Monday, 31 May 2010

# 129 Go Balmy [and get 15% off!]

Right, so, following my last post which talked up the benefits of the new Darphin Cleansing Balm, I've had some emails from readers asking which cleansing balm I rate most highly - whether it's the ESPA one I often chat about, or the Omorovicza one which I used to use religiously but get through a bit too quickly, or the Oskia, Darphin or Organic Pharmacy options...

There are many others I have used and loved for a short time - Vaishaly, for instance, was great until I began to feel it was just too rich for my shine-prone skin (and then it began to cause a few too many breakouts...)

The Organic Pharmacy softened skin beautifully, but because it doesn't emulsify (neither does Saaf's balm), I found I wasn't getting quite as 'clean' as I wanted, and after a few days, I'd notice some blocked pores where the cleanser just wasn't coming away as neatly as I'd have liked it to. Oskia, too, produce a fine cleanser - and it has the edge on the aforementioned two, because it emulsifies beautifully, but once again, I feel it's better for ageing skin in need of nourishment than younger complexions seeking balance and purity.

With this in mind, here are the two that I shall always return to:

ESPA is an absolute staple. The formula just seems nice & easy for me - never stings, never causes excessive oiliness, not too 'nourishing', emulsifies very well & rinses clean away. Lovely, lovely. Oh, and the pot's a generous size too, so this one tends to last me about 3 months.

Omorovicza is another favourite, but for a different reason. If ESPA were the staple, then OM would be the special occasion cleanser (the pot is, unfortunately, on the small side), but it does have a really fab knack of hoovering out those pores and making everything look that bit clearer. I'd recommend it to people prone to impurities and breakouts as the mineral mud infused within the oil-based cleanser has an obvious purifying effect (without ever having caused me to wake up to a spotty complexion the next morning). I also like the melty texture, the fresh salty-clean scent and how soft the skin feels afterwards. It's good, good stuff this.

So, it's a facial flit between Om and ESPA - and should the deciding factor be some money off (hey, who doesn't love a discount!) then Omorovicza might just take the balm biscuit, because they're offering all Miss Malcontent readers a 15% discount on the Thermal Cleansing Balm up to the 30th June 2010, when purchased online at The code is missmalcontent_3853

For those who are already sold, enjoy! And for those who are not... sure you can't be tempted?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

# 128 Four Fancies

Several things deserve a shout out before the week's end:

Numero uno - the Clarisonic, which has made my skin look clearer & brighter than ever before. My family are convinced that it's those 'blooming' pregnancy hormones. Well, I know better (ha ha ha).

A deux - Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm with Rosewood. Regular readers will know that I have a serious obsession with cleansing 'balms' and 'oils'. Creams, wipes, foams, scrubs - pah! Non, merci. Well, this is a really sticky little treat. It has a deeply luxurious texture - a bit like honey and melted candle wax, and a strong floral/herbal scent. It emulsifies easily & quickly and rinses away cleanly. I've been pairing it with my Clarisonic and am most happy with the results so far [one week in]. The pot too, est enorme, which is a great thing if, like me, you go for a nightly double-cleanse.

Trois me - Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Hair Oil. Despite having relied upon this trichological treat several times over the years, I don't think I've ever blogged about it. Fool me. Now, before I start getting all lyrical, I'm sure that many cheaper and simpler oils (olive/almond/sesame/coconut, par example) would have a very similar nourishing effect on the hair and scalp too, so I certainly don't blame you if you're not willing to fork out £22.50 for this one. In it's favour, however, there is much I can say. It contains murumuru butter, ylang ylang, coconut oil, geranium and rosemary; a little goes a very long way [I've had my bottle for 6 months & it's still more than half full]; it's darn deliciously scented. But, the winning ticket: it's a failsafe treatment that makes a real & very visible difference to the lustre and smoothness of my hair. I've never left it on overnight (I'm funny about pillowcase stains), but I do massage it through dry hair & into scalp at least 4/5 hours before I shampoo. While the oil-slick look ain't hugely sexy, the scent itself is divine, so you can wander around the house in a comforting aromatherapy cloud. Best of all, the scent has longevity, and even after shampooing & conditioning, locks are still laced with it. Hair blow-dries really nicely after use too - I've often had comments on the 'health' of my hair the following day (even though I'm a serial iron & dryer abuser).

Quatre me if you can: Finally, my current lipstick obsession (also blogged about on my other site, We Make Up As We Go Along) shows no sign of waning. It's by Topshop, it's called Brighton Rock, and if it's ever discontinued I might just cry myself to sleep. It's just so beautifully, perfectly PINK & 2010 & POP & young & cute & LOUD & Marina & the Diamonds. And now I must stop raving about it lest it sells out. Topshop - you'll promise to restock Le Rock - oui?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

# 127 Cosmic Dentistry

Sometimes the cosmos sends out some pretty cool messages - and to those lovely individuals at Oral-B who happened to read my last post [bemoaning the fact that my hubby destroyed my beloved sonic toothbrush] a hearty thank you for sending me a far superior replacement: the very latest Oral-B Triumph PC 5000, which sounds rather like a swanky personal computer, but is in fact a 'wireless' toothbrush. 'Wireless' because it communicates with an LED display, letting you know how long you ought to brush for, when to move it around the mouth, if you're pressing too hard and, most importantly for someone who is forever running out of the house a good deal later than they'd aimed to - a CLOCK. Why did I not think of putting a clock in the bathroom before? Lord knows - it would've saved me myriad mini heart attacks over the years & no doubt numerous arguments with Mr M too [my, 'I'll just be 10 minutes' is now, for the first time, an almost accurate prediction].

Anyway, back to this brush, which whizzes around so fast & furiously that teeth are polished up in 2 minutes flat - and to think I used to spend at least 3 reaching in for every nook & cranny. All those precious minutes I'll save... It also comes with 5 modes [4 of which I've yet to try, but have a 'whitening' session planned for later tonight... oh, the glamour] which are sensitive; daily clean; deep clean; whitening and gum massage. Blimey, this baby's going to put dentists out of business! Now, being preggers [sorry, I know I keep mentioning it, but it's responsible for at least 80% of my current beauty woes], means that my gums are that bit more sensitive, so this couldn't have arrived at a better time. Just 5 days in and teeth are that bit spanglier and gums haven't bled once. Now, to purchase this power-tool one would need to fork out in the region of £160. Ouch. Would I? Well, yes, as a matter of fact I absolutely would... as Sam Seaborn once said to CJ Cregg in The West Wing: 'Your teeth are the best friends you have CJ.' And one look at Rob Lowe tells us just how seriously he takes matters of oral hygiene. CHEESE!

And now for something I never do [rest assured, this isn't a monetarily endorsed plug], BUT it is currently, fittingly National Smile Month when slogans like the aforementioned might be bandied around rather too heavily, but when, in truth, rather important stats surface too: namely that the average Brit brushes their teeth for just 37 seconds. Blimey. That explains a lot.

So, even if you don't have the funds to put your money where your mouth is, you can always spend the time instead. Now rinse. And spit. And SMILE.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

# 126 Brushing Up

I had a fab sonic toothbrush, a really expensive one, and it needed a head change. Sadly, said head refused to be removed, even with huffing and puffing red-cheeked levels of exertion. So I handed over to Mr M and asked him to do the honours. At which point he snapped the head clean off, exposing all the scary wiring inside and consigning it to the dustbin forever after. And I've yet to replace it (I bought a cheaper sonicare equivalent from Makro instead)... but I still have fond memories of my smart sonic brush with its varying speeds & flashy lights & clever 'press too hard & I'll stop working' in-built monitor. Sigh.

Now, with my latest sonic gadget - the Clarisonic Face & Body Brush - it goes without saying that Mr M will be allowed nowhere near (despite picking up the package when it arrived & mocking the pseudo-science all over the box). I've wanted one for ages actually & shall be guarding it well and popping it back in its custom cradle every night to ensure it stays in tip-top condition. Well, it does cost a whopping £175.

So, I've been using it for the week. It's taken me a while to get the hang of it because I'm using it with my customary ESPA and Emma Hardie balm-style cleansers (applied to skin, emulsified with warm water, brushhead wet with warm water, brush applied to skin) and not the cleansers it comes with. The first night I did a single cleanse - removed eye make-up first and then buffed away with the brush until it timed out (it only lasts 60 seconds each time). I spent too long on cheeks, not long enough on chin & failed to heed the beeping signals (it's a bit like the GPS of cleansing). The second night I had another read of the manual and had more luck - and I also cleansed first with my balm, patted skin dry, and then massaged another layer of my cleansing balm into my skin, emulsifying it with hot water, and letting the damp brush come into contact with the complexion. The amount of colour that came away within the brushes bristles was sobering - despite that first cleanse I'd already carried out.

What was most noticeable was the heightened rosiness of my skin after I'd finished - and not an irritated flush, but a circulation-boosted glow. Skin also felt very very soft (and I've been using exfoliating muslin cloths with my cleansing balms for almost a decade), and product absorbed marginally better afterwards. The next morning a couple of little spots had come up on the chin - not troublesome ones, just pores which could be easily evacuated - as though deeper impurities were being drawn out by the Clarisonic. I'm now a full week in and it's all going smoothly. As with everything I trial I'll be giving this the full month & suspect it will become a regular part of my nighttime routine. Given that I normally spend 10 minutes cleansing (I don't feel like 'me' unless I've done the 'massage, steam & buff'), this is actually far speedier, so that's a nice perk to get in exchange for a more thorough cleanse. Thumbs up.

Also going through the MM motions this week are:

Dior's new Hydralife Pro Youth Sorbet Eye Cream. It is too heavily fragranced (I'm used to things that smell like god intended) and contains too many preservatives for comfort. Also, and this is probably not a surprise, while suffering my eczema flare-up a week ago, this stung on contact with the sore patches. On the plus side (and there is a plus side), it sinks into skin very very well & plumps out those fine lines in seconds; it's a good make-up base because it's utterly ungreasy, and because I had no choice but to use it for a full 3 weeks because I packed no other eye cream while away in Paris, I did notice that it helped with my customary dark circles too... not 'WOW' worthy, but worthy enough, or wary-with-benefits...

E45 Cream. Never let it be said that I won't swallow my wise-cracking words. Off to see doctor with the ol' eczema story. She takes a peek and prescribes a very mild steroid cream and a topical emollient. When she says E45 I roll my eyes and nod, politely, knowing it won't do any good at all. Then, whadya know. I used the steroid cream on day one only (I hate them, spent 10 years as a kid being covered in them, and now that I'm 7 months pregnant - and despite their 'absolute safety' - I just want to steer clear if I can possibly bear it), and then switch to lashings of E45 for the body patches - and can't believe it, but eczema has all but disappeared. This comes after 6 months of natural shea, vitamin E, coconut oil, chamomile cream... I cannot even list the number of homeopathic & natural remedies I've tried for fear that this blog will go into meltdown over excessive word-count. And in 3 days, the bog standard, cheap as chips E45 has all but banished the itchy patches. [Weleda Skin Food I learned, to my immense disappointment, was good at calming, but did not manage to clear entirely]. I'm in denial [surely it's the steroid cream more than the E45? Right?] - but my body's there to taunt me. But given that I'm entirely comfortably-skinned for the first time since getting preggers, I'll let it have its moment. Long may it continue.