I woke up unable to move and with my arm muscles screaming: what evil atrocity had happened to my person overnight? I did (what they call in the meditation sessions I never get around to doing) a body scan; starting at the toes, moving up to the knees and then the thighs and the hips, noting any sensations in the body pleasant or unpleasant. They were all deeply unpleasant. Pains shot through my calves when I tried to wiggle my toes and I was unable to feel my thighs. It was as though anything connecting my legs to the rest of my body had been stolen away whilst I was sleeping.
I tried to roll onto my side but where there had been (admittedly feeble) core muscles, there now seemed to be none. My brain whirred. Had I unwittingly birthed another baby? By c-section? Or perhaps I had been illegally harvested of some vital organs and this was the aftermath. Hundreds of separate pains were beginning to register around my body – even my head hurt when I weakly turned it from side to side.
And then the horror came flooding back. Operating on a slight delay, no doubt due to the trauma, my mind blinked into action and played a number of nightmarish flashbacks from the previous day. The root cause of all my pains became crystal clear:
I had exercised.
More specifically, I had “boxed”. Or “done boxing” – I’m not sure of the correct phrase here, being unfamiliar with almost all forms of exercise and the appropriate fitness-related lexicon. But I had done something akin to boxing at the very least – I’d had my hands strapped up (in bandages, which sort of felt like a forewarning) and I’d worn the proper gloves and I’d given it my all like only a comparatively unfit forty-two-year-old mum-of-two can.
I say comparatively because with a few exceptions I think I was the oldest participant in the room by almost a couple of decades and I’m not sure, judging by the enthusiasm and vigour with which they all did the jumping jacks, that any of the others had yet to become inconvenienced with compromised pelvic floors.
Now look; I’m not unfit in that I have to huff and puff to get myself up my near-vertical driveway (I can even carry heavy stacks of parcels up it) and I’m also not unfit in that I can easily hike six, seven, eight miles or more in one go and it doesn’t really feel as though I’ve dented my energy that much. However: put me on a rubbery floor and make me do things like “mountain climbers” and “burpees” and anything involving upper body strength and I promise you I will collapse like one of those little push-up puppets with elastic bands threaded through them.
Why was I exercising? You might ask. I was at a press event for Kiehl’s and the boxing session (at the amazing JAB club in Mayfair) was part of the package. Kiehl’s have launched a lovely new product into their Ultra Facial range; the Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream, and I’m guessing that the “defensive” nature of the boxing class is the link between event and barrier repair product. Although, I have to say, JAB couldn’t have been more Kiehl’s in style if it had tried – it felt very New York cool with its wooden lockers and wall of boxing gloves and the amazing leather punchbags in the mirrored studio.
And as Rebecca, the photographer for Kiehl’s, clicked away at all of the guests posing in the aforementioned boxing gloves, leaning against the aforementioned punchbags, I made the fatal error of assuming that this boxing session was to be “just for the ‘gram” and that nobody would actually be expending any real sort of physical effort.
Which was all fine by me because even as I enrered the locker room I was beginning to question my sanity – why on earth had I agreed to spend a morning doing something so energetic and potentially excruciating when I could have been having hot chocolate with a friend, or browsing John Lewis for a new travel bag (much needed). Or just anything, really, rather than being in a boxing gym with that faint smell of sweat and rubber and – weirdly – ham that’s seemingly always the precursor to intense physical discomfort.
Luckily the JAB crew (instructor and two finely-honed “demo” boxers to keep us all on track with the moves) were all very easy on the eye and as I don’t get out much these days it was all quite visually exciting at first. As we started jigging about on the spot and doing pretend punching I relaxed into the whole thing and suddenly felt quite confident that I’d be able to take the whole thing in my stride. Even as the moves progressed to more energetic ones, ones that saw me having to throw myself to the floor, touch my knee to my shoulder like in some sadistic version of Twister, I felt sort of physically energised and motivated in a way I hadn’t experienced since having to run to catch the last train from Paddington at the end of January 2021. (One of my tendons has only just healed.)
But oh my God. After about ten minutes of pure cardio sweaty exertion and just as I assumed we were about to wind things up to have a little rest, the instructor (and owner of JAB) declared that the “warm up was almost over”. I beg your pardon? Warm up? If this was one of those army obstacle courses then I was at exhaustion level 8: the final swamp crossing. If I was on an army course then at this point I’d be hauling myself through the mud on my knees, doing ugly crying. If it was childbirth (and my babies hadn’t been huge/wrong way up/late) then I’d be at the bit where it’s ring of fire and you have to push through the pain.
Had Mr Jab not been so encouraging, in his tiny shorts with his muscular physique, I would have lain down on the rubbery floor and wept. As it happened, he carried with him some sort of long plastic ruler and now and then gave a gentle tap with it which was actually quite arousing.
Or would have been quite arousing had my pelvic floor not decided to completely give up the ghost which meant I was concentrating on trying not to involuntarily urinate over myself. It was the split jumping jacks that did the pelvic floor in, FYI – manic opening and closing of the legs coupled with intense and forceful high impact landings. It’s gonna do it. You may as well place your undercarriage into that machine in IKEA that demonstrates how violently they test their mattresses for wear and tear. Pound-pound-pound.
Anyway, jesting aside I did very much enjoy myself. The urine stayed where it should be, despite my bladder screeching at me for the entire forty-five minutes, and the first thing I did when I got on the train home was to Google “Boxing Club in Bath”. I felt on top of the world. There was a ferocity and a focus to the session that I loved; it was so intense that it left no room to think. If I’m spinning (on a bike, not just around and around in a room like someone on hallucinogenics) then all sorts of things go through my mind. And I can imagine that – if I had knees that weren’t made of Play-Doh and I jogged – the same thing would happen with jogging. I’d ruminate on work issues, on family life, I’d run through my lists of things that needed to be done.
No space for that during boxing! Or – whispers – Boxercise, which is what I think I’m going to have to do in lieu of proper boxing. Mainly because the proper boxing gyms talk of such things as “sparring” and “mouth guards” and I’m not completely ready to retire from modelling just yet.
And also, I say that Boxercise is what I think I’m going to have to do, but it has taken me five full days to get full movement back in my upper body: I went forty-eight hours in the same t-shirt because I couldn’t bear to lift my arms over my head! So maybe I should stick to spinning (again, the cycling on a stationary bike sort) rather than anything more taxing. Which would mean I’d have to buy an actual clothes horse instead of using the Peleton to dry my clothes, so it’s swings and roundabouts…
A massive thanks to Kiehl’s for inviting me to their Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream launch: I did feel very relevant and youthful in my gym stuff and boxing gloves. And the new cream is just lovely – a great addition to the Ultra Facial line-up, which is renowned for being very calm and gentle. I have two close friends who have used nothing else for years and will use nothing else. The new cream brings extra-potent ingredients to the table for really helping to repair the skin barrier so that it can function more effectively – better skin barrier, less moisture loss and skin that feels more comfortable and soothed. The new barrier cream has a balm texture that’s surprisingly velvety rather than being the heavy, greasy ointment that you might expect. Sits brilliantly beneath makeup (I have it on now) (I realise you can’t see me so that’s a pointless statement) and keeps skin feeling supple and comfortable all day.
You can find the new Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream at Kiehl’s here* – it’s £34 for 50ml.
Photography credit: Rebecca Spencer Photography
If you’re trying to save money on your skincare but don’t want to compromise on the quality of your routine then I have some good news for you: I’ve rounded up some of the best budget cleansers and they’re all products I happily use (and repurchase) on a regular basis.
I’ve set the “budget” threshold at ten pounds and under for this skincare favourites post. I realise that the word budget means different things for different people – and also that there are cheaper cleansers out there – but I think that the products I’ve picked offer some of the very best quality for the price.
Five budget cleansers that’ll satisfy all skin types – there’s something here for everyone, whether you have oily skin or sensitive skin or, indeed, oily and sensitive skin. The packaging might be rather more pared-back than what you’d get wrapped around a more spendy cleanser but all of the formulations are utterly lovely, cleanse really thoroughly yet won’t strip your skin or leave it tight.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, from £5.50 at Space NK*
This brilliant cleanser from The Ordinary is great for absolutely all skin types and is a particularly good choice if you just want one cleanser to do all jobs; it removes makeup, including eye makeup, has enough slip to really massage into the skin and then leaves the skin hydrated once it’s removed with a washcloth. I don’t need a separate makeup remover when I use this – it’s fresh in feel (a gel cream texture) but mighty in performance.
It’s probably my overall top pick just because it suits everyone, is conveniently packaged and has that silky cream-to-oil texture that I usually associate with far more expensive products.
Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, £8 at Cult Beauty*
Again, a suit-all choice, but this errs on the side of a wash that you can splash off rather than a more unctuous balm or cream that you can luxuriously massage in. It comes in a big bottle so is the sort of product you could leave out in the shower for the whole family to use. Cerave are all about strengthening and protecting the skin barrier so it’s brilliant for those with sensitive skin.
Superfacialist Rosehip Creamy Cleanser, £6 at Amazon*
For those who prefer a cream over a more balm-like product, this tube of rose-scented cleanser is outstanding. I’ve loved it for many, many years and I’m so pleased it’s still in existence. So many things I love get discontinued! This has the feel of an old-fashioned cold cream, in a way, but it’s handily packaged in a tube and has a beautiful smell. Like the Squalane cleanser, I’d massage this in and remove with warm water and a washcloth/flannel rather than trying to splash off like a wash. It’s very satisfying seeing all of your makeup come off onto a flannel – if you’re not cleansing with a cloth then bring one into your life immediately! The regular, gentle exfoliation it gives is a big enough perk but you’ll find that your cleansing is so much more thorough and effective.
Buy Superfacialist here*
Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm, £8.79 at LookFantastic*
Another cleansing balm at a very good price; Inkey List’s Oat one is far more a traditional balm texture than the Squalane, which is a lighter sort of gel-cream. Or cream-gel. Same thing. In my opinion, the more balm-like it is (sort of like a gritty butter or solidified goose fat texture, for want of a more appealing description) the better the cleanser is at removing eye makeup. Because you can melt it down into an oil over the eyes but it takes longer to turn liquid than other forms of cleanser and so you really get stuck in over the lashes and lids. Great stuff.
Those with oilier skin might not like this so much as it instinctively feels as though it might add oil to the skin and maybe clog pores, but it doesn’t. It washes off (with a cloth, again!) completely clean and doesn’t leave a residue. I’d say it’s good for all skin types but dry will particularly love.
Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Cleanser, £5.30 at Amazon*
A great option for sensitive skin, as with the Cerave. Aveeno’s Calm + Restore range contains Aveeno’s prebiotic oat, something existing fans will no doubt be familiar with as the products are so popular for their soothing effect on sensitive skin. Again as with the Cerave you can rinse or splash this one off, but I genuinely think that nearly every cleanser is made more efficient when you add a flannel into the mix!
I work with Aveeno making content around this skincare range and so I know it inside out and I’ve used this cleanser loads; it’s a great option if you have oilier skin and want a “fresh wash” sort of texture but also have sensitive skin and don’t want anything harsh or aggravating.
Do you have any other suggestions to add into the best budget cleanser broth? Let me know in the comments! Here’s a short and sweet video chatting through my own favourites:
This is the third SPF problem in my little mini-catalogue of sunscreen issues and it’s the one that seems to frustrate people the most: how on earth do you reapply sunscreen over makeup?
I have two good options below. My first thought, though, is this: if you’re doing an activity that requires a full face of makeup, it’s unlikely you’re going to be in full sun, without shade, for the entire day. Of course there must be the odd scenario, but I struggle to think of many where your face will be getting a full solar battering and where full makeup is required and where it’s not possible to wear a hat. Usually someone who works outside for long periods will be used to protecting themselves with clothing/hat/sunglasses and if it’s an event like a wedding or outdoor party then there will normally be some shade.
However, I’m well aware that there’s the impromptu al fresco lunch to navigate, or drinks after work in the pub garden, or people who like to spend all day outdoors and hate hats, or have to spend all day outdoors and love wearing full makeup, and for those situations the top-up ideas below are great. Just try and use common sense, protect your face physically as much as you can (wear a hat, seek shade) and remember that ultimately sun safety trumps makeup.
SPF Problem: How Do I Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup?
So here’s the age-old problem. You carefully apply a full face of makeup over your sunscreen in the morning but at lunchtime you quite fancy a glass of wine with friends, outside on the terrace. Do you need more sunscreen? Has your initial application still got any life in it? You’re not sure. But in no way, shape or form are you going to take off your makeup, reapply sunscreen and do your face all over again. Just not feasible. So how do you top up your sunscreen?
1 – With a mist.
La Roche-Posay’s Anti-Shine SPF50 Mist* is brilliant. It was one of the first mists of this kind to the market and is still one of the best. It truly is invisible on the skin and acts as a sort of setting spray for sweaty makeup that’s started to move. So if you wanted to revive a full face of makeup that’s had a bit of a party on your face then you could give it a buff with a big foundation brush, maybe add an extra dash of bronzer and then spray the whole thing liberally with the LRP Mist.
Kate Somerville’s Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray SPF50 (here* online) is the pricier, slightly more glamorous older sister – note that it’s marketed as a makeup product and not as a dedicated SPF. I think that this is wise because you actually have to spray a lot of these sunscreen sprays onto your face to get the stated protection…and most people won’t do that. Most people will do a cursory spritz and be done. (Also, I do feel that a lot of sunscreen mist ends up in the air. Or your hair. Or on your office chair, or bed, or carpet.)
Which is why I wouldn’t rely on a facial SPF mist for my full sunscreen application, I only use it as a top-up if I feel as though the protection of my dedicated sunscreen might have waned a bit and I want to be extra sure I’m not going to burn.
But it’s invaluable as this bit of extra insurance if you find yourself having an impromptu bit of frolicking in the sunshine. It doesn’t mess with your makeup – if anything it keeps it in place – and it’s quick and easy to apply.
2 – With a tinted sunscreen.
If your SPF is your makeup base then there’s no issue with reapplying it. You just bosh your tinted sunscreen on over the top of the last stuff, with the added bonus that your new makeup looks fresh and dewy and just-done.
But tinted sunscreen hasn’t been that great an option until recently. Shades have been limited and usually the coverage isn’t quite enough to replace wearing a makeup base. If you go down the CC Cream or tinted moisturiser route then it’s often difficult to apply enough of that sort of product to get the stated SPF – you naturally use a much thinner coat of it because, well, it’s makeup.
Australian sunscreen brand Ultra Violette have an excellent new tinted sunscreen called the Dream Screen Tinted Veil (here online*) – I personally think it’s quite a gamechanger. Firstly, you can easily apply the recommended amount to get the stated SPF50 protection (1/4 teaspoon for face, or 1/2 teaspoon for face and neck) and even in quantities more than this it never looks claggy or overdone. Secondly, it layers up beautifully and actually gives okay coverage. It’s light, it won’t obliterate dark circles, but it does the trick for adding some warmth and making skintone slightly more even.
The Tinted Veil comes in fifteen shades, all of them flexible in that they will sheer out to suit a number of tones. It’s oil-free, fragrance free, suits all skin types and gives very high protection from UVA and UVB rays. I like everything about this little SPF50 and have been wearing it daily, no other face base on top.
Any more sunscreen problems? Let me delve through my product collection and try to find you some answers – just drop me a comment below!
The post SPF Problem: How Do I Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup? appeared first on Ruth Crilly.
Problems with SPF. We’re wading through a few common issues with sunscreen, while the sun is out and people feel its relevant and topical. The thing is, sunscreen should be topical all year round, if you’re at all worried about the effects of the sun on your skin, but I still think that the majority of people only apply SPF when it’s hot outside. Maybe it needs a rebrand. Lightscreen, instead of sunscreen?
For me, this is where “moisturisers with SPF” play their hand so well; you don’t think twice about putting them on, they’re pitched as more of a daily staple than a fair-weather friend and, if you apply as liberally as you would your dedicated sunscreen you’re getting the same protection. Anyway, maybe that’s a whole other post…
Back to problems, and the previous one with sunscreen was SPF stinging eyes – you can find that post here with a few recommendations on how to avoid irritation. Here’s the next skin issue in the line-up:
Problem: Sunscreen Breaks Me Out
Sunscreen causing spots, another annoying quirk. Many sunscreens break my skin out, too, and it feels like a sod’s law sort of punishment. You try to do the best thing for the health and look of your skin and it goes and kicks you in the teeth with a load of pustulating under-surface bumps or white-headed pimples. If you find that your SPF is breaking you out because it’s making you oily and clogging your pores then take a look at some of the oil-free options that work really well for me – they’re also worth a look if you’re after sunscreen for acne-prone skin.
Paula’s Choice Resist SPF50* is actually hurtling its way to my number one favourite sunscreen spot. It’s high protection but feels just like water going on and leaves absolutely no residue on the skin. It just ticks absolutely every box and also happens to be oil-free so it’s excellent for all skin types. It’s a joy to apply. Find it online here* – it’s £35 and can easily be used as your daily moisturiser unless you have very dry skin.
If you’re after light and fresh then take a look at my five favourite sunscreens on the link above. It wasn’t a post on SPF for spot-prone skin, specifically, but there are some nice oil-free products. Another I find myself using quite a lot is the Kiehl’s Aqua Gel (online here*) with a lightweight feel that doesn’t melt or slide even when it’s very humid. A good one if you need a facial SPF for working out or going running. Chance would be a fine thing.
Both of those suggestions are for chemical sunscreens but if you struggle to find a chemical SPF that you get on with then it’s well worth giving mineral sunscreen a go. Some people are sensitive to specific chemical filters. (Equally, some people get on horribly with mineral sunscreens, finding them very chalky and thick, the residue too white, but there are some beautiful, lightweight, silky mineral products these days.)
Here are some mineral recommendations, I love all of the below:
Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen SPF50 at Space NK here*
Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF30 Skin Milk mineral sunscreen here*
Skingredients Skin Shield SPF50 here*
Coola Mineral Matte Cucumber SPF30 here*
If you have oily skin, you may also really like the matte finish that many mineral sunscreens have – it makes a good priming makeup base with that little bit of grip to hold foundation in place. And I find that I need less foundation on top, for some reason – the mineral sunscreen seems to create a lovely canvas.
As important as finding the right sunscreen formula to help reduce spot breakouts? Making sure you clean it off again effectively at the end of the day. SPF products are designed to stick around for as long as possible, for obvious reasons, so you really need to get in there with a cleanser that will break it down along with the grime of the day and any makeup you have on over the top.
I like to use a balm cleanser first (Beauty Pie’s Hot Oil Double Cleansing Balm* is one of my favourite balms, regardless of brand or price) and really massage it in for a minute or so. I use a flannel to remove – it works on eye makeup too, so you can work it in all over your face. Then if I’m feeling any sort of threat of a breakout (that lumpiness below the skin, or tenderness) then I go in with an exfoliating wash afterwards. I really like CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser* because it can be used on face and body so it’s great for keeping in the shower.
CeraVe’s cleanser contains salicylic acid to help keep pores clear but if you’d rather swipe something over your skin and leave then I think that Paula’s Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant (buy online here*) is unbeatable. I use it every PMT week, too, just to keep any hormonal spots at bay. Just pour a little onto cotton wool and wipe all over your face – I concentrate on the t-zone and around my nose – and then follow with your usual skincare routine, though I’d keep textures nice and light if I was on breakout watch!
I think that most of us are now pretty clued up about the fact that sunscreen needs to be a mandatory part of our beauty routines. We’ve long known about the risk of skin cancer but sun exposure is also the leading cause of skin ageing. So if there’s one singular thing we can do to keep skin looking youthful then it’s – drumroll – wearing SPF.
It’s becoming less of a hardship to incorporate sunscreen into a morning routine; there are so many sophisticated formulas with beautiful textures and not all of them cost the earth. Yet there are a few persistent problems with SPF that put people off time and time again. I thought I’d address them one by one and give a few sunscreen recommendations and usage tips. Hopefully, if you find sunscreens problematic, this will bring you some relief.
SPF Problem: Sunscreen Stinging My Eyes
Sunscreen stinging your eyes is a common problem and one experienced nearly every day in my household because my husband insists on applying his SPF by putting it in the palms of his hands, slapping them together like a wrestler going in for the kill and then enthusiastically – some might say violently – rubbing the lotion all over his face, including over his closed eyelids. He then goes outside to do an energetic domestic/light industrial task, such as chainsawing down a dead tree or drilling a hole in the side of the house, and inevitably sweats. Then come the bitter tears of sunscreen-sting.
How can you avoid sunscreen stinging your eyes? Firstly, find a formula that has been specifically formulated to avoid the sting. Mineral sunscreens are a great bet here because they don’t contain the chemical filters that tend to be the culprit for eye-stinging and also from my experience have a more matte finish that’s less likely to melt and move on the skin.
Try Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen SPF50 (at Space NK here*) is a gorgeous high protection sunscreen with a matte finish – absolutely no eye problems with this one! For a cheaper mineral SPF take a look at Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF30 Skin Milk mineral sunscreen – it’s really lightweight and costs about a tenner for a whopping 150ml. You can find it online here*, it’s a great value option.
If you prefer a sunscreen with chemical filters then I’ve tried a lot and can say that Anthelios Ultra with Sensitive Eyes Innovation (online here*) categorically does not sting mine. Maybe its the aforementioned “Sensitive Eyes Innovation”, which locks the oils in the formula into micro-crystals to stop them migrating eyewards. Great as a daily SPF, it’s very moisturising and made for sensitive skin.
You can also try a stick sunscreen (I really like the one from Sun Bum here*) so that you can apply in a more targeted manner, but I find that one of the most helpful tricks is to very lightly powder on top of your sunscreen around the eye area with your normal translucent setting powder. (Max Factor’s Creme Puff* is one of the oldest and still one of the best – it’s also really cheap!)
Just that light dusting of powder can sometimes be enough to stop an oilier sunscreen formula from creeping into the eyes and making them feel as though they’ve been mercilessly set on fire then repeatedly doused with vinegar.
Any other tips for sunscreen application to avoid stinging? Let me know in the comments below. Here’s a little video that basically says everything I’ve mentioned above. Trying to cater for all media-usage tastes, here…
I’ve been sunscreen testing again and these are my current five SPF favourites. I’m pretty picky when it comes to sunscreen for the face – I like a lightweight feel and a traceless finish – but thankfully formulations have improved massively over the past few years and there are so many excellent versions to choose from.
I’m a big fan of the high protection lightweight SPF fluids such as Anthelios from La Roche-Posay (you can find the incredible new UVMune 400 Fluid online here*), Beauty Pie Featherlight UV (£12.50 to members here* – use affiliate code RUTHSENTME for money off membership if you’re a new sign-up) and Bondi Sands Hydra SPF50+ (online here*); but my current favourites all have a really fresh, gel-like feel on application. Almost cooling. I also think that I keep coming back to them again and again because I don’t really need to use a moisturiser underneath them, which is actually something I forgot to mention in the video below. They’re all intensely hydrating and sit well directly beneath makeup and won’t leave a white cast on the skin.
A quick note on SPF: three of my favourites are SPF30, which offer less protection than SPF50. I realise that for some that might be a dealbreaker, but when it comes to sunscreen, especially for the face, I think it’s important to find a texture that you enjoy applying and that works well within your routine and lifestyle. If you absolutely detest your sun protection and dread applying it then you’re a) probably not going to apply enough to reach the stated protection and b) possibly going to skip applications when you’re feeling lazy. Find an SPF for the face that you love and it just becomes part of your morning beauty line-up. If it’s an SPF50 then all the better.
Let’s get cracking with the “best sunscreens for face if you hate using sunscreens on your face” feature.
Skin Generics Niacinamide + Osmo City SPF30, £32.95 at Superdrug*
This is the most weightless facial SPF I’ve ever tried. It really feels just like water jelly. It’s lighter even than something like Clinique’s Moisture Surge. Completely disappears on the skin. Feels satisfyingly cool on a hot day. It is quite heavily fragranced and comes in a glass jar – which isn’t ideal for travelling – but the texture is simply supreme.
Murad Essential-C Day Moisture SPF30, currently £51 instead of £60 at FeelUnique*
If you’re after the same fresh feel but more of a comforting cream than a gel texture then Murad’s Day Moisture is just beautiful. For me it’s the ideal daily-use day cream: sophisticated moisturisation and antioxidant protection with a broad spectrum SPF30. This is also perfumed but smells slightly orangey and optimistic. It’s more expensive than the rest of the facial sunscreens on this page but it’s Murad, so I always feel I’m getting the appropriate results for the extra spend. The formulation is beautiful – deeply hydrating but no grease left on the skin.
La Roche-Posay HyaluB5 Aquagel SPF30, currently on sale (£25 instead of £34.50) at FeelUnique*
The gel-lest feeling gel SPF after Skin Generics, La Roche-Posay’s HyaluB5 is also delightfully cool on application but has a twist to the tale: as you glide it over the skin it becomes a sort of gel-gloss with long-lasting hydration that feels somehow sealed in. For those with dehydrated skin it’s an absolute dream. If I was very oily then I’d probably go for the Skin Generics just because it feels so fresh and weightless but the Hyalu pips it to the post in terms of packaging. Much more convenient in a pump!
Paula’s Choice Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid, £35 but in the sale at Paula’s Choice here*
This brilliant SPF50 from Paula’s Choice might just be my new favourite overall sunscreen for the face. It’s as light and fresh to apply as the Murad but has the benefit of higher protection. (It’s also half the price.) No residue after application yet it manages to feel very moisturising and sits quietly underneath any makeup you decide to plonk on top. It’s just such a good all-rounder. Expect to hear more on this one.
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50, £34 at SpaceNK*
This SPF from Australian Brand Ultra Violette has been “trending” which means, apparently, that lots of people are talking about it. For good reason: it offers very high protection in a formula that goes on like silk and then completely disappears. Australians do sunscreen like nobody else, you’re almost guaranteed to get a well though-out formula and this is no exception. It has perhaps slightly more sheen than the others at first but quickly dries to a satin finish. I’d say it’s very slightly suited to drier skin rather than oily but Ultra Violette also do a mattifying version that’s mineral* (there’s is zinc-only) if you prefer a physical sunblock.
Do you have any favourite sunscreens for the face you’d like to suggest I try? Let me know in the comments, please. I’ve found some excellent products through the comment section here on the blog!
A while ago I wrote about three of the best SOS moisturiser creams I’d been trying (pictured above). These were soothing, repairing moisturisers that I’d tested out in an attempt to get my skin back on an even keel. (You can read the post here – that particular ailment episode seems a million years ago now, what with constant school bugs and colds and viruses!)
Two of the SOS repair creams I recommended in the previous round-up were on the pricier side and I promised to take a look at some more keenly priced versions. Here I have three of the best inexpensive face creams for rescuing skin that’s dry and sensitive – whether it’s down to changes in the weather or overly-enthusiastic application of skin peels and retinoids.
Signs that your skin might need a bit of extra TLC? It feels tighter than usual, dryer than usual and has perhaps started to itch or to flake. You might see some redness or it might just be that it feels rough and irritated. Sometimes mine feels as though there are tiny annoying hairs stuck to it; quite a lot of the time it’s because my cat has walked over and rubbed his tail all over my face, but now and then, when on close inspection I see there’s nothing there, I know that my skin is in an angsty mood.
I have a bit more info on what I do in times of facial hardship in this skin routine post here – mainly involving “keeping things simple” and “avoiding strong exfoliating ingredients” but I do find that a week or so using potent skin barrier creams in place of my usual moisturisers works a treat.
And so, my top three beauty buys: (more) affordable SOS moisture creams. The first two are ceramide heavy (ceramides are the fatty acids that essentially make up the outer layers of skin, helping to form a nice strong barrier against the outside world) and the third takes a slightly different route to skin nirvana but all apply beautifully are deeply moisturising and have a non-greasy finish.
Curel Intensive Moisture Facial Cream, £19.50 here*. This cream with lightweight texture, but a deeply nourishing action is heaven in a pot. I have nothing bad to say about it. Dreamily fresh and cool to apply but with a surprising richness as it’s massaged in, it is an excellent all-rounder for those who want a face cream with added repair benefits. Brilliant for very dry, very sensitive skin, but it’s not at all greasy so those with combination skin will also find it pretty comfortable.
Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream, £30 here*. Slightly pricier but still offering exceptional value for money, Dr Jart’s Ceramidin Cream acts like a shield over your skin to help prevent moisture loss, keeping it hydrated and happy. It feels almost medicinal, like an ointment, but that makes me warm to it even more!
I often layer these creams over my go-to serum for stressed-skin days: the Toleriane Dermallergo, £28 here*.
This is a clear fluid that’s been formulated for the most sensitive of skin and it has an instant calming effect. It contains an ingredient developed by La Roche-Posay called Neurosensine which immediately relieves signs of sensitive skin including the aforementioned itchiness and tightness and gives a powerful hydration boost.
The third cream I’ve been testing out is from the same Dermallergo range:
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermallergo Cream, £18.50 here*. There’s a fluid version as well (same price here*) for those who prefer a lighter texture or who have oily or combination skin but the cream is gloriously soothing and gives a long-lasting feeling of comfort. And joy.
(Comfort-and-joy, good ti-i-dings of comfort and joy!)
Just getting into carol-singing mode, don’t mind me.
Let me know if you have any surefire rescue creams of your own, add them to the comments section below and I’ll give them a try. I like the three I’ve picked out in this post because they all work so well as regular, everyday face creams as well as SOS versions – non-greasy, well-behaved beneath makeup and not so pricey that you’re stingy with the amount you apply…
Welcome back to the If I Could Only Buy One series, in which I give myself a week-long headache trying to decide on my absolute favourite beauty product from a given category. Please do read the disclaimer on the first post if you’re in any doubt as to how this incredibly important and (potentially) historically significant beauty challenge works.
The given category this time is “tinted moisturisers”: a tricky one to navigate in some ways, because it’s such a broadly-used term. Where do you draw the line? When it a tinted moisturiser no longer a tinted moisturiser? When the coverage becomes so opaque that it’s basically a foundation? (IT Cosmetics CC Cream comes to mind.) Or when the pigment level is so low that it just gives the tiniest hint of warmth and glow to the skin? (I bung these into the “complexion enhancer” category.)
For me, a tinted moisturiser is just that: a product that you can apply as you would a face cream, reasonably haphazardly, with no real need for a brush or applicator sponge and that gives enough coverage and colour to make you look less like an old parsnip. I like a tinted moisturiser to be a moisturiser – it should feel as plumptious and look as dewy as my face cream – and I like it to give a real-skin-but-better sort of radiance. Coverage needs to be relatively comprehensive – enough to even out skin tone and knock back dark circles and redness slightly. I’m not expecting coverage miracles from a tinted moisturiser – it’s more about the fresh, glowing finish – but I am expecting to look much, much better than I did before I put it on.
So which one would I buy if I could only buy one for the rest of my life? When I think of the cult favourites over the years – the Laura Mercier and the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, to name a couple – there’s one product that most definitely stands out from the crowd and that is the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser*.
This glossy, hydrating face base is the gold standard of tinted moisturisers; it is glowy, fresh-faced base perfection. Supremely hydrating, my skin feels as moisturised at the end of the day as it did when I first put the tint on – there’s a tangible springiness and dewiness to the finish that simply doesn’t fade as the hours pass by.
In terms of coverage, I’d say it equates to a light-to-medium coverage foundation, somewhere in the realms of Clinique’s Even Better Glow. But with even more glow. It does well over redness at the sides of the nose, it makes a brave start on dark circles and it gives an overall evenness to the skin. It doesn’t mask, not quite, but the coverage is enough to distract. And you can always go over the danger zones with a lightweight concealer. (I find that a very heavy, opaque concealer looks odd over a sheer face base.)
There’s a broad spectrum sunscreen in this formula, SPF30, which is a bonus on days when I’m just nipping out on the school run but not being particularly outdoorsy. (I wouldn’t ever solely rely on the SPF in makeup for being in the sun, mainly because I rarely apply enough product to reach the stated protection level but also because it’s a pain to reapply.)
Sixteen shades, the most beautiful scent (not that scent should matter in a face base, but oddly it adds significantly to the whole application experience for me!) and with added Vitamin C for helping with longer-term brightness, it’s basically faultless. If I had to scrape the fault barrel to find something wrong with it, I’d probably say that people with oily skin might want to steer away slightly. Not because of the rich texture – the formula’s actually oil-free, which flabbergasts me because it has all the plumpy effect of a luxury oil! – but because the finish is so glossy and shiny. It just never feels that comfortable, having shine on top of shine and in my PMT week I tend to avoid tinted moisturisers for this very reason.
But that’s it – a minuscule caveat. Everyone else, knock yourselves out. You can find NARS Pure Radiance Tinted Moisturizer for £33 at Space NK here* and also at Cult Beauty*, LookFantastic* and Selfridges*.
I use the shade “Groenland”, which I think is a new shade, but previously used “Alaska”. If you need help finding your shade without going in-store then the website Findation.com is pretty accurate and brilliant at working out your shade in pretty much any face base currently in production.
The Cheater’s List
Because I couldn’t do this “one thing” decision without namedropping some others:
For those who want similar coverage but less on the outré glow front and plumpy residue, try Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer – one of, if not the, original product in this category. It dries down to a more manageable finish if you don’t like too much dew – find it at SpaceNK here*, £36.
For less coverage but a fresher, lighter feel, Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Gel Cream is unbeatable. The ultimate “slap it on” sort of base, this comes in 20 shades and has a subtle, healthy glow. Find it at Cult Beauty here* – it’s £30.
For similar coverage, slightly less dew but an ethereal, lit-from-within sort of radiance then try Trinny De-Stress Serum, I use the shade “Claire” but I think I could get away with a shade darker for summer. It’s £39 here*.
Disclaimer: Ooph, this “If I Could Only Buy One” series is a risk, isn’t it? Firstly, it’s almost impossible to choose a singular favourite from a given category, even if it’s a category with very little competition. My decision-making process feels marred by the thought of all of my other favourites being left out in the cold – if I don’t mention them then do they even exist? And what if I like three things equally? How does one ever choose?
The second big problem with this series is time: favourites change. Do I keep on coming back to update? Or do I leave the original post and then make a new one with the successor? It’s all very complicated and I feel as though I could be updating and adding to it until I’m seventy, when nobody is even still reading blogs and instead experiencing life through their VR headsets. Who’ll need beauty then? Nobody will leave the house! Food will be in a supplement shake that you drink through a tube connected to the VR headset and sex will be with robots.
But it’s supposed to be fun, so let’s keep it light. There are thousands of products I love and that I’d buy over and over again so if something’s not mentioned it doesn’t mean I’ve changed my mind about it, it just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the game if I then included a load of caveats. (I have actually added a “cheater’s list” to the bottom of the page with a few alternative options. I mean it is, quite literally, cheating at my own game, but I found it impossible to pick without knowing I could leave it there!)
We kick off this series with the one luxury cleanser I’d buy if I could only buy one luxury cleanser for the rest of my life. Many of you will have guessed at the brand for this one, but perhaps not the specific product, so prepare to be mildly surprised.
A winning luxury cleanser, in my opinion, needs to be silky and wonderful to massage in, but easy to remove with no waxy or greasy residue. I want it to have the most glorious smell – a smell that transports me to far-flung and exotic places, and this smell should be heady and “of nature” rather than something that smells a bit like posh aftershave. The texture should be a joy – a rich balm would be the obvious choice here – but I’d also like it to be a cleanser that’s not too faffy to use.
The obvious choice would be Emma Hardie’s Moringa Balm*, written about extensively here and here over the years, but I’m going to turn the tables and blow your minds and actually go for the Moringa Light Cleansing Gel*, fully reviewed here.
And I’ll tell you why. (This was a tough call.) Firstly, the pump-action packing is more convenient than a pot. Secondly I feel as though this is the sort of cleanser you’d use for a quick cleanse as well as a more lengthy, sit-in-a-warm-bath sort of cleanse and thirdly, I actually think that the gel texture is utterly beautiful and – weirdly – slightly more hydrating than the balm. It’s also suitable for all skin types – whereas I think oilier people might balk at the idea of the richer balm – and slightly more cost effective, because I find I pump out less product from the bottle than I’d scoop from the pot.
So same unbelievably lovely scent, same cleansing prowess, but a little more convenient to use.
If you want more of a detailed run-down then read my review post – you can find the supremely luxurious Moringa Light Cleansing Gel here* or in all of the places detailed below, it’s £34, which isn’t horrendously expensive as far as luxury cleansers go! I feel I’ve been distinctly restrained…
Tune in next time for If I Could Only Buy One…Tinted Moisturiser.
The Cheater’s List
Because I couldn’t do this “one thing” decision without namedropping some others:
For a silky balm cleanse with utterly gorgeous Rose scent, the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm, £44 for 100ml here*.
The best-smelling balm cleanser in the world, don’t @ me, but it’s incredibly pricey and so more of a treat, Darphin’s Aromatic Cleansing Balm, £35 for 40ml at SpaceNK here*.
The second best-smelling cleanser in the world and absolutely magical before bedtime – also great for oily/combination skin if you fret about using rich balms – Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Cleanser, £21 here*.
I still have a few posts to catch up on from the end of last year – drafted but not quite finished – but this one on blemish busters is, I feel, very relevant. Mask-induced spots, or “maskne” as the marketing world coined it, seems to be an ongoing issue for some people, especially those who have to wear proper protective face gear for long periods of time.
I can’t imagine it’s the sort of widespread problem that some brands would like us to think it is – “OH MY GOD MASKNE IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD, BEWARE MASKNE!” – but I suppose that facial skin that is kept covered, possibly slightly hot and sweaty, for any lengthy part of the day is likely to rise up and revolt in the end. Even for those who just occasionally need to don a cloth mask, there’s a feeling of clammy clogginess to the mouth, nose and chin area once the fabric comes off. This might not result in breakouts – there might equally be some dryness or flakiness or, indeed, no apparent change at all – but if you do feel clammy and cloggy then the below may help.
So, three best beauty buys for helping with breakouts, all at different price-points. I actually have a few more bits and pieces to add to this post since I first drafted it (and filmed the accompanying video) last Autumn; you can see those at the bottom of the post. In general, salicylic acid is a good ingredient to look out for if you feel as though you need a good cleaning-out of the pores, just go steady if you find that your skin is on the dry side and follow up with a decent moisturiser. If you’re scared of adding oil to the problem then I really rate the oil-free Toleriane Fluid (here*), it has been a staple in my beauty line-up for many years.
Right, here are the first three of my best buys:
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, from £10 online here*: I’ve done a more in-depth review of this here but in a nutshell, this is a wipe-on-and-leave exfoliant that is brilliant at keeping pores clear without feeling harsh or aggressive. I use it once a day (in the morning, usually) during my PMT week to help curb any breakouts and I never feel that it dries my skin, but there are different versions and formats here* if you’re worried and want to check out alternatives from the same range.
The Ordinary Salicylic 2% Masque, £9 here* (stock coming shortly, it’s always selling out!): this is a brilliant deep-treatment mask that works quickly and effectively to cleanse and purify but isn’t eye-wateringly tingly. You know the masks that make you feel as though your face is on fire? It’s not one of those. You may feel a bit of a warm tickle but it’s nothing like some of those power-player “active” clay masks I’ve tested over the last few years. You need a fan pointed at your face to get through the whole ten minutes!
Not with this one, no fan/cold compress required. I use it as an occasional PMT-week treat when things seem to be getting a bit angsty (salicylic can be quite soothing, despite its spot-busting status) but you could use it once or twice a week if you are oily or spot-prone.
Here’s one for more a more targeted, on-the-spot solution: Kate Somerville EradiKate, £52 online here*. I’ve tried a lot of spot treatments but this works for me quickly and without any major side effects – no flaking or peeling where I’ve been applying and reapplying. Probably because this has actually been formulated as an all-over lotion and not a targeted treatment, so it’s far more forgiving, but it’s so pokey that I can’t bring myself to use it all over!
At any rate, I tend to get very localised breakouts and not very often so it would be utter madness to cover my whole face in this. Anyway, it’s salicylic plus retinol in a lightweight cream – if you’ve previously tried the proper Kate Somerville EradiKate, with the pink lotion you dip into, this is nothing like that.
If you do want something for all over the face but not so spendy then I still think that the Effaclar Duo+ from La Roche-Posay is excellent (it’s here* online, £17) and they’ve recently introduced a new serum (here*) that promises a more concentrated formula combining salicylic with LHA and glycolic acid. I haven’t had the opportunity to test this out properly yet so please let me know in the comments if you have tried it and what you thought!
I’m going to also add the Active Clay Cleanser from Dermalogica (£35 here*) onto my blemish-busting list because it’s a low-key version of the Salicylic Masque mentioned above. I used this every day for about a month and my skin didn’t ever feel tight or dried out, just really very clean. I’d leave it on for a minute or two, because it just felt as though I should, and it’s now most definitely a cleanser I like to have lined up along the side of my bath for my nightly ablutions.
There’s a video to go alongside this post, it’s in the IGTV section of my Instagram page and you can reach it via this link. Enjoy!