Monday, 29 June 2009

#98 Burney's Night

All-round gorgeous ELLE girl, Ellen Burney, left a well-worth-reading comment on my last post, so thought I'd reproduce, with an extra shot of skin wisdom.... enjoy:

" I've discovered – never mind rediscovered – Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Oil. I've tried all sorts of shaving gels and always find that for the money they run out so fast and so, with a plethora of hair conditioners sitting at the side of the bath (I only really use intensive conditioner on my hair which leaves all the others useless beside them) I've often used conditioner instead. Good, but not always top marks. I also went through a phase of a bar of Dove being the shaving option of choice but for the last few weeks I've been using J&J Baby Oil and it's the smoothest for longest and softest my legs have ever been. What else? Parissa Home Bikini Hot Wax - amazing... and fun - oh god and Nivea. Just a slab of Nivea Cream over freshly washed skin. On the luxe side of things though I am dousing my 60p cotton wool balls from Tesco with Pure Rosewater from Chantecaille. Everything in moderation.

And, why have I ventured back to Nivea & J&J? Because I have to abstain from all the harmful anti-ageing style products during pregnancy... and so many other things that I found myself wrapped in a towel for hours in the early days panicking as to what I could and couldn't put on my skin. But then I found that REN – already one of my skin creams of choice – was in fact entirely pregnant-woman-friendly (one of the founder's partners was pregnant and having the same skin scares as me) ... add to this Frederic Fekkai's sulphate-free range of shampoos and conditioners etc, Weleda's hair care range and, well, Nivea and J&J Baby Oil and I'm very happy. Plus I get to slip them into my boyfriend's shopping basket with a murmur of 'for the baby'... "

To follow Ellen's entertaining escapades, read her blog here:

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

#97 Cheap Stakes

No recession talk. Promise. But it just so happens that I've stumbled across some extraordinary econo-buys of late, and if it's a toss between penny pinching and sharing the wealth, I'm all for the latter. So, here my dears:

1) Johnson and Johnson 3 in 1 Make-up Remover
A big swig, soaked on a cotton pad, pressed over the eye, then swept to the side, removes heavy eye make-up far better than some far steeper alternatives. Yep, it's oily, but for heavy duty make-up that's always good thing (it means less mechanical force is needed!). Despite the fact that I would only use it on my eyes and not as an all-over cleanser, it does have several plus points: it doesn't sting, it isn't heavy, it isn't fragranced. It's my first step every night now, before I go over my skin with Spiezia or Sarah Chapman Cleanser for a proper clean. Weirdly, I swear it's made my eyelashes grow a bit too.

2) Dr Organic Aloe Vera Skin Lotion (available at Holland & Barrett). Now, this is no better than several other cheap, cheerful & almost all-natural formulas (I like J.R.Watkins more than Jergens, but both do the job), but it has one advantage over the competition. It really does soothe sore skin - as I found when I had a bad reaction to a spot of epilation. A layer of this took away the sting almost immediately and within a couple of hours, skin looked far calmer. It also feels nice after a day in the sun. A little also goes a long way.

In the mid-range, I really like Jemma Kidd's Semi-Permanent Lash Tint because it doesn't budge and goes on deeply, inkily black - like the gravy-thick ink that spurts out of printer cartridges. It does take some getting used to, and if caught on lids will need to be removed straight away with an oil-based eye make-up remover, BUT swept over the very ends of lashes, it gives a lovely natural feathery finish, which fakes length far better than any of the lengthening formula mascaras I've tried. Plus, on sweat-prone summer days, it's good to know your eyes ain't going nowhere.

Then there are the two premium products I've tried this week, which are getting two thumbs down. The first is Clinique Self Sun Face Bronzing Gel Tint. In the time it took me to squeeze a small blob out of the tube and decide where to apply it, it stained my finger. I rinsed the product off, then used soap & water, then scrubbed with a brush. The stain didn't budge. Now, this could just have been a particularly pigment-rich bit of cream caught in the first squeeze, but, well, who wants to risk a brown splodge on their face for the remainder of the day? Not me.

Next, Kate Somerville's Exfoli-Kate. Anyone who reads up on potential purchases on (you should, by the way, it's a goldmine of objective advice) will already be familiar with the Jekyll/Hyde reactions to this range. Some claim it's their HG (that's 'holy grail' - LOL), whereas others feel it's overpriced, overrated, and massively under-performing. Well, having already tried some of the best exfoliants on the market (courtesy of Agera and Dermalogica and Elemis), this one had a lot to live up to. It did not. Firstly, it was immensely hard to spread over the skin. Secondly, the dispenser, though theoretically impressive, really only dispensed the smallest amount, which covered barely half a cheek, so I kept pumping away, unsure of how much I needed/if I was overdoing it/whether or not I just wasn't spreading it properly/if there was a chance I might end up in the Accident & Emergency with second-degree burns; thirdly, after using it, my skin tingled (and not in a good way)for about an hour, looked red (which is to be expected, if one heeds the pack) and the next day my chin was still a bit flaky. Hmmmm. If at first you don't succeed... it goes back on the shelf, and we'll see if I have better luck next time.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

#96 Then I Don't Feel So Bad

Must remember that a late night snack of Bailey's Haagen Dazs and chocolate sprinkles chased with a glass or two of champagne is never going to result in bushy tails or bright eyes. Feel distinctly.... bleurgh.

So, there's no better time for a few of my favourite things...

Thankfully I finally made it across the other side of town to Harrods where I refuelled my empty SK-II Airtouch Foundation canister and boy, I'd forgotten just how bloody brilliant it is. When you're using the wrong foundation it's easy to think that great skin cannot be faked, however hard you try; when you're using the right foundation, you stop wondering why you need perfect skin anyway. Which for a sometime slattern like me, is a rather comforting thought.

I'm also enamoured of the new Paul & Joe Autumn Breathless Collection (not launching until August 1st 2009). Inspired by one of my favourite French movies, A bout de souffle, I slicked lipstick in RECKLESS over my mouth last night, after being told by the brand's brilliant make-up artist, Craig Ryan-French, that it would suit me. In truth, it is the sort of brown-based Merlot that I would normally avoid like the plague, so imagine my surprise when it looked pretty darn great. What I learned: bright, orange-based reds (my staple) are great with a tan, and when you're feeling young and flirty. Brown-based reds look less proclamatory, chicer, grown-up... perhaps Bobbi Brown's been right all along...?

And, I really cannot rave enough about my new product paramour: ESPA Essential Tea Tree Gel. Twice this week I have felt a niggling bump beneath the skin and tapped this on and both times the bump has all but disappeared within hours. It's also wonderful at taking down redness while never causing flakiness and my go-to treatment for spots, in-growns, blisters or bites from now until the end of time. I just wish I'd paid more attention when a close PR friend of mine who left ESPA to go off into sunset, told me that the only thing she'd miss would be the free consignments of this gel. I've used Liz Earle Spot On, Australian Tea Tree, Superdrug's Tea Tree roll-on and blends from various pharmacies over the years, but this baby takes the biscuit.

And on that note, I'm off for a healing cup of herbal tea...