Tuesday, 20 September 2011

AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask - a fantastic pore unclogger!

Just lately I've been searching for a really deep cleansing facial mask that will help restore my skin's natural balance and clear up existing blemishes. Finally, I've hit on a face mask that really does bring those annoying trapped-under-the-skin spots to the surface once and for all and calm down the skin to a fresher, healthier state.

I have been using AHAVA's Time to Clear Purifying Mud Mask after thoroughly cleansing, exfoliating and steaming the skin (just over a bowl of water with essential oils added) to open the pores. It's a gentle clay-enriched formula containing a blend of minerals from the Dead Sea which smooths nicely onto the skin. It works to absorb toxins and removes impurities. All it takes is 2-3 minutes once or twice a week.

The following day after using this product, I found deep-set impurities rose almost magically to the surface of the skin so that I could then extract them easily myself. After 3-4 weeks of use my skin is much clearer, with fewer blocked pores, and is feeling much more even and cleaner than it has done in a long time. Combining it with the steaming really helps as the mask has lots of lovely open pores to start cleaning out!

Also worth a mention in my quest to find a pore-unclogging facial mask is Living Nature's Deep Cleansing Mask, another clay-based purifying mask which is particularly suitable for acne prone skin. £18.40 from www.livingnature.com

AHAVA Time to Clear Purifying Mud Mask, £20, available from www.ahava.co.uk

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Just Soaps of the Earth - Cleanser & Moisturiser

I just knew when I blogged about Just Soap's gorgeous Organic Citrus Zing Shampoo back in April that this was definitely a brand to watch out for. Just lately, The Times and The Telegraph have picked up on this lovely niche company, too, who specialise in natural handmade skincare products.

I've got a simple yet effective skincare routine going at the moment, using a cleanser and moisturiser from Just Soaps of the Earth, that I thought I'd share with you.

I'm cleansing using the Melon & Papaya cleansing lotion, which is in fact - rather than a creamy cleanser as you might expect - a light oil-based cleanser. Initially, the concept of cleansing my sensitive, combination skin with oil seemed a little bit at odds with what I was trying to achieve (fresh, clean, non-oily skin) but I'm finding this cleanser not only gives a deep-down cleanse, it leaves skin feeling comfortably moisturised and plumped up too.

The Papaya Seed oil in the cleanser contains an enzyme, Papain, which works to dissolve excess sebum and loosen dead skin cells. It's certainly working to soothe and clear my congested, stressed skin at the moment. It also contains Watermelon Seed oil, a lovely light oil which gently dissolves impurties.

I'm enjoying smoothing one pump of the product over my dry face and neck and then, at the same time as cleansing, giving my face a facial massage to boost circulation and aid lymphatic drainage. I simply then buff the face using a soft damp muslin cloth and rinse away. It would make a therapeutic oil to use as a massage medium for a facialist, with the added bonus that it's actually cleansing the skin too.

It's lovely to use in the evening before bed because the aroma is delicious. There's soothing calendula and decongesting eucalyptus in there too, to help clarify skin.

After such a decadant cleanse, I'm finding that a light simple, almost non-scented, moisurising cream, like the natural Just Soaps of the Earth Facial Moisturising Cream with Aloe Vera & Calendula fits the bill perfectly. It sinks into the skin effortlessly and leaves skin feeling comfortable and calm.

Just Soaps of the Earth Melon & Papya Cleansing Lotion, 50ml, £6.50, and Calendula Facial Moisturiser, 60ml, £6.95, are both available from www.justsoapsoftheearth.co.uk

Friday, 2 September 2011

VIVO make-up - the new colour-tastic range at Tesco!

I'll hold my hands up and admit that, despite my love of all things beauty related, I am pretty scared of colour cosmetics. I never seem to have the surplus cash to splash out and experiment with the latest fashion colours, and always stick to my tried-and-tested trusty brown eye shadows and nude lip glosses. That is until now ...! 

Next time you're trawling around Tesco with your trolley and fancy a little make-up pick-me-up, I urge you to check out the fab new cosmetics line currently hitting the shelves - VIVO. With prices starting at £1.50, everyone, me included, can afford to pop a goodie in with the weekly shop!

The Baked Shimmer Palette (above), £6, is the stand-out product for me and features four exquisite marbled eye shadows and an accompanying blusher. I tried Paparazzi (which with it's colour-popping shimmer shades is a break away from my usual safe neutrals) but it was surprisingly easy to get right. The double-ended applicator allows for a great deal of precision, and the little mirror built into the case is just right for checking out how you're doing.

If, like me, you're a bit daunted by catwalk-inspired colourful shades and being 'alive with colour' as the tag line of the brand promises (eek!), rest assured you can use as little as you like to still create a fresh new look. I found just a light sweep of the purple/lilac/blue from the Paparazzi palette opened up my eyes no end and the teal green also looked great. They are lovely strong pigments, so if subtle is not your style and you prefer a more dramatic look, there's always that option too.

All the fail-safe colours are there too amongst the vibrancy, including rich chocolate, mink and espresso individual shadows, plus there's a collection of five trio eyeshadow palettes (£2.50 each) for creating the perfect smoky eye. The Innocence trio (below) is perfect and in shades I know I'd use again and again.

The range spans all the make-up essentials, from primer, foundation, concealer and powder, through highlighters, bronzers and blushers, to lip glosses, lipsticks and a full range for eyes including shadows, mascaras, liquid liners, kohl pencils, a brow kit and false lashes. With prices ranging from £1.50 for an individual eyeshadow, kohl pencils and mascaras to £5 for a baked bronzer and £6 for a skin-prepping primer, what's not to like?

VIVO is an affordable, inspiring and exciting new range which has opened my eyes to being more experimental with colour, safe in the knowledge I'm not spending a fortune!

Available from Tesco stores nationwide.

Kiwiherb Organic Calendula Ointment

Here's a cute little pot of Calendula goodness that offers a healthy dose of healing properties! It's potent but extremely gentle too, and entirely natural. So gentle in fact that it can be used on babies too, even newborns.

Created in New Zealand by medical herbalist Phil Rasmussen, Organic Calendula Ointment from Kiwiherb Herbal Remedies, is a practitioner-strength blend of organic calendula flowers and lavender essential oil in a base of organic sunflower oil and beeswax.

It's a handy little pot to have to hand as it works on a myriad of things. From dry skin, chapped lips and sunburn to dermatitis on hands, eczema, skin rashes and prickly heat - even cuts and grazes to speed healing - it's wonderfully soothing and has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic healing properties. New mums will also be interested to hear it can also be used on nappy rash, cradle cap and chapped nipples.

Personally I've been using it on my cuticles as a cuticle balm and it's softened them up so they're now nice and supple and my nails look healthier too. I've also used it to soothe dry patches on my face (caused by my over zealous application of a spot cream!) and found it really nourishing on my lips too.

Organic Calendula Ointment, £7.09 for 30g, is available from www.lifeplan.co.uk. For more info visit www.kiwiherb.co.uk

Queen Sensitive Skin Oil - fit for a Queen!

When I first blogged about Queen Cosmetics - experts in sensitive skin - back in March, my blog was buzzing with readers eager to find out more about this niche range, founded by three eminent dermatologists back in  1927. The response was quite remarkable, so here's another review for those of you who suffer with skin which is super-allergic or have a sensitive skin condition.

Queen Sensitive Skin Oil is a hard-working, multi-tasking product you'll reach for again and again as an ultra-safe bet if you're prone to skin flare ups. It's a simple blend of Paraffinum Liquidum (mineral oil), Arachis Hypogea (peanut/groundnut oil) and Prunus Dulcis (sweet almond oil) and is soothing, nourishing and protecting on the skin.  

It's lovely to smooth on as a body lotion, leaving skin satiny smooth. A quick sweep over the skin brings even the dryest areas back to life, leaving skin looking healthier and younger with a subtle sheen. It can also be used as an after-sun lotion to moisturise the skin and help prolong the life of a tan.
I found it particularly soothing after shaving my legs, after which my skin is always ridiculously sensitive, and I also liked it for removing wax residue after home waxing as it works well on post-wax skin redness.

I've also used it in the bath, mixing together a cap full of oil, a cap full of milk (which acts as emulsifier to mix the two together and stop the oil floating on the surface of the water). You could also add a couple of drops of essential oils to the mix, depending on the sensitivity of your skin, to make a super-soothing and skin nourishing aromatherapy bath.

Queen Sensitive Skin Oil would also make a safe and gentle oil for therapists to use as a body massage medium on clients with sensitive skin. 

  Queen Sensitive Skin Oil, £17.65 for 250ml, is available from www.queen-cosmetics.com