My skincare routine for what shall forevermore be known as The Winter of Discontent. Obviously, in true Crilly style, I am posting this just as we pip over into springtime, but as I’ve said before, this is more of a journal post recording my skincare routine rather than anything that’s responding to seasonal changes or trends. I like to look back on them. And, in the future, when everyone is Googling stuff from their Google glasses as they lounge about on floating hoverboards in their Martian villas, they will be able to access these posts and use them as historical documents.
“Look what shit they were chatting back in 2021, Brian! Arguing about scotch eggs and the EU when all that time the planet was about to implode! Ha ha ha!”
This skincare routine could really be subtitled The Retinol/Moisturiser See-Saw. I’ve been working my way up to some stronger retinoids (I really want to try the Crystal Retinal 10 and 20 from Medik8!) but every time I get too overly confident my skin revolts and starts going all itchy and tight on me. And yes I know there’s often a period of discomfort before you get to all the good stuff, like a smooth and shiny-glowy face that can be seen from the moon, I just can’t be doing with it. I’m the sort of person who feels cross all day if a gusset is too seamy, so having an itchy face is just not tenable.
What I do, therefore, is absolutely lard my face in between retinoid applications. (Hence the retinol moisturiser see-saw.) I find the strongest, most emollient balms and creams I can and slather them on and massage them in as though I’m one of those outrageously expensive turkeys you can get from the farm shop. I massage and pummel and when it has all soaked in I massage over another layer.
And “layer” is another key word this season; I’m usually one for keeping things very simple, with a cleanse, a serum and a moisturiser (the retinoid or whatever active I’m using would slot into one of those categories, whether it was an antioxidant serum in the morning or an all-in-one retinol+whatever moisturiser at night); this winter I’ve been adding in the odd extra coating of something just to try and banish the tight feeling.
One very good discovery (and I’m not usually one for mists or spritzes, unless it’s Emma Hardie’s one* or the LRP Toleriane 8 here*) is the Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator (here*) which is brilliant for boosting the effects of whatever is piled on over the top.
Then it’s a serum (antioxidant in the morning, something hydrating at night, unless it’s a retinol night in which case straight on with that after cleansing) and a moisturiser to seal it all in. I’ve even been known to add a drop or two of oil into my moisturiser, though I forgot to mention that in the video!
The easiest way for me to show you the current skincare routine is to put it below in a list form. So here it is – beneath that you have a video with full explanation and whole joyous minutes of waffle.
I use a quick micellar water sweep-over! Naughty but all I can be arsed with – currently using this*: https://bit.ly/2MkViiy
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum*: https://bit.ly/2MgaIos
SkinGredients Skin Protein: https://skingredients.co.uk/products/skin-protein-vitamin-a-serum
Arden Great 8 (discontinued?!): https://www.amodelrecommends.com/the-fresh-summer-sunscreen-that-feels-barely-there/
Some other favourite sunscreens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4pzGoALxlU&t=161s
Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/3r0uQcS
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/2ZM9UKV
BeautyPie Cleansing Balm*: https://bit.ly/2NXoRY5
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator*: https://bit.ly/2ZOqZnI
Emma Hardie Pump and Glow Spritz*: https://bit.ly/3qV225G
LRP Toleriane 8 Spray*: https://bit.ly/3aPTNT6
Murad Retinol Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/2ZLWlLt
Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/2ZYeCak
Kiehl’s Powerful Line Reducing Eye Serum*: https://bit.ly/3gwo9dg
Retinol (once every two or three days)
Murad Night Cream*: https://bit.ly/3khXnZj
Kate Somerville Retinol VitaC Serum*: https://bit.ly/3klOluf
Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 and 6*: https://bit.ly/2ZK5btl
Rich Night Moisturiser
Weleda Skin Food Light*: https://bit.ly/3aQ0lRG
Lumene Night Balm here
REN Evercalm Overnight Balm*: https://bit.ly/2ZKgOQL
Darphin 8 Flower Necar Oil-Cream*: https://bit.ly/3klfYU9
I have been raving about Beauty Pie products since they launched onto the beauty scene. Hi-tech, luxury formulas developed at some of the world’s best labs, but sold direct to the consumer so that the middleman (the retailer) is completely removed from the equation.
I have to say that it took me a while to get my head around the membership concept (more on that in a second, stay with me!) but the more skincare and makeup products I tried and loved the more this particular way of shopping for beauty began to make sense.
I’m going to tell you about my top five favourite Beauty Pie products, the ones I would buy time and time again without a moment’s hesitation, and demonstrate how the membership works along the way. I’d insert a joke here about listening carefully for the science bit and the need for a flip chart, etc etc, but it really isn’t that complicated!
I’m going to use my first (and absolute all-time favourite) Beauty Pie product as a sort of glamorous assistant.
Step forward the Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm (online here). If there was ever a contest or tournament for luxury cleansers (I would genuinely watch that on the telly) then this balm would very easily hold its own. With its silky texture and glorious scent, it’s perfect for massaging over the face to break up makeup and sunscreen and removes everything from mascara to long-wear lip-stain. For a balm so rich and sumptuous, it rinses off beautifully clean and doesn’t leave even a trace of residue.
The Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm won me over from very first use and I always expected it to have a suitably high price tag. The reality? With Beauty Pie membership it’s £13.93. There are different types of memberships – for more information in the UK click here and US click here – and you choose the one that gives you the spending allowance you think you’ll need. (You can always upgrade if you need more, or roll the allowance over to the next month if it’s more than you need.)
Now: here’s the maths bit. Beauty Pie show you two prices – the equivalent retail price for the product and the members’ price. For the cleansing balm, the retail price would be around £50 for an equivalent product. (I’d say this is about right – it’s absolutely on a level playing field with another of my favourite balms and that one is £50 for the same amount of product. I like to cross-check all of my favourites like this and the “typical” values they cite are always very considered and fair.)
So the idea is that as a member you’re getting loads more for your money – you’re getting the luxury product minus the retail markup, which can be up to 80% when it comes to luxury makeup, for example. The only consideration on top is the cost of the membership and also the postage, which tends to be a few pounds for standard royal mail delivery.
How much is the membership? You can opt for £5, £10 or £20 per month. £5 membership gives you a spending allowance of £50, £10 lets you spend up to £100 and £20 per month gives you the biggest allowance at £200. (You can use the code RUTHSENTME to get an extra £50 spending allowance!)
It’s worth noting that the spend is for the typical value, not the members’ price, so if you had the £5 monthly membership then this month that would allow you to buy the cleansing balm. I suppose you could say, in simplistic terms, that the balm is costing you £13.93 + £5 membership fee + postage. A huge saving – well over 50% – if you adore your luxury skincare but tend to balk at the prices.
Let’s do another example with another favourite, and we’ll stick to the £5 per month membership to keep things easy. (I do have a tendency to overcomplicate things, so I hope I’m deconstructing this in a helpful way and not making you want to slowly eat your own fists.) The Futurelipstick Luxe Shine in Master Suite and Nude Blush. Two lipsticks. Why not?
I actually contest Beauty Pie’s valuation of this lipstick, which they say is £25. I’d say it was upwards of this, because it is incredibly similar to the ones that a certain star brought out recently and they are a hell of a lot more expensive. The Futurelipstick is sort of like a gloss in a stick. It has the most voluptuous, heavy sheen that feels as though it is plumping your lips from their very core. It feels decadent and glamorous yet it’s easy to apply and wear and is comfortable and hydrating.
The members’ price? £6.52 for one and £7.54 for the other. (Find them here. I have no idea why they are different prices – intriguing! Something to do with the cost of different pigments? I shall endeavour to find out!) Both lipsticks, bought together, would take you up to your spending limit for the month, but you would have had well over fifty quids’ worth of luxury lipstick for a grand total of £19.06 plus postage.
Things obviously get more exciting (and amounts saved more momentous) as you move up the tiers. For example, if you were in the £20 a month tier because there were loads of things you bought from Beauty Pie regularly (which is not hard to do!) then you could buy something from the Super Retinol range (here – it’s brilliantly formulated) as well as your cleanser and a moisturiser, maybe a little lipstick treat…
Talking of moisturisers: let’s discuss the Japanfusion Power Elixir Moisturiser – typical price £70, members’ price £12.65. This buoyant, bouncy face gel-cream wowed me a couple of years ago and I’ve still not found something to rival it in terms of texture (fresh yet somehow supremely rich) and effect (it makes your face feel as squidgy as a waterbed). It used to be called the Supreme Cream and now it’s the Power Elixir, but it’s the same antioxidant-rich deeply-moisturising formula. It’s just outstanding.
And actually this is one of my favourite pricing examples, for showing how great the Beauty Pie pricing structure can be. If you had a £10 membership, you could pick up this moisturiser, a glossy spring-hued lipstick and still have a bit of allowance to rollover. Your basket would be worth £95 yet you would have spent just £19.17 plus your membership fee. (There are also “piedays” that let you buy certain products without using any of your allowance, so set notifications for those!)
I’m really shooting off all over the place here, rather than listing my top five favourite products, which was the aim of the post. I expect that reading this post is a bit like being in a pinball machine. I suppose if my enthusiasm shines through then that can only be a good thing!
Let’s recap. So far we’ve had:
Beauty Pie Plantastic Apricot Cleansing Balm – typical price £50, members’ price £13.93 here
Beauty Pie Japanfusion Power Elixir Moisturiser – typical price £70, members’ price £12.65 here
Beauty Pie Futurelipstick Luxe Shine in Master Sweet – typical price £25, members’ price £6.52 here
Anything from the Super Retinol range, which is just…super, various prices but all huge savings, here
Oh! My Beauty Pie favourites wouldn’t be complete without the Fruitizyme Five Minute Facial mask, which has a value of £60 but to members is £10.80 here. This AHA mask works quickly and non-aggressively to slough of dead skin cells and give an instant glow. It’s a great fast-acting pick-me-up if you ever want a powerful pre-makeup mask, just five minutes leaves your skin feeling softer and looking fresher. You can leave it on for up to ten but I find that five does the trick and I like that it’s very easy to rinse off – a light gel texture, not a heavy clay or cream, so good for those in a hurry.
Pinballing session over. (Just read in Urban Dictionary that pinballing is when you hit lots of walls on the way to your destination, usually because you’re inebriated and just about to “call dinosaurs”, which is apparently the act of vomiting when you’ve drunk too much. You learn a new thing every day kids!) You’ll see many more brilliant things from Beauty Pie in posts and videos coming up but leave me a comment if you’d like me to review anything in particular that’s caught your eye!
I’ve made a little video for my Instagram page @casacrilly, where I put all of my house and interiors stuff, and it’s all about the double renovation we’re currently in the midst of – we’re doing up a little seaside holiday cottage in Dorset and also the house we’ve moved to. It’s all quite chaotic and I keep wondering whether it’s all entirely necessary but then I remember the two main reasons why all of this work (currently wall demolition, insulation, re-wiring and the full works in Dorset and then floor-sanding and floor-staining here at home) is pressing and necessary. To precis them for you, in case you don’t want to have to watch the video:
a) the cottage needs to be rented out, otherwise it completely defeats the point of itself and
b) we’ve started the chain of works at our own house because the floors are trying to kill me
I’ll expand on point b, shall I? Let’s rewind to when we first viewed our new house. It was instant love for the location and the views, which are unbeatable: not so much for the acres and acres of light solid elm throughout the interior. All solid elm floors, bespoke wardrobes and shelving in almost every room (beautifully done, I should say), a huge double-width staircase carved out of – you guessed it! – solid elm. Now I love wooden floors in photos, but in real life? Slidey as anything! Unless you wear shoes indoors (which feels weird to me) it’s like existing on an ice rink. If you cross the kitchen with a cup of tea then you’re basically signing away your right to sue. Run to answer the telephone (yes we still have a landline that we use, old school!) and you risk breaking your neck.
It becomes infinitely trickier with small children and shiny wooden floors. They career about like lunatics and the day is punctuated by me screaming “hold onto the bannister!” every time they go up or down the stairs. Which is a lot.
Then you can add the noise factor in. (I should have called this post Why I Now Love Carpets). Drop a toy on a wooden floor upstairs and the sound goes straight through you. Twice. The first time when it makes initial impact and then again when it inevitably rolls its way across the floor. Fitted carpet takes away the pain; a dropped basket of wooden foodstuffs at 6.25am? It’s like it never happened. Carpet brings a veil of hush. And yes, you can use rugs, but I do like the luxuriousness of a fitted carpet in bedrooms. And the neatness. Rugs in bedrooms, I can never seem to position them sensibly and then when I get them just right, I realise that the middle isn’t in line with the window, or the edge stops the door from opening.
So, it’s carpets upstairs and beautiful slippery, solid elm down. With rugs. (I seem to be better at downstairs rug positioning for some reason!) But before the neck-saving carpets can be rolled out, we have to stain all of the woodwork. Why? Because it’s like being in one of those furniture shops that only stock the sort of orangey oak or pine that was all the rage in the eighties. It’s overwhelmingly Pine Village. Even though it’s not pine, it’s elm. But the colour is an absolute bombardment to the senses and makes me feel as though I’m trapped in a space-time vortex that has paused in 1991. I think it’s just because there is so much of it.
That’s why we’re taking the wood down a notch or two, to something more in keeping with the seventies style in which it has been built. It’s all being stripped, stained and refinished and will be slightly darker, more luxurious in feel and more comfortable, I think – sometimes with the very light wood and the huge windows, I feel like Mike TeeVee in Wonka’s factory when they’re all in that bright white studio. It’s enough to give you snow blindness if it’s a very sunny day!
I should point out that we’re not changing the wood in the sunken living room that’s featured in these photos – that room is free of Pine Overwhelm Vibes. Annoyingly, the floor will have to come up at some point because underfloor heating is going in, but that’s a story for another day.
Right, well that turned into a very long explanation of what I basically said in the video. You can watch it here if you’d like a sort of audiobook version of this post! Make sure you’re following on @casacrilly for more regular updates and I’ll be back soon with a cottage update… I worry that posts like these are boring if you hate house stuff, but hopefully they’re labelled well enough to allow people to skip over them if they just want beauty…
Two posts in quick succession this week – ambassadors I am really spoiling you! Total misquote there, but if you were born earlier than – I don’t know, about 1985? – then it’s pretty much mandatory to reference the classic Ferrero Rocher ad if you ever use “spoiling you” or “spoiling us” in a sentence. True fact.
If you have no idea what I’m on about, regardez. It’s simply exquisite.
I could do a whole post about this advert and how ridiculous adverts were in general when I was a child, but I need to save that for another day. I’m time poor this week, but thankfully (and unusually) energy rich. It must be the prospect of the schools reopening! Anyway I’m typing like the clappers and working my way through a backlog of posts that need tidying up before my motivation wanes.
February favourites. I’ve tried to keep it eclectic for you again and so we have wood flooring samples alongside cable-knit tights. I know that you appreciate a little variety. I’ve listed the items below the video pane for those of you who want to skim through. If you want to follow my interiors and renovation updates then you need the @casacrilly account on Instagram, here.
YSL Mascara in Brown – is amazing, find it here*: https://bit.ly/3qfC8bY
Flooring samples are from Kahrs in Louisiana and Oregon, they send them for free and you can find loads of places that stock them online!
Hush dress, bought this a few weeks ago and they still have stock*: https://bit.ly/3tpQlWi
Cable-knit tights, again bought a few weeks ago and still in stock here
Robot hoover bought from Amazon, it’s this one here*: https://amzn.to/3qIuhUH
Shirt is by Me+Em, find it here*: https://bit.ly/2O6hgGp
When these life updates (and indeed my children) were still in their early infancy, I regularly used to jinx myself by writing prematurely about them passing certain milestones. Not the starting walking, starting talking sorts of milestones, but the ones that make your life as a parent easier: the sleeping through the night, potty-training sorts of milestones. No sooner would I have written about “turning a corner” with the sleep deprivation or “successfully mastering” getting a toddler to the toilet on time for a wee (“no more peeling down sodden trousers, which seem to stick to wet legs like glue”) then the kids would almost gleefully do a total u-turn and start pooing behind the sofa or waking up at hourly intervals throughout the night.
(Actually neither of them ever did a poo where a poo should not have been, for which I am eternally grateful.)
Anyway, I jinxed myself again this week by drafting this post and joyfully announcing that my youngest turning four seems to have worked a charm on him in terms of sleep and temperament:
“No longer does it require” (I typed) “the skills of an FBI negotiator to get him into the bedroom in the evening and we have managed to reduce the seven or eight bedtime stories he requires to be read to him in order to calm down enough to actually sleep to a more comfortable three. The best thing, though, is that he has stopped being woken in the morning by the intense need to use the toilet. (Lucky him! Wish I could say the same for myself.) For the past year, at least, we have been woken early by the faint sounds of him calling out, always the same song: “I need a weeeeee weeeeee.” Inexplicably, he says this in a broad West Midlands accent, but that is a whole other story. But it has been our alarm call for longer than we can remember and now, all of a sudden, it has stopped.”
So after drafting that little passage, recording for posterity that lovely nugget of memory, what do you think happened? I’ll tell you. On the first night post-draft, he woke up while the owls were still hooting. He then climbed into our bed – this has never happened – and proceeded to spit-whisper things into our ears until six-thirty, at which point he started a brand new song:
“I’m huuuuuuungry! I want breakfast! I’m huuuuuuuuuungry!”
On the second night post-boast, which was last night, he decided to have an almighty breakdown right before bedtime, getting so cross about a Transformers video that he turned puce, and then got up at 5.45am, which is why I am sitting in the kitchen editing this post at 6.35am. (Managed to lie in bed in a semi-doze for a while, boy clamped around me like a koala.)
The funny thing is, however, that the next part of my draft included the following:
“But I will miss, in a strange way, that first light call of I need a weeee weeee. Especially said in that mystery accent, for which we have absolutely no explanation for. With every passing milestone, I realise that I’m needed a bit less – or at least I’m needed in a different way.”
HA. HA. HA. How weird we are, as a species. We look back on the “baby years” and think we miss them, but we forget about the absolute torture that is sleep deprivation. We’re told by others “not to wish time to go faster” or “wait until they’ve left home, then you’ll realise that you should have appreciated each moment more!” but those people in turn have mainly remembered the highlights and not the feeling of relentless exhaustion. We’re programmed to remember the best bits in order, I expect, to survive. So that elders can look wisely down on the younger generation and say, with complete credibility, “oh you’ll be great – the baby years are just the best. How wonderful.”
Disclaimer: I’m not saying that the baby years aren’t the best, or great, or an absolute gift. Just that there are really shitty bits and it’s fine to mention them. I feel as though when you write anything online now, about anything at all, there needs to be this huge disclaimer to make sure everyone knows that you are above all grateful and thankful. Anything that could remotely be considered a moan is met with derision from the Gratitude Police who don’t seem to realise that there is a joy in reading about things you relate to, whether it’s an article about those annoying people who cut their nails on the train or a silly Instagram post about someone’s kids smearing poo on a freshly-decorated wall.
“Why did you even have kids if them smearing poo on the wall annoys you? Some people would kill to have the opportunity to have children and let them smear poo on the wall.”
“You should feel lucky you’re even on a train! How dare you complain about inconsiderate commuters when so many don’t have a job to commute to? Absolutely tone deaf.”
You can see this sort of comment all the time online now, beneath Instagram posts, on newspaper articles. It’s as though some people have totally lost all grip on any sort of humour, satire, tongue-in-cheek-ness or even just the ability to recognise that you can share an observation, or a part of your life, without it needing calibrating or putting into some kind of hierarchy of perceived suffering level. If you’re writing about how you bought a pack of Jammy Dodgers, waited all day for a chance to eat them alone and then opened them to find they were mouldy, you don’t need to be told how lucky you are to even be able to buy Jammy Dodgers in the first place.
My arthritis makes my arms ache from the moment I wake up until halfway through the night. Comments: “Well, be grateful you even have an arm!” Louise78_Unicorn
We were hijacked on flight 653 to Hamburg and I thought I’d never see my family again… Comments: “So not only is this Times journalist able to take a (probably #gifted!) flight, when the rest of us are unable to travel, he now expects sympathy for an event he escaped from unscathed. Millions don’t.”
When did we lose our nose for nuance, our deftness at sniffing out context and our basic skill for reading something in the way it was intended? Why can’t people just have a moan about trivial things, like Jammy Dodgers, or even non-trivial things, like tiredness or illness or the stress of home-schooling, without it having to be subjected to a comparison contest? It’s not Top Trumps! Top Trumps, The Misery Edition.
Parenting is a particularly tricky one to write about because we are expected to love our children unconditionally, which we do, but many seem to think that this also equates to having to love everything they do unconditionally. I love my kids so much that it makes me clench my jaw and sometimes I think I’ve broken a molar; but do I love it when they are both whining when I’m on a conference call, working on me in a sort of emotional pincer-move so that I agree to let them play a game on the iPad? No. My annoyance doesn’t diminish my love for my children and it seems strange that it always feels necessary to pre-empt any kind of “real life” observation with a whole stream of background and fact to give it context. Surely it’s evident from the style and the tone of the writing?
Well. That went off on a tangent. It’s because I have time to spare – I’m writing this in the early morning rather than at five minutes to midnight. See what absolute masterpieces I produce when I get a bit of time to do things? (Disclaimer: irony.)
I feel as though this month’s update wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the fact that the Lockdown of Horrors (because this one has surely been the grimmest one to date?) is about to become a lot less stressful for those with school age kids. A few more days and they are back in the classroom. It almost seems like an alien concept, now – I don’t even know whether my kids have shoes that fit. They live in wellies or mismatched socks.
And there are whole swathes of ancient manuscript I could write about life in lockdown with two small children but for some reason it doesn’t interest me. Writing it, I mean. I think I’ve been on complete autopilot for the past two months and I’m neither proud or ashamed of the way we’ve made our way through the schools closure – I was a rubbish homeschool teacher, so we did pretty badly at that, and I didn’t organise any of the “fun activities” I saw other people doing online, like mud kitchens or garden obstacle courses or crafting or making puppets out of toilet roll holders. But on the other hand everyone got fed and to bed on time and went on a daily walk and did a bit of reading and had an afternoon movie session (slept through most of them, with my head nodding forward like a nonagenarian) and still cheered when it was the weekend and had a cake on Fairy Cake Friday and pancakes on a Saturday.
Both children have grown by what looks like about half a foot since Christmas and they are still smiling, so I doubt that they will even remember the era they fondly know as “the germs”. They’ve each only ever had two full terms at school or nursery (Autumn term 2019 and 2020!) and so really they don’t know any better, I suppose.
I was thinking about this the other day, how Mr AMR and I were so totally bowled over in that first term in late 2019, when one had started school and the other had started nursery, and we had the entire day to ourselves. I just kept pottering around, muttering “I can just get on with my work now. I could just work! Or lie down. I could lie down now and nobody could stop me! Or I could work. Or both.”
Which is exactly what I’m going to do when the schools go back next week. I’m going to mutter-potter and do a lot of work from a lying down position. Good for getting ideas and planning them out, I find. If you don’t fall asleep…