Monday, September 29, 2014

Review- Lush, Angels On Bare Skin Facial Cleanser (plus how to use it without making an utter mess)

Ok so we played around a bit with make-up and nail polish towards the end of this week, but it's Monday now, back to business, back to skincare. 

If you're like me, you might like to use something every now and then that feels like it's physically cleaning your skin. You might also like to eat just guacamole for dinner, but that's another story. 

Once I realised what a microbead was, and why I shouldn't be scrubbing my face with balls of plastic, I was on the look-out for a reasonably priced scrubby cleanser, I heard such good things about the Lush facial scrubs, that I ventured back into their store, for the first time in about ten years, a very good decision. 

Blog, meet Angels on Bare Skin. 

In a nutshell
Pros: Feels scrubby, lovely aromatic ingredients, gently on skin. 
Cons: A bit of a process to use 
Price:  $42.37 for 250 grams
Purpose: Scrubby cleaner, use once a day, or once every couple of days. 
Packaging: Like the lush pot, easy to open and use. 
Re- Purchase? Yes. The gorgeous scent and skin feel is worth the extra effort.

This cleanser uses ground almonds to scrub your skin, so you'll get that lovely feeling of exfolliating, without damaging the environment, or stripping too much skin off your face. The almonds are in good company with kaolin clay, which will draw impurities out of your skin and soak up excess oils.

But my personal favourite part? The aromatics. There's a (gentle, soothing) party going on in that pot, with lavender, rose and blue chamomile, mmmmmmm. 

There is a drawback though, this isn't the easiest product you'll ever use. For me, the hassle is exceeded by the therapeutic scent and the softness of my skin after use, but it isn't a cleanser to use when you're in a rush. If this product was a boyfriend, it would be a handsome funny one, who is terribly messy. You love him anyway, but that doesn't mean you don't wish he was a little easier to live with! 

Luckily, after a few uses, I've managed to fine tune my technique a bit, and I'm much less likely to end up with almond meal in my hair. So, if you're going to buy this product, let me save you the mess. 

Firstly, Lush suggests you take a pinch off, I take a bit more than that, because I live large. 

The idea is to add a bit of water to make a cleansing milky substance, this is where I deviate a bit more from the Lush directions. I find if I get things too liquidy, it's hard to transfer the scrub from hands to face, and feel like you're getting product in the right areas. 

Instead, I make a very thick paste, like the one you can see below, using only a few drops of water. 

I can then smear that thicker paste over my cheeks, nose and forehead to make sure I'm getting product right around the areas that need to be clean (and avoiding my eyes as much as possible - because those little almond granules love to stick in my lashes!) 

Once I've done that, I massage and scrub a bit more with wet hands, which makes things more milky, but I think spreading the product as a paste first helps me have more control. 

Finally, I place a very hot cloth over my face, and inhale the lavender loveliness, before cleaning all the scrub off.

Low maintenance it is not, but for me, totally worth it, and your skin will feel lovely and baby-soft while you drift into gently scented dreams.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Spackle-Stuff- Tom Ford Lipstick

Hello hello and happy weekend,

A special hello to the people who've left lovely comments, emailed, connected with me on twitter or chased me down the street holding pitchforks. The last one might have been a dream, but the rest has been lovely- it's nice to get to know you all and be able to check out your blogs as well! (Plus I've got lots of new things to try now, so thanks, I think)

Given that I've got a few new-er readers I thought I should write a little more about myself, as that's what I'm always curious about when I read other people's blogs. But then I got extremely self conscious! 

So, instead of just throwing facts about myself at you, I'm going to start 'Spackle-Stuff' a series where I talk about one of my most favourite products/beauty items, and in doing so elaborate a bit more about who I am. 

It's not a review, or an 'about me' so to speak, but should be a bit of fun. And, if nothing else, you'll be able to see my face when it's not covered in facemask. 

Couldn't start with anything but the creme de la creme- Tom Ford Lipstick

These are so expensive I almost feel a bit guilty about the size of my collection, almost, but not really, because I truly love them. (L to R Casablanca, Flamingo, Cherry Lush, True Coral, Wild Ginger) 

Let me begin by saying, you will never use a better lipstick. Nothing is as pigmented and creamy, has the staying power but also the perfect finish. I painstakingly use a brush on these babies to preserve them, and, as you can see, a little has gone a very long way. 

My love affair with red lipstick actually began a while before I even met Mr Tom Ford, when I rocked a hardcore Anna Wintour bob, and liked posing on slides. 

I was a ballet dancer for most of my childhood/early teen life, until I was about 17. Starting at 3 meant I had some verrryyy early exposure to drag-queen levels of makeup, and developed a very steady hand with eyeliner, and a life long love affair with false eyelashes.

The first time I wore a red lipstick, I was five years old, and I wore it for my ballet concert. I clearly remember being absolutely enchanted with the way it looked, and the way my face looked. I used to beg my mum to let me wear it casually (looking back, so glad she said no) and idolise other people who did. 

Track forward 15 years, I was a 20 year old uni student, who spent most of my money on fake tan (urgh), ridiculous on-trend clothing and vinyl records. 

So, it was a miracle that I made my way to the Tom Ford counter, much less managed to purchase a quality, timeless classic, like the Cherry Lush lipstick. But I did, and my red-lipstick love rekindled. I had never used such a perfect lipstick, which completely changed my look and made me feel incredibly special and luxurious. 

I wore that lipstick everywhere, and it features in some of my most favourite moments.  This photo particularly is very close to my heart, as it was taken about a week after I started dating my boyfriend. Looking at this I can clearly remember getting ready, and thinking about him, and what he'd think of me all dolled up. Ah, youth. 

Over the years I've added to my collection, and moved away from my safety ned of reds to darker shades (Casablanca is just the most perfect flirty adult lipstick you'll ever have) and fun pinks (a present from a beloved friend) but I've never been disappointed, and always, always had a soft spot for Mr Tom Ford. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Friday Funny- Revlon Nail Art in Moon Candy

Today’s Friday Funny is brought to you by both Revlon, Cosmetic Fragrance Direct and the influence of an 8 year old friend.
Over the weekend, my young friend gave me a pre-birthday manicure, which made for some very festive celebration photos, and helped me cling to a bit of immaturity!

Although that polish didn’t have a lot of staying power, I had sparkles on the brain, so was pleasantly surprised to find the Revlon Nail Art bottles seriously reduced at CFDirect. At 4 for $10, I couldn’t resist picking up two, along with two more standard polishes (I’ll admit I was tempted to go hog-wild and buy four bottles of Nail Art). 

After much internal negotiation, I settled on the Moon Candy range, and picked a dark red and pink (230 Supernova) , along with a grey and paler pink (250 Satellite). I quite liked the dark colours, as they seemed to add a sophisticated edge compared to the glitter nail-polish of my youth.

Let’s be honest, this is purely a novelty product. For this reason, I wasn’t expecting a highly developed apparatus,  and found that my suspicions were mainly true: the bottles are smaller, and the brushes are smaller. 

Using the small brush made it trickier to get even coverage, particularly with the glitter. On the other hand, the double-ended screw top is easy to carry and throw in your bag, and you’re getting two polishes in the one cute package.
I chose Satellite which is the grey and pinkish combo for my mini-mani.  You'll notice all the following photos are taken on my very exciting desk, to show just how well these polishes brighten up an otherwise boring office day. 

grey was deep and a bit darker than I expected, although I did have to apply a bit thickly as the small brush was a bit tricky to manoeuvre. 

After the grey undercoat came glitter, which was not lots of tiny sparkles, but rather bigger flake-style glitter pieces. Again there were a few teething issues while applying this. 

I originally struggled to get the glitter flakes off the brush and on my nails. 

By pushing and brushing a bit too vigorously, I actually smudged the undercoat, as you can see in the centre of my thumb here (the faded stripe) 

I eventually mastered a more successful technique, where I gently placed the brush and the sparkles on my nails, instead of vigorously brushing. 

The results were pretty good! Exciting glittery nails, that didn't require a whole swag of products to achieve. 

Sure they're not the most well designed bottles, or the most expertly applied polish (I was being quick to avoid any fume complaints from my neighbours in the open plan) but for a hump-day-treat, a bit of glitter is a winner for me, and, two days on, they're staying put.

Big tick, Revlon Nail Art. 

To finish a nail polish themed joke! 

Where did the nail polish store his wallet?

...... In his laquer! 

These get worse by the week, Happy FRIDAY :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's in my basket? Springtime Skincare Favourites

Happy Monday! Hopefully someone is out enjoying the sunshine, even if I'm not. You might remember way-way back when, I posted my solution to organised skincare- a basket. 

The other day while I was reorganising things/playing a game of 'product tetris' I decided to lay everything out, and elaborate a bit more on what is currently in my skincare basket. 

These are things I use daily, or at least regularly enough to warrant promotion out of the cabinet to the basket.  I like to think each serves a different (and justifiable) purpose to warrant their spot in the basket, which I'll detail down below. I'll link where I've done reviews- but doing this has reminded me I need to do a lot more! (REN serums and acid exfoliants to come soon!) 

Just realised- my headbands made the first photo (top left) they're for....uh... keeping the hair off your face. Extremely high-tech. 

First little group is things for getting my face nice and clean. I've got....

The Scrubby One- Lush- Angels on Bare Skin Facial Cleanser 
Hardcore Acid Exfoliant (once weekly at most)Dr Dennis Gross- Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel
More Gentle Acids (twice weekly)Go To Skincare- Exfoliating Swipeys
Heavy Eye Makeup/Lipstick Remover- Bioderma 

(I've also got a big pump-pack of Sukin Sensitive Cleanser which is my all purpose cleanser)

On to the serums. I possibly have a few too many of these, but they all do something a bit different! Plus, as the most active, concentrated element of my routine, I figure they're worth splurging on. 

The Super Luxe Serum- REN Rose Synergy O12 Restoring Facial Serum
Anti-Aging Serum- Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir
Splurge-ish Daily Serum- REN Radiance Perfecting Serum
Economical Daily Serum-  Rosehip Plus Rosehip Oil- this is the one I meant to take to Port Douglas, as replacement for my A'Kin one. 

I'm still on the search for a perfect moisturiser, but here's what I'm working with at the moment

All Purpose Gentle Night Time- Swisse - Sensitive Vitamin E Face Moisturiser 
Day Time, with some SPF- Aveeno - Positively Radiant Daily Moisturiser
Anti-Aging Night Time-  First Aid Beauty- 5 in 1 Restore Cream Age Delay

General light weight moisturiser for daytime? Still searching! I've just picked up two Lush moisturiser samples, to consider (Imperialis and Celestial)

Finally, things that can't really be categorised and stand by themselves. 

Refreshing Face Spritz- Lemongrass House-  Green Tea Toner

Eye Cream-  Kiehl's- Avocado Eye Treatment- 

And here they all are! More detailed reviews to come, but for now, that's a snapshot of the kind of things I'm loving this Spring, that warrant a prized basket-position. 

The Hunt- A Lovely, Light Moisturiser. Sampling: Lush Imperialis and Celestial, Darphin Hydraskin Light.

It's true, I'm on the hunt. 

I'm looking for a soft, light moisturiser that I can use day or night. Something hydrating, without being too sticky or heavy. Lovely and a bit luxurious, without irritating my skin or breaking the bank

Harder than it seems! I even took to my Twitter for suggestions so that I can leave no stone unturned in this quest. 

To get started, the lovely people at Lush and Mecca have given me some food for thought, in the way of samples. I'm trying two from Lush (Imperialis and Celestial) and from Mecca, Darphin Hydraskin Light

Firstly, the Darphin Hydraskin Light.

As soon as I mentioned the word 'light' to the staff at Mecca, they whisked me towards the Darphin, and I can see why. It's extremely delicate, and leaves only a very soft skin feel, no heaviness or stickiness at all.

I was interested that it actually had quite a strong smell, similar to a fancy sunscreen I suppose, which is unusual in a moisturiser suitable for sensitive skin.  I haven't had any reaction at all to the fragrance and I quite like the scent, as it adds to the luxurious feel of the product. 

The product itself feels extremely light, both to use and on my skin, which makes it easier to use less.

It contains a range of hydrating and antioxidant rich natural ingredients (Butterfly Lavender, Kiwi Fresh Cells), and Hydralonic Acid, the moisturising wonder-kid, designed to help your skin absorb moisture extremely efficiently, basically, this stuff is absolute gold. 

Given these terrific ingredients, I wasn't surprised that my skin felt extremely soft and supple after use. The only downside with the Darphin is the price. Mecca sell it for $68 for 50ml  which is down the splurge-ier end of my budget.

However, given how much I've loved the sample, and am yet to find something I prefer, I might be indulging in a pot of Darphin very soon.

Lush Imperialis

This is Lush's specific moisturiser for sensitive skin. It contains a range of soothing anti-redness ingredients including Lavender Flower and St John's Wort, which are mixed in with deeply hydrating products like Olive Oil and Cocoa and Shea Butters.

As you can see, it's a pinkish moisturiser, which, I promise, looks much better in a Lush pot than in this sample photo. (Also, yep my nails are covered in glitter, more on that Friday)

While it may seem quite heavy in this photo, in reality it is a very light cream. It doesn't sit on the skin or leave a heavy residue, and I experienced no irritation at all.

My only issue with this product was the smell. It gave off an extremely... medicinal odour. I'm not exactly sure of the source- St John's Wort maybe?- but I found it quite strong and not particularly pleasant. 

Given the smell, and the fact that this product followed the Darphin sample, I felt overall that this moisturiser just didn't feel luxurious enough. Admittedly it's not nearly as expensive, but at $33 for 45 grams it still isn't cheap, and I just didn't love or even particularly look forward to using it. 

A good moisturiser for sensitive skin, but not quite right for Goldilocks here. 

I much preferred the scent of Lush Celestial Moisturiser

With vanilla and almond milk, it had a lovely creamy, almost vanilla custard scent, which wasn't very overpowering at all. Also, the colour and consistency of this moisturiser felt slightly more luxurious than the Imperialis. 

It is a heavier moisturiser, and on the skin, I could feel that it was a heavier product, and it sat in a layer on top of my skin if I used too much.

So while I liked the scent and feel when I used Celestial, within a couple of minutes of it on my face, I wasn't thrilled with its heavier texture.

I didn't experience any irritation or breakouts, so I still think this is terrific for sensitive skin, but it's not a completely light-weight moisturiser, and that was one of my criteria. At $27.95 for 45grams, this is a cheaper product. But given the heavier feel, I'll probably search for something a bit lighter within the same price range instead of purchasing.

So my quest continues, to find something I love as much as the Darphin, or just splurge on it. 

While I've got you here, you've probably noticed that all these moisturisers are samples. As a sensitive-skin-type, I couldn't make any significant purchases without giving something a good try out. I have no problem asking for a sample, particularly at stores where they know I'm a good customer, and will return if I'm happy.

Below you can see my catch-all in the bathroom, with  three little sample jars that I was working through at the time, one of which (REN Rose Serum) I fell in love with and purchased almost immediately. 

If you're going to ask for samples, and I think it is a good idea, I've got some basic guidelines to ensure you foster good relationships with the stores and brands you sample from, and get the most out of the experience

- Know what you're looking for- I walked into the stores and specifically outlined my skin issues, and what I needed from a product (and wanted to avoid) to save myself and the sales assistant's time.

- Trust the sale staff- it's a give and take relationship, if you're asking to try their products, you can at least pay attention to what they're saying about them.

- Consistently use the sample. There's no point mixing the sample in to your routine with other samples, because then you can't pinpoint the source of any irritations. When you consistently use a product, you'll quickly work out how it feels and works for your skin, and how you feel about using it.

- Label your samples. Nothing worse than coming home with no clue what you've got in your handbag.

- Return if you're purchasing. Unless there's a serious price differential online, I am very loyal to the stores that let me sample. I think it's only fair, given I wouldn't have brought the product without their assistance, and, over time, I'm able to build good relationships with staff. (Favourite places to buy- Mecca Cosmetica by an absolute country mile, plus Tom Ford and Bobbi Brown have brilliantly trained people. Also encountered great staff at Lush, Kiehls and Aesop )

- Interrupt another customer. Firsly, it's rude. Secondly, you're asking for a sample, not a blood transfusion, it can wait.

- Disregard the sales people. While it's easy to do a lot of research online, they spend all day with these products and are a terrific resource. Plus, it's quite unreasonable to expect them to cough up samples when you're not willing to engage with their knowledge and abilities.

- Over-do it. I wouldn't take more than two samples in the one visit, it's not reasonable to compare a whole swag of products, plus it starts to seem like you're being a bit dodgy. Equally, I wouldn't take the same sample twice, if you got back for it again, just buy it.

- Be shy about price. There's no point sampling things you can never afford- you'll just break your own heart! Let the sales-person know what price point you're looking at, and don't be afraid to ask how much a specific product is.

- Think you need to buy every sample you use. The idea of sampling is to find what you like. If it didn't work, go back to the store and tell them why, they'll probably be happy to use your review, and steer you towards something more suitable.

Most of all, have fun! There's nothing I love more than chatting about a few products, and coming home with a couple of samples to try. I'd like to thank the lovely people at Lush and Mecca, who made this post, and my quest for the perfect moisturier, possible. 

Have you used a moisturiser that you love? Don't be shy! Let me know via the comments, or connect with me on Twitter- @spackleon 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Friday Funnies- Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub

Starting a little bit of a series for this blog, Friday Funnies where I'll look at new concepts, weird and wonderful tricks and tips or , novelty or kind of unusual products. 

And I'll possibly tell a joke too.

First up, Mint Julips from Lush. 

They've got these lip scrubs in a range of flavours (Bubblegum, Popcorn) but I don't really like my beauty products to smell like food? Weird quirk, I don't mind a fruity scent or vanilla, but bubblegum or popcorn scent doesn't do it for me. So I compromised on mint which isn't too food-ie. 
It's a lip scrub, which means it's designed to buff away little rough bits from your lips, so they're nice and smooth afterwards. You did need to follow up with a lip balm, as this is strictly scrub only. 

Comes in a cute little pot, but things get a tiny bit dicey when the lid is open- sugar everywhere! This got much easier the more I used it, but at first I did need to be very careful not to spill. 

It's a pretty straight-forward idea, sugar buffs the rough bits off your lips, while essential oils (peppermint and jojoba) soothe them. These simple ingredients mean that tons of people have reviewed this product saying they could easily make it themselves.

Yep, you probably could. But would you? 
And, with the buying the oils and packaging it for taking in your handbag and not making a mess, would it be worth saving the $10? 

Not for me. 

Back to the product, scoop a bit out with your finger (again, gets easier the more you use) and scrub it over your lips. 

Smush your lips together, give yourself a little massage and work of any little dry pieces of skin. 

Then, the package suggests you lick the remainder off. I've tried this a few times, and I end up looking like this- sugar everywhere. 

So instead, I've taken to swiping the excess off with a tissue.

That's my biggest drawback with this product, the whole sugar/lick lips thing.

I dont love licking my lips- because saliva is not terribly good for lips. Actually, just double checked whether that was a myth or a fact, and saliva is genuinely bad as a lip-product. It contains enzymes which break down food, and given that your lips are delicate anyway, those enzymes are going to break them down too.

If you can lick only the sugar off, with out salivating all over your lips (or do my little tissue trick), and you don't mind a bit of doughnut-mouth, which is what I've christened the sugar after-effects, this is actually a very useful product.

Short of setting up a whole kitchen in my office, it's the only way I can get the dry bits off my lips without peeling (yuck! ouch!), so I'm ok with it, until I can find a more convenient product.

The verdict? Serves a very specific need, only somewhat well, but I am yet to find a better product.

And now for today's joke! 

I went to the zoo the other day, it was empty, except for a single dog. 

It was a Shiz Zuh.


(please forgive me)

Happy weekend :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Product Review- Puretopia Purify and Revive Deep Cleansing Clay Mask ( plus my facemask routine)

Back to real life and regular posting, this time with a face-mask review of the Puretopia Purify and Revive Deep Cleansing Clay Mask (what a mouthful!). Down the bottom I'll also run through my general routine with masks, when I use them, why I use them etc. I really like a mask, as a way to press the re-start button on my skin a bit. Clay is great for drawing out any toxins or impurities, and making your skin receptive to whatever you put on next. Clay masks are a bit harsh in their effectiveness, so for that reason I only do one once per week, and not on the same day as an acid cleanse. 

In a nutshell
Pros: Good ingredients, ethical company, terrific price
Cons: A little harsh on the skin. 
Price:  $14.99 for 125 ml
Purpose: Clay mask, for use once per week. 
Packaging: Functional, easy to use, easy to travel with. More hygenic than a pot style mask. 
Re- Purchase? Yes, although I may also look for a less harsh one. 

The good thing about clay masks, is that the active ingredient (clay) is dirt cheap to produce. So you don't have to shell out much, for a decent product like this one. 

I really liked what I saw on the packaging, Sulfate and Paraben free, and with some terrific ingredients: Niacinamide which is killer for fighting spots (Which is why I grabbed this mask for my Spotty Skin SOS), Rosehip which is a terrific antioxidant to even out skintone and treat any scars or marks, and Shea which is a deep moisturiser plus Kaolin Clay which is the standard for clay mask clay . All up, the specs looked good. 

I was also pleased with the tube packaging- although it might be easier to control how much you get out of a tub, I don't love digging around in the same pot with my fingers each time. It doesn't seem hygenic as a tube where the first time you touch the product, you're using it. That said, if this was a more expensive product, I'd worry that the last scerricks could be wasted in the tube. Overall, for a cheapie, like the tube.

It's a softer, think moisturiser type consistency, which is a bit different to other masks I've used. Plus it's white, which is quite good if you're trying not to stain your washcloths. 

While it may come out of the tube looking soft and gentle, this is quite a strong mask. You will get a tingle when you apply it, so I would suggest carefully avoiding your eye area, and not using it on sensitive skin.

After a few seconds, it will dry to a more subdued white mask. I've now realised the only times my face appears on this blog is under a mask, sorry 'bout that.

Give yourself 10-15 minutes to go and relax You'll most likely find me watching Please Like Me or The Dreamhouse on iView. 

After the ten minutes, I use two goes of a hot washcloth to clean this mask off. The first go around I pick up all the physical traces of the mask, then I go in again to make sure it's all gone.

I've noticed that I'm a bit pink once this mask has come off, which I put down to the strong Niacinamide.I haven't had any ongoing irritation from this mask though, so I just take precautions (not using on sensitive skin, and only once per week). 

Overall, a great price for a good performer. I've found that my skin improves after using the mask, and using it regularly helps to keep blemishes away, although I'm still cautious about not over-using it, given the tingly feeling and my skin's sensitivities. 

And now.... My Face Mask Routine

I do Facemask Thursday as I like to think I'm clearing out work-week-gunk and getting my skin excited for the weekend, plus on Thursdays I don't usually have much on, compared to Friday nights. I figure, if I've gone to all the effort of a mask, I'm not going to put makeup back on my poor face. 

On a Thursday I will
1. Cleanse and remove makeup
2. Apply the mask to clean skin, wait requisite time etc
3. Remove the mask
4. Cleanse again 
5. Apply serums then moisturisers etc

I do this because my skin can be quite sensitive, so while I like the effectiveness of a mask, I don't want it lingering on past the ten minutes. Plus the mask prepares my skin nicely to suck up all the goodness from whichever serum I apply next. 

So that's all from me about masks- if nothing else, they make a nice afternoon/evening of pampering, and an excuse to put your feet up for 10 minutes and relax. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Holiday Skin Part III- Tips and Tricks

I've got a bunch of other holiday-ish posts in my head, so I figured I'd do one last catch-all, with the help of my friends from Cool Runnings. Without further ado, let's get started.

1. Get that sunscreen off your skin. 
The best thing you can do for your holiday skin is wash your face thoroughly as soon as you come in from the sun, do a double cleanse with hot face washers (finally you can use those nicely rolled ones in your hotel bathroom) then cleanse again in the morning.

'But Nicola', you say, 'It's a holiday, I just want to relax and let my skin take care of itself'

Not gunna work unfortunately, if you're slipping-slopping and slapping sunscreen all over your face, you've got to be twice as contentious about taking it off. And if you don't want to look like a leather handbag, you best be slipping-slopping and slapping.

Which brings me to my next point... try not to bake, even with sunscreen on. If you're lying out like a rotisserie chicken your body will want to sweat, and if there's sunscreen clogging those sweat glands, it's going to panic, and possibly give you a lovely prickly heat rash.

For that reason, you should clean the sunscreen off your body as well, every day. I always pack a good scrub for this, such as this one, this one or this luxe but lovely one . As an added bonus, using a scrub will slough off dry skin to help you develop a nice even tan.

2. Vitamin B
Mosquitos, the worst the worst the worst. And repellant? Mad amounts of chemicals. Which is not to say you shouldn't use it, but I'd steer clear of the face. Somehow the mosquitos haven't got the memo about faces being delicate though, and there's nothing quite like a big old bite on the face.

Which means the only solution is this, right?

Not necessarily. If you start taking daily Vitamin B supplements about 2 weeks before your trip, you will emit an odour that naturally repels mosquitos. Sound unlikely? I thought so too, but it works!

Another hot tip is to avoid perfume, and cut down on fragranced products, essentially, the more delicious you smell, the more mosquitos will want to find you.

3. Change is not necessarily a good thing
It can be very tempting to grab sample sizes of random products before a big trip, and get caught up in the excitement of trying something new.

On behalf of your skin, I would like to ask you very very nicely not to.

In this case, afraid for good reason.
Learn from my mistakes, if you're changing one thing about your skin routine (ie introducing lashings of sunscreen and a bunch of UV) then keep the rest the same. If you have to, painstakingly decant your products into travel bottles. There's nothing worse than breaking out in a terrible rash, and not knowing what caused it.

4. Don't forget your hair!
The problem with flyaway holiday hair is that it tends to feel like straw after a few days, so I've got a few cheats to make sure you don't come home with an untameable mop.If you follow these steps you're not going to lose those beachy waves, they'll just look healthier and less frizzy.

- Rinse, rinse, rinse.
Those cute little outdoor showers next to the pool aren't just for show. As soon as you get out, try and throw as much fresh water in your hair as possible. That way, your hair releases the chlorine or salt in favour of fresh water, and you buy yourself some time between hairwashes.

- Cut the 'poo-
When I'm away, I tend to use a conditioner only, particularly if I'm swimming a lot. I'll comb conditioner into my wet hair after I've rinsed it, then leave it in while I get ready to shower, so it soaks in for a lovely long time. After I've rinsed it out in the shower, my hair is back to soft and manageable!

- BYO Oil
I've been tempted not to take my Moroccan Oil away with me, as it's so heavy, but it's one of the best things you can pack. I've now bought a smaller travel bottle, and I throw some in my hair first thing, to protect from UV rays, and then in the evening after rinsing to rehydrate.

So marks the end of Holiday Skin. Hopefully it's been a somewhat useful series, if only to remind myself of a happy time when winter was a distant memory. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holiday Skin Part II- Sunscreen Reviews, Lierac Solaire, La Roche-Posay, Nivea Sun and Natural Instinct

There's nothing like setting off on a trip with a bag full of sunscreen and a head full of optimism that you'll come back with the porcelain skin of a new born babe. Luckily, this trip I didn't do too badly, and, finished up with three go-to favourites, and one unfortunate thumbs-down.

A few notes to start with,  I'm only reviewing facial sunscreens at this point, I tend to think they're more important as they go on my face, neck and decollete while I just slap more generic product on arms and legs. All of the sunscreens I'm reviewing stopped me from getting burnt, so I'll focus on the other factors (feel, whiteness, packaging etc) than efficacy at being a sunscreen. 

Also, To keep things brief, I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty on physical v chemical sunscreens, also because Zoe Foster-Blake does a terrific job here. For the record, I tend to use a mix of physical and chemical. I know physical is better and will defer to it when I'm in the sun for a long day, but I find that chemical is much more gentle and compatible with my skin. Essentially, I figure that some sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, although I try to use physical when I can. 

Let's start with the good news, my front line favourite protection. 
In no particular order...
 Lierac Solaire High Protection Fact Cream- sadly discontinued but replaced by this

Lierac Solaire
I feel a bit silly reviewing this, as it's now discontinued, but I have high hopes that they're just repackaged it, as I really like this sunscreen. 

It's a physical sunscreen, so forms a barrier between rays and your skin. These are the most effective sunscreens, although they can be a bit un-glamorous as they're essentially zinc. For that reason, I'm very careful to double-cleanse thoroughly at the end of the day to take all of the sunscreen off. 

For that reason, it's not surprising that this product is a thicker-cream type sunscreen, however it has a very nice, subtle smell and isn't too heavy, as you can see from my hand modelling. 

After a few swipes, it blends in nicely, although it does leave a bit of a sheen. As a far as physical sunscreens go, this kind of blend-ability puts it up there with the benchmark product (Invisible Zinc)

The old-school tube packaging can be a bit of a draw back as far as mess goes, but it's easy to pack and less likely to leak. Overall, I give this product a solid 8.5/10 with points lost only for the slight residue, and packaging. As I said, discontinued but can still be found here if you're quick! 

La Roche-Posay
Now this is a sunscreen that you barely feel. It's not a physical sunscreen, so no zinc, but as far as chemical sunscreens go, it's absolutely top notch. 

It says a lot that this is my second bottle of this, in as many years. There's nothing I'd rather put on my face, and I've tried a lot of different sunscreens. 

The big selling point to me is the consistency, it's a milk! It's so gentle, watch it run down my hand! I love the feeling of this sunscreen on my skin, and I will always always return to it if a physical sunscreen has made my skin a bit cranky. 

I didn't try very had to blend this, or there'd be a photo of just my hand. Believe me, it blends very easily, to an almost powder-dry finish. This is what it looks like after just one hand swipe. You can see that the centre of the swipe, where my finger probably applied the most pressure, has already become transparent. 

If you're looking for a sunscreen that you can't feel at all- this is your best bet. 

Finally, love the packaging. It's easy to shake, the little nozzle means you don't spurt out too much, and it's small and easy to pack. 9.5/10 only because it's a chemical sunscreen not a physical one. But seriously, I love this sunscreen. It's $28 for 50ml and in my humble opinion, worth every penny. 

Nivea Sun 
Over the past five years, I've bought at least three of these little bottles, to throw in my bag for a last minute quickie sunscreen. Again it's a chemical, not a physical sunscreen, but I still have a lot of time for my old friend Nivea. 

Firstly, the consistency, light feel is the correct way to describe it plus it's a terrific consistency for a lower-priced sunscreen.  (Retails for about $13 for 50ml- although I often see it reduced to $10)  

It does have a slight scent, although I now love the scent as I associate it with being on holiday, quite a clean Nivea-typical smell. It goes on and almost instantly becomes clear- as you can see below. This is a great sunscreen for people who hate 'ghosting' or any kind of white residue. My only quibble is that it can be a little oily/greasy on the skin as it sinks in. I tend to be left with a small film, compared to the completely dry finish I get from La-Roche Posay

Packaging for this product is terrific, a small container with a blue screw off lid. Super unlikely to leak, not going to get messy means I'll happily toss these in my purse. While the slight film means I'm unlikely to use it as a first choice for face, it's a great economical go-to sunscreen, and one I tend to use all over my chest and neck, 8/10

Switching pace for a minute, it's time for my sunscreen disappointment

Natural Instinct Micro Mineral Sunscreen

I really wanted to like this one, it's got aloe vera and vitamin E, and is a natural product, and a great price.  (RRP $15.95) Plus I'm trying to apply mineral sunscreens when I can, as deep down I know they're better. But unfortunately from the first application, this didn't really work for me. As you can see, it's a think white paste. 

....Which is a hellava lot of work to rub in. I managed to smear some over my face, but when it came to neck/chest area, I was seriously struggling. This is a heavy duty zinc, as you can see on my hand below. It's quite sticky and difficult to disperse into the skin. 

If you're very concerned about ingredients, Natural Instinct might be the sunscreen for you. I have no doubt that it protects well, but I just couldn't get over the thick, sticky consistency, 4/10 from me.

That's all for my sunscreen instalment, feel free to comment if you've found a good one, as I'm always on the hunt for the sunscreen holy grail- particularly as we head into summer. Until then, here's Jim Gaffigan.