My Anti-Aging Starter Kit

Death Becomes Her…

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Let’s call this, “I’m a month or so away from turning 34 and need to start doubling down”, because the truth is that I’ve been a little bit lazy when it comes to anti-aging products up until now.  Although, maybe “lazy” isn’t really the right word.  First of all, I’ve got sensitive skin that’s acne prone and so have pretty much stuck to the same old skin routine and the same products all the way through my twenties.  The thought of  suddenly introducing active serums, acids and retinols felt a little bit… reckless. I mean, if it ain’t broke (or covered in hives and zits) don’t fix it, right?  Secondly, I haven’t – until recently – felt like I was clued up enough on this sort of stuff to take the plunge.  Which brings me to my third point, I haven’t really been bothered enough about anti-aging beauty to get clued up.

Honestly, I’ve always been really skeptical about anti-aging beauty products.  The whole anti-aging game has always felt a little “Death Becomes Her” to me (Remember that movie?  One of my all time faves!).  Isn’t it all just really, really expensive snake oil, and in the end a bit… pointless?  I’m not afraid of wrinkles – aging is a privilege, after all – but I wouldn’t mind holding off the effects for just a little while longer.  And if those products can solve some of my other skin issues then that’s a plus!  So over the past six months or so I’ve been swotting up on the ingredients of various anti-aging products and learning a little bit about what they claim to do, and then picked some inexpensive but highly-rated products from the pool to slip into my daily skin routine. I’m still mostly clueless and a little bit baffled and suspicious of it all, it has to be said.  But hey, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned so far, what I’m using and then I’ll let you know how I’m getting on in a couple of months. 🙂

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A313 Vitamin A Pommade

If the Beauty Boffins are to be believed then we should all be slipping a Retinol/Vitamin A product into our routine and using it three times a week.  Retinol is naturally occurring in the human body; it works hard to balance things out – it regulates oil production, stimulates collagen and increases cell turnover.  Not only is it claimed to be great for treating acne and pigmentation, it’s also said to be the miracle ingredient that boosts hydration and smooths out fine lines and wrinkles.  However, it can be strong stuff; it can increase irritation for those who suffer from eczema and rosacea, and can even increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.  It also breaks down in sunlight.  So it’s important to ease yourself in slowly, never use it in conjunction with acids, only on bone dry skin (as Vitamin A reacts with water), use it only at night and always in conjunction with a day cream that’s high in SPF.

So, funny story, I actually picked up a double pack of the A313 Vitamin A Pommade for $5 while I was in the States.  I found it lurking at the bottom of a bucket at a Consignment Store of all places (basically leftover stock from Amazon sold on the cheap); no one had snagged it yet because it’s kind of difficult to tell what it actually is unless you’ve seen it before and read up about it – which is exactly what I’d done a couple of months earlier.  Previously known as Avibon, it’s one of those cult French Pharmacy Beauty Products that’s been raved about by celebrities and beauty bloggers alike – and honestly, I couldn’t believe my luck when I found it.  I’ve started using it twice a week to ease my skin in, and no more than a pea-sized amount for the whole face.  It’s got a texture like vaseline, hasn’t really got a fragrance and isn’t honestly the most pleasant thing that I’ve put on my face at night – but tell you what, it’s a bulldozer when it comes to cystic acne.  As for pigmentation and wrinkles, I’ll let you know!

La Roche-Posay Vitamin C Serum

On the nights I don’t use the A313 Pommade, I stick to old faithful and drench my skin in the Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate – but up until now, I’ve been yet to add an oil or serum to my morning routine.  Enter the La Roche-Posay Vitamin C Serum.  We all know the health benefits of swigging orange juice and loading up on Vitamin C this time of year, but how exactly does it help skin?  Well, Vitamin C is basically a strong anti-oxidant that combats “Free Radicals”.  Great.  What the hecky peck are Free Radicals?  Free Radicals are essentially unstable atoms created by things such as pollution, cigarette smoke and the sun.  They can damage the skin by causing pigmentation and can also break down collagen in the skin and therefore cause wrinkles.  Tada.  Vitamin C neutralises Free Radicals and helps skin cells regenerate.  Not only that, but it can boost collagen production (effectively smoothing over wrinkles) and also fights pigmentation.

I was interested in adding a Vitamin C Serum because I’ve got quite a bit of pigmentation on my cheeks left over from cystic acne, and anything that’s going to kick butt against Free Radicals sounds good to me.  So I’ve slipped in the La Roche-Posay Vitamin C Serum into my morning routine; one drop of the stuff goes a long way, and I massage it into my skin before adding my daily moisturiser (the Nivea Daily Essentials Rich Moisturing Cream).  I chose it because a serum is the suggested way of introducing Vitamin C into your routine, but also because this one claims to be pretty good for sensitive skin – and so far so good!  It’s a little tacky as it sinks in, so I was worried about how it was going to sit under my foundation – but actually it sits under it quite well and adds a little extra glow!  Too soon to tell whether it’s working, but I’ll let you know.

Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Eye Cream

So of all anti-aging products, I’ve always felt like eye creams are the biggest scam out there, and I promised myself that I’d never fork out a fortune on one of them.  However, I have introduced a couple into my morning routine, but not because they claim to prevent under-eye wrinkles.

I went to a beauty masterclass with Bobbi Brown not so long ago, and one of my burning questions to the makeup artist hosting the class was, “How do I stop the midday panda eye?”  I wear both a liquid and kohl eyeliner and use smudge-proof mascara, but no matter what I do or how I apply it all – I end up with dark smudges under my eyes by lunchtime.  The answer – I have on good authority – is eye cream.  Eye cream creates a base for your foundation, keeps it in place and therefore prevents things like mascara from sticking to it.  Tada.  And it works!  Who’d have thunk it?!  So, I go between the Elemis Peptide4 Eye Recovery Cream (which I was kindly gifted) and this little travel pot of the Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Eye Cream.  Make no bones about it, this shiz is expensive stuff and I doubt I’ll be repurchasing, but it claims to fight under eye puffiness, dark circles and crows feet – in case you’re interested.  I don’t know if it does those things honestly, my under-eye area isn’t a priority for me, but it smooths on beautifully, works well under makeup and you barely need any of it to cover the whole area.

Jade Roller

(Another Consignment Store bargain!) So you’ve probably seen every blogger on the planet sneak a Jade or Rose Quartz Roller into their latest flatlay, and yeah, they look pretty – but do they actually do anything other than decorate a nightstand?  Turns out, yeah, they do.  Traditional Chinese Derma Rollers made from gemstones are used for facial massage – which is recommended by the Beauty Boffins to aid lymphatic drainage and boost circulation.  Combined, this can reduce puffiness, tone and brighten the skin.

It definitely gives my husband a good chuckle when he crawls into bed and sees me paint-rollering my skin last thing at night, and whether it’s actually doing anything remains to be seen at this point – but I like it!  I use it on the nights when I’m not wearing the A313 Pommade and use it straight after popping on the Kiehls Midnight Recovery Oil.  It’s cooling, takes only a few minutes and feels really, really nice!

Lots of Water!

Lastly – and the cheapest thing in my new anti-wrinkle arsenal… Water, and lots of it!  I’ve always been really, really bad at hitting the recommended water intake – other than when I’m on holiday.  When I’m out in the sun, I’m always swigging from a bottle of the good stuff and whaddya know? My skin always looks so much better for it!  It’s hydrated, clear and bright – and that’s what I want on the daily.

What anti-aging products are in your beauty bag at the moment?  Or are you an anti-aging skeptic like me?  Any recommendations, let me know!  Have a great week! 🙂

 

What’s in my Makeup Bag? The Winter Edition

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High five; we made it through January!  I’m so happy to see the back of it, and even though we’re celebrating the first day of February here in Cardiff with a fresh sheet of snow – it feels good knowing that we’re winging our way into Spring.  Soon – we’re not quite there yet – which means a few more weeks of dark mornings, dark circles and deathly pale skin, and that means a shakeup in the ol’ makeup bag.  It’s working so, so hard right now, let me tell you!

Just before Christmas I picked up a few new beauty bits and bobs from Boots and TK Maxx (if you’ve never raided their makeup section before, then oh boy, you’re in for a treat my friend) to see me through to Spring.

1. CYO “The Radiant One” Bronzing & Illuminating Compact in “Light”

Alas, my Florida tan is long gone and when I hit pan on my Body Shop Honey Bronzer I felt like it was time for a bit of a shake up.  I’ve got fair skin and honestly, I’m a bit of a Bronze-aphobe (is that a thing?).  Too much and I look like I’ve face-planted into a muddy puddle but at the same time, I do need something to warm up my pale skin.  I picked up the CYO Bronzing and Illuminating Compact on a bit of a whim when I stepped into Boots just after Christmas and absolutely fell in love with it.  It’s cheap – only a fiver – and the lighter compact is absolutely perfect for pale, cool-toned skin like mine.  The bronzer is subtle but buildable, while the added highlighter adds a really lovely glow.

2. Stila Stay All Day Foundation and Concealer in Light (3)

What a TK Maxx bargain this baby was!  I’m still a massive fan of the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation, but it’s a little dewy and so light and works best during spring and summer.  In the winter I need a bit more coverage, so I picked up this little bottle by Stila (since it was more than half price off) and it’s been evening up my blotchy – sometimes dry – winter skin.  It applies smoothly over blemishes and wrinkles, sticks with a matte finish (without drying things out) and really does stay all day.  Winner!

3. Lancôme Crayon Khol

An old favourite and the only eye pencil I use.  I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve got rolling around in my makeup bag that are literally just the nib.  I use the until they’re unusable – tight-lining, lid-lining, smudging – this baby copes with the lot and has never once irritated my eyes in the process.

Also, shout out to the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner – it’s been my go-to for years.  I picked up the version with the micro-point last time I repurchased – wondering whether it would make it any easier to create the cat-eye flick I go for day to day – but actually, I think I prefer the normal tip.

4. Stila Eyes Are the Windows Spirit Palette

Another TK Maxx steal – I couldn’t believe my luck!  I absolutely love this palette; it’s got a gorgeous range of neutral, cool-toned shades with buildable colour for looks that work both during the day and at night.

5. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in “Pink in the Afternoon”

I’m so fussy when it comes to lipstick.  I like cool-toned pinks (are we seeing a trend here?), long-lasting, absolutely no shimmer and they need to be moisturising – I’ve never got on with MAC’s range because they leave my lips a flaky mess.  I was devastated when Revlon discontinued their Lip Butter range, but thankfully, the Super-Lustrous range is just as good.  Pink in the Afternoon is that perfect “your lips but better” shade that I reach for every day. 🙂

I’m actually on the hunt for a new mascara because my Bad Gal Bang’s just not banging anymore – what’s everyone loving right now? 🙂

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How I Do: My Sunday Night Soak in 10 Steps

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I don’t tend to do baths during the summer, but as soon as those nights start drawing in all I want to do is simmer in hot, soapy water until my fingers wrinkle.  Yes, it feels amazing but it’s also a really important part of my week because Monday to Friday I get a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of myself beauty-wise.  My skin routine is speedy and slim-lined, I touch my face a lot when I’m working on the computer and I scrape my hair back into a clip because I’m too lazy to curl it – so Sunday night is devoted to taking it slow and making up for all that neglect!  🙂

Preparation

1. Hair Mask Time!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey with my hair and it’s still definitely in recovery (I wrote a whole post about how I’ve been taking care of my hair here) – so I try to whack on a hair mask once a week.  Usually I’ll melt some coconut oil and slather it on under a shower cap for a couple of hours, but recently I’ve been experimenting with something new.  Because my hair’s so fine I’ve been really trying hard not to fall back into my old habit of highlights and balayage.  But I’ve been really, really tempted.  So I’ve been looking up natural dyeing methods and came across a gentle alternative using just honey and water.

Here’s the science: Honey is naturally high in peroxide, and by mixing it into water you get a very gentle solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (found in most hair dyes).  It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I’m on my seventh treatment and it’s actually working!  Of course you’re not going to get the same results as you would if you holed up in your local salon for a whole afternoon (and it definitely works best on lighter hair), but it’s a really easy (albeit very sticky!) way of gently lightening your hair and bringing out your natural highlights.

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2. Take off all my nail varnish (fresh week, fresh nails!)
3. Prepare the tub

I fill the tub with hot water, chuck in a bath bomb (Rosie from Miss Patisserie is my favourite), light some candles and prop the iPad up on the toilet (I love catching up with Youtube videos or rewatching my favourite shows while I’m soaking away).

4. Inform husband and dog that for the next hour – as far they’re concerned – I no longer exist. Bye!

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In the Bath

5. Wash hair, apply conditioner and leave it to rest.

I tried so many different expensive shampoos and conditioners when I went through all those problems with my hair – they were all a total waste of moolah.  The simple fact is you need to find a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair condition and scalp.  I’ve got fine hair and a sensitive scalp which really seems to love the Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner combo – so that’s what I’m sticking with.

6. Exfoliate.

For my face I haven’t got a bad word to say about the Kiehls Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion Cream, and for my body I recently had a little tester pot of the Nuxe Reve de Miel Body Scrub which has been a total treat!

7. Cleanse

I know most people tend to cleanse then exfolitate, but I like to do it the other way around.  Before I get out of the tub, I wash my body with the Nuxe Prodigieux Huile de Douche and a sponge.  If you love the body oil from the same range, then you’ll love this – it’s got the same subtle, nutty scent and leaves a delicate shimmer on the skin once you’re dry.  I haven’t been using Nuxe products for very long, but I’m totally and absolutely obsessed!  They’ve very quickly become one of my favourite skincare brands.

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8. Moisturise

I don’t do anything to my face just yet, instead I focus on my body.  I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop‘s Body Butters, especially the Shea scented one.  I slather that everywhere and then target the drier areas (like my knee caps and elbows) with some of the Nuxe Dry Oil.

9. Fresh Pyjamas and Face Mask time!

I mean, is there anything better?  I recently ran out of my favourite face mask (The Origins Active Charcoal Mask has rescued me from many a skin emergency, let me tell you!) but luckily, I recently got to try some Elemis goodies courtesy of their spa at The Celtic Manor and a mask was one of them.  My skin wasn’t looking its best at the end of the summer after a stressful month, but the Elemis Thousand Flower Mask – which has the weirdest mousse like texture – has really helped sort things out.  My skin’s looking much brighter and healthier and seems in pretty well prepared for those months of drying central heating ahead of us.  I also really love Simple’s Sheet Mask Range if I’m looking for a more cooling, less messy mask. 🙂


10. Once I’ve washed off my facemask, I leave my hair to air dry and finish things off by applying a face oil.

I don’t put any products in my hair on a Sunday, nor do I apply any heat to it.  It’s nice to strip all the products out and just let it dry naturally and recover ready for the week ahead.  As for my face, I’ve been a huge fan of the Kiehls Midnight Recover Oil for YEARS.  I add a couple of drops to my moisturiser (Just plain old Nivea Daily) and then press it into my skin.

How do you do your Sunday Soak?  What are your favourite products to use? 

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5 Hot Weather Beauty Favourites

I can’t remember the last time we had a proper summer here in Wales.  And I’m not just  talking about a couple of lukewarm days here and there, but a real “it’s way too hot to sleep”, “I’m sweating between my toes” – kind of summer, with weeks and weeks of genuinely hot weather.  It’s been a-mazing, but it’s also been a bit of a shock to the system when the usual programming involves 365 days of tepid Welsh drizzle.  So, a bit of a shake up of the ol’ beauty routine is definitely in order when your makeup’s literally melting off your face and the agoraphobic pins are on suddenly show every day.

With that in mind, here are five beauty bits and bobs I’ve been reaching for every day during this heatwave (long may it sizzle!). 🙂

1. Simple’s De-Stress Sheet Mask

Not gonna lie, it took me a while to get on board with the whole sheet mask beauty trend; Sunny still says I look like a burn victim/Hannibal Lecter every time I prance around in one and I’m not 100% sure they make a massive difference compared to the more traditional face masks I’ve got stocked in my bathroom cupboard (The Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask and the Liz Earle Intensive Nourishment Mask are still my top two), but damn it, they do feel good – especially during hot weather.  I picked up a couple of Simple’s sheet masks (I like the Rich Moisture Mask and the De-Stress Mask) from Tesco and ended up going back for more because they’re cheap and kind on sensitive skin, but more than anything else I really enjoy the cooling, soothing feeling I get when I wear one.  Plus if you keep them in the fridge they’re great to pop on when you’re feeling a bit hot and bothered. 🙂

2. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spritzer

I LOVE this stuff; my skin drinks it up like a sixteen year old slurping down their first WKD (sorry, Liz; I’m sure that’s the branding you were going for…).  Except, this toner isn’t going to stain your lips blue.  I’ve got sensitive skin that’s prone to some wide open pores, acne and rosacea – the unholy trinity of skin complaints – and this little bottle of holy water always seems to calm things down.  It hydrates, brightens and shrinks my pores – plus, it smells lovely.  It’s also perfect to stick in your handbag on a hot day whenever you need a little refresh.  (I also love L’Occitane’s Essential Face Water)

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3. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

I can’t pronounce it to save my life, but oh baby, I like to think of this stuff as sexy, French je ne sais quoi bottled.  It’s basically a multipurpose dry oil (lightweight and not too greasy) that you can use to nourish not only your face and body, but also your hair – so it’s perfect for prickly, sunburnt legs and frazzled summer tresses.  Some people like to pour a little in their bath water or spray it onto their hair brush, but I like to just spray it on after I’ve showered to moisturize my skin and add a bit of a summery glow.  I feel like the scent is either a love it or hate it kind of fragrance – it’s kind of musky and old fashioned – but personally, I love it.

4. Make Up Forever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder

I used to steer clear of powders when it came to makeup because I was afraid of either drying out my skin or piling too much on – plus I tend to prefer a glowy look rather than the matte, chalkboard-look most powders create.  But in hot weather a setting powder is a must if you don’t want to look like a sad clown by lunchtime.  The Make Up Forever Finishing Powder works really hard to keep everything stuck in place without you even really knowing it’s there.  It’s talc-free so doesn’t dry out your skin, and also combats shine and mattifies without taking away that healthy summery glow.  A smidge on the pricey side, but a total knockout product if you want to splurge on something that really works.

5. Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti-Fatigue Blurring Primer

I’ve been using Bourjois’ Healthy Mix foundation for years and so when my Clarins Beauty Flash Balm ran out just before the heatwave, I set out on the hunt for a cheaper alternative to help combat sweaty makeup slidy face (…That’s the technical term, yes). So I decided to give the Healthy Mix Primer a try, and d’you know what?  It’s pretty good.  It’s obviously not going to punch as hard as Clarins, but it does do a decent job of smoothing out any redness and fine lines, and applies nicely under the Healthy Mix Foundation.  It’s a small tube, yes, but I never feel like I need to apply a lot – plus, it’s handy for popping in your carry-on if you want to feel a bit more human once you’re off the plane.

What beauty products do you reach for during a heatwave? 🙂

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