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
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!
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!
The post Testing Retinol With My Mum – Age 39 v Age 69! | AD appeared first on A Model Recommends.
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.
Well here’s a makeup collection that feels decidedly spring-like; it’s making me feel quite optimistic and invigorated about things, despite the fact that we’re being battered by various storms and all still wearing tights.
It’s the Act IV collection by Estée Lauder, created in collaboration with Danielle Lauder, an aspiring actor and Mrs Estée Lauder’s Great-Granddaughter.
It’s a chic, unfussy collection of seven makeup products that gives a glamorous nod to the “Old Hollywood” vibe but at the same time remains wearable and useful for everyday looks.
The idea behind the collection is that it’s beauty that makes you the star – just enough glitz and shimmer to add a bit of pizazz to the day but not over the top and definitely not unattainable. The packaging isn’t fussy but it definitely has that vintage luxury vibe.
And you can tell that there’s a distinct Hollywood lean to Act IV because the skin products concentrate on creating that very dreamy, almost soft-focus effect; there’s the Cinemattic Complexion Liquid (shop here) that acts as a blurring, mattifying primer and the Spotlight Highlighter (here) that just gives a hint of warmth along with the traditional pearlescent glow.
You can actually use the Complexion Liquid on its own, if you want an even and perfected base but little in the way of coverage, but it’s a dream beneath foundation, creating a very smooth canvas. It gives everything that ethereal sort of quality, I think, especially in combination with the highlighter and the loose Party Puff Starlucent Powder.
The Party Puff Starlucent Filtered Powder (online here) feels and looks like something you’d find on a vintage dressing table, perhaps backstage on a film set, and the coral hue gives a fresh finish that works to set makeup as well as add a little extra radiance.
The colour makeup is a dream if you love your springtime pastels; I think this is one of the only times I’ve actually liked coral and lavender tones on my lids! The Best Picture Multi-Look Palette (shop here) is for eyes and face, though I think it works best on eyes – the lavender and charcoal shades mixed together make for a really sultry, smokey eye that has a bit of an edge.
I don’t often inject purple shades into my makeup routine but I found this quite exciting, really, and it made me feel as though I’d stepped out of my comfort zone.
By about an inch.
I mean it’s not as though I died my hair bright green and walked down the high street wearing a thong bikini, but in terms of a little makeup shake-up I found the lavender tint very pleasing!
The lipsticks and tints will perhaps be the most universally pleasing; two Luxe Lip Creme shades (Reel Coral and Reel Rose, find here online) and then a travel-friendly Lip Duet Tint and Balm, here, which has – as the name suggests – a balm in one end and a tint in the other.
It gives a healthy little flush to the lips and can be intensified by skipping the balm step altogether. But if it was punchy you wanted then the Reef Coral is the one to leap for – really very bright, almost neon in some lights, it’s the kind of shade that will only look better as the weather gets warmer!
Ugh, I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer. I think it’s going to be coral lips and lavender eyes all the way, for me, once the wild flowers start coming out!
You can find the Act IV collection on the Estée Lauder website here – prices start at £34 for the creme lipsticks. What do you think about pastels with a punchy lip? Is this something I might have to do a School Run Makeup on?
I raved about this wondrous shampoo and conditioner duo just after Christmas but – as usual – it has taken some time to edit my written review. Mind you, that’s not a bad thing at all, because it’s given me a chance to test Olaplex 4 & 5 (sounds like a virus) to an almost obsessive degree.
You may have heard about Olaplex; it started off as an in-salon, professional product for helping to drastically repair and strengthen damaged hair, and it was one of those treatments that people whispered smugly about, people who were in the know.
“Your colour looks nice, darling, where did you get it done?”
“Oh, you know, darling…Barnabas does it.”
(I am hugely aware that these fictional people already sound like total twats. If truth be told, I’m regretting having even started the off-piste dialogue section, but now I’ve created Mandy and Gwyneth I feel I can’t stop. Forgive me, Olaplex, they’re not going to do much for your street cred, old Mands and Gwynnie, but they absolutely are OMG obsessed with your product, so it’ll all be good PR in the end.)
“The Barnabas does your colour?”
“Yes, darling Gwynnie, always has done always will.”
“Well, not always.”
“He will have to die at some point.”
(I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Someone intervene. I think it’s the sinus medicine I’m on, it has sent me totally bonkers.)
“Well, Gwyneth, there’s no need to wish ill on someone like that, he’s -“
“I’m not wishing ill, Mandy, it’s a simple fact of life. He will, at some point, die. Anyway, Jonas does my hair and look how strong it is, despite the fact that I bleach the living tits out of it every four weeks. Touch it Mandy. Touch it.”
“I don’t need to, Gwyneth. It looks strong as a horse’s mane. You basically have a horse’s mane. You’re basically a hor-“
“Olaplex, Mandy. My hair has never felt so strong and healthy. So robust. So…”
“Empowered. I know, Gwyneth darling. I get Olaplexed too. Olaplex one and two. Stronger hair, stronger you.”
OH MY GOD, OLAPLEX, I’VE WRITTEN YOU YOUR NEXT WORLDWIDE AD CAMPAIGN! That’ll be £450 please.
Anyway, Olaplex is the kind of strengthening treatment that people (especially people who bleach the bejeezus out of their hair on a regular basis) can’t get enough of. Steps 1 and 2 are the in-salon parts, with 1 being the bit that you apply when you’re actually having your colour done and 2 the after-rinsing part. Many colourists mix it directly in with the hair colour or bleach and it helps to rebuild the structure of the hair, making it smoother and stronger. Despite the hair being dead. Which is weird, when you think about it. It’s a bit like using No More Nails to glue a skeleton back together.
And there’s a home bond-strengthening treatment, now, as well as the in-salon steps; there’s step 3, the Hair Perfector, which is a pre-shampoo leave-in treatment, and there’s step 4, a shampoo, and step 5 which is a conditioner. Oh, and step 6, which is something you leave-on after you’ve rinsed out all the other gubbins.
Here in this review I’m talking specifically about steps 4 & 5, but I will come back to 3 (and 6!) in a later post. I need to try them properly, but as far as I can tell step 3 is a kind of Elasticizer-style pre-shampoo deep-conditioner and step 6 (The Bond Smoother) is more of a leave-in treatment that protects against frizz and so on when you’re blow-drying.
So far, however, I haven’t felt as though I’ve needed them at all. The shampoo and conditioner work amazingly well on my hair, leaving it feeling so (empowered) strong and smooth, I haven’t really felt the need to reach for the stronger stuff. The big guns.
Partly because I can’t imagine what the big guns might actually do. I don’t want to go OTT. I mean, can hair be too strong? Could that be a potential problem? I have visions of me whipping my mane over my shoulder and accidentally killing someone. Or demolishing small buildings with my plait. Mind you, it could be quite useful if I wanted to lasso things. Buffalo. Horses.
Anyway, the shampoo and conditioner are bloody brilliant. I have the proper “wow” sensation when I use them – even before drying my hair off I can feel that satisfying slip, the slip that I haven’t really had since first dying my hair. (Twenty five years ago almost. I first had highlights at sixteen, I saved up money from my weekend job and went to a place that used a crochet hook to pull massive wads of hair through a rubber hat with hundreds of slits cut into it. The indignity.)
You can find Olaplex at Space NK here* – small bottles of the shampoo and conditioner are £13, bigger ones are £26. I will report back once I’ve tried steps 3 and 6 – if I haven’t garrotted myself with my strong-as-steel ponytail in my sleep.
If your hair is weak, frazzled, generally just dry and shite (name of my new hair serum I’m going to bring out – Dry n Shite) then this stuff is well worth a try. I mean, if you can get your salon to use the first steps when you’re having your colour done then all the better, but my colourist doesn’t, and I am still having great results from the home stuff. It gives me the weighty, swingy feeling that I love but none of that horrendous semi-oily residue that some strengthening products seem to leave – have you ever experienced that? Like a rubberised coating that won’t come off? Argh! Well Olaplex doesn’t do that. All hail.
Oh this is an excellent buy if you’re after a hard-working cleanser that won’t break the bank. It’s a true all-rounder that can genuinely be used by all skin types, even sensitive and – please sound the bargain klaxon! – it’s one of the most budget-friendly cleansers out there.
The Squalane Cleanser from The Ordinary is exactly what it says it is – a cleanser with squalane. Of course there are other ingredients in the mix, but squalane is the hero here and a mighty and worthy hero it is too. Squalane is a powerful skin moisturiser that also has antioxidant benefits – it boosts suppleness and helps to prevent moisture loss and generally goes about its business in a very efficient and effective way. As a key ingredient in the Squalane Cleanser, it’s light enough for oily skin, provides instant relief for dried-out skin and does a thorough-yet-sensitive job of makeup and grime removal on all types of skin.
The Squalene Cleanser feels like an oily cream-gel when you squeeze it out of the (incredibly handy, very lightweight, perfect for travelling) tube. I realise that “oily cream-gel” covers just about every base when it comes to texture, but it’s an accurate description – it looks like a cream-gel, has the lightness of a cream-gel, but on application you instantly feel the gorgeous oily slip. Perfect for properly massaging in, especially over eye makeup, it quickly turns into a more liquid oil and then rinses off clean.
There’s nothing to dislike about this product, really – I suppose if you were very oily or acne-prone then the texture might be off-putting, but there’s no residue at all after rinsing. There’s also no tightness whatsoever, which is a problem with even some of the oiliest-feeling balms out there! Skin just feels cleansed and balanced. Can’t ask for much more than that…
To use it, apply to dry skin (at least I do, to get maximum oily massage opportunity!) and then rinse after you’ve really worked it in and broken up the dirt and makeup. You can use it twice, of course, or even thrice if you’ve had a day of it or you’ve been on one of those army training simulation courses where you have to crawl through the mud beneath nets and then hide in a cave, or if you’ve been playing Widow Twanky in the panto and caked yourself in greasepaint.
Squalane Cleanser is £5.50 for 50ml (find it at Cult Beauty here* and FeelUnique here*) but you can get a whopping 150ml tube (as photographed above) for £13.90 at LookFantastic here*. Personally I feel as though the 150ml should be the widely-available size – 50ml is great for travel but I get through it too fast!
UPDATE: Deciem have a 23% sale on at the moment which makes the 150ml cleanser £10.70. You can find the Deciem website here*.
As I write this, I am officially in PMT Skin Week, which is the one week in each and every month that my skin is in danger of going completely haywire. If anything is going to go wrong with my skin then it goes wrong now. Angry, bumpy jawline, weird forehead dryness, little sore patches around my eyes, an oil slick down the centre of my face – you name it, it’s on the list of potential problems.
There are a few different things that I tweak in my skincare routine during PMT week, including upping my cleansing game (a thorough balm cleanse night and morning, if I can bear it) and choosing slightly lighter day creams, but the key change (and arguably the most important one) is the addition of a BHA exfoliant.
A beta hydroxy acid exfoliant (salicylic acid) has the power to unclog, clarify and pore-refine but at the same time it’s calming and soothing and helps to reduce that horrible angry redness that often appears along with your hormonal spots.
So if your skin is angsty, bumpy and sore but also feels highly sensitive (quite literally a representation of your entire physical state when you have PMT, come to think of it!) then a BHA liquid is what you need. Swipe it on and leave, it’s a quick and simple step that’ll make a huge difference, especially if you usually just try and “ride it out” when it comes to your PMT skin.
My most frequent BHA-of-choice is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. I’ve written a full review post on this brilliant skin-clearing liquid here, but to recap, it’s a wipe-on-and-leave BHA exfoliant that will soothe as it effectively cleans out your pores. Blackheads, pustules, acne bumps, all will benefit from a swipe-over with this salicylic acid toner.
You apply the Skin Perfecting Liquid after cleansing and before serum/moisturiser – just pat on with fingertips or wipe with cotton wool and then leave. Here are four great little product combos that I use when I have PMT and my skin is on the spot-prone-but-sensitive side. The product list isn’t exhaustive – I could go on all day with good suggestions! – but they give you a good idea of what I’m looking for in a PMT skincare routine. A thorough cleanse that doesn’t leave skin stripped or tight, a BHA exfoliant and then a light-but-powerful moisturiser.
Sensitive Oily Skin Routine
Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25 here* – to remove all makeup, including eye, and thoroughly cleanse skin without stripping it.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – to exfoliate and clear out pores without irritation.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluide, £14 here* – to moisturise and soothe without leaving a greasy residue.
Dry, Angsty PMT Skin Routine
Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25 here* – as before, to remove all makeup, including eye, and thoroughly cleanse skin without stripping it.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, from £10 here* – as before, to exfoliate and clear out pores without irritation.
Murad City Skin Overnight Detox Moisturiser, £70 here* – to effectively brighten and intensely moisturise overnight.
Oily Dehydrated Skin Routine
Dr Sam’s Flawless Cleanser, £16 here* – a lightweight gel but a thorough cleansing option.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, from £10 here* – to exfoliate and clear out pores without irritation.
Indeed Labs Hydraluron Intense Moisture Lotion (full review here) – to hydrate without any heaviness or grease.
Spot-Prone SPF Routine
Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £25 here* – as before, you know the drill!
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, from £10 here*.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, £28 here* – ultra-lightweight hydration to slip on before…
Sun Project Light Sun Essence SPF50, £21 here* – barely detectable and feels beautiful on the skin.
As I said before, I could swap in hundreds of different products here – maybe every time I do a skincare product review I should show how it fits into a routine, like the above? Let me know if that would be helpful!
You can find Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid online at Amazon* (£12 for 30ml here), Lookfantastic (from £10 for 30ml here*) and Cult Beauty here*. It’s unbelievably great on teen skin as well as PMT skin and an easy daily add-on to your routine if you suffer with adult acne.
Whilst we’re on the subject of PMT: since having babies I now get pre-menstrual symptoms of absolutely epic proportions. I mean I’m almost dangerous in terms of mood and I feel drastically, genuinely quite ill. No cramps at all, ever, which used to be crippling pre-kids, so it’s a swings and roundabouts kind of situation but boy the moods. Do we need a separate post on this?