My skincare routine for what shall forevermore be known as The Winter of Discontent. Obviously, in true Crilly style, I am posting this just as we pip over into springtime, but as I’ve said before, this is more of a journal post recording my skincare routine rather than anything that’s responding to seasonal changes or trends. I like to look back on them. And, in the future, when everyone is Googling stuff from their Google glasses as they lounge about on floating hoverboards in their Martian villas, they will be able to access these posts and use them as historical documents.
“Look what shit they were chatting back in 2021, Brian! Arguing about scotch eggs and the EU when all that time the planet was about to implode! Ha ha ha!”
This skincare routine could really be subtitled The Retinol/Moisturiser See-Saw. I’ve been working my way up to some stronger retinoids (I really want to try the Crystal Retinal 10 and 20 from Medik8!) but every time I get too overly confident my skin revolts and starts going all itchy and tight on me. And yes I know there’s often a period of discomfort before you get to all the good stuff, like a smooth and shiny-glowy face that can be seen from the moon, I just can’t be doing with it. I’m the sort of person who feels cross all day if a gusset is too seamy, so having an itchy face is just not tenable.
What I do, therefore, is absolutely lard my face in between retinoid applications. (Hence the retinol moisturiser see-saw.) I find the strongest, most emollient balms and creams I can and slather them on and massage them in as though I’m one of those outrageously expensive turkeys you can get from the farm shop. I massage and pummel and when it has all soaked in I massage over another layer.
And “layer” is another key word this season; I’m usually one for keeping things very simple, with a cleanse, a serum and a moisturiser (the retinoid or whatever active I’m using would slot into one of those categories, whether it was an antioxidant serum in the morning or an all-in-one retinol+whatever moisturiser at night); this winter I’ve been adding in the odd extra coating of something just to try and banish the tight feeling.
One very good discovery (and I’m not usually one for mists or spritzes, unless it’s Emma Hardie’s one* or the LRP Toleriane 8 here*) is the Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator (here*) which is brilliant for boosting the effects of whatever is piled on over the top.
Then it’s a serum (antioxidant in the morning, something hydrating at night, unless it’s a retinol night in which case straight on with that after cleansing) and a moisturiser to seal it all in. I’ve even been known to add a drop or two of oil into my moisturiser, though I forgot to mention that in the video!
The easiest way for me to show you the current skincare routine is to put it below in a list form. So here it is – beneath that you have a video with full explanation and whole joyous minutes of waffle.
I use a quick micellar water sweep-over! Naughty but all I can be arsed with – currently using this*: https://bit.ly/2MkViiy
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum*: https://bit.ly/2MgaIos
SkinGredients Skin Protein: https://skingredients.co.uk/products/skin-protein-vitamin-a-serum
Arden Great 8 (discontinued?!): https://www.amodelrecommends.com/the-fresh-summer-sunscreen-that-feels-barely-there/
Some other favourite sunscreens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4pzGoALxlU&t=161s
Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/3r0uQcS
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/2ZM9UKV
BeautyPie Cleansing Balm*: https://bit.ly/2NXoRY5
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator*: https://bit.ly/2ZOqZnI
Emma Hardie Pump and Glow Spritz*: https://bit.ly/3qV225G
LRP Toleriane 8 Spray*: https://bit.ly/3aPTNT6
Murad Retinol Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/2ZLWlLt
Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/2ZYeCak
Kiehl’s Powerful Line Reducing Eye Serum*: https://bit.ly/3gwo9dg
Retinol (once every two or three days)
Murad Night Cream*: https://bit.ly/3khXnZj
Kate Somerville Retinol VitaC Serum*: https://bit.ly/3klOluf
Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 and 6*: https://bit.ly/2ZK5btl
Rich Night Moisturiser
Weleda Skin Food Light*: https://bit.ly/3aQ0lRG
Lumene Night Balm here
REN Evercalm Overnight Balm*: https://bit.ly/2ZKgOQL
Darphin 8 Flower Necar Oil-Cream*: https://bit.ly/3klfYU9
I 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!
This isn’t my first time at the rodeo when it comes to writing about Murad’s brilliant Retinol Youth Renewal range. I covered the relaunch at around this time last year (you can read that post here if you fancy) and it’s one of the ranges I refer to by default when people ask me for retinol recommendations. The main reason being that it’s powerful stuff, offering up proper, visible results, yet it seems to be tolerated by all but the most sensitive skin.
I mean you still have to go slow and steady with the range – it tingles, it goes straight to work, it’s not messing around – but if you’re sensible and don’t try to go from Total Retinol Virgin to Nightly Retinol Fiend in the space of a fortnight you’ll be A-OK. My preference, if I haven’t used retinol products for a while, is to start off with every four nights for a couple of weeks, move to every three nights for another couple and then stick to every other night for the duration of however long I manage to keep it up for. (I tend to back off a little during the warmer months.) This tends to keep any dryness or itchiness at bay – if I go straight in with all beauty guns a-blazing then you can guarantee that my face will be falling off by week two!
I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum here and the fact that it’s a total game-changer when it comes to using retinol around the eyes. If the rest of the range (a face serum, a sumptuous, buttery night cream) has been sensitively formulated then this eye serum takes things one step further. Not only can it be taken all around the eyes, including the lids, it includes non-greasy moisturisers to provide lightweight hydration for up to twenty-four hours. I love the fact that it’s safe to be used on the lids – every year my eyelids are more and more wrinkly and it would be nice to nip that in the bud for a while, before they start to resemble little testicles.
My eyes are notorious when it comes to overreacting to strong ingredients yet they have no problem with the Murad eye serum even when used nightly. Now you might not be an eye cream sort of person, preferring to use your usual face cream or treatment all over instead. What I will say about strong retinol products is that I find they are sometimes a bit…enthusiastic…to take up to the eye area. Many a time have I woken up to see my little red “burn” patch has reappeared beneath my right eye – a relic from my modelling years when someone changed my eye makeup fourteen times in eight hours and basically took the top eight thousand layers of skin off – and so I try to be careful and relatively discerning when it comes to treating the eye area.
And so, in conclusion, if you are looking to invest in a results-driven eye treatment that has been specifically formulated for the eye area then Youth Renewal Eye Serum is a fine place to start. It is an investment – the eye serum is £72, night cream is £70 – but the firming and plumping benefits are noticeable.
Murad use a three-pronged approach to delivering the retinol, with an “instant”, fast-acting retinoid, a slower release retinol and an ingredient to sort of “prep” the skin for the retinol so it’s a pretty sophisticated formula with a gentle, non-aggressive touch. Powerful enough for tackling the established lines and wrinkles and loss of firmness but also great for preventative measures too.
You can find the whole Youth Renewal range online here – if you use the code RUTH25 then you get 25% off*!
*excludes winter sale items, kits and new product launches.
The post Murad Retinol Youth Renewal: The Game-Changing Eye Serum appeared first on A Model Recommends.
I feel that Sainsbury’s have always been slightly ahead of the game when it comes to supermarket beauty shopping, stocking great and affordable brands such Super Facialist, Burt’s Bees and Nip + Fab, but now they have completely raised the bar again with their brand new beauty aisles.
Nearly two hundred superstores have the new beauty offering, with fourteen hundred new products launched and the brands list reads more like something you’d find at a dedicated beauty retailer than a supermarket; soothing face creams from Weleda, high-powered body-smoothers from Ameliorate, sumptuous balm cleansers and serums from Balance Me…
To celebrate the amazing new beauty aisles I’ve created three useful skincare routines using some of my favourites from the brands and products that you can pick up right now in-(super)store. Many stores also have trained beauty advisors to help guide and advise you and you can also find brands (such as Sanctuary Spa, My Skin Matters and Boutique) that are exclusive to Sainsbury’s.
Dull Skin Routine
My first little routine is for dull skin which is a common complaint going into winter. Once we lose the fresh, sunkissed bounce of a summer spent outdoors and the central heating kicks in, skin can tend to look a little lacklustre. So here are three products to get back some glow and all of them can be seamlessly slipped into your existing routines. I suppose they could be seen as separate tweaks more than a solid three-step routine, because I probably wouldn’t use them all together…
The Super Facialist Vit C+ Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (£11 here) is the perfect cleanser to introduce as the weather gets colder. Don’t be put off if your skin is on the oilier side; this rinses completely clean and does a really thorough job of breaking down makeup, sunscreen and the day’s dirt. It also smells so optimistically orangey (like the “Satsuma” scent of our youth, children of the eighties!) that it’s hard to find fault with it.
We then split into day and night routines; personally I would use the Super Facialist Vitamin C Booster (£18 here) in the morning, before or blended into moisturiser and sunscreen, but there’s nothing to stop you using it day and night. Vitamin C is great for brightening and helping with a more even skintone and also gives antioxidant protection; I’ve simply become used to it as a morning step, whereas…
…my acid peels, the AHAs, tend to go on at bedtime. Again, nothing to stop you using them in the morning (you MUST remember to use a sunscreen) but I like to use them overnight and wake up to the glow! The Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Liquid Glow contains 2% glycolic for a quick but not-too-shocking dose of exfoliation. It eats away at the dead skin cells, to put it in unglamorous terms, revealing brighter, newer skin. Personally I wouldn’t use daily, more two or three times a week, but it depends on your own skin and how it reacts to exfoliation. You can find the Glycolic Fix online here, it’s £17.
Dry Skin Routine
You might be thinking that dull skin and dry skin would go hand in hand, but I think that they can be quite different beasts. This routine is for really dry skin, the sort that just feels tight and uncomfortable and never quite feels sated.
The Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Calming Creamy Cleanser (£8 here) has been a favourite of mine for years. It feels luxurious, you can get a good old massage going with it and it’s only eight quid for a large tube. It smells beautiful and is gentle but effective and won’t leave your skin feeling tighter than when you started!
A new discovery now: Sanctuary Spa’s Hyaluronic Wonder Oil Serum (£20 here), a bi-phase product that has all the quenching properties of a hyaluronic serum but with the comfort and nourishment of an oil. If you’re so dry that a “lightweight” serum feels tight and uncomfortable then you’ll love this – ditto if you’ve wanted to dip a proverbial toe into the world of face oils but have been worried you’ll find them too greasy. It’s the perfect hybrid.
And all sealed in with what could be the world’s richest moisturiser, Weleda’s Skin Food (£10 here). This dry skin miracle is a tenner for a huge 75ml tube and is one of the richest, slide-iest face creams you’ll find. Especially at this price and with such lovely ingredients. I hate to bring the word “grease” into proceedings because it has such negative connotations, but Skin Food does leave a somewhat greasy residue. But it’s a beautiful grease – a sheen, a slick shine – that smells wonderful and will be music to the ears of those who simply can’t find a cream that’s moisturising enough for them. (For anyone who doesn’t have very dry skin, you’ll no doubt find this moisturiser too much. Word of warning!)
My last little skincare routine is one for the people who need some time-out, a few minutes’ peace, and who like products that smell sublime and transport them to other places. It’s a true mini-spa at-home and it’s perfect for the stressed and the weary. (All of us, then.)
I’ve started this one with Balance Me’s Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm (£20 here). Good cleansers were always the things I found lacking when supermarket beauty shopping and I’m so pleased that Sainsbury’s have such a good array but particularly that they have a balm cleanser. Balms, especially when they smell like this one, just add something extra-special to a skincare routine; you have to massage the product in properly to get it to melt down and I think that the extra effort, that massaging-in time, is invaluable when you’re trying to take some time for yourself.
The middle step here is a facial oil and there were loads to choose from but I plumped for Weleda’s Almond Soothing Facial Oil (£13.50 here) because it’s simple, calming and will suit all skin types. If you were into your aromatherapy then this makes a brilliant carrier oil and you could tweak it to suit particular concerns or needs, but as it is, unadulterated, it’s a nourishing, unfragranced treat and a great skincare staple if you’re dry or sensitive.
All of this is sealed in with a lovely dose of Urban Veda’s Sandalwood + Botanics Soothing Clarifying Night Cream (£20 here). Urban Veda formulate to Ayurvedic principles, so if it’s holistic beauty you’re after then you’ll be delighted that you can now find it at Sainsbury’s superstores! It was the sandalwood that drew me to this particular night cream, I just find the scent so grounding, but I can assure you that the cream has been really sensitively put-together; the scent is gentle and not at all overpowering. Just enough to make you stop and take a moment to regather and relax.
So I hope that you’ve enjoyed my little tour of the new beauty aisles, via three skincare routines; I’m so impressed with Sainsbury’s new skincare offerings and can’t wait to see how it keeps on evolving. They have an in-house team called Future Brands who identify rising talent in the beauty industry and help to bring them to shoppers at an affordable price-point and so I’m really interested to see what comes up!
It’s so lovely to see that beauty is being properly considered and presented – that you can now make informed choices from a great selection, rather than it being a bit of an afterthought – just some basics that you chuck in the trolley. I do think that it will change how people shop for their beauty – can you see yourself buying more of your beauty along with the rest of your shopping, if the choice is there?
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I’ve started a little series on Instagram that I hope to keep regularly adding posts to; it’s called 3 Best Beauty Buys, which isn’t the most inventive of feature names, but it’ll do what it says on the tin and that’s what counts! I’ve already done a quick IGTV feature on Maskne products (Maskne is the new, vaguely annoying term for blemishes and outbreaks that have been brought about by the wearing of a facemask) and you can watch that here, but now I’m prepping a video on the best firming eye creams and so I thought I’d take you along for the ride.
I always have to write myself an abundance of notes before I start filming something, otherwise I go off on crazy tangents, talking about parking woes and singing foxes and the complexities of British queueing etiquette. And it makes some sort of sense for me to write those research notes here on the website, so that you all get a handy post out of it, rather than scribbling them on the back of a council tax bill and chucking it all in the recycling afterwards…
And so here are three great firming eye creams that I’ve had noticeable results with. My usual eye cream, for reference, is the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Serum (find more details in posts here) but after a summer-long love affair with everything antioxidant and Vitamin-C-heavy, I’m turning my attention to the super-firmers.
Let’s go in with a sharp intake of breath and the priciest option – the DCL Peptide Plus Eye Treatment – which is £86 at Cult Beauty here*. DCL burst onto the UK scene a few years ago and the products are so good – really well-formulated and effective – but I haven’t heard that much noise about them since. This powerful eye cream is deeply hydrating but also focuses on helping to increase elasticity around the delicate eye area so that fine lines are smoothed. It mentions dark circles on the marketing material, but I don’t find that anything helps that much with dark circles if you have them severely – this is definitely one for firming and making everything just feel a bit more…robust. I gave it a very lengthy and intense trial last year but my review got pushed to the side when the world fell apart. So here: it’s a good ‘un – I’m on my second bottle.
My next “pick of the bunch” would be Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Eye Cream, which is £43 here*. I didn’t realise until quite far down the road that this contained retinol as well as a wheelbarrow-load of ceramides for strengthening delicate, crepey skin. This is the most advanced eye cream available from Paula’s Choice, which excites me; I feel as though their formulas are always really well-considered and offer solid, marketing-bollocks-free options for the crowd who want no-nonsense answers to their skincare complaints. Love the pump-action bottle (DCL’s is the same sort of packaging) and the rich texture of the cream. It feels instantly relieving if your skin is chronically dry around the eyes.
When it comes to Vichy’s Neovadiol Rose Platinum Eye Cream (online here*) I have to admit that I was entirely seduced by the packaging! I’ve really gone off pots of stuff because the cream gets under my nails and annoys me and it just feels less…clean…than tubes and bottles, but this teeny pink pot just felt so unbelievably retro.
As though I had been transported to the 60s and sauntered down to a Parisian pharmacie to pick up a cold cream and some velcro rollers for my hair but thrown un petit creme pour les yeux for good measure. It’s a total trinket of beauty treasure and the eye cream inside is equally as delicious. Rose pink – so nostalgic! – and really very rich and buttery so that it feels nourishing and comforting straight away. I’ve just seen that it targets the signs of ageing caused by the menopause but it seems just as appropriate for signs of ageing caused by the half term holiday. It’s also £18 rather than £27 at Escentual here* until the end of October.
Right, keep a lookout for the video on IGTV – I’m here if you use Instagram but you’re not already following!
As summer draws to a sultry, overdue end I’ve been taking stock of the skincare products that have really cut the mustard this year – the ones I now use so regularly they’ve become an automatic part of my beauty routine. When spring starts (look at me, optimistically skipping over the cold seasons and welcoming back the warmth!) these are the things I’ll be buying without hesitation – for their efficacy, their ease of use and for their pleasing textures.
I don’t know why I’m even waiting for spring – they’re all the sort of repairing, protective products we can benefit from every day of the year. But I suppose I’ll see much less sun over the winter and so my needs will inevitably change – perhaps less days with an SPF, if I’m holed up inside, and maybe the antioxidant frenzy might go off the boil a bit. (Read here if you need to catch up on why I was on an antioxidant frenzy.)
OK, here are summer’s best bits, in order of how I’d use them in my skincare routine.
The first is the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum, £41 here*, which is actually the least serum-like eye product I can think of. In fact, the reason I love it is that it’s so un-serumy – it goes on with that fuzzy-matte feel that you get with a silicone-rich formula, as though you’re smoothing on some sort of liquid velvet. (The texture is very similar to that of the Zelens Triple-Action Eye Cream.)
It sits superbly well beneath makeup, doesn’t irritate my sensitive eye area but has done wondrous things in terms of brightness and tightness, over the summer months. It’s potent, easy to use (just swipe on, no need for lengthy tapping-in or massaging) and the pump-action packaging is so convenient. Fast becoming my favourite packaging type, in fact. I don’t need to dig my nails into a pot so that I get cream underneath them, I don’t need to find those fiddly little tube lids that roll of the shelf and go under the loo…
You can find Kiehl’s Vitamin Eye Serum (Velvety Cream!) here*.
Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield, £31 here*. This is my default choice when it comes to a relatively budget-friendly antioxidant serum. It’s absolutely packed to the rafters with powerful ingredients that will help to protect skin against what the industry often snazzily refers to as “external aggressors”. When I think of external aggressors I always think of angry zombies banging on the windows of a derelict pub in a post-apocalyptic Milton Keynes, a pale and frightened landlord inside. If you’re ahead of me with this analogy you’ll know that the landlord is the skin, the windows are the Triple Algae Pollution Shield and the zombies are the external aggressors (pollution, smoke, light). And there endeth the worst analogy that the beauty world has ever seen. I’ll see myself out.
Anyway, Triple Algae is a great everyday serum that is powerful but reasonably non-irritating, so long as you don’t baste yourself in it twice a day. (Got a bit itchy when I used too much, so take note.) This serum will slip on under any moisturiser/sunscreen and act as a bit of extra protection if you want to help keep your skin even-toned and your skin barrier strengthened. You can use AM and PM but I would usually only use in the morning. Although…
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum (£85 here*) did manage to sneak into my routine twice-daily for a while. I had some pigmentation creeping in, due to the fact that I had lived in the garden for about six solid months, and I wanted to nip it in the bud. This was the most targeted, effective (according to Skinceuticals’ very good clinical trials) and easily-available product I could lay my hands on and it has definitely worked. It’s lightweight and water-like, absorbing instantly and layering brilliantly under just about anything else. I tend to follow the Defense Serum directly with moisturiser but you could slip on a hydrating serum in between if you fancied it and wanted some extra hydration…
So if dark spots are your niggling skin issue and you want something potent (but not drastic) to use longterm then this is most definitely one to consider. Note that it is expensive but you really should only be using two tiny drops each time, not a dropperful! One bottle has lasted me around six months with very regular use, at least once a day.
Find the Discoloration Defense Serum here*
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Fluid (£16.50 here*) would have to be my summer moisturiser of choice, if I could only choose one. It’s ultra-hydrating but oil-free and it’s light and smooth and silky and doesn’t weigh heavily on hot skin. For me, it gives the final moisture-boost before I go in with my sunscreen and the fact that it’s formulated for very sensitive skin means that I turn to it after I’ve removed my makeup and SPF at night, too. It’s a perennial favourite, this, and it won’t break the bank.
Sidenote: if you suffer with breakouts but also find your skin dehydrated, this is one of those wonderful face creams (fluids) that will do the trick as a moisturiser without making you feel worried that your skin is getting clagged up.
Find Toleriane at Escentual here*
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35 (£36 here*) could possibly be my favourite product of the year. It’s just a joy to use; light and fresh and almost undetectable on the skin. So rare for a sunscreen to tickle my fancy quite this much, but there you go – I actually look forward to applying it. Yes it’s fragranced (very, very pleasantly) and no it’s not the highest of factors (50 would be great) but it’s otherwise SPF Perfection.
So much so that it seems to be out of stock pretty much everywhere apart from LookFantastic here*, where it’s £36.
If you’d like to see how all of these products fit into a wider routine then please read – and watch – my latest Skincare Routine post here.
Do any of you have any huge objections if I widen the scope of my monthly favourites round-ups to include stuff other than beauty? I feel it would inject some new and welcome joie de vivre into what is an old – yet surprisingly still very popular – format.
The only problem might be (spoiler alert!) is that some of the items, if I’m let loose completely from my self-imposed constraints, might be a bit random. For example this month, had I been given free rein, I would most probably have included a faux-antique rug in my favourites as well as a vintage BelgoChrom table I picked up (not literally) from Belgium for an absolute steal.
I don’t mean to imply that all of the favourites would be interiors-related – I’ve also had a great love-affair with a new Amazon Prime TV series this month – I’m just throwing some examples out there. So what do you think? Death to the (exclusively) beauty favourites? Bring in a new era? Or are you change-averse?
(If you are incredibly change-averse then I do genuinely feel for you. 2020 is most certainly not your year.)
Let me know in the comments, please – I do love a spot of market research on here! But for now, on with the beauty favourites. I’ve mostly avoided skincare this month despite racking up a fair few new discoveries that were deserving of a big mention, and that’s because I’m judging the Marie Claire skincare awards. It would be slightly disingenuous to go shouting my mouth off about my favourites whilst others are still doing their solemn judging.
So two bodycare items, two makeup favourites and one thing that is skincare but not quite as you know it. Shall we start with that one? It’s called a ZitSticka and it’s a small patch infused with potent spot-fighting ingredients that you stick over an emerging or early-bird blemish. You know when you have that hard swelling beneath the skin and your heart sinks because you know it’ll take long and painful days to erupt into anything you can (illegally) squeeze?
That’s what these ZitStickas are aimed at. I actually did an ad for this product at the very start of the year, having used it over the Christmas zit period, but I’ve had a fairly spot-free spring and summer and so hadn’t needed them since. But boy did last month’s PMT week see a beauty of a boil! The perfect pustule to place a Sticka on and I was delighted to find that it worked just as well as at Christmas. From hard, red skin to…absolutely nothing.
The raised bump didn’t disappear completely overnight, I had to take the patch off in the morning and double-obliterate it with a second one, but after that it simply dispersed. No squeezing necessary, which was good as it’s a very bad thing to do with a hard and horrible spot like that.
And to bodycare, where a Mitchum deodorant stole the show. On closer inspection, a “man’s” deodorant but I’m not really sure what makes it manly. The smell is “Cedarwood” but I find it fresh and figgy, which is why it’s in the faves (a good deodorant smell is hard to find), the formula is creamy, aluminium-free and effective.
True fact: to test efficacy I always do a half-half trial, whether it’s foundation, SPF or an exfoliating body lotion. You need to keep one half of your test area free from the product being tested – in this case it was so that I could gauge that day’s sweatiness with one pit and the sweat-fighting prowess of the anti-perspirant with the other.
It did well. The depths of the underarm were fresh even after a brisk walk down the river on a hot day wearing inadvisable levels of cashmere.
You can find Mitchum’s Natural Power deodorants here at Boots*, they are £4.50.
A seasonal favourite now, in the shape of Weleda’s Pine Bath. I know I’ve mentioned this a fair bit over the years and usually it’s more of a winter staple, but I ran out of Epsom Salts the other day (shock horror! fear not, I have reordered) and bathing just wasn’t bathing without something added to the water.
The Weleda bath milks are excellent – lavender would be my warmer months option but nothing beats pine for a bit of a Christmassy run-up. Again, I know I’m early – I’m not wishing Christmas upon anyone for the moment, the last thing we all need is another bloody school holiday! – but if you’re craving those crisp nights and blustery russetty days, this will be your bag.
Weleda Pine Bath Milk is £14 here*.
My next favourite is actually a whole category and so I’m going to sort of mulch over it – if you want more of an in-depth explanation of it then watch the video below. It’s mascaras. All mascaras. I’ve had a sort of renewed falling-in-love of them and have been testing out loads. I am going to be back with a video of my favourite four new mascara launches in the next week or so, but if you can’t wait that long then know that these are currently “the ones”:
Marc Jacobs At Lash’d Mascara, £25 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Push Up Lashes Mascara, £23 here*
Urban Decay Lash Freak Mascara, £21 here*
Dior Overcurl Mascara, £28 here*
All do things to my puny, barely-there lashes that would definitely win prizes, if there were prizes for lash transformations.
And finally another favourite that I’m not going to explain at length; it’s basically anything from Trinny London that counts as “makeup in pots”. In particular the cream eyeshadow in Truth and the cream blush in Electra. I’ve used both so regularly that it would be disingenuous for them not to make an appearance in the monthly hall of fame. You can read my full review of the eye2eye shadows here and the cream blush is online here*.
And there endeth the beauty sermon: it’s all on video right here if you want to see items up close and personal or find out about the makeup I’m wearing. Any extra details are written below the video pane. Enjoy – and let me know whether you’d like me to expand on my favourites categories!
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation in B30, £40 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, £49 here*
Pat McGrath Permagel Lipliner, £25 here*
Pat McGrath Lip Balm, £35 here*
Jumper is from Cocoa Cashmere here
Amazing abstract painting in background is by Holly Delaney
My summer skincare routine is here and it’s slightly juicier than usual because a couple of months ago I had to do an almost unprecedented SOS u-turn on my whole beauty routine. I know you’re ready to hear about it. We all love a bit of a disaster.
Actually it wasn’t quite a disaster, but nearly. And anyway it was all the weather’s fault – who knew we’d have a month-long heatwave IN SPRING? There I was, merrily spending all of my time in the garden (from dawn til dusk, almost), not really tweaking my skincare routine to suit my environment because IT WAS STILL SPRING. It simply didn’t occur to me that I should have been shelving all of my usual spring products (that I was using because…it was spring) and adapt a routine more suited to a four week trek through the Sahara. I just don’t really associate my garden with high-high temperatures and dangerous levels of sun exposure (classic Brit mistake, I think) and so although I was always slathered in SPF, something untoward happened: I started getting bits of pigmentation on my upper lip and along my cheekbones.
I realise that was something of an anti-climax for those of you waiting for stories of skin blisters, ice packs and a trip to A&E, but no – just some pesky pigmentation beginning to creep over my face. Which isn’t something that’s ever really happened before. And I was slightly bemused until it occurred to me that I’d been carrying on with my usual retinol-hydrate-retinol-hydrate drill, using a strongish retinoid one night and then giving my skin a real moisture boost the next, without really thinking about what was happening in the daytime.
It’s not like me to overlook this sort of thing, especially when it comes to my face (once a model, always a model: your face is what pays the mortgage) but I have to say that I was a little distracted during lockdown, what with the world ending and supermarket shelves being emptied and the fear of death and also having two small children tearing about the place 24/7 with no relief in sight.
Anyway, as soon as the little freckly patches appeared I did a total 360 on my skincare routine and for the first time used my “big guns” antioxidants twice daily in an attempt to stop the discolouration in its tracks. I pulled back on the retinol, mainly because I can’t cope with thinking about more than one thing at once, and AHAs were temporarily abandoned.
It’s important to note that I didn’t reduce the retinoid usage because of the dark spots – I’m not suggesting that one caused the other – it’s just that it has always been a natural reaction for me to simplify things if I run into any kind of beauty bother. And although I’ve read dozens of articles quoting dermatologists who say that it’s absolutely fine to use retinol during periods of increased sun exposure (aka “summer”), there are others who warn to tread carefully. Who tell you to wear a LOT of sunscreen. (This post by the experts at Medik8 is good.) And if the caveat to using an ingredient is that you need to be really, really careful and slather on your SPF repeatedly and preferably move to a dark cave then it’s my instinct to retreat from it temporarily. I think that I probably play things fairly safe and boring in these days of needle-covered rollers and peels that require fans so that you don’t self-combust and competitive acid percentages and imaginative actives layering. I just really, really don’t enjoy my face falling off.
But back on topic: my antioxidants of choice were from Skinceuticals, a brand well-known for its antioxidant power players. Although their CE Ferulic is perhaps their hero product in this category, I actually chose the Resveratrol BE for nighttime use and the new(ish) Discoloration Defense for the morning. I’ve used the Resveratrol BE before with great results, so it was a natural choice and I’d been meaning to try the Discoloration Defense since its launch, but had never really had any discolouration to test it out on!
(Before I continue, I must say that these serious serums come with a serious price-tag – the Resveratrol BE is £135 here* and the Discoloration Defense is £85 here* – but Skinceuticals always really impress me with their meticulous clinical trials and their ability to formulate ultra-potent stuff without making my skin irritated. And although I have dozens of antioxidants waiting to be tested, I would purchase the Discoloration Defense serum when this one inevitably runs out. Always a good sign. And please note that I have suggested an alternative antioxidant in the product list below.)
So the BE at night at the DD in the morning, although I could have used the DD serum both day and night, which would make the routine a hell of a lot cheaper than adding the Resveratrol in! Did I bring back my skin from the brink? Yes, most certainly. And it looked brighter, more radiant, too. I’ll tell you what I did notice, though, after abandoning my retinol-moisture-retinol habit: my skin didn’t feel quite so bouncy and plumptious and elastic. Glowing, yes. More even-toned, definitely. But there’s a real boing quality to skin that’s loving its retinol products and I must admit I miss it.
Of course the organised person would do antioxidants in the morning, retinol at night and wear a great big hat in the garden. Easier said than done – my hat invariably gets used as a fairy village (filled with soil and weeds and shells), picnic basket (filled with food) and dog’s emergency water bowl in any one day. But once I get into the Antioxidant-Retinol-Hydrate groove this autumn I genuinely think I’ll have hit the skincare sweet spot…
For now, here’s my full skincare routine on video. I’ve also listed the products I’ve been using below, for those who hate video – it’s pretty self-explanatory, but do let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
Curel Foaming Facial Wash*: http://tidd.ly/f83e3054
Inkey List Oat Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/30h50pf
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser*: http://bit.ly/2rjRByY
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum*: https://bit.ly/3bMhLMV
Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield*: https://bit.ly/3jbO2kP
Skinceuticals Resveratrol BE Serum*: https://bit.ly/32o7NQ1
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/3gwo9dg
Toleriane Fluid*: https://bit.ly/30iglW4
Dr Roebucks No Worries Face Cream*: https://bit.ly/2Cj42AD
Retinols (occasional) –
Kate Somerville +Retinol Vita C Serum*: https://bit.ly/2DGHDxw
Murad Retinol Serum*: https://bit.ly/30esN9j
Rich Night Creams –
Lumene Nordic Hydracare Rich Day Cream, £26.90 here*: http://bit.ly/2PQ3aqS
REN Overnight Balm*: https://bit.ly/30jxfn1
Kate Somerville Delik8*: https://bit.ly/3hesvWV
Three Favourite Sunscreens Video: https://youtu.be/f4pzGoALxlU
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35*: https://amzn.to/32sIUTh
Beauty Pie Fruitizyme Five Minute Fix Mask*: https://bit.ly/3j6uCO6
Fancy a quick blast through the beauty things that have wowed me recently? Well buckle up, team, this is going to be quite the ride!
I’m exaggerating, obviously, because it’s just a post about beauty favourites so there are never going to be any significant potholes or humpbacked bridges to throw you out of your proverbial seat. I just feel as though I need an inventive and enticing way to introduce the post because beauty feels so…vanilla after all we’ve been chatting about recently. You know, tick removal and having sex with mermaids. As Mr AMR said to me last week: how do you ever go back to normal content when you’ve written about underwater love with a sequinned penis?
(You can read all about the intricacies of merperson sex here.)
But I take pride in my professionalism and so I’m going to try my hardest to get back to business – exemplary eyeshadows, exclusive perfumes and a conditioner that’ll leave your hair silkier than a mermaid’s. Although NOT a mermaid who’s been in an aqua-aerobical tryst with King Triton.
(In fact why would mermaids even have silky hair? Surely the salt water plays absolute havoc! I bet it’s a full time job just keeping it detangled. You’d be there at your clam shell dressing table all day sorting that mess out and don’t even get me started on the amount of moisturiser you’d need for your shrivelled up skin.)
Anyway, back to the favourites: I’m particularly fond of this little collection. A whisper of lace, a hint of sparkle and a whole bucketful of quality essential oil. Sounds like a recipe for my kind of party!
I don’t even know what I mean by that. Here’s the video, but carry on reading for the full post.
My first favourite of the month: the John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Conditioner, £29 here*. I mentioned a mask from the same range a while back and that’s glorious too, but I actually think that the conditioner pips it to the beauty post. It’s quicker, more convenient and leaves your hair just as smooth and silky as the reconstructor treatment. No residue, easy to rinse off, gorgeous smell. It’s just exemplary.
Then the Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oil, £26 here*. You can’t get better than the original, hero product that this brand makes (confusingly called Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oil); it’s just aromatherapy perfection. One tiny capful of the concentrated oil blend into a warm bath and you’re transformed into whatever improved state the bottle promises – deeply relaxed, perhaps, or lightly revived, depending on which version you choose.
But for those who don’t have a bath, the original is a bit of a faff. You get around the lack of standing water issue by patting a small amount of the oil onto your chest and “inhaling the scent”, but really. It’s a (literal) booby prize in comparison to the real deal, the instant bath-to-spa experience.
And so the new dedicated shower product is a welcome launch – it cleanses and allows you to enjoy the benefits of the aromatherapy blends all at the same time. There are fewer scent versions but the all important and very best one is present – Deep Relax – and for me that’s the only one that matters!
I think my favourite-favourite this month is the beautiful Quentin Monge x Atelier Cologne launch. Atelier Cologne have done quite a few amazing collaborations but this one has really excited me – Quentin Monge produces some of the most recognisable, iconic illustrations in the world and his design for the Clementine California fragrance is so unbelievably cool. This is a proper collector’s item – I can imagine people in 2065 unboxing their pristine Quentin Monge perfumes and making a video for whatever futuristic video platform that exists in 2065.
“GUYS!” they’ll say. “Oh my God, Granny found this awesome box of beauty stuff from the olden days and look at this bottle! I think the woman in the illustration is, like, lying in the sun? Which is weird, but they used to do weird shit back then. LOL. Like go to these places to all eat together, on the same table, in the same room. I think they were called restrooms. Or restaurants. Whatever.”
The fragrance can be bought alone, as a large bottle, or as a very beautiful gift set including a large 100ml bottle, a 30ml bottle and a leather travel pouch. The gift set is £153 at Selfridges here* and the 100ml fragrance is £98 here*. The scent is, as you can probably imagine, very orangey but in a light and sexy way. Incredibly wearable, utterly delicious.
Talking about incredibly wearable and utterly delicious, this month’s favourites round-up includes a wonderful independent lingerie brand called Attollo. Attollo first got in touch with me a couple of years ago when I was talking about annoying bra sizes on Instagram. I kept getting measured in department stores as 30G (I had just stopped breastfeeding, I think!) or 30FF, yet they had very little to offer me in those sizes. It sort of seemed pointless, really, to tell me I was that size. Why give someone a size that isn’t catered for?
So there wasn’t much out there for me at all – a handful of styles I liked – and when Attollo got in touch to say that they actually specialised in small back sizes with large cups I was delighted to see that their bras were dainty, sexy and didn’t have inch-wide rubber backed shoulder straps.
It’s proper treaty underwear – luxury lace, exquisite detailing and flattering longline cuts that make you feel a million dollars. Go and have a meander around on their website – the range is small but everything it needs to be.
Finally, some cream eyeshadows that wowed me and therefore went straight into my permanent makeup bag. Trinny London’s eye2eye cream shadows are well-pigmented, slide on softly and easily but set well and stay on all day. I’ve tried them before and loved them but I usually steer towards the muted neutral tones; a little line-up of terracotta and peachy shades landed on my desk the other week and they instantly struck me as being perfect for late summer. Burnished, sizzling reddish metallics. Vaguely reminiscent of the sun going down on an exotic beach that most of us are too nervous to visit.
I tried Fortitude, a metallic burgundy and Courage which is a deep pinky copper. Both look outrageously good, even splodged on and smudged with a fingertip. You can find them here* – shadows are £18 each and the cream formula makes lids look fresh and sheeny rather than flat and powdery.
Here endeth my monthly favourites sermon – remember that (if you have a spare hundred hours or so) you can scroll back through all of my favourites over the past DECADE by clicking here.
Here’s a post that will please your purse (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers!): three brilliant skincare products that form a very good, albeit very basic skincare routine, and the whole thing comes in at less than twenty pounds.
I did film this for IGTV (link here if you want to watch) but here’s the gist of the routine: an effective-yet-gentle cleansing balm, a hydrating serum and a soothing moisturiser that won’t leave a greasy residue. If you’re taking things back to basics then you don’t need much more than this.
(Although a sunscreen is absolutely essential if you’re going to be outside. Can’t stress that enough. I did write about my three favourites recently – here – but I’m trying to test more budget-friendly options as and when I get a chance to.)
If you’re new to skincare routines and haven’t a clue where to begin, what with all of the acids and the peptides and the antioxidants and the emollients and the pre-cleanses and post-peels and the prescription-strengths and the over-the-counter-strengths then I always try to pare things back to this: cleanse properly, moisturise properly and you’re off to a good start.
To be fair, my actual routine isn’t that much more complicated:
AM: Cleanse, Antioxidant Serum, Moisturise/Sunscreen
PM: Cleanse, Retinol Serum, Moisturise or Cleanse, Hydrating Serum, Moisturise
(You can read about my current skincare routine here)
You can see that I’ve just swapped the hydrating serum about a bit, because that’s my “treat” step of my routine and if I want to protect (under the sunscreen) then I use an antioxidant and if I want to prevent (as in lines and wrinkles and loss of tone) then I use my retinol. If I was worried about breakouts then my treatment serum would be a BHA (though the retinol works amazingly well for this too, I find) and if I was feeling dull and lacklustre and generally a bit meh in the skin department then I’d probably plump for a glycolic acid serum or toner.
I realise I’ve just massively complicated what was supposed to be a very basic post, but maybe it will suddenly all make sense! Cleanse properly – to remove dirt and sunscreen and so on – then use a serum to treat whatever concern you have and finish off by sealing it all in with a moisturiser.
Which is the premise of this very cheap and simple routine. So we have the Ordinary Squalane Cleanser which I’ve reviewed before here and you can get online for £5.50 here*. It’s just beautiful. Silky and soft but with enough gutsy hold to survive a few minutes of facial massage. Rinses off absolutely clean with no residue yet is supremely hydrating and excellent for absolutely all skin types.
Next, the Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid (find it online here* for £5.99); hyaluronic helps the skin to hold onto moisture and really gets it looking plump and fresh. There are loads of good, cheap options out there but I like the Inkey List one a lot and it’s so budget-friendly.
Finally, short and sweet, the Calming Moisturiser from Simple, which is £7.99 here*. I love the packaging! It looks like a travel-sized moisturiser but is, in fact, the same volume – 50ml – as most high-end moisturisers on the market. Those huge pots from Clinique? Same amount of stuff inside. I find this bottle very travel-friendly (when travelling was still a thing) and I like that I don’t have to stick my nails into a pot.
And there you go: three steps, basic, quality skincare, all for less than twenty quid. I do very much enjoy finding brilliant budget buys, so please do keep your own recommendations coming. Especially for good, non-chalky sunscreens at affordable prices…