My favourite products

My favourite products
Which one to use today ...

About my beauty missions

I have always suffered from dry, sensitive skin with eczema. For years I just used my trusty old friend, E45, but then one day I woke up and spotted my first wrinkle- alarm bells went off! If I have 'dry skin,' I thought, then surely I must be even more succeptable than most to the aging process? Thus began my beauty mission. My quest to find the best skincare and anti-aging products out there for dry, sensitive skin...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sorry I have not posted for so long, I have been so so busy with work and life at the moment! I have not given up on this blog!

So a quick update: the nails are doing well, this is the first time I've been able to grow my nails to nearly the ends of my fingers (stop laughing my long-nailed friends, that's really impressive for me!) without them bending like paper and chipping and breaking, I can only conclude that it is the high-strength vitamins I am taking, they have helped make my nails extra strong.

I have now stopped taking the aloe vera juice. I took it for about 4 months every morning and at first I really thought I noticed some health (and nail) benefits but it's so expensive and I started to think I could get the same effect from vitamins. So I have stopped the aloe and I don't see any great differences to be honest.

Instead (I always gotta try something new!) I am now taking a probiotic supplement 'Acidophilus' every morning. I have yet to see any differences in my health although I am loosing weight. I don't think my weight loss is due to these supplements though, it's due to the fact that I've upped my exercise and cut down on crap food (suprisingly!!) and it's damn hard work.
There's more info on probiotics on my health blog if you're interested.

Can probiotics make you fat?

PS. Don't worry they don't seem to have so far! =)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Nail growth update!

Look how my nails have grown! Sorry about the rubbish photo I just couldn't get it in focus but I think it shows how my nails have grown since last time. I think maybe the vitamins are the answer! =)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Right I am currently on a mission to grow lovely long, strong nails. My nails have been short my entire life due to developing a nervous habit of picking at them at about the age 7, old habits are hard to break, BUT...

...recently I have a renewed interest in growing my nails properly and I am determind to break my childhood habit. I have come close to this a few times before but I always cave a few months in, when my newly grown, weak, brittle nails keep snapping off. Not this time!

This time I have 3 defense weapons at my aid:

1) Sally Hanson Natural Nail Growth Revitaliser

2) Vaseline Healthy Hand and Nail Conditioning Lotion

3) Aloe Vera Juice

1) Firstly, I bought the (rather worryingly BRIGHT blue) Sally Hanson, Natural Nail Growth Revitalizer. This was about £7 from Boots. I went for the Sally Hanson brand as it seems quite popular (and prolific!) and I chose this particular product as it sells itself as a 'natural' product. Some of the Sally Hanson range has small print on saying 'contains formaldehyde'. This substance has been linked to cancer and is generally a 'not very nice ingredient' which one should probably avoid! So, while I'm sure my bright blue little bottle is not completely wholesome and pure, I do feel it's a bit more on the natural side (it contains 'marine extract' -whatever that is?!)

It is a thin, liquid that you apply over nails twice a day and is supposed to promote nail growth. What I particularly like is that it sinks right into your nails after you have applied it in about 30 seconds (frenzied hand flapping required). Then it's completely gone and you can carry on your daily chores without worrying about it rubbing off onto everything. Amazing. Of course, it doesn't give any kind of top coat protection, but I prefer this, as any clear coats I've tried just seem to chip off with me.

2) Also, I am using this Vaseline healthy hand and nail conditoning lotion; I bought it because it says: 'strengthens nails by 50%' (50%! That's quite an impressive claim) and it's not even an expensive product! So I religiously massage in the cream to my nail and cuticle at least once a day (ok I have been doing this for like, 6 days so far!) Afterwards my nails feel stronger and more moisturised. I am hoping this will reduce splitting.

3) Finally, the main reason I have been motivated to try and grow my nails properly is that I think the aloe vera juice I have been taking, has been making my nails grow faster than normal.

I did not start taking aloe vera juice to improve nail growth (I took it for other health benefits- yes- I am also addicted to 'health products- see my other blog 'health missions' for proof!!) but it seems to have had the effect of making them grow fast and strong. I have been drinking about 30-60ml per day since January. About a month ago I noticed they seemed to not be as small as they used to be so it may have taken 3 months to start to work.

Here is a site that talks about aloe vera benefits: (see point 14 about nails)

At present I have been consciously 'growing' my nails (ie. leaving them damn well alone) for about 2 weeks and I am convinced they have already grown 1 or 2mm, which I think is a lot for nails! They now have white bits on the ends! They did not have any white ends previously and the nails came to just over half way up the nail bed. I am definitely going to chart the growth progress over the next few weeks and let you know how it goes. I include a picture as evidence so I can compare in a couple of weeks. I am aware my hands/nails are not nice or pretty so apologies for that!!
Does anyone have any nail growing tips? Which products do you swear by to keep your nails healthy?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Eye-lid eczema- not again!

I really thought that at this time of year (nearly summer!) that I would be immune from those irritating little red eczema patches- my skin only usually tends to flare up in winter.... But alas, things have been pretty stressful for me recently and so out of nowhere I noticed a sore patch on my hand the other day. Ok I can cope with that, bring on the hand cream.... Then I noticed my eye-lid was a bit puffier than usual, and, on closer inspection, the fold was all bumpy and crumpled looking- argghhh it's back!! My eye-lid eczema damnit! My eye-shadow has been creasing for a few days now, I guess that was a pre-eczema sign...

So what am I going to do? Whip out my lovely Avene 'soothing eye contour cream' of course! It contains simple, non-irritating ingredients- no perfume or even any anti-wrinkle chemicals (the lack of anti-wrinkle ingredients are at once what makes it so gentle but also why I don't use it all the time as a regular eye cream!) The avene cream is the only thing that does not sting my sore eye skin and it makes my eyelids feel moisturised but not sticky. Ahhh, if only you also had anti-wrinkle properties my lovely little faithful eye cream....

According to the website, here are some of it's benefits:

Soothes and relieves under eye puffiness
Hydrates and soothes the sensitive eye area
Provides moisture and anti-oxidant protection
Smoothes expression lines
Ophthalmologists tested for safety
Fragrance-free and preservative-free
Avène Thermal Spring Water soothes and softens the skin
Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic


I fear tomorrow I might not be able to wear eye-shadow which is quite gutting as I do love it so! I am thinking of buying a new everyday one in an expensive brand that is good for sensitive skin. I was thinking Clinique? I need a non-creasing but also a really soft, gentle eyeshadow. At the moment I am using maybelline shadows (taupe and nude beige) as I love the natural colours but I am sure I could get similar in other brands. (Er, excuse the cracked case I tend to tread on most of my make-up accidentally!) I hope my maybelline eyeshadow hasn't given me the eczema? But no, I've had it before, it's more a of a stress thing I think.

Can anyone recommend me a good eye-shadow brand for sensitive skin? Or let me know if you get this and what you do to sooth it. Thanks =)

Friday, 23 April 2010

Ok I have a confession - I haven't stuck to my skin improvement plan (in earlier post) as well as I intended =(

I couldn't bring myself to do the green tea thing as I thought it was disgusting BUT I think this is because I had a few minor points that needed tweaking!

1) Get a green tea + something else flavour to make it taste nicer- (I am loving green tea and citrus from Twinings at the mo.)

2) Don't over-brew! Even leaving it a minute too long will make it taste yuk in my opinion. At first brew for a minute or less and then take it from there. I find a minute or 2 is plenty.

Now I am well into the green tea thing and on 2-3 cups a day I am expecting amazing results soon (optimism!)

What else? I said I would eat more carrots. Unfortunately I find these a most uninspiring veg. and a pain to prepare with all that peeling and boiling (lazy me!) Oh and the almonds- I keep forgetting to eat them every day although I do quite like them. And I can't seem to eat them alone as they give me really bad indigestion so I have to have a big drink on hand and another snack to wash them down!

The only thing I have been doing is taking an omega-3 supplement and vitamin tablet every day.

Anyway, it's best not to change too many things at once isn't it, else you don't know what's had the best effect do you? I never was a good scientist. Too impatient. I want to try everthing all at once. 'sigh'

I have to say I am a bit disappointed as I thought the omega supplement would help my dry skin but instead recently my hands have got worse and are becoming more dry and cracked again. it could be a stress thing though. I am going to do a bit of research on supplement oils I can take, I am thinking maybe evening primrose oil...

Creamy blush- perfect for dry skin!

My favourite- Max Factor Miracle Touch creamy blush in soft pink...

I never used to wear blusher. I didn't think I needed it: I used to get quite pink-cheeked while getting ready for a night out and didn't have the confidence to apply it in the day incase I looked like a clown.

Fast forward a few years and I'm nearly 30. When I look at my face in the mirror in the morning I think 'oh god you look so pale and ill- how can we improve this?' And so was born the need for a foundation and some blusher... Infact I cannot believe how much better some cheek colour can make you look. I remember being on a night out with a really nasty cold, feeling like poo but no one had any sympathy and my mate said, "well you shouldn't wear make-up when you're ill 'cos you don't look it, when I'm ill I always go bare-faced so people feel sorry for me," (just a little pearl of wisdom for you there!)

Because I have dry skin, I use a moisturising foundation that has a dewy, rather than matt finish and a powder blush just don't work over the top. But this blusher is perfect- I love it. You've really gotta blend it in with your fingers to avoid the painted cheek look, but it's a lovely sheer colour (even though it looks really strong).

I also like Maybelline's Dream Mousse blush, this feels more subtly pigmented but that seems to mean you need to apply a bit more at once and then there's more chance of uneven coverage. The colour I use is 07 peach satin and it's a really girlie light pink. It has a hint of shimmer in too. It's not quite a cream obviously, but it still blends well over moisturised skin.

Facial epiliation- is it a bad idea for sensitive skin?

So what are your thoughts? To me, it always sounded way too risky- imagine being left with red sore pimple moustache!

But this morning, as I was looking into my magnifying makeup mirror, the sunlight streaming in from the window and bathing me with an etheral glow, I suddenly caught sight of my- horror of horror- face hairs! AAARRGGGHHHHHH! Maybe everyone thinks I have a moustache? Maybe on a night out, under certain lighting effects, I look like a yeti face, maybe people have been sniggering about it for months!????

Well 'that's it' I thought, time for it to go. I grabbed my (relatively) new epilator and manual and had a look. My epliator is a a braun silk epil. Sure enough it has a 'precision head' (otherwise known as 'tash plucker' but that never really took off) meant for facial hair: a really thin strip of eplilating pinchers to target exact areas.
At first I was very scared of holding the thing anywhere near my face in the 'on' mode but I bravely persevered and after a few pathetic attempts -where I kept pulling away at the last minute- I managed to use it properly. I cannot deny it stung a bit and initally I thought my skin had gone a bit pink and swollen (oh s*t!) but I didn't put any cream on or wash my face for a bit. I think I left it for about half an hour. Then I did a cleanse and moisturise and couldn't really see any redness thank goodness. Now, about 2 hours later, I still feel a sore stinging sensation but I can't see any visible evidence in the mirror. I will just have to wait for tomorrow morning when the sunlight streams through the window...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Why do I love Avene???

What do all these brands have in common?... Avene, RoC, La Roche-Posay, Vichy....
...they are all French products- and have you seen the new section in boots for them all? I am mesmerised every time I walk past it.
The products look so medical, almost 'technical'; that's because in France they are the pharmacy brands. And this is how many French women buy ther skincare. From a pharmacy, a place where you go to find solutions for you ills. It makes sense doesn't it, when you think about it. The French treat their skincare like medicine.

I first tried Avene because it is a brand targeted at sensitive skin. It's main selling point is that it is rich in 'Avene thermal spring water'. This is natural and pure water from some no doubt natural and beautiful place in France, but I'm not too bothered by that to be honest, I just want it to do my skin some good!

The richest of their face creams that I have found is the Hydrance Optimale Rich Hydrating Cream. Whenever my skin needs a moisture boost I always go back to this. I use it when my skin gets sore and cannot take other creams without stinging- this is really gentle. My only problem with it is that it is just a moisturiser and is not an anti-aging cram. This makes me a little bit sad- but I do love it so! It is hypoallergenic and non comedogenic which of course you would expect from a French pharamacy brand.

I must add that although I love really rich products for my skin, the range include oil free creams and it definitely caters for all sorts of sensitive skins types- worth having a peek at their range...

Here is some blurb from the website:

Eau Thermale Avene is the No.1 Dermo-Cosmetic in France and No.2 in Europe for all products sold through the pharmacy channel. It is a range that combines pharmaceutical ethics with cosmetic appeal, has its basis in dermatology treatments and was designed specifically for the needs of sensitive, intolerant and allergy prone skin.

This article talks about the appeal of French skincare:

I will definitely be reviewing some more of my Avene products soon. I would love to know if anyone is a fan of any of the other French brands?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Aveeno moisturisers are my current fave!

Right, I'll be honest, the only reason that I ever bought my first Aveeno product was because my dad wanted a hand cream for his birthday and the aveeno hand cream had the most 'manly' looking packaging!!! But then my whole family started to rave about it so I thought I better check it out.

The hand cream is made with oatmeal, which I know is supposed to be good for dry skin. When my eczema isn't red and sore I can use this hand cream quite comfortably. It doesn't sting and it feels really gentle. It's quite light compared to many other moisturisers for dry skin (e.g. E45 is more thick and greasy) and I find it sinks in well. I like my hands to feel like they have had something put on them, rather than a hand cream that rubs away into nothing. After using it my hands feel soft and conditioned.

My favourite Aveeno product has to be their Skin Relief Moisturising Lotion- I think this is the richest moisturiser they do. Again it has the oatmeal in, but also shea butter, which is wonderfully rich.

Here is what it says:
'... is formulated with Shea Butter and a unique Triple Oat Complex containing finely milled naturally active Colloidal Oatmeal, Oat Oil, and Oat Essence. It is clinically proven to moisturise for 24 hours and soothe on contact, providing immediate, long-lasting relief for extra dry, irritable skin.'

I can honestly say that for once I agree completely with a product's blurb! It really does seem to keep my skin moisturised for the whole day! It does take a little while to sink in but I am used to this, as all moisturisers I've ever used have had to be really rich in order to suit my skin. In fact, I would say it doesn't take that long to sink in at all. It is fragrance free which I think is a bonus as fragrances can be irritating (plus I like to smell of my perfume not my moisturiser) although it does have a slight smell, it is not unpleasant, it's probably the oatmeal, but it smells like almonds to me (think cherry bakewells!)

The only other product I have found that smooths my skin for the whole day is Vaseline Intensive rescue Moisture Locking Body Lotion, which is what I used previously to the Aveeno... BUT.... I found out that this vaseline lotion has parabens in. Methylparaben and propylparabens to be precise. These are preservatives we could do without and have been linked with cancer- so to my mind best to avoid! I am no expert but the ingredient list on the Aveeno moisturiser is shorter and it looks like it includes quite a few natural ingredients and certainly no parabens.

Here is another post about Aveeno products from

Does anyone have a favourite body lotion? Are the more expensive ones worth the price tag? I am tempted by a Caudalie body lotion but it's over 20 quid and the rate I get through body lotion...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Right I am now getting really fed up with my face not taking my foundation properly. I have come to the conclusion that my skin is too dry at the moment and needs some serious TLC. So I have decided to put together a diet plan to see if I can improve the condition of the skin on my face in 2 weeks!

1) Drink more water .... as this hydrates your skin from within. Obvious I know.

2) Try and drink at least one green tea a day... the key word here being TRY, because green tea is so BLEURGHHAAAAAA! BUT is also packed with anti-oxidants and a polyphenol called EGCG that actually reactiviates dying skin cells. Give me some of them!

3) Eat more carrots!!! Apparently the beta-carotene in them turns to vitimin A in our bodies and vitimin A is great for skin. Actually I might change this one to... take my multi-vitimin daily!

4) Eat more nuts, especially almonds as, well, I like them but also it says on the pack: 'almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E which helps keep you skin healthy.'

5) Take omega-3 supplements. This is one of the most healthy supplments you can take. I just found this information on them:

'Studies have shown a lessening of wrinkles after some months of Omega 3 fish oil supplementation, and an improvement in skin firmness.'


So that's the diet part sorted- what about my skincare regime?

This is what I do normally....

Use Eucerin Q10 anti-wrinkle day cream every morning

Use Avene Hydrance Optimale Rich Hydrating Cream when I get in from work (after cleansing)

Use Eucerin Q10 anti-wrinkle night cream (love this product- see earlier post!)

Use Caudalie Pulpe Vitaminee Eye and lip cream on eyes norning and night

Here are the extra things I am going to do to treat the dryness:

Use The Santuary facial oil daily, under my night cream

Use Caudalie Vinosource Moisturising cream mask for face and eyes, twice a week

This is the Caudalie cream mask

This is my newest product: a face-mask for dry skin, but the absolute best thing about it is you can use it on your eyes too! How cool is that? It even says in the instructions you can smooth it over eyelids and around eyes. Eyelids! How many face-masks are gentle enough for eyelids? Well, I am a little obsessed with my eyes, mainly because I think they are quite puffy and they get sore and red really easily. I love trying out new eye products.

The reason I am so into Caudalie products is that they are very natural and gentle, good for senstive skin like mine. Also, I had a wonderful Caudalie facial treatment about 6 months ago and my skin felt great afterwards. The face mask was one of the products used in my facial, and the therapist said it was very good for dry skin, so I have high hopes for this product.

I have used it twice so far but the first time I didn't heed the 'remove excess after 15 minutes' label, thinking if I left it on I would get even MORE moisturising benefits. Unfortunately it just started to feel sticky and irritating and after about half an hour my eyes were a bit puffy- so it had to come off. Today I have used it properly and removed excess after 15 minutes. Now my skin feels nice and soft, so far so good...

Any other ideas of products for dry skin would be appreciated =)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Talking of needing a facial oil... here is my fave oil of the moment...

The Sanctuary Radiance Boosting Facial Oil
I know this sounds really obvious but it is completely made up of lovely natural oils! It's all good stuff. It's about £13 from boots and I think it's just as good, if not better, than many expensive, high- end oils. I was given a sample of a Caudalie oil (Caudalie Energizing Concentrate) which is lovely, but at £26 it's a bit steep, especially as this feels just as luxurious.
I use this under my night cream sometimes for an extra moisture boost. You do need to use it sparingly and give it some time to soak in. Obviously you're not going to want to wear it in the day as it's really greasy. Then I started rubbing the excess oil left over onto the back of my hand and noticed my skin on my hands improving. Bonus!
Here's what they say about it on the Sanctuary website:
A potent blend of natural oils created to rejuvenate, plump and brighten tired and stressed skin. Essential Oils of Frankincense and organic Rose help to rebalance and calm whilst organic Rosehip Seed Oil, Wheat Germ Oil and Jojoba help to promote skin radiance.
I love the idea of essentail oils- Frankincense being particularly popular for improving skin condition and reducing skin-aging.
AND it's won this award!

I hope I don't get done for stealing the logo! =)

Clinique's clumping! Advice needed!

I hate to moan about an old favourite but I am in the process of falling out with my Cinique 'Supermoisture makeup' foundation...

It does not seem to be sinking in to my skin as well as it once did. Lately I have had the horror of looking in the mirror mid-morning and seeing clumpy orangy patches at the edge of my face- SO not a good look! I really try to rub it in properly round my jaw-line when I apply it but recently it does tend to clump and flake. It doesn't seem to give a nice even coverage any more.

I thought it was because I had switched day creams (I was using Caudalie VINOSOURCE Riche Anti-wrinkle Ultra Nourishing Cream) but I am now using Eucerin Q10 day cream and the same is still happening.

It took me ages to find a foundation that suited my dry skin and now I think I am back to square one!


Can anyone suggest either a light foundation or tinted moisturiser that is really good for dry skin? I have heard that Laura Mercier do a good one (not the oil-free version- wierdly I seem to need all the oil I can get!) All opinions welcome!

Eucerin CoQ10- the most amazing night cream!

Eucerin Q10 Active Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream - 50ml

I cannot rave about this product enough! I love love love this cream -it is so rich and buttery but it sinks right in and leaves my skin really soft. It lasts right through until morning, where I am sure my skin looks smoothed and less wrinkled. It's like the cream plumps up your face overnight (not in a bad puffy way though- lol!)

It does not have fragrance added which I think is great because I don't want that synthetic crap seeping into my pores while I sleep. It's got shea butter in (butyrospermum Parkii) which I love- it's so good for my really dry skin. Sometimes my skin can get sore and red but this does not aggrevate it at all- it's really gentle.

Ingredients: (No parabens in site!)

Aqua, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Stearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Butyrospermum Parkii, Macadamia Ternifolia, Ubiquinone, Retinyl Palmitate, Lanolin Alcohol, Tridecyl Stearate, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Sodium Carbomer, Dipentaerythrityl Hexacaprylate/Hexacaprate, Phenoxyethanol, DMDM Hydantoin.
Right, for my first post I am just going to introduce myself and explain my mission!

I have tried so many beauty products (mainly facial skincare/anti-aging products) over the years, I am indeed a 'product whore' and now I would like to be able to share what I know. I would also love to get opinions from others on products and how well they work etc.

I always do lots of research on the net before I buy a product and the most important information out there, in my opinion, is customer reviews. Obviously what works for one person, may not work for another, which is why I have been very specific in saying that I have dry, sensitive skin. I hope that someone out there finds something useful for them on my site.