I’ve just been scrolling back through all of my previous What’s In My Makeup Bag posts and I stumbled across this particular beauty: the Summer 2018 edition. If you don’t want to click through and read it then here’s the gist of the matter, in image form:
Isn’t it nice? Such a lovely lipstick! So cheery and optimistic. I shall have to dig that particular lipstick out – I’ve been wearing my pink-tinged beiges for far too many months. Perhaps it’s time for a coral lipstick favourites video, to lead us into summer?
But for now, we’re still on neutrals and beiges with a hint of rosiness on the cheeks. Low-key springtime, nothing fancy, mainly because most of us are still on lockdown and those who aren’t probably don’t feel very celebratory or adventurous. The focus (for me, at least) is on good skin and trying to look as healthy and fresh as possible – bronzer that disappears into the base, a dusting of sunshine over the top and a dewy finish to lids and lips.
Lids and lips. For some reason saying that makes me feel slightly queasy – I’m not sure whether it’s the lazy, tabloid-style alliteration or the gynaecological implications. Although what would “lids” be, in the lady department? A lash-fringed flap of skin. Hmm. I’ll have to think carefully about that one.
GOD! Can someone please keep me on the straight and narrow? Perhaps I need an editor. To check my behaviour and act as the filter I don’t seem to possess.
“Hello darling. Ok, I’ve just read your latest piece…and…how can I put this? It’s rather crude. I mean, darling, is it quite sensible to talk about the time you slipped in the shower and narrowly missed being penetrated by the mixer tap?”
I like to think that the editor would be called Nigel. No particular reason. But he must chain-smoke French cigarettes and have an office on the Tottenham Court Road and wear a silk kimono. I have it all planned out.
But back to spring makeup. There’s a video and really it’s mandatory you watch it, this time, because I’ve used up all of my word count on pointless drivel so there’s no space to talk about lipstick shades. It’s all covered on film and if you want a cheat’s spoiler list then just scroll down the page a bit.
Take particular note of the double-bronzing manoeuvre; as a first step the cream bronze buffs effortlessly into the foundation, creating a sort of warm, duo-toned base, and then the powder bronzer sits lightly on top looking all dusty and beautiful. I’m doing this a lot at the moment and I like the effect.
I’m wearing the Emanuelle Dress, bought from Hush here*
Struggling to find a sunscreen that doesn’t make you want to claw your own face off with one of those plastic spaghetti spoons? My three current favourites might give you some inspiration. They’re all virtually undetectable on the skin with pleasant, lightweight formulas and broad spectrum protection.
And I’ll tell you something else about my favourite face SPFs: you can just about get away with skipping moisturiser underneath them. Unless my skin is very dry indeed, I find that a quick pat-in of hydrating serum is all I need before (liberally) applying my sunscreen.
(Actually, the Lumene serum from my April favourites would be gorgeous beneath sunscreen, if you’re all about trying to minimise your layers. I know I am, when the weather starts to turn warm; I can’t abide the feeling of eighteen different products on my skin and prefer to keep things as simple as possible.)
So here they are: my Holy Grail trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to narrow my favourites down to these, because I simply went along my bathroom shelf and swept off the three I’ve used the most. Because surely if I use them the most then there’s a reason for that? Otherwise I’d be an idiot.
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35
I’ve done a full review on this marvellous facial sunscreen here but as a recap: this is one of the lightest, freshest, coolest SPFs I’ve ever tried. It’s quick to sink in, there’s absolutely no residue whatsoever and it sits brilliantly beneath makeup.
The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Lotion SPF50
This is a new one to me and a total gem. Much more hydrating than the Arden, but with that comes an extra bit of heft. It’s not nearly as weightless and fresh, but those with dry or very dry skin will appreciate the relative creaminess. If your skin is very dry you’ll want a standalone moisturiser under all of these favourites, so it’s almost by-the-by.
Multi-Protection Lotion has a silky feel and doesn’t leave anything much in the way of residue, at least not after a few minutes, but you definitely feel the effects of the moisturiser even hours later.
Find it at The Body Shop here* – it’s £18 for 40ml or £22 for 60ml.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid
Or “Shaka Fluid” as I seem to be intent on calling it. Maybe because it now has “shaka” emblazoned on the packaging, but I can’t remember whether that’s a new thing or not. Whatever you want to call it, it’s excellent – absolutely light and sheer and without greasiness or chalkiness or any kind of annoying SPF side-effect.
La Roche-Posay are brilliant at formulating for sensitive skin and for spot-prone skin and for skin that is both at the same time – the Anthelios range has something for everyone, pretty much. But this particular version is fragrance free, very water resistant and won’t clog pores. You can’t really go far wrong. Just remember to shake! (Shaka shaka!)
It’s usually £17.50 but is currently £13.50 at LookFantastic here*.
Now, there are two little surprise “extra” sunscreens in this post – perfect for those who have to reapply their sunscreen throughout the day but need to do so over their makeup, without disturbing it.
I’m afraid I’m going to be incredibly irritating and tell you to watch the end of the video I’ve made to find out all about them – there will be a separate post on them quite soon, but I need to go and extract part of Spiderman’s Web Thrower from inside my dog’s mouth before he swallows it. I can’t even imagine what would come out of the other end if he digested that!
For those who absolutely, resolutely refuse to watch moving image, the SPF mists are linked below the video. The rest of you, enjoy the sounds of my springtime garden!
Kate Somerville Uncomplikated SPF50 Mist, £32 but new customers get 15% off and a free gift (see her home page)*: https://bit.ly/3b9x9BR
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible SPF50 Mist – should be £14 but is currently £10.50 here*: https://bit.ly/3caZPfg
My five beauty favourites for the month of April – I’ve gone back to them again and again, enjoyed using them all and will be sad when they finally run out. Although if they’re anything like my Medik-8 R-Retinoate I could be waiting a long time, because I just can’t seem to get to the bottom of the bottle!
Which is probably quite fortunate considering its price.
Anyway, here goes with the April Hit List:
L’Oreal Glow Cherie Glow Enhancer Lotion
I’ve compared this before to Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter (see my in-depth review here) but in actual fact it’s much more like her Wonder Glow. Lighter, sheerer, with less in the way of a tint. Regardless, the L’Oreal version is an absolute bargain and brilliant for adding low-key dewy glow before applying foundation or concealer.
You can find it online here* – it’s £9.99.
Anne Semonin Gel Mask
This is a very essential-oily mask with quite a tingle. It’s refreshing, reviving and makes you feel as though your face has had a brisk run along a seashore. Which is a weird concept. It’s forty-five quid but the tube is large. Lovely luxury buy for lacklustre, dull skin – I discovered it postpartum after having my first baby and I’ve recently returned to it after something of a hiatus!
Find it at Anne Semonin here.
Lumene Oleo Rich Serum
Well, this is a surprise favourite – I mentioned the rich cream from this Lumene range a few weeks ago and didn’t think that anything else would be as notably excellent, but the serum is just marvellous. It’s more of a light moisturiser than a serum, in a way, because as well as mega-moisturising glycerin it’s packed with nourishing oils.
In fact, if you’ve always wanted to try a face oil but worry about greasiness, this would be a beautiful way of dipping your proverbial toe. Just apply after cleansing and before moisturiser. It’s online here*.
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum
I’ve been doing lots of stuff out in the garden and (in the UK at least) the sun has been, at times, blazing. As well as a high factor sunscreen I’ve also been upping my antioxidants and pulling out the skintone-brightening big guns. Skinceuticals make quite a few of these “big guns” and the Discoloration Defense Serum is one of the latest launches, promising to dramatically help with dark spots and unevenness of tone. I’ll keep you updated on the results – I use a few drops morning and night before my usual serum.
You can find it (and more detailed info) online here*.
Drunk Elephant WaterFacial Mask
I’ve been using this on my non-retinol nights (current skincare routine seems to be: go in strong with retinol one night, pump face full of moisture the next) and it’s lovely – light and gel-like but not at all sticky. I feel the difference in the morning, let me tell you! I also quite often layer it on over the Lumene serum above for double-whammy effect.
Find the WaterFacial Mask online here*.
All of the above and more are included in this month’s favourite video. Yes, there’s a video! You might be wondering why an earth I’ve taken the time to write it all out as well as filming it: I only exist to serve. And to respond positively and proactively to feedback. So those of you who can’t abide my face/voice/mannerisms can just read my words instead…
There’s no big mystery to this post and it’s not rocket science – just simple mathematics and a couple of excellent, unfussy ingredients. I’m going to tell you how I make the most luxurious and effective bath soak for about fifty pence a go; a bath soak that genuinely relaxes me, helps me to sleep, relieves my aching muscles if I’ve been doing my stupid online workouts and that mentally transports me to somewhere exotic.
This soak is completely customisable but I’m going to give you a few options just to get you started. Perhaps you like a rose-scented bath or maybe you prefer a bit of frankincense to clear your mind and put you back on the level; whatever floats your boat, all of the versions below will make you feel as though you’re relaxing in a posh spa in one of those fluffy dressing gowns that’s always just too small to do up properly and so keeps flashing your paper knicker-clad fanjita to all and sundry.
I’m not posting this as a “thrifty lockdown beauty hack”, though it is that too; I’ve been banging on about this luxury bath soak for months and it’s time to set it in stone!
So, there are two elements to the luxury bath soak: the first is epsom salts and the second, good quality essential oils or a ready-made oil blend. Depending on the oils you choose (and how much you use) the price of a soak goes up, but if you stick to a beakerful of salts and a few drops of Tisserand oil you can keep it to around fifty pence or so.
The ingredients are top-notch, but the price is a fraction – a fraction! – of the ready-made stuff, because you buy the salts in bulk and add your own oils. Here we go then…
Using a whole beakerful of salts is the key here: I’ve done a lot of experimenting with epsom salt quantities and there’s no point pissing about with a couple of tablespoons of the stuff. You’re not going to float about in that, are you? It would hardly make a difference to the water at all!
(Even though that’s the amount that lots of luxury brands seem to recommend using. Mainly because if you used the amount I think you need for it to be effective then it’d be half a tub and people would be up in arms, because the price per bath would be outrageous. For context, I use approximately 200g of epsom salts in my bath (knocks me out well and truly, I sleep like a baby!) but if I were to use that amount of – say – Aveda salts, it would cost me around £14/£15 a bath.)
So, a beakerful of salts – about 200g. It’s around two mugfuls, but I use one of those large plastic kids’ beakers and leave it in my gigantic tub of salts as a scoop. I buy my salts from Amazon for around twenty to twenty-five pounds for ten kilos and I most often order these* or these*, which are currently £14 for ten kilos which is a crazy-low price! Note that they are plain, unadulterated epsom salts – you don’t want perfume added, mainly because you’re going to add your own essential oils but also because most of the perfumed ones smell rank. (I’ve tried a lot!)
I usually use a couple of drops of Frankincense Oil* from Aromatherapy Associates (mixed with a carrier oil first) but if I’m feeling particularly treatsome then I throw in a capful of their Deep Relax Oil*. You’ll notice the high price point on both: Aromatherapy Associates oils don’t come cheap but I think that their blends are some of the best and most mind-transporting you can get.
Remember that you’re using a tiny bit, so cost per bath is kept low. But even if you use a couple of capfuls of the AA Oil and it does send your bath price soaring to a pound, or two pounds, then know that you’re quite literally having the Rolls Royce of bathing experiences. Epsom salts to soothe and calm and switch you off and the best oils that money can buy to sort your head out.
So, some options:
For the Ultimate Relaxation Station, Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax – find it online here*
To pretend you’re Marie Antoinette in her Versailles Beauty Bath, try Neal’s Yard Remedies Rose Absolute Oil, here*.
For the unwinding English Country Garden Experience, use a few drops of Tisserand’s Lavender Oil, online here*.
Tisserand are your best bet for keeping prices low and quality high – just a few drops needed and you’ve got an amazing soak for all of fifty pence! I tend to stick to rose, frankincense and lavender, mainly because I had a terrible experience with a eucalyptus and mint blend and my nethers have only just healed.
10kg of epsom salts for (average price) £20 = 40p per 200g of salts + Few drops of Tisserand oil, approx 10p = 50p per soak.
Run the bath, pour in the salts, then the oils, mixed with a bit of almond oil (don’t put the oils in when the bath is running as I find that the water tends to make the scent fill the bathroom too early) and relax. Or, if you’re like me, spend three minutes twiddling your thumbs and then think of something you need to do and get out again.
What’s your favourite bath treat? I really look forward to my nightly soak, it’s a fundamental part of my daily routine – tell me if I’m missing out on any particular oils or scents!
Brilliant skincare buys that you can pick up in the supermarket. I won’t dilly-dally about today with silly introductions and off piste distractions because I have limited time: I just hoovered up a load of moths with the Dyson and I don’t want them flying back out of the pipe.
Can that happen? I mean, if the suction isn’t on, can insects climb back out of the hoover? God I hope not. That is the stuff of nightmares, isn’t it? It’s the natural world’s equivalent of that wet-haired girl climbing out of the well in The Ring. You just want to slam a lid down on it and hammer in a few nine inch nails.
Luckily for the insects I empty the Dyson outside, so they are (sort of) freed back out into the wild. Though how long a domesticated, well-fed moth would last in the open I have no idea. Going from a diet of cashmere and merino wool to, I dunno, dandelions. It would be like turfing an aristocrat from his club into the back alley and asking him to fend for himself.
“What? No Lobster Thermidor? And who are you, dare I ask? No, I can absolutely not spare a squid! A … quid? What is this quid you speak of?”
Where was I? Must concentrate. If you’re self-isolating and only getting supermarket deliveries, or if you’re trying to keep deliveries to a minimum, then here are some cracking skincare products you can buy at the supermarket. Both online and instore.
I should add that there are far more options than the ones laid out, but I am working with what I’ve got. Products I use regularly and ones that I’ve previously tested. Once we’re all out of confinement, I promise you that I will continue my much-praised (haha) Supermarket Sweep series. I think I only did ASDA and Sainsbury’s before I got totally distracted.
I’ve concentrated on Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Waitrose here – I’m afraid I’m not so up to speed with Lidl and Aldi – they were on my to-do list but it’s impossible to try stuff at the moment!
Note, also, that I’ve avoided the powerhouse ingredients here; you can get various bits and bobs with vitamin C and retinol, but I haven’t tested them extensively enough to give them a proper thumbs up and so I have kept this post to the basics: cleanse, serum, moisturiser.
The supermarket shelves are awash with cleansing gels and foaming gels and wipes and micellar cleansers: there’s a distinct lack of balm, oil and cream cleansers. But I’ve checked, and pretty much across the board you can find one good, rich, creamy cleanser.
At Sainsbury’s I’d go for the Superfacialist Rose Cleanser (it’s also at Amazon here*) which is just gorgeous. I’m a long-term fan and if Sainsbury’s is your supermarket of choice then you’re in luck, because you also have the delightful Balance Me range.
Pricier than your usual supermarket offering, Balance Me have loads of great products – including a very good vitamin C serum, actually. Which is annoying because I’ve just said I’d avoid the powerhouse ingredients in this post!
Balance Me’s Balm cleanser is a treat – unctious, soft, it melts down to an oil and rinses off clean. It’s £20 at Sainsbury’s or LookFantastic here*.
At Tesco, I like the Cosmeticism Cleansing Cream here and at ASDA I really like the hot cloth polish from NSpa, which I couldn’t find online but sincerely hope they have instore. It’s a great budget cleanser.
At Waitrose, you have about a zillion options. Seriously, they have loads of wonderful brands – my pick would be the Weleda Almond Cleanser, which I’ve reviewed here.
For the serum step I’ve gone for a suit-all crowd-pleaser, good old hyaluronic acid. L’Oreal have a new 1.5% version that has recently launched in the UK, see if you can find it – they definitely have it at Sainsbury’s and at Lookfantastic here*.
The aforementioned Vit C one from Balance Me is great – again, find it at Sainsbury’s, and also online here*.
Olay do a great serum called 3 Point Firming – I tested this extensively a few years ago and it was excellent. Lightweight, non-greasy, plumping, sits well beneath makeup, keep an eye out for it!
My most-used supermarket-available options are below. The Simple moisturisers are a new discovery for me (via Nadine Baggott) and the teeny bottles are deceiving – you get a standard 50ml inside them. Just nifty packaging. I would highly recommend the calming hemp version.
Simple Calming Moisturiser with Hemp, many supermarkets and online at Boots here*.
L’Oreal Revitalift Night Cream-Mask, at Waitrose here* and most supermarkets. I’ve banged on about this one for years and years – it’s my favourite L’Oreal moisturiser and they make a lot. It’s more plumptious and effective than many of the far more expensive “sleep masks” I’ve tried from luxury brands and, with the hyaluronic serum layered beneath, it leaves your face as wibbly and turgid as an overfilled waterbed.
If you’re in a spot dilemma and need something immediately, you could do worse than to throw some Clearasil Rapid Action Pads. I mean you could do a lot better, but we are talking fast fixes here and I’ve tested these out a few times before so I know they don’t burn the bejeezus out of your face. I wouldn’t use them all over, because I find them drying, but use on the spot-prone areas and then just leave them to get to work. They’re saturated in salicylic acid so they help to keep pores clear without being to aggro in the process.
OK, I see a moth head poking out of the pipe (not a euphemism) (would be a strange one) so I must go and empty the dust-catcher. I’ve just realised I did a video on this entire post (amazing that someone could actually forget something so important) and so I’ll paste that in below for your watching pleasure.
Please do leave me your own supermarket skincare heroes in the comments – I will definitely be reinstating my video series and so I need to get testing once I can nip to the shops to research and stock up. Especially give me your Lidl and Aldi recommendations!
It seems a weird time to be filming a beauty favourites video, but what I thought would be even weirder would be for me to have made a big song and a dance last month about my favourites being back in town and then never doing another one! I even made that whole Brokeback Mountain joke about not being able to quit my favourites, etc etc, and so to simply up sticks and leave again wasn’t an option.
Just five favourites, though – it’s not exactly an orgy. Just five things that have really tickled my whistle and that would make a cheery addition to any routine, once things settle down a bit. The handwash favourite is probably the most relevant – very inexpensive, non-drying, good brand that gives back to charity and so on – but I like to think that any of this month’s picks would do a particular service.
A warm and comforting fragrance (it’s like the olfactory equivalent of being hugged in big, safe arms), a cleanser with aromatherapy benefits, an eye cream for tired, staring-at-an-iPhone-screen-twelve-hours-a-day eyes…
I’ll leave you to watch the video in peace. But if you don’t want the video, then – hurrah – a slightly new format for you! Rather than just listing the products below the screen, there’s a mini review. Which makes this more of a blog post than simply a place to announce that there’s a new video in town. Better for those of you who are resolutely video-free? I hope so.
OK, so onto my mini reviews. Some old favourites, here and some new. It’s like a wedding. Except there’s nothing borrowed. Or blue.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Cleanser, £21 here*. If you have combination or oily skin and have always been put off by the idea of cream or oil cleansers, then this could be the one to try. It is rich and creamy, but it actually leaves the skin feeling very refined and ever – ever! – so slightly tightened. So if you hate a residue and want that ultra-clean feeling then this is a gorgeous luxury buy.
Neal’s Yard are experts at sourcing and working with frankincense and it really shows in their frankincense ranges. The cleanser is very scented (with frankincense, obviously!) and I find it to be more of a grounding, de-stressing treatment than anything resembling a mundane cleanse. Top marks, I’ve loved this cleanser for many years.
Soaper Duper Handwashes, online here. Soaper Duper do some of the best handwashes around. Wasn’t ever a beauty category that I imagined raving about, but it’s definitely topical and we’re all (hopefully) washing our hands about a billion times a day. So it’s nice to pick out some good ones. (If you’d like me to test a few and report back then I’m totally up for that – plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast!)
Soaper Duper do their washes in lots of scents – this Tuberose one is fresh and green rather than anything too floral – and they are hooked up with some great charities, including Water Aid. Big bottles, non-drying formula, definitely up there with the best of them.
Kiehl’s Line Reducing Eye Serum*, £41 here. Remember eons ago when I reviewed the Vitamin C face serum from Kiehl’s? Well now there’s one specifically for eyes and it’s just as good as the original. If you want a powerful eye cream that feels gutsy and strong, rather than a “light and fresh gel” or a “cooling cream” then this is the business – it has the same thick and dry texture as the serum, which won’t be for everyone, but really will be for those who want a rich cream that’s grease-free.
You can read my original review on the face serum here – I’ve just seen that it was a favourite back in 2015! How time flies. I think the serum – or concentrate as it was called – has actually been reformulated since then. More potent, if I remember correctly.
Charlotte Tilbury Copper Charge Eye Palette, £40 here*. I have an IGTV waiting to be published on this – very informal, just showing how I apply it and how it looks in different lights. I think that the CT eye quads are all fantastic – good pigment but easy to handle, really blendable and cleverly chosen shades that always look flattering and sexy.
The new Copper Charge palette is part of the new range that promises to make your actual eye colour more intense – so there’s a copper one to make blue eyes bluer, and blue one to make (I think) brown eyes browner, and so on. The coppery one could be dicey, if you are prone to looking a little pink-eyed, but used carefully it really enhances blue eyes. Keep a lookout for the IGTV video – I’ll update here with a link for you once it’s up!
Molton Brown Milk Musk, from £65 here*. Not convinced by the name of this new Molton Brown range, but I think that the scent is outrageously good. It’s warm, it’s cocooning, it’s like throwing yourself into (I imagine) a bed that’s been set-dressed for a Hygge interiors shoot. All natural-hued faux furs and giant knits and cashmere throws and those little flickering tealights scattered around the (wooden) floor.
The scent is warm, faintly exotic and with a musky, tonka bean base. Heady top notes that are really quite sexy and rich and then that warm, comforting base. The eau de toilette is fresher, (not surprisingly) and the parfum is deeper with a lovely little sharp, greenish twist right at the bottom. It’s gorgeous. Another winner from Molton Brown, for me – they seem to be ticking all of my boxes recently because my top fragrance love before this one was their Geranium Nefertum!
I just can’t seem to keep away from favourites videos. I stop doing them and then I start again, always returning to make just one more. I stop because I think that they’re generally a bit formulaic, but then, a few months down the line, I start to miss making them. I find myself compiling little lists throughout the month, noting down the brilliant products I’ve used and wishing I had a video to talk about them in.
In a way, it’s sort of like Brokeback Mountain, sort of. (It’s not.) I’m like Heath Ledger’s character, and Jake Gyllenhaal represents the favourites videos. We just can’t stay away from one another.
I don’t go off on camping trips with my favourites videos, obviously, although I have edited them from a tent at a festival once, so maybe that counts.
Anyway, Five Favourites for the month of February, which is pleasingly alliterative, and there’s a real corker of a face cream in it if you have very dry skin. Also one of the best high street foundations I’ve tried, though it’s at the top end of the price range for a high street base.
I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises so just watch the video – I’ll list the products below for those who can’t stand watching videos. Although now you know the special relationship I have with them, perhaps you’ll give them more consideration.
I wish I knew how to quit you…
John Masters Hibiscus Hair Mask, £39 here*: https://amzn.to/3au3WS9
No7 Protect and Perfect Foundation, £17 here*: http://tidd.ly/4db5de40
REN Overnight Balm, £40 here*: http://bit.ly/2VM0Bde
Lumene Nordic Hydracare Rich Day Cream, £26.90 here*: http://bit.ly/2PQ3aqS
Dior Rose Plumping Lip Balm: THIS IS DISCONTINUED! WTF! It’s so, so nice. Bring it back, Dior!
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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I always feel like a right berk recommending this to people when I can’t pronounce the name properly – I mean, how on earth do you say OI Oil without looking as though you’re doing an extreme facial yoga move? – but recommend it I do. A lot. Because, despite trying dozens and dozens of smoothing creams and silkening serums and pomades that promise to tame fried locks, this is still one of the very best things I’ve found.
Davines OI Oil.
I’m not 100% sure on how to say the Davines bit, don’t have a clue on the OI bit, but don’t let pronunciation faze you: because surely that’s one of the great things about internet shopping? Being able to order stuff that you can’t pronounce in real life. Or, even better, being able to order all of the stuff that is too humiliating to do face to face.
(The fact that I now can’t think of a single thing that would humiliate me to buy face-to-face means that I have sunk to new lows. Unctions for various complaints of the orifices, athlete’s foot cream, stuff for ulcers and boils, bunions and buboes; the pharmacist in my local Sainsbury’s has seen it all and neither of us bats an eyelid. I always wonder whether it’s the combination of shopping items that cause’s embarrassment, rather than the items themselves. Though to be quite honest I rarely overthink this nowadays. I mean, if you found yourself at the checkout with a cucumber, some lard and a packet of condoms then you’d probably want to rethink your shopping list but I can’t think of much else that would make me pause for thought. Just to be clear, I’ve never rocked up to the tills with that combination of items, but once I did buy just an aubergine, two courgettes and a large pot of yoghurt because I was making an emergency vegetarian curry for a visiting friend and the man at the checkout said “that looks like a fine Saturday night in.” WTF.)
Where am I going with this? I have no idea. Poor you, clicking on a seemingly innocent haircare review and being plunged into the depths of my meandering mind. OI Oil. No idea how to say it, because they’ve capitalised the O and the I which further confuses me – if it’s not “Oi Oil” then is it o-eye oil?
I like to think you shout it, like Harry Enfield pretending to be a builder.
“Oi! Oil! Over ‘ere! Come on then if you think you’re ‘ard enough!”
But I’m guessing that would be off-brand. Davines is a very high-end, high-performance haircare brand and I’m not sure that Harry would be their poster boy. Everything I’ve tried from this company has been gorgeous, effective and a cut above much of the competition, so I’m going to be sensible from now on and give it the credit it deserves.
OI Oil Absolute Beatifying Potion is a hair-finishing serum that contains oil, but doesn’t quite behave like an oil. Which is a blessing for those with fine, easily-weighed-down hair. You get all of the sheen and conditioning benefits of the oil (roucou oil, which is apparently 100 times richer in beta carotene than carrots; handy if you, like me, would like your hair to be able to see in the dark) but you don’t get the greasiness.
Obviously if you pour the stuff on and baste your whole head in it, things would start to get greasy, but why would you do that? You need a minimal amount – for long hair, I’d dispense about the size of a 10p coin – and that minimal amount manages to groom, tame and polish without any heaviness whatsoever.
My hair just looks sleek and smooth, but not in that nineties Jennifer Aniston way that needed four hours of straightening to achieve – the surface just looks healthy and…well pulled together. So I’d use the OI Oil on days when my hair looks tousled, for example, leaving it looking tousled but incredibly healthy, rather than tousled because it’s just dry AF and I haven’t had my split ends cut off in five or six months.
How do you use Davines OI Oil? Well here’s the most beautiful bit: pretty much in any way you want. Massage into damp hair and allow to air-dry, massage into damp hair before blow-drying, smooth over dried ends to get rid of frizz or spread a small amount between palms and then press them lightly down the lengths of a finished style to give it polish and sheen.
My most-employed way of using OI Oil is on hair that I’ve basically washed and forgotten about, hair that has dried into a huge Helena Bonham-Carter bird’s nest on my head, tangled and stressed. And you know that when you’ve left your hair to riot like that then there’s very little you can do to pull it back from the brink – some of my lowest hair moments have been when I’ve brushed my hair out from the freshly-washed bird’s nest and it just sits, lank yet somehow still frazzled, hanging down in tattered curtains on either side of my face.
That is when OI Oil comes into its own. On my fine, colour-treated hair it just seems to perform small miracles, working its way through the damage to come out with something that’s a hell of a lot more than just presentable. And yes, a glance at the ingredients list tells you that the silicone-heavy formula is very much in a similar arena to your Frizz-Eases and your Moroccanoils, but there’s something about this one that works incredibly well on my fine, blonded hair.
You can find Davines OI Oil online here* – a small bottle is £24, but a large bottle, which is almost three times the size, is £35. On the one hand, a small bottle would probably last you an age and I’m always hesitant to recommend unnecessary super-sizing, but the numbers here point in only one direction. Economy of scale and all that.
It’s Best Budget Beauty time again and who better to join me in my bargain-hunting exploits than the self-confessed dupe-obsessive Nadine Baggott? Nadine has decades of experience as a beauty editor and presenter and spends an unholy amount of time chasing down high-performance products that cost a fraction of the luxury versions.
In this little duet of videos (is that even a term?) we unearth our favourite makeup and skincare finds in the under £20 bracket. I think that it could quite easily have been an under £15 challenge, really, as most of the products featured hover around or under that price – a few are currently available for under a fiver.
As with last week’s, I have captioned my video using a real-life transcriber so that the subtitles make sense. On the skincare video you can get this to appear by clicking the CC at the bottom of the video screen. I’ve listed the featured skincare products at the bottom of this page – for the makeup finds, click through to Nadine’s video and all of the listings will be in the description box!
Right, get watching if you want to find out which cult (and notoriously hard to get) skincare brand will soon be in Superdrug or which eyeshadow pencil is as good as the designer ones yet costs less than a fiver…
Here’s the Best Budget Skincare video:
and the Best Budget Makeup video on Nadine’s Youtube channel:
Products Featured in the Skincare video:
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser*: http://bit.ly/2rjRByY
Curel Makeup Cleansing Gel*: http://tidd.ly/6b72c794
Inkey List Collagen*: https://amzn.to/2SIY2Xr
Hada Labo Hyaluronic with retinol + collagen*: https://amzn.to/2SWx4dP
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Fluid*: http://tidd.ly/f6b3539f
The Body Shop Aloe Day Cream*: http://tidd.ly/53ff3fb0
Simple Calming Moisturiser*: http://tidd.ly/852f4075
Eucerin Vit C*: http://tidd.ly/e9074e01
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