Long-term readers could, I am sure, rattle off a list of my favourite Beauty Pie skincare products by heart. Over the years they’ve become staples in my beauty routines – the brilliant balm cleansers, the potent retinol range, the moisturisers that seem to inject near-impossible amounts of hydration into your skin so that it feels swelled with it, almost wobbly, like one of those waterbeds from the eighties. (Here’s looking at you, Japanfusion Power Elixir Moisturiser.)
And I’m never sure which I’m more a fan of: Beauty Pie’s perfectly-pitched formulas, with their potent active ingredients and crowd-pleasing textures, or Beauty Pie’s unique business model, which sees luxury beauty products made at the world’s most premium beauty labs sold direct to the customer, without the usual gigantic mark-up.
The lab-direct pricing alone would be enough of a pull for most (it’s usually up to 75% off a typical retail price) but when the products are so good they instantly become repeat purchases it’s kind of an unbeatable combination. And Beauty Pie are ever-expanding, with haircare and bodycare and home fragrance and now supplements, too.
For me, Beauty Pie as a brand have become synonymous with quality, high-performance and amazing value for money. It’s luxury beauty, made in the “luxury” labs, but because you’re cutting out the retail middleman you’re not paying for insanely expensive packaging and store fit-outs and all the other markups that creep in. You’re getting the contents of the luxury bottle, pot or tube but in a very simple (but I must say incredibly classy!) bottle, pot or tube.
To give you an example (I like doing these – I can’t mention specific brands when I do comparisons so you can just shout them out silently inside your head):
Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm, which is genuinely one of the most gorgeous balms on the planet, has a retail price of £50. This sits it alongside a number of cleansing balms from very well-known premium brands. The Beauty Pie price to members is £19.18, online here.
The aforementioned Japanfusion M3 Power Elixir Moisturiser, which seems to do just miraculous things on dehydrated skin, glossing it and sealing in moisture without any greasiness whatsoever, has a retail value (equivalent luxury face creams) of £70. I would very truly pay full price for this moisturiser if I had to – but Beauty Pie thankfully sell it to members for £15.70, online here. One of the very best moisturisers you can buy, hands down, and it’s just over fifteen quid.
So: the members part, before I get onto a very exciting new launch! You sign up here (use the code RUTHSENTME for £10 off the £59 membership) and this gives you access to the huge range of Beauty Pie products at Beauty Pie prices. If you want to try before you commit, there’s also a 60 day free trial running – here – that can be cancelled at any time before the trial ends.
Potent, effective products without the markups.
Now talking of potent and effective products (behold my smooth segue into the new launch): Beauty Pie have just released their most advanced skincare formula to date – fifteen active ingredients at very concentrated levels, each selected to help tighten and brighten and firm the skin to make it appear more youthful. It’s a veritable cocktail of potency and it’s called:
Not The Cocktail of Youth, which I also quite like as a product name, mainly for its Death Becomes Her vibes!
Designed to firm and tighten and to visibly soften lines it’s formulated for all skin types and is simple to slip into any skincare routine. Beauty Pie say that every ingredient in Youthbomb has been selected for its ability to support the skin in how it reflects light – so we’re talking about ingredients that smooth, brighten and hydrate.
It features the exclusive Biolog-Elastic (TM) Complex, which is one of my favourite beauty industry trade marked formula names to date, it’s like a double-barrelled Klingon surname! There’s also a powerful blend of proteins and peptides, all in a serum that has a weightless, non-sticky feel.
I have to say that the first time I used it I actually felt the tightening effect. Then because I thought I might be imagining things (or perhaps willing them to happen) I decided to test it around the eye area and can absolutely confirm that there’s an immediate sense of de-slackening. It’s a nice touch, because although it’s the long-term effects you want from the ingredients, the instant tightening feel is very optimistic and energising.
It’s easy to fit Youthbomb into a routine, too. It’s not going to react with any of your other actives, so you don’t have to worry that if you apply it before X or after Y you’re going to self-combust as you’re walking to the bus stop. Apply it after cleansing and before your moisturiser – here’s a good morning routine:
Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser (£8.58 here, retail £25)
Super Retinol Eye Cream (£12 here, retail £60)
Youthbomb 360 Radiance Concentrate (£44 here, retail £185)
Super Healthy Skin Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream (£15.90 here – equivalent retail price £100)
Featherlight SPF50 (£12.34 here, retail £35)
The Featherlight SPF50 is excellent, by the way – non-drying, non-greasy, just barely-there sunscreen that sits well beneath makeup. It’s here online. And the Super Healthy Skin Cream is a new discovery for me and might be one to rival the Japanfusion – I’m currently doing a week-long test using Super Healthy on one half of my face and the Japanfusion Power Elixir on the other. I’ll update you.
In summary, I think that the Youthbomb Serum is a very exciting new product. It’s an all-in-one powerhouse that helps to boost everything from radiance to firmness yet it’s foolproof and suits pretty much everyone.
You can slide it into any existing routine and it’s not going to pick fights with your other products – you can even use it alongside retinol (I’d use it afterwards, waiting a bit before applying).
Find more info on the new launch here – the sign-up page for Beauty Pie membership is here and there’s the option of the free 60 day trial or, for the keen, jumping straight in with both feet and becoming an instant bona fide member. (Use RUTHSENTME for the tenner off!)
Are you already a Beauty Pie member? What’s on your repeat buy list?
I have a new eye makeup tutorial for you with some top tips for creating a foolproof smokey eye. This tutorial is in collaboration with Boots who are running a campaign called “Eyes on the Prize”, encouraging people to try bold new eye looks for the party season. With winter festivities almost upon us it’s time to brush up on our party makeup skills – I know that mine are a little rusty from having not gone to any parties, ever, for the past almost-two-years – and find the eye makeup looks that will suit us and perform perfectly time after time.
Smokey eye makeup tutorials are one of the most-searched beauty things on the whole of the internet and for very good reason: the opportunity for a smokey eye to go horribly wrong lies quietly in wait at every step of the way. Too much shadow underneath the bottom lashline and you look like Alice Cooper, not enough blending out and your liner makes your eyes look like tired and tiny. Blend out too enthusiastically and your smokey eye ends up halfway to your temples, go too heavy with the rest of your makeup and you risk looking as though you’re about to appear in a pantomime.
It’s a beauty minefield and I have to admit that I have searched for smokey eye tutorials on Youtube more than I have ever searched for any singular other thing. (Apart from “big cats in boxes”.) I also know that if anything in my makeup routine is going to malfunction it’ll be the smokey eye step.
Over the past year or so, though, I have been trying to hone my smokey eye skills. Interestingly, this has not involved going “bigger and bolder” with my shadows and liner, or playing with jazzy colours, it has been more a process of evaluation and recalibration. I have been studying past photos and videos where I’ve been really pleased with my smokey eye makeup and trying to work out what it is about certain processes that seem to guarantee a successful smoke.
I’ve taken my conclusions and learnings and applied them to a brand new makeup tutorial – the written version is below and the video is on Instagram here. It’s a very uncomplicated smoked-out eye that’s quick to do but requires a bit of thought and patience, because it’s the building-up of the shadow and liner that creates the softer lines and the slightly elongated shape that lifts the corners of the eyes and stops everything from looking a bit sad and…jaded.
(Fake it until you make it, eh? Haha.)
(To be clear I’m not sad, but definitely feeling jaded this year.)
Here are my top tips for foolproof smokey eye makeup; I have been sticking to these rules and I have to say that I’ve been having a much higher success rate with my eye makeup. You can find a full step-by-step on Instagram here and all of the products shown, including brushes, are available at boots.com.
Always apply a wash of base eyeshadow colour to the lid. I often used to skip this stage, wondering why on earth it would be important to apply a shadow that was almost identical in tone to your own eyelid skin, but there’s method to the madness.
The eye shadow creates a different surface to bare skin – it’s less oily, it’s smoother and it means that other (darker) shadows applied on top seem to blend more easily and with a far superior finish. It’s a really worthwhile step.
Here I’ve applied Deep Chic from the NARS Voyageur “Suede” palette (at Boots here*), which is one of my all time favourite eyeshadow palettes. I can find a use for every one of the six shades and a couple of them (namely Soleil and Jumeirah) can be used alone, blended over the whole lid, for an instantly glamorous look. In around fifteen seconds. It’s also happens to be really petite which makes it much more portable than the majority of palettes and the shadows themselves are densely pigmented and long-wearing.
Use a chunky buffing brush to blend out your darker shadow – it feels clumsy but it saves time and leaves a seamless finish!
Here I’ve placed my darker shadow shade – I’ve used the deepest shade in the palette, Graffiti – in a sort of V shape, going along the outer half of the top lashline and then into the crease. I’ve then used Real Techniques’ excellent Deluxe Crease brush (300, here*) to blend out.
The “darker shade” step is where it can all go a bit wrong. And the placement of the darker shade is also a little dependant on your eye shape, just to add some more trouble to the mix. I like to elongate my eyes slightly and so I tend to pull the shadow upwards and outwards towards the tail end of my eyebrow. A good trick is to follow the curve of your lower lashline – take a look at my Instagram video to see how I create a very small “wing” or “flick” to lift my eyes.
Take the same shadows – base and darker – beneath the lower lashline, building them up in the same way you did the lids. I start with the base using my fluffy brush and then take a smudge brush (Real Techniques again*!) for the darker shadow.
Blending this shadow in means that eyeliner doesn’t look so hard or stark – I find that it really hazes out the lines and is so much more flattering than eyeliner alone. I used a Bare Minerals Mineralist eyeliner (in Graphite and then Copper, I only used both because I can’t see without my glasses and thought the Graphite was black – tip: wear your glasses to read labels!) inside my waterline.
Buy Bare Minerals Mineralist eye liner
It helps to keep your eyes open as much as possible when you’re looking in the mirror to do your eye makeup, rather than closing the one you’re working on. When it comes to creating shadow, your eye looks totally different when the lid is open and that’s how it’s going to be the majority of the time when you’re in your makeup so I find that things turn out better if I try to look at the mirror levelly when I’m blending and adjusting.
I’ve used a great mascara here, to finish off the eyes – Urban Decay’s Perversion (at boots.com here*).
I don’t usually like these large brushes but this one creates really good volume and I love that it’s buildable. You can even go back in ten, twenty minutes later and layer on another coat. It doesn’t go crispy or hard like a lot of mascaras so when you want to add that extra boost it just slips on nicely!
Keep the brows understated for a fresher overall look. I never want my brows to fight with the smokey eye (ding ding, in the red corner!) and so I tend to do minimal grooming.
In this look I’ve forgone any sort of actual brow product and simply sprayed my Benefit brow brush with some Elnett hairspray to comb upwards and fix the hairs in place.
(There are also loads of amazing brow shapers – gels, brow pencils and so on – that will do the above and add volume or colour to the brows. One of my most-used is Benefit’s Gimme Brow, which is here* at Boots.)
You can see that the rest of the makeup is really pretty minimal too. Once you’ve done the building and blending on the eyes (maximum of ten minutes, including mascara, even though it sounds like it would take longer) the skin takes minutes and the lips are just a quick graze-and-pat of a my-lips-but-better shade of lipstick.
I used Dior Forever Skin Glow in shade 2N followed by Fenty bronzer in Private Island and a touch of Benefit’s Galifornia blush.
I lined my lips with a shade very close to my natural one (this is a NYX pencil in Nude Pink) and then grazed my lips lightly with the side of my Bare Minerals lipstick in Grace. No opaque lip colour here, just graze and pat for a “my lips but better” sort of look.
And ta-dah, it’s done. I reckon the eyes, with all of the blending and building up, take me around ten minutes and all of the rest another five. There are faster ways to a smokey eye (crayons that you scribble on and then blend) but I like the depth that this one has to it, it’s slightly more sultry.
Just add very low-cut spangly bodysuit (which raises all kinds of questions about the wisdom of subjecting yourself to gusset fastenings and a garment which basically cuts you in half from the bottom up) and big, textured hair (I tonged mine and sprayed it with the aforementioned L’Oreal Elnett!) and you’re ready to party.
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!
This isn’t my first time at the rodeo when it comes to writing about Murad’s brilliant Retinol Youth Renewal range. I covered the relaunch at around this time last year (you can read that post here if you fancy) and it’s one of the ranges I refer to by default when people ask me for retinol recommendations. The main reason being that it’s powerful stuff, offering up proper, visible results, yet it seems to be tolerated by all but the most sensitive skin.
I mean you still have to go slow and steady with the range – it tingles, it goes straight to work, it’s not messing around – but if you’re sensible and don’t try to go from Total Retinol Virgin to Nightly Retinol Fiend in the space of a fortnight you’ll be A-OK. My preference, if I haven’t used retinol products for a while, is to start off with every four nights for a couple of weeks, move to every three nights for another couple and then stick to every other night for the duration of however long I manage to keep it up for. (I tend to back off a little during the warmer months.) This tends to keep any dryness or itchiness at bay – if I go straight in with all beauty guns a-blazing then you can guarantee that my face will be falling off by week two!
I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum here and the fact that it’s a total game-changer when it comes to using retinol around the eyes. If the rest of the range (a face serum, a sumptuous, buttery night cream) has been sensitively formulated then this eye serum takes things one step further. Not only can it be taken all around the eyes, including the lids, it includes non-greasy moisturisers to provide lightweight hydration for up to twenty-four hours. I love the fact that it’s safe to be used on the lids – every year my eyelids are more and more wrinkly and it would be nice to nip that in the bud for a while, before they start to resemble little testicles.
My eyes are notorious when it comes to overreacting to strong ingredients yet they have no problem with the Murad eye serum even when used nightly. Now you might not be an eye cream sort of person, preferring to use your usual face cream or treatment all over instead. What I will say about strong retinol products is that I find they are sometimes a bit…enthusiastic…to take up to the eye area. Many a time have I woken up to see my little red “burn” patch has reappeared beneath my right eye – a relic from my modelling years when someone changed my eye makeup fourteen times in eight hours and basically took the top eight thousand layers of skin off – and so I try to be careful and relatively discerning when it comes to treating the eye area.
And so, in conclusion, if you are looking to invest in a results-driven eye treatment that has been specifically formulated for the eye area then Youth Renewal Eye Serum is a fine place to start. It is an investment – the eye serum is £72, night cream is £70 – but the firming and plumping benefits are noticeable.
Murad use a three-pronged approach to delivering the retinol, with an “instant”, fast-acting retinoid, a slower release retinol and an ingredient to sort of “prep” the skin for the retinol so it’s a pretty sophisticated formula with a gentle, non-aggressive touch. Powerful enough for tackling the established lines and wrinkles and loss of firmness but also great for preventative measures too.
You can find the whole Youth Renewal range online here – if you use the code RUTH25 then you get 25% off*!
*excludes winter sale items, kits and new product launches.
The post Murad Retinol Youth Renewal: The Game-Changing Eye Serum appeared first on A Model Recommends.
I feel that Sainsbury’s have always been slightly ahead of the game when it comes to supermarket beauty shopping, stocking great and affordable brands such Super Facialist, Burt’s Bees and Nip + Fab, but now they have completely raised the bar again with their brand new beauty aisles.
Nearly two hundred superstores have the new beauty offering, with fourteen hundred new products launched and the brands list reads more like something you’d find at a dedicated beauty retailer than a supermarket; soothing face creams from Weleda, high-powered body-smoothers from Ameliorate, sumptuous balm cleansers and serums from Balance Me…
To celebrate the amazing new beauty aisles I’ve created three useful skincare routines using some of my favourites from the brands and products that you can pick up right now in-(super)store. Many stores also have trained beauty advisors to help guide and advise you and you can also find brands (such as Sanctuary Spa, My Skin Matters and Boutique) that are exclusive to Sainsbury’s.
Dull Skin Routine
My first little routine is for dull skin which is a common complaint going into winter. Once we lose the fresh, sunkissed bounce of a summer spent outdoors and the central heating kicks in, skin can tend to look a little lacklustre. So here are three products to get back some glow and all of them can be seamlessly slipped into your existing routines. I suppose they could be seen as separate tweaks more than a solid three-step routine, because I probably wouldn’t use them all together…
The Super Facialist Vit C+ Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (£11 here) is the perfect cleanser to introduce as the weather gets colder. Don’t be put off if your skin is on the oilier side; this rinses completely clean and does a really thorough job of breaking down makeup, sunscreen and the day’s dirt. It also smells so optimistically orangey (like the “Satsuma” scent of our youth, children of the eighties!) that it’s hard to find fault with it.
We then split into day and night routines; personally I would use the Super Facialist Vitamin C Booster (£18 here) in the morning, before or blended into moisturiser and sunscreen, but there’s nothing to stop you using it day and night. Vitamin C is great for brightening and helping with a more even skintone and also gives antioxidant protection; I’ve simply become used to it as a morning step, whereas…
…my acid peels, the AHAs, tend to go on at bedtime. Again, nothing to stop you using them in the morning (you MUST remember to use a sunscreen) but I like to use them overnight and wake up to the glow! The Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Liquid Glow contains 2% glycolic for a quick but not-too-shocking dose of exfoliation. It eats away at the dead skin cells, to put it in unglamorous terms, revealing brighter, newer skin. Personally I wouldn’t use daily, more two or three times a week, but it depends on your own skin and how it reacts to exfoliation. You can find the Glycolic Fix online here, it’s £17.
Dry Skin Routine
You might be thinking that dull skin and dry skin would go hand in hand, but I think that they can be quite different beasts. This routine is for really dry skin, the sort that just feels tight and uncomfortable and never quite feels sated.
The Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Calming Creamy Cleanser (£8 here) has been a favourite of mine for years. It feels luxurious, you can get a good old massage going with it and it’s only eight quid for a large tube. It smells beautiful and is gentle but effective and won’t leave your skin feeling tighter than when you started!
A new discovery now: Sanctuary Spa’s Hyaluronic Wonder Oil Serum (£20 here), a bi-phase product that has all the quenching properties of a hyaluronic serum but with the comfort and nourishment of an oil. If you’re so dry that a “lightweight” serum feels tight and uncomfortable then you’ll love this – ditto if you’ve wanted to dip a proverbial toe into the world of face oils but have been worried you’ll find them too greasy. It’s the perfect hybrid.
And all sealed in with what could be the world’s richest moisturiser, Weleda’s Skin Food (£10 here). This dry skin miracle is a tenner for a huge 75ml tube and is one of the richest, slide-iest face creams you’ll find. Especially at this price and with such lovely ingredients. I hate to bring the word “grease” into proceedings because it has such negative connotations, but Skin Food does leave a somewhat greasy residue. But it’s a beautiful grease – a sheen, a slick shine – that smells wonderful and will be music to the ears of those who simply can’t find a cream that’s moisturising enough for them. (For anyone who doesn’t have very dry skin, you’ll no doubt find this moisturiser too much. Word of warning!)
My last little skincare routine is one for the people who need some time-out, a few minutes’ peace, and who like products that smell sublime and transport them to other places. It’s a true mini-spa at-home and it’s perfect for the stressed and the weary. (All of us, then.)
I’ve started this one with Balance Me’s Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm (£20 here). Good cleansers were always the things I found lacking when supermarket beauty shopping and I’m so pleased that Sainsbury’s have such a good array but particularly that they have a balm cleanser. Balms, especially when they smell like this one, just add something extra-special to a skincare routine; you have to massage the product in properly to get it to melt down and I think that the extra effort, that massaging-in time, is invaluable when you’re trying to take some time for yourself.
The middle step here is a facial oil and there were loads to choose from but I plumped for Weleda’s Almond Soothing Facial Oil (£13.50 here) because it’s simple, calming and will suit all skin types. If you were into your aromatherapy then this makes a brilliant carrier oil and you could tweak it to suit particular concerns or needs, but as it is, unadulterated, it’s a nourishing, unfragranced treat and a great skincare staple if you’re dry or sensitive.
All of this is sealed in with a lovely dose of Urban Veda’s Sandalwood + Botanics Soothing Clarifying Night Cream (£20 here). Urban Veda formulate to Ayurvedic principles, so if it’s holistic beauty you’re after then you’ll be delighted that you can now find it at Sainsbury’s superstores! It was the sandalwood that drew me to this particular night cream, I just find the scent so grounding, but I can assure you that the cream has been really sensitively put-together; the scent is gentle and not at all overpowering. Just enough to make you stop and take a moment to regather and relax.
So I hope that you’ve enjoyed my little tour of the new beauty aisles, via three skincare routines; I’m so impressed with Sainsbury’s new skincare offerings and can’t wait to see how it keeps on evolving. They have an in-house team called Future Brands who identify rising talent in the beauty industry and help to bring them to shoppers at an affordable price-point and so I’m really interested to see what comes up!
It’s so lovely to see that beauty is being properly considered and presented – that you can now make informed choices from a great selection, rather than it being a bit of an afterthought – just some basics that you chuck in the trolley. I do think that it will change how people shop for their beauty – can you see yourself buying more of your beauty along with the rest of your shopping, if the choice is there?
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Well this is a very joyous revisit; I’ve reviewed Murad’s brilliant Retinol Youth Renewal range before, but they’ve reformulated and relaunched it and it’s now even more of a find.
I say find, but this skincare trio (there’s a serum, an eye serum and a sumptuous night cream) is hardly a secret – the Retinol Youth Renewal Serum is the number one retinol product in the US! Nevertheless, I bring you this news, that two of the products have been reformulated and all three have had an appearance makeover, and I also bring you (why am I writing this like a medieval bard?) an updated review.
Actually two updated reviews, because in an unprecedented feat of spectacular organisation, my Mum and I have been testing the new range at the same time. Yes that’s right; my Mum (seventy next year) and I (forty this year) have been syncing our nightly skincare routines and applying eye serum, serum and night cream every other night and recording our thoughts.
I have to say, before we go any further, that my Mum is meticulous when it comes to researching what she puts on her face. She Googles every ingredient on the list, she looks at other reviews and she reads the instructions on the box twice. How on earth then, she managed to end up applying the serum in the morning instead of the night and the other products twice a day every day for weeks, I have no idea.
It’s surely testament to the quality of the formulations that her face didn’t slowly peel itself off from her head, like in a Tom & Jerry cartoon – I should add that Mum does have quite sensitive skin, and my own (comparatively hardy) face has had bad reactions to far less potent treatments.
Murad do make a point of the formulations being suitable for sensitive skin – they urge caution, obviously, but the newly reformulated eye serum can now even be used on the eyelids. The lids! Imagine. I can tell you that it was something of a leap of faith, patting a retinol serum into my eyelids, but there was no stinging, no irritation whatsoever. The serum was instantly hydrating but not greasy (basically my Mum’s idea of a Holy Grail beauty product) and I did rather like the idea that something might get to work on my lid crepe.
Lid crepe. It sounds like a disease. I’m absolutely not wanting to add any sort of extra skin “concern” to the list of ones we’re already supposed to worry about, but I do quite like it when you use a lid primer and it makes things all smooth and velvety – the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum makes them feel a little bit like that.
Although obviously there are longer term benefits! In fact, I’ve just realised that this post launched into a whole thing about Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Range but didn’t really explain what an earth retinol is, to the uninitiated. My Mum had no clue why retinol was so special, even after she’d done her Google research. Mainly because she’s so sceptical, which is a good thing. But in the case of retinol, you can almost entirely place your scepticism to one side, because this is an ingredient that really and truly delivers.
With the right strength and a good formulation, retinol can help to smooth out fine lines, even skin tone, work on deeper lines and creases and make skin generally look plumper and more elastic. Murad’s range takes things one step further by using their tri-active retinol technology; a retinol booster to kind of prep the skin and make it receptive to the main ingredient, then a time-released retinol to deliver a steady level to the skin and then a fast-acting retinoid, which is much more powerful than the retinol itself.
Triple-whammy effects and boy does it make the products feel racy and exciting! I properly get the tingle with Murad’s range, the sort of tingle that makes you wonder what state your face is going to be in the next day – will I look as though I’ve drunk four litres of rosé and passed out on a Magaluf beach at midday in August? Thankfully not – no irritation, no redness, not even any discernible dryness, perhaps because the super-serums are always followed by the rich and buttery night cream.
The night cream has also been tweaked; still with the tri-active retinol technology, it now contains Niacinamide and Picolinamide to strengthen skin’s protective barrier. I like that it’s not just shooting high-powered and transformative ingredients at your face – it’s looking out for the longterm comfort and quality of the skin.
The Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream was the product my Mum loved the most – she’s always hunting for creams that are incredibly rich and moisturising but that don’t leave a greasy residue. She hates grease. Especially around the eyes. I can’t even count the number of times she’s told me this fact over the years – I sometimes feel as though I should make it into a poem and put it on her birthday cards – but it’s a big issue for her. It goes in her lashes and then into her eyes, it’s all most upsetting, but not, she was delighted to report, with any of the Murad trio.
So yes, the night cream was her favourite – she likes to be able to use one product and be done with it – but she did marvellously well at testing all three. She has noticed a good difference to the firmness of her skin, especially under her chin and on her neck, and in turn the wrinkles there are improved. These are her exact words:
“I LOVE THIS AND IT HAS WORKED A DREAM ON MY NECK AND CHIN (whether it was aided with serum also, not sure)
Yes, it is so lovely and smooth to apply, smells lovely, absorbs well, and it has so, so much improved my neck, jowl and chin wrinkles, both the fine and the deep ones. Thankyou Murad.
Could you tell me whether I can just use night cream alone and get those results? Also can I try on lovely hubby, His face is craggy ?
Lots of love
I need to tell my Mum that the serum increases results by three times when used alongside the cream – in fact, if I had to choose one product from the range on results alone then I’d probably plump for the serum, just because it’s the most potent. This is the one product that hasn’t been reformulated – it’s still maximum tingle, minimal fall-out and a lightweight, easily-absorbed texture that’s a joy to use. Same tri-action deal with the retinol, retinoid and the skin-prepping element for quick and visible results.
Now you may already be a fan of this range, in which case you’ll appreciate the tweaks, I think! If you’re not then prepare to be charmed – the Retinol Youth Renewal range is the sort of skincare line that’ll have you doing double-takes in the mirror, especially if you have (or are starting to get) those vertical lines between your eyebrows and horizontal ones to the sides of your eyes.
It’s been so interesting testing the same products as my Mum – we’re (obviously) at different stages in terms of how our skin is behaving and what we expect from our skincare, yet both of us couldn’t be more pleased with the results. I love a smoother, plumper, fresher-looking face that allows me to use minimal makeup and my Mum appreciates the firmness and feeling of elasticity that using retinol has given to her skin.
If you would like to try Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal range then you can get 25% off with the code RUTH25 here. In fact this gets you 25% off everything on their website! I can highly recommend their range of sunscreens, especially if you are going to be using retinol, and they have an amazing anti-blemish line.
If you’d like to read my review of the original line then that’s here – you can also take a nifty little skin consultation quiz on the Murad website, that’s here. For some reason I find these online evaluations quite addictive!
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Good grief I put Elnett’s Extra Strength Hairspray through its paces for these photos! Short of sitting in a sauna for an hour, I can’t think of anything that would test the limits of a hairspray more. Gale force winds, driving rain, what felt like sleet at one point, a broken car heater that wouldn’t stop blasting out boiling hot air, two kids riding on my back using my hair as reins (“be a horsey Mummy”)… By the end of the day I should have looked like Worzel Gummidge, instead I looked pretty presentable, all things considered.
I wasn’t even set the task of testing the Elnett Extra Strength Hairspray’s powers – all of that was purely incidental. My intention was to take some nice pictures and tell you about the limited edition Electric Nights can, which is a very festive red instead of the usual gold, but I got sidetracked by the performance.
It’s no secret that I have a very long-term love affair with Elnett – just read this post to find out why it gets me all sentimental – but the Extra Strength version is new to me. I have to admit to the fact that I was slightly apprehensive about the first application, because stronger hairsprays usually leave my hair as crispy as a Ryvita. Stiff as a board. And I hate that feeling. I love the hold and I love what a strong hairspray can do, in terms of keeping things sleek or adding volume or what have you, but I can’t stand not being able to run my hands through my hair.
Not a problem with the Elnett Extra Strength – just like the original, there’s no stickiness or crispiness to the finish and you can simply brush it out when you want to restyle. I have no idea how this miracle is achieved, but I’m glad that this particular level of low-commitment hair styling exists. Because I like to brush out my high-glam before I go to bed, in the same way that I like to take all of my makeup off.
Anyway, the hold is excellent. I didn’t quite test the “up to 24 hours” claim but I think that my extreme conditions more than made up for the shortened timeframe. The weather was truly frightful and my broken car heater basically replicated what it would be like if you stood in front of an industrial space-heater for ten minutes. One half of my face was actually cooked, like a boiled ham and the metal buckles on my coat were glowing red, like iron on a blacksmith’s anvil. It’s amazing I’m still alive, quite frankly, and even more amazing that my hair still looked almost perfect.
In case you’re wondering, my choice of festive hairstyle was a three-step catalogue of near-disasters. “Do something festive”, they said, and so I was going to do this amazing, towering, backcombed up-do with sleeked sides and a messy chignon. And then I woke up and realised that I wasn’t Guido Palau and went with some low-key waves.
I’d like it recorded, however, that I did spend quite a while prepping and fussing with my hair to achieve this particular look: first I blow-dried it smooth, then I put in rollers through the top and front to give it a bit of bounce and lift (surprisingly this made quite a lot of difference!) and then I went in with the waving tongs and gave it all a once-over.
Fixed it all in place with liberal amounts of Elnett Electric Nights Limited Edition Extra Strength Hairspray, including one dizzying upside-down session where I sprayed the roots and underneath sections to give a bit more texture and body.
My usual (almost daily) use for Elnett is to fix down the flyaways around my hairline when I have my hair in a neat bun or ponytail, but it’s equally as good for setting styles that are looser or longer – because you can brush it out the styles feel flexible and natural.
Right, that’s enough of this year’s Elnett love-in – you can find the limited edition Electric Nights version at Superdrug here – it’s £4.19.
What’s your usual party style for hair? Do we all have one? And which kind of style is the one that you always dream of doing but never quite achieve? That “ooh, I’m going out-out so I must do something with my hair that is potentially going to make me late but only after I’ve burnt myself twice with something heated and then cried and then realised that my whole head looks like a haystack and that it looked better before I started”?
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