-titled QUEEN of EVIAN. Seriously.

So for an even healthier alternative to water why not try your favourite green or herbal tea chilled instead of hot!? You can even get a little bit of cucumber and lemon in there and pretend it's a Pimms! Or maybe add a Pimms? Maybe not.

Anyway, Happy Easter and Happy Sunshine. I'm going for a picnic, with a flask of lemon balm tea!

Neal's Yard Remedies Lemon Balm and Rose Tea £3.90 for 50g
Available in store and online

Saturday 16 April 2011

US Glamour Speaks Out

I just wanted to share this with you for anyone who has missed it on Facebook or Twitter etc..

US Glamour have printed a great article in their most recent issue warning of the dangers of the chemicals around us, in our environments and the products we use. I have found out some really horrifying stuff but also some great tips on how you can minimise exposure - and why you should!

It's great to see some research that is helping to change people's attitudes about the safety of what we manufacture and consume. Let the tide turn I say, towards a more informed, greener and health-orientated way of living.

Read the PDF version from Not Just a Pretty Face and their article about Glamour's article here.

Good work everyone.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

When I met some of the lovely people of Pai at the Vitality Show the other week, I was given their newest product to try, the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil. Now, I'm a big fan of oils for the skin and rosehip especially. I have used rosehip oil before, as a nourishing night treatment and so I know a thing or two about what makes a nice oil, and I'll give you the verdict first up: this is excellent.

I want to dispell any myths still lurking around that oil is bad for your skin. Mineral oils aren't good for your skin because they clog pores and suffocate it. But plant oils, like rosehip, jojoba, almond, these are all very, very good for for skin. This is because skin just gets oil. It produces it as sebum, and contrary to what is often feared (that applying oil to skin makes skin become more oily) I think it actually allows skin to better regulate oil production as it knows how to absorb and use it. 

Rosehip Oil is known for it's powerful skin healing properties and lots of companies have jumped onto this old wagon. The benefits of this oil have been proven for 30 odd years now so obviously it has been appearing in all kinds of anti-ageing potions. But not all rosehip oil is made equal...

As you can see from this proud little bottle, Pai's rosehip oil is bright orange. I mean vivid! And this is testament to just how potent it is. The colour comes from the high concentration of carotenoids with an anti-oxident effect to seek and destroy free radicals (which damage cell health.)

It is also abundant in trans-retinoic acid which is a naturally occurring form of vitamin A. Because it is naturally - occurring and also in total balance with other essential fatty acids, this makes it very bio-available, healing sun damage and scar tissue and repairing the lipid barrier of the skin. This helps to smooth out wrinkles and fine lines and it is great for boosting collagen in the dermis too. Your new best friend then.

And here's what makes Pai's oil so potent and so rich in colour... they extract from the fruit and the seed, which is quite rare really. All the rosehip oils I have come across only use the seed. The fruit, I have been told, is hard to deal with. Something about it being tricky and messy (I'm picturing vats of sticky, squashy fruit dripping everywhere and spilling all over the place in some kind of magic factory not too unlike Willy Wonka's!?) But they plain do it anyway because it contains twice the sterols (with an regenerative effect) and five times the carotenoids. Determined!

The oil is thicker than some of the others I've used which kind of confirms to me it's better! I use a couple of squirts from the dropper, whatever I feel like really, and massage into face and neck at night time. There is no fear here, slap it on I say! And I usually do get a bit left over which I also attempt to apply to Mr. BEskincareful who isn't in the slightest bit interested in being careful with his skin... And then he moans a little bit about the smell. I admit, the smell of rosehip oil isn't the nicest but it's not awful! It's not going to make you wince! (Unless you are Mr. B who is a little bit of a wuss.) And anyway, you don't use it because it smells good... you use it because of it's anti-ageing prowess! So don't whinge about the smell. Nevermind!

Like with all anti-ageing products,  I find it difficult to tell what effect it is having and won't know until later down the line, but I'm certain it's money in the bank where rosehip oil is concerned... I haven't been using it on stretch marks or scars etc... so I can't quite comment on it's regenerative capabilities on these things but I do think it makes my skin a little more refined and even toned by morning! I'd love to hear how any of you get on with it...

Pai BioRegenerative Rosehip Oil is £20 for 30ml
Available direct from Pai and all sorts of other lovely shops too.

Monday 11 April 2011

The Konjac Sponge Company and the wonderful Konjac Sponge

There is something round and squishy sweeping the beauty industry and it's called the konjac sponge. At the Natural Products trade show I had the pleasure of meeting the lady behind the Konjac Sponge Company who has introduced the konjac sponge to the UK market. Lovely to meet you Michele! And I'm trialling the French clay konjac sponge for normal to oily skin.

I have a list as long as my arm of posts I have to write but I have allowed this one to jump the queue because I'm all excited about it and I want to share it with you whilst the buzz is still buzzing!

The konjac sponge has already impressed in Japan, China, Korea and the USA and it's set to do the same here. If you are into your cloth+cleanser routine, where you remove your cleanser and make up etc with a lovely warm muslin cloth then listen up. Incidentally, if you're not of that school of cleansing and you like a classic face wash, then this is equally for you too! In fact, everyone, gather round, this is good...

Here's the happy little fella.

See, the konjac sponge is essentially a sponge that cleanses and lightly exfoliates your skin, also leaving it feeling moisturised. All by itself! It's a very simple, very peculiar object, enticing, squishy, friendly and so easy to use. It's also extremely gentle. And this is really what sets it apart from other cleansing apparatus (!) ...I can't stress this enough. If you have easily upset skin, if using flannels or muslin cloths leaves any redness behind or exfoliation dries out your skin, good god you're going to love this.

Originally intended for babies, the texture of this sponge is like no other, it absorbs a ridiculous amount of water and really holds onto it, but when you prod it, it leaves no actual wetness behind, it's like magic. It leaves skin feeling refreshed, very, very smooth and comfortable. Again, if normal washing of your face makes skin feel tight, give this a go.

The konjac sponge is made from 100% natural konjac plant fibres. Amorphophallus Konjac or the konjac potato grows wildly across Asia and is eaten in Japan, where it is called Konnyaku. Interestingly it is also used in making vegan gelatin.

How it benefits the skin comes down to its pH balancing effect (which also helps cleanse away oil and dirt) as well as its actual texture. Massaging the skin increases blood flow and improves circulation and the soft texture prevents damage to the protective barrier layer, keeping your skin happy.

My favourite way to use it is in the morning, when I don't feel like I need a full cleanse (no make up to remove) but still want to freshen and awaken my skin. I don't know why I find it so fun to use, but I do! It's just so squishy (the word to describe it) and soft in a jelly kind of way! And it occurs to me this is also perfect for those reluctant males, as it's a very quick and fuss-free way of cleansing without the need for extra products, (you can use it in place of or as well as your usual cleanser.) I still need to chase the very reluctant Mr. BEskincareful around the house with a palm full of moisturiser, but it's definitely a good start! 

The Konjac Sponge Company have also included in the range charcoal and mineral rich french clays, which all act differently to further support different skin types. The charcoal blend is especially helpful in balancing oily or blemish prone skin, as is the green clay sponge for more normal to oily skin. There is also red and pink clay blends which help soothe and nourish dry, sensitive or mature skins. So there really is something for everyone here.

And just to reiterate, this is 100% natural, with no colourings, no additives, it's sustainable, bio-degradable (they need replacing every three months or so) and made from natural konjac grown at high altitude free from pollutants. Can you sense my excitement?!

The Original Konjac sponge is £5.25, Charcoal £5.75, French Clays £5.75 
Available from the Konjac Sponge Company 
(I have seen them retail at over twice this price so beware!)

P.S. I'd love to hear from you if you've given it a go too! Feel free to comment

Friday 8 April 2011

Oskia Eye Wonder Nutri-Active Eye Serum

The Oskia Eye Wonder Nutri-Active Eye Serum is not just an eye cream. It's an eye serum... The clue was in the name. I like the word serum because you can imagine some one has poured various liquids into special little glass vials and held them up to the light, tinkering around with a glass probe and a measuring device, whilst a smaller, mousey-looking man observes, writing down the results on his clipboard with his Parker pen. What I mean is there's some proper science going on here...

As with all Oskia products, the formula is based on MSM, which is key in the production and support of collagen - we all know how important collagen is in staying youthful. There are so many other clever ingredients in here but I'll point out what I think are some of the most innovative ones, because that seems to be what Oskia is all about - creating products that only use exceptional ingredients that have some clear results to their name...

First up we have arnica, commonly applied to the skin to lessen bruising. What a great idea! Together with another ingredient, Laminaria, and also Vitamin B3 they act to decongest, banishing dark circles for a clearer and brighter look. 

Next we have milk peptides and Galactoarabinan (GA, an alternative to collagen from the plant Larch) which works to lift and firm the skin for an instant boost. I can really feel this effect...

And we also have Swiss Apple Stem cells and these are derived from a rare variety of apple that was known for its resistance to shrinkage and wrinkling of the skin. Can you see where this is going? These stem cells help our own adult skin stem cells in repairing the skin and reducing the depth of wrinkles. 

As with all these ingredients Oskia's website highlights some very commanding research to explain what each one does in far more depth so for more information check it out here.

The Eye Wonder serum is a very lightweight texture and a little goes a LONG way. By a long way, I mean it will cover all of your face if you wanted it to. It's very cooling, very fresh, very pleasant to use either day or night. And I have been using it for several weeks now twice a day. 

My initial reaction was one of wonder, suitably enough being called Eye Wonder. It was quite strange! It did seem to lift and firm and tighten once it dried. And I say dried because it is more like a drying rather than an absorbing. This drying effect does the clever tightening part, giving a smoother looking appearance. But I'll be honest, I did struggle a little trying to work out how much to put on, not sure that this much was really right. The pump bottle delivers a massive amount! And because it goes so far and seems to feel like too much I started trying to use less, not wanting to overload my skin as well as not wanting to waste it (it's 58smackeroons!) So I was unscrewing the top to use just a dab instead. But you know what? After awhile, I was a little underwhelmed and realised that this wasn't perhaps the idea. The effects I was getting before were better so I have gone back to pumping out whatever the pump wants and massaging it in (lightly, obviously, we all know the rules) all over the eye area, as it says on the bottle, from temple to temple. I don't just mean delicately tapping just above my eye lid and just below. I mean above the brow to above the cheek, right across the temples, even across the bridge of the nose. Everywhere! Spread the love right? I'm not sure if this is the idea... but I think it works for me, it's such a light texture it really doesn't drag and once it goes kind of 'tacky' it pulls the skin into shape and you're laughing! Clever, clever stuff.

Trying to decide if it's had any life changing effects is really tricky because I have to say I am much happier with my skin now, more so than I have been in long, long time. And this is totally down to changing my ways and choosing genuinely clean and pure products. The overall appearance of my skin has definitely improved. I'm really impressed with Oskia's range and the ethos behind the brand. And I'm in firm support of the research that goes into each ingredient. The Eye Wonder serum is lovely to use, with a very clever instant boost effect. As for diminishing wrinkles, it's hard to tell and that's surely down to the test of time, whether I end up with a face like a saggy grey tracksuit or a brand new lycra one-piece. 

But I like to put a little investment in and a little trust too so I'm going to continue to use it and you can watch my face... It'll be like Play Your Cards Right - higher... lower...no,  higher! 

Oskia Eye Wonder Nutri-Active Eye Serum 
£58 for 15ml (which is quite large for an eye cream)

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Une Natural Make Up

Good God, I'm the queen of distraction. And a complete clutz. I set out writing this post, all bubbling and excited, waiting for little Laptop to fire up... and then suddenly like a distracted dog I'm up, I'm in the kitchen drinking a cup of tea, I come back and forget what I'm doing and start replying to emails, then I find myself sitting on the floor in front of the mirror, scissors in hand cutting my fringe (something that really shouldn't be rushed or done with half a heart) and then I go and hit myself in the eye / nose area with the hoover hose trying to clear up the remains of my fringe on the carpet. What a weirdo. 

Anyway, I'm settled again and what I was all excited about telling you was today I am wearing about 80% natural make up, all over my face!

This might not sound much, but I'll elaborate for you: my foundation, my blush, one shade of eyeshadow and a matte nude lipstick - ALL NATURAL!

What isn't is my concealer, my mascara and another 2 shades of eyeshadow. OK, maybe that's more like, 60-70%. But I'm feeling quite pleased with myself all the same!

So here's the deal. I was was rattling around my local Superdrug (Dalston's best offer for beauty buys) in a vague search for a few new products when I decide to investigate a  brand that I have seen for some time but never actually tried... Une, from the guys behind Bourjois, is a make up range where 98% of ingredients are from natural sources and as much as possible is Ecocert organic too. I tell a lie when I say I've never actually tried anything by Une. I bought a concealer in the range a while back but if I'm honest I didn't really get on with it. And so I had not really bothered, up to now, to see what I thought of the rest of the product range. 

For your interest and entertainment, I was on the lookout for a new blusher because the ones I keep using (non-natural) keep bringing my skin up in little bumps and redness (grrr). As I made my way along each instalment of cheapy make up, I spied that Une were on a 3 for 2 offer. Bargain, I thought. After my disappointment at the concealer, I tentatively approached the Une stand. The look of the brand is quite attractive, like if Apple made make up, all white with slidey packaging and mirrors on the outside. Before me was a beautiful light pink blusher... before I knew it I had reached out and squashed a finger in it. Oh! The texture and finish of the Breezy Cheeks Blush was gorgeous! They had me! 
So creamy and velvety and even-pigmented, I was very impressed. It's a kind of cream - powder formula, and leaves a nice dewy look to the skin when applied. So I bought a lovely soft light pink colour, shade B02.

But I wasn't going to miss out on this 3 for 2 so I picked another couple of products...

The Sfumato Eyes Shadow I chose was a simple matte grey, shade S13. Again, easy to apply, good even blend, light, buildable, reasonable staying power. Very happy with that. 

And then there's the Casual Matt Colour lipstick. I hate lipsticks in general but do like to wear something on my lips, usually a balm. This nude, shade M05, is a very nice peachy-pink, a your-lips-but-better kind of look. Which I love. It isn't drying in anyway, in fact it is actually quite balmy so your lips get that extra boost of moisture without that silly sticky feeling. It says it is a matte texture which I can't say it is in the truest sense of the word, after all there is some shine. But what I think it really means is it's a simple, one colour affair with no shimmer, no glimmer nor glitter nor glossiness, without drying your lips into an inch of their life but without shining from the tree tops either. It's comfortable to wear and you're not swallowing any terrible chemicals. No Sir, not here. 

Ingredients-wise, The range on the whole excludes parabens, mineral oils and common make up nasties like talc. It's quite hard to find any specifics on the website and you need eyes the size of the moon to read the packaging, but in-store there is a little bit more to tell you what is in each product. The ones that are Ecocert are the most pure as to be certified by Ecocert they have to fulfil certain criteria. (Each of the products I bought are Ecocert certified.)

Get ready for this...

And here is my 'definitely over half but not quite 100%' natural make up Face of the Day, as they say in blogland. This, my be the first picture of me, it may be the last. I'm not telling. So enjoy it while it lasts...!

Une Breezy Cheeks Blusher in B02, £8.99
Une Sfamato Eyes in S13, £9.29
Une Casual Matt Colour in M05, £7.99
Available in Boot and Superdrug in store and online.