What: A fast-absorbing, creamy body lotion with resurfacing properties
For: Rapid hydration, and particularly good for smoothing bumpy upper arms
Review: This moisturiser was a surprise. The first time I used it, I was pleased with the warm, comforting fragrance and how quickly it absorbed into skin, but wasn’t blown away. I kept using it - just a pump or two of product to cover each arm in the morning - and then noticed something. The tiny bumps on the tops of my arms, which had never developed into a severe case of keratosis pilaris but which were uneven enough to make me feel slightly self-conscious, were slowly disappearing. The tops of my arms were not only softer, but smoother - something I hadn’t come across before in a moisturiser. A quick Google of the key ingredient ‘baobab’ has revealed that it is great to smooth skin without clogging pores, and encourages regeneration of skin cells.
Continued use of this cream has delivered more even skin texture and skin tone and, as an added bonus, I LOVE the fragrance - best described as woody yet chocolately, and it lingers on skin throughout the day. The cream is absorbed super rapidly into skin - there’s no waiting around for it to sink in before dressing. It’s not the type of rich buttery cream that you apply after a long bath and lounge about in a slinky robe, but a great one to apply when you only have a few minutes to spare but still want something that delivers results. Particularly perfect to prime arms for summer!
Buy it here
I’ve never been one for toners. They always seemed superfluous, and I just couldn’t see the point of them. But after trialling this trio of toners, I must atone for my toning distrust.
First up, the Balance Refining Toning Mist from Nourish - a nice refreshing toner that is perfect to spritz over the face on a hot days, and a good way to inject a little extra moisture before applying light moisturiser (brilliant for oilier skin types that still need a little hydration boost). Not to mention a great buy at £8.95. Next up is Aromatherapy Associates Rose Skin Tonic. This is a great one to smooth over skin after cleansing to remove any residue, and noticeably softens skin. The soothing rose fragrance makes it lovely to apply at night, and it strikes just the right balance between refreshing and hydrating skin. And finally, my not-so-secret favourite from Stark Skincare - the White Willow Bark Perfecting Tonic. This is one of those beauty products that is just a pleasure to use, and I’m going to blame it on the fresh, zingy fragrance. It’s like sticking your face into a vat of freshly squeezed orange juice (in a good way). Although probably not the best for super sensitive or reactive skin, it is great for problem skin as the salicylic acid from the white willow bark is gently exfoliating and helps clear congestion.
So, although still not on my must-have list, these three toners have definitely made their way onto the very-nice-to-have list. Their prepping power means that skin needs less moisturiser or serum (which is particularly good on hot days or under makeup), and it can act as the step in your routine that either peps up or soothes your skin.
*These products were sent to me as PR samples for my honest review.
GET THE LOOK: Spotlight on Highlights
Let’s hear it for highlights - nothing makes skin look fresh and healthy like a dab of luminizer on the top of cheekbones, cupid’s bow and on the inner corners of eyes. RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer is my not so secret weapon and gives an I-only-drink-green-tea-and-practice-yoga-daily glow.
What: Nourishing & restorative serum.
For: All skin types (even oily)
Review: Meet Lina. She’s rosehip oil’s smarter, harder working, more refined sister. Not to diminish rosehip oil’s work at all - it’s just that Lina does everything that rosehip oil does, only… better. Skin is smooth. Skin is plump. Skin is glowing.
The brilliant thing about Lina is that, not only does it leave skin super supple & nourished, but it is absorbed into skin instantly. This means that makeup sits beautifully on top, and there’s not mid-afternoon oilies brought on by using a serum during the day. But of course, it’s at night that Lina truly shines - a generous drop massaged over skin left me with an 'I've just had 10 hours sleep' glow. Elasticity and suppleness improved, texture was more refined, and skin less red and sensitive.
Clean creds: Free of parabens, artificial fragrance, silicone, petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances . Made with a blend of essential oils (including baobab, which, as I will reveal in an upcoming post, is My New Best Friend).
Verdict: Skin just looks better with this - it’s that simple. From first to last drop, this is a little bit of luxury that’s worth splashing out on.
Buy it here
*This product was sent to me as a PR sample for my honest review.
As the weather cools down, so does skin’s moisture levels, and my lips are always the first to feel it. After a week of suffering red, chapped lips, I finally rummaged through my bathroom drawer to find a lip balm by 1Skin Solution and a Shizen Lip Hydrating Serum. I used the lip balm by day, which delivered instant hydration and left lips glossy & plump (with a delicious vanilla scent!), and at night I covered lips with a drop of the serum (a little goes a long way!) - which deeply nourished my lips and left them soft, smooth & soothed. Made with a lovely blend of sweet orange, lime & lemon myrtle essential oils, I’ve even popped a few drops of the serum into a bowl of hot water to steam my face! Needless to say, this duo will be my lip saviours this winter: with the lip balm in my handbag and the serum on by bedside table, I will be one happy unchappy chap.
What: The perfect cleanser.
For: Removing makeup and impurities. For all skin types.
Review: There are a few products that I use so regularly that I take them for granted and forget to focus on them with a review. MV Organics Gentle Cream Cleanser is one of them. This is the perfect cleanser. Thoroughly cleanses makeup? Tick. Removes impurities and keeps breakouts at bay? Tick. Leaves skin super soft & nourished? TICK.
In addition to its skin loving properties, it was the scent knocked my socks off - as most people who read the CBB regularly have probably realised, I need only a drop of citrus fragrance to fall in love with a product, and this cleanser is a delicious blend of rose, chamomile and mandarin. Heaven. This cleanser makes your morning shower feel like a mini spa session.
The cleanser is best used with a muslin cloth. Only a few pumps of product are needed to cleanse the really face well - the texture is thick, luxurious and creamy. After massaging the product into skin, hold a damp warm muslin cloth over skin for about 5 seconds (the steam from the cloth will further soften skin). You then use the cloth to gently buff the cleanser off skin, which doubles as gentle exfoliation.
Clean creds: 75% organic - and just look at this ingredients list! Water, Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Vegetable Glycerin, Glyceryl Monostearate, Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Honeysuckle (Lonicera Caprifolium & Lonicera Japonica) Extract, with essential oils of Rose, Chamomile and Mandarin. Nothing scary there.
Verdict: I can recommend this cleanser for almost all skin types, unless you are very sensitive to essential oils. It worked beautifully on my skin and, although not a conventional ‘anti-acne’ cleanser, it kept breakouts at bay without drying skin. Although it’s on the pricier side - $45 - a bottle lasted me for about 3 months of consistent use. It’s also a great one to take travelling as it comes in a super lightweight bottle and a no-mess pump dispenser.
Buy it here
*This product was sent to me as a PR sample for my honest review.
Nestled amongst terraces in the leafy backstreets of Paddington, last week I trekked my way up a damp, grey Oxford Street to Atlantis Hair. After a horrendous week at work I arrived wet, tired, and cranky, and although I was feeling far from my perkiest I was determined to keep my long anticipated appointment at Atlantis to try out the latest cult haircare range, O&M (Original & Mineral).
Well - after a delicious glass of organic white wine, about 500 magazines, the world’s greatest head massage, and some banter about Mardi Gras, I left with the glossiest, softest, healthiest head of hair I have ever had, and I was feeling good. Really good. From root to tip my experience with Atlantis was superb - I loved the attentive, warm service and buzzing atmosphere, and the chic & cozy salon which was filled with the delicious scents of O&M’s dreamy products.
I’m one of those annoying hairdresser clients that usually arrives without really knowing what I want, but with a very firm idea about what I don’t want and a general expectation that I will leave looking fabulous. My colourist, Wayne, managed to pin down what I (subconsciously) wanted with a few questions (Do you want people to see you tomorrow and know that you’ve coloured your hair, or do you just want them to think you’ve done something different but nothing obvious? (The latter). What are you like with maintaining your hair? (Bad. Very bad)). We decided on some piecy caramel highlights just underneath the top layer of hair to add some soft colour and texture without looking ‘done’ - and zero worry about regrowth. The most pleasant part of the whole experience was that there was none of that eye prickling, scalp burning, nose ticking stench that usually comes with permanent hair colour, as O&M colour is formulated without the harsh chemicals of their conventional counterparts, such as paraphenylenediamine, resorcinol and ammonia. After the highlights I also had a gloss applied, and my hair can now compete with Rose Byrne’s for the world’s shiniest hair.
Atlantis owner Alan Buki tended to my trim and gave my fine hair volume, shape and movement. What I am most pleased about is how my hair has been post-hairdresser: it’s very easy to love your hair after it’s been professionally blow-dried and styled, another thing altogether to feel the same way after at-home (very amateur) styling. After two washes my hair is just as soft, silky and glossy as when I stepped out of the salon, and the shape has held beautifully.
I left with an arsenal of beautiful products to try at home - shampoo & conditioner for fine hair, ‘Rootalicious’ volumising root spray, a thickening spray & a shine serum. All O&M products smell absolutely incredible, and are high quality, hard working products that do what they say. I’ll post separate, in depth reviews of each of the products after I’ve used them for a while.
I can’t recommend Atlantis and O&M highly enough - they deliver the hat trick of hair that looks good, feels good and smells good!
If you can’t get to Paddington, search for a salon that uses O&M products here (it’s available in Australia, US and New Zealand), and the range is also available to buy through Adore Beauty, which ships internationally.
*My appointment with Atlantis was arranged free of charge by O&M for my honest review.
What: Makeup remover and cleanser.
For: All skin types, particularly dry or sensitive skin.
Review: I’m all about oils these days - oils to cleanse, oils to moisturise, even oils to eat! This cleansing oil by Vapour Organics is a nice addition to my oily routine, as it is brilliant for removing makeup & thoroughly cleansing without stripping skin. Skin nourishing ingredients include camelia oil, jojoba oil, and evening primrose oil, which all work together to gently cleanse skin and leave skin plump & hydrated. It is safe to use on eyes and easily removes waterproof makeup. As with all oil-based cleansers, you will need to remove it with either a muslin cloth (my preference) or cotton pads.
I have previously reviewed and used Planet Eve Organics Cleansing Oil, and would recommend & repurchase both products. The main differences between the two is that the Planet Eve oil feels a little more luxurious to me (thanks to the lovely warm sandalwood scent), but Vapour Organics is probably a little better at removing lots of makeup, including eye makeup.
Clean creds: Made with 95% Certified Organic Ingredients and 5% wildcrafted essential oils, 100% natural, chemical free, cruelty free, gluten free, made with wind power, biodegradable ingredients, inner & outer packaging recyclable.
Verdict: If you haven’t made the switch to a cleansing oil, this is a good one to transition with, as it still gives a thorough deep down clean but delivers all the skin-loving benefits of an oil. An oil is also great if you find that water dries your skin, as you can wipe away excess with a dry cotton pad and skip washing with water altogether.
Buy it here (affiliate link)
*This product was sent to me as a PR sample for my honest review.
What: A two-step system with an oil & ‘activating mist’.
For: Mature or prematurely aging skin, dry skin, or just skin in need of a dose of goodness!
Review: Describing itself as ‘exquisite’ and ‘rejuvenating’, my expectations of the Kimia Facial System were very high before I even opened the box. Thankfully, Kimia seems to be one of those rare brands that actually delivers on its promises.
The Kimia System is a two step process: the first is the Kimia Exquisite All Natural Face Oil, which is a lovely rich serum, and the second step is the Hydra-Activator, which is a fancy way of saying spray. The people at Kimia tell me that "…the facial system is a two stage process because the activator acts to accelerate and increase the uptake of the highly active facial oil. This is to allow a number of things - firstly an increase in the beneficial effects of the product, secondly to allow the application of make up straight after application which in turn allows today’s modern woman to treat, nourish and repair the skin while fitting in with fast pace of modern life." The instructions say to spray the activator onto your hands and then to rub it into the face, but I find it much easier to just spray the product directly onto my face and massage it in with the oil. The recommended ‘dosage’ is six drops of oil & six sprays, but this is customisable depending on whether your skin is feeling particularly oily or dry.
After using my skin feels incredibly hydrated and has an instant glow. The products are quickly absorbed into skin and leave a silky, smooth finish - not greasy in the slightest, and makeup sits very nicely on top. I tend to use it mainly at night (sunscreen is really the only product I use during the day), and I wake up with fine lines plumped up and generally healthy & younger looking skin. I am especially nuts about the oil as it has this fabulous retro floral scent that reminds me of my grandma - I’m not sure what the fragrance is exactly, but it’s just lovely. Whenever I use this my boyfriend says I smell like a hotel (which is a good thing, FYI). This is definitely my product of choice when I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and need to look fresh, and the great thing is that the results are almost instantaneous as I can see a marked difference after just one use.
I am generally a big fan of facial oils, and if you’re in the market for a luxurious & pampering treat then this is definitely the product for you. It is expensive, but I think it would last a very long time given that you only need to use a few drops/sprays per application. I’ve been using mine quite religiously and the bottles still look completely full.
Clean creds: All natural ingredients, paraben free.
Verdict: I’ve had quite a few requests for product recommendations for aging skin, and so far Kimia is the recommendation I’m prepared to highlight, bold and underline. If it’s out of your price range then Rosehip Oil is a good alternative - but if you can afford to splash out, or have a birthday coming up, Kimia is an excellent investment for your skin.
Buy it here
*This product was sent to me as a PR sample.
I have to admit that, with sun, sand & Singapore Slings at the front of my mind, skincare was somewhere around number 143 on my list of priorities whilst I was away. Nevertheless, as someone with skin that likes to surprise me (dry! no, sensitive! wait… oily! and here’s a pimple!), I took a few products with me to keep my skin in check and, most importantly, protected from the sun’s rays.
The one product that I used every day was the Invisible Zinc Environmental Skin Protector 30+. As a zinc based sunscreen it physically blocks the sun’s rays (rather than filtering them through chemicals), and this kept my face perfectly protected. It goes on a little white at first but quickly disappears into skin. The only quasi-downside is that it does such a good job that my face is now a shade lighter than the rest of my body, but this is easily resolved with a bit of liquid bronzer mixed in with my foundation. On the few days when I dragged myself from the pool or beach to do strenuous things like eat out or go shopping, I combined my sun protection with coverage by using the Invisible Zinc UV Silk Shield Foundation. I was a bit scared about using a stick foundation but it blended really easily, had excellent coverage (it doubles as a concealer). and had a nice natural finish. It says it is water resistant, and seems to hold up quite well, but it became a little more obvious after swimming and needed to be ‘re-blended’ into skin.
As I was using a fairly heavy duty sunscreen it was important to cleanse skin thoroughly at the end of the day, so I took along Planet Eve Organics Cleansing Oil. This was perfect for travel, as although it’s quite a tall bottle, it’s incredibly lightweight, and easily removes sunscreen & makeup. I also took MV Organics Gentle Cream Cleanser - one of my favourite cleansers- for when I wanted a deeper & more refreshing clean.
At night I either used Pai Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, Tata Harper Replenishing Nutrient Complex, or a combination of both. The Pai day cream is fine to use at night as it doesn’t have SPF and is a good general purpose moisturiser. I used the Tata Harper serum when I wanted a little more hydration, and it was also great to apply on its own under makeup, as it kept skin looking fresh & glowy and didn’t melt off in the heat. The serum is fantastic for travel as it comes in a little tube with a rollerball applicator - so no risk of spillage!
I must have been feeling a bit indulgent when I threw in a sample pack of the Dr. Alkaitis Organic Cellular Repair Mask, as I tend to be very lazy with my skincare when I’m away from home. I’m glad I did though - I was averaging about 3 cocktails a night, so I popped this on once or twice when I felt my skin needed a bit of a pep up. It’s another excellent travel product, as it is a powder that you add water to. You could easily fill a teeny container with some and pop it into your makeup bag when travelling.
Moving on from the face, the rest of the so-called regime was fairly relaxed. I took a sample bottle of Bodhi Ylang Ylang Incensa Shower Gel with me, which is basically a sexy tropical holiday in a bottle. It’s a delicious smokey & spicy floral fragrance, and the scent lingers on skin. For hair I just used hotel shampoo & conditioner (as I was swimming each day I didn’t think there was much point in getting hair perfect), but I did take Evo Happy Campers Hard Working Moisturiser as a leave in treatment and all-round grooming product.
And that’s it! I need another holiday after writing all that… Would love to hear about any of your holiday or travel skincare tips!