Friday, January 30

11 Important Points to keep in mind on your Beauty Journey

Montage of beauty products, indeed labs, Lily lolo mineral make-up, make-up revolution deep plum lipstick, rebel with a cause, Yardleys royal daisy prfume and body spray, dolly's mixtures bubble bath and shower gel
1. Everyone's skin is different - the products you use, the way you use them and the results you get will be different to everyone else! Don't be disheartened if you don't get the same results as your best friend; adapt products to suit your skin; for example I oil cleanse every day, sometimes twice a day but your skin may love a twice a week oil cleanse instead.

2. The shops, brands and their employees don't care about you - they want to sell you stuff, they want you to buy their stuff. They don't care if it'll work for you, they just want your money! Even the people on the shop floor may enjoy talking to you, they may even say 'what a nice girl she was' when you leave, but they care about themselves and their own job more - always be suspicious of the things they tell you and sell you!

3. "Helps improve the appearance of..." - blackheads, fine lines, dry skin? This is marketing speak for "we won't make it worse" and means nothing. At all.

4. Buyer beware - just because it's in a shiny bottle, sitting on a glass podium, under a spotlight, with a celebrity's face looming in the background -- doesn't mean it'll work. In fact with that amount of effort it probably doesn't!

5. Knowledge of ingredients and how they work will help you to buy better - There are a lot of glycolic face washes around at the moment. If you wash glycolic away it won't do a damn thing. Glycolic acid and salicylic acid need to be on your skin for an extended period before they start working - know your ingredients before you start spending.

6. "your skin will get worse before it gets better" - is a myth.* If a product is making your skin worse and causing irritation, stop using it, it's not right.

Remove blackheads, Sanctuary at boots 5 minute thermal detox mask, innisfree blackhead out alm, nose pore strip and bentonite clay aka fullers earth
Know your Blackheads, KILL your blackheads
7. You can return skincare items if you don't like them - keep your receipt and write to/email the company directly and tell them exactly why you don't like it. If it was an allergic reaction the shop will almost always take it back.

8. We're all battling some issue - all of us; nobody has perfect skin, we've all got our issues, never think you are alone with your acne/flaky skin/lined forehead/dark circles/eye-bags in a sea of perfect-faced people. We're all in this together!

9. Just because it's 'natural' doesn't mean it's good for your skin or that it won't irritate. . . .

10. . . .Just because it's a 'chemical' doesn't mean it's bad for your skin or will irritate.

11. And finally, looking good is no substitute for friendship, love and being a good person. Achieving good skin can be life-changing for those of us who've suffered, but let's face it, there are far more important things; we are so much more than the way we look! Talent, compassion, intelligence, loyalty, wit, empathy, hard work.
                          I think the Aussie philosophy sums it up best; "there's more to life than hair [or in this case beauty], but it's a good place to start."

As always I wish you well on your journey to clear, beautiful skin! If you're wondering about chemical exfoliation click here, if you're trying to clear your acne try this DIY toner and if you can't face the day without make-up but know it's making your acne worse, try this post about mineral make-up for acne prone skin.

Ciao for now

*As always my advice does not take into account cystic acne, I am aware that some medications such as accutane can indeed make skin worse before it gets better. Cystic acne needs proper consultation with a trained medical professional and a super strong mental attitude x

Chocolatey, spicy, nutty or sweet? Pic n mix your own hot cocoa from scratch!

Winter is for watching snow fall with a cosy cup of hot cocoa and romantic, sweet nothings whispered in your ear. As the snow falls thick and fast for a lot of us what better time to make a warming, chocolatey, mug of hot cocoa? Grab your favourite mug, pic n mix your flavours and let's sit by the window to watch the snow shuffle down.

First of all, forget 'hot chocolate mix', we're going old school, get out your cocoa. TIP: don't use the microwave, raw cocoa needs to be 'cooked' on the hob to improve the flavour.

Use skimmed milk, semi or whole milk, it's up to you, go dairy free with almond milk or even soy if you actually like the taste (I'm not a fan!). If you want a super indulgent treat and aren't worried about your waist line, swap half the milk for cream!

And the extras. . . .
Malt extract, Cayenne pepper, Cinnamon, Whipped cream/squirty cream, Toffee or chocolate ice-cream sauce, Flavoured coffee syrups - praline and hazelnut are my faves

1.) Warm your milk gently over a medium heat, stir it regularly to make sure it doesn't burn or microwave it for around a minute and a half.

2.) When it's warmed - not too hot!! Put the milk and cocoa powder in a blender or whisk in your cocoa. (beware! If it's too hot, when you try to take the lid off, the pressure will be so high that it can virtually explode. I once untwisted the blade on my bullet and with a mighty bang it popped off and hot milky cocoa went everywhere! I was left standing utterly shocked) It's up to you how dark you go here, the recommendation is 1 tsp per mug, I believe, but I usually put 2 tsps in.

3.) Return to the heat stirring regularly until it's hot enough. Best not to let it boil but it's not the end of the world if it does.

4.) Transfer it to your mug and personalise your cocoa!
Sugar - if you're not using any of the syrups just add equal amounts sugar to cocoa (add it gradually and taste it so you don't end up with something overly sugary!)
Ice-cream syrup - the toffee is my favourite
Cayenne pepper - inspired by the Whittards chilli hot chocolate which is a tad pricey, it adds an interesting taste to your hot cocoa - give it a try!
Cinnamon - a sprinkle or 2 of ground cinnamon is always a crowd-pleaser
Ginger - an excellent partner to the cinnamon!
Coffee syrups - hazelnut, gingerbread, praline etc etc - remember they are sweet so add them before your sugar and taste
Malt extract - a trendy substitute for sugar which is actually quite yummy!
Malt powder - if, like me, you choose skimmed, non fat milk, the malt powder can help to round out the flavour and make it creamier.
Golden syrup - drooooool

Marshmallows and/or cream top off your chocolatey creation perfectly and don't forget an extra sprinkle of cinnamon over the top of your cream to make it instagrammable!

Far from all the weird ingredients of hot chocolate mix - xantham gum, hydrogenated fat, milk powder etc etc - cocoa powder is made from the fruit of the cacao tree. It is ground up and has nothing added to it. Finally, not all cocoa is created equal -- always check your cocoa powder is fair-trade.

Now get cosy under a blanket, sit by the window, watch one of these 11 Autumn movies for those Hot Chocolate and a Blanket days, and enjoy a snuggly winter evening with your other half, offspring or gorgeous little furry friend.

Ciao for now

Sunday, January 25

DIY facemask pic 'n' mix cheat sheet!

It's always fun to mix up your own facemask; creating your own skincare, as well as delivering brilliant results. But searching through YouTube videos for just the right one with all the ingredients you just happen to have in your kitchen cupboard right now can take ages! Instead, here is a quick pic n mix, DIY facemask cheat sheet with some extra tips to get the best from the ingredients.
pic n mix DIY beauty facemasks. Natural ingredients, skincare.

As you can see honey, as an all time hero skincare ingredient is in every category, easiest facemask ever right? Just decide what it is you need and mix up a batch!  Here are some examples to try;

Cocoa powder + natural yoghurt + oatmeal = soothing, calming and hydrating mask  
Bentonite clay + green tea + bi-carbonate of soda = cleansing and acne-killing
Oat milk + honey + compressed facemask = soothing and hydrating
Avocado(mashed) + rosehip oil + oat meal = anti-aging and moisturising

Of course you can add in your own ingredients too; egg, mashed banana, mashed strawberries and rice flour are all commonly used DIY facemask ingredients. Experiment and find something you like.

Tips for using the ingredients;

Bicarbonate of soda - Use sparingly as it can be irritating to sensitive skin and don't leave on the face for more than 10 minutes max. Best kept to the t-zone

Honey - warm it first; the consisitency changes dramatically

Oatmeal - oats in a blender, easy!

Oat milk - oats and water in a blender, soak for 15 minutes and strain through a muslin cloth or sieve.

Avocado - get a really ripe soft one that's easy to mash

Bentonite clay - doesn't play well with all the ingredients, best used as the main ingredient; don't bother adding it to avocado, yoghurt, oatmilk or oatmeal

Tea tree oil - go easy and don't get around your eyes!

Apple cider vinegar - always dilute it, don't use raw

Cocoa powder and honey - add another ingredient to dilute the consistency, I once took out my cocoa powder + honey facemask from the fridge to find I'd accidentally made fudge!! Tasted good though.

If your facemask comes out too runny just add some oatmeal to soak up some of that extra liquid.
... and yes, it's perfectly fine to add cocoa powder just to make it smell nice!

Put the left overs in a sealed tub in the fridge to keep for about a week - the smell will tell you when it's gone bad. Get in the kitchen, have some fun and pamper yourself for pennies!

Good luck!
Ciao for now

Saturday, January 24

HOW many face products??!!?!

beauty skincare products, indeed labs, superdrug optimum, una breannan, Avene and rosehip oil from naissance. DIY apple cider vinegar toner
So I counted up the products in my entire beauty routine, from top to toe (not including make up and nails) it comes to 35 products - 35!! did THAT number shock the life out of me, I thought I was much more low maintenance these days! 16 products out of 35 are just for my face.

It got me thinking, I am 5"8; arms, legs, back, hips, and yet my face, my little face, is responsible for nearly half my beauty regime. The mad thing is (apart from that giant number) my face is such a small part of my body. Mathematically it's probably less than 5% of my entire body but gets nearly 50% of my beauty products.

And that doesn't include my sizeable makeup case and all its paraphernalia!

We spend so much time and money on our face it seems crazy that I'm so lazy in looking after the rest of my body. I guess it's because our face is on show and it's our 'communications centre'. If our body were a TV network our face would be the presenters. When I think about what someone looks like I'm seeing their face, not their left hand or calves; we are our face. Our face represents who we are, how we feel, says what we want and expresses what we think. And yes of course our body language can be very expressive but not as clearly as our faces right?

But it still seems silly that I can spend well over an hour in the mirror making my face look good, a spot or two makes me feel revolting and my blocked pores invade my thoughts while the rest of my body just is. If I get a spot or two on my upper arm who cares right?

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking, how strange and weird to have so much time, money, stress, photos and thoughts spent over such a teeny tiny proportion of my body.

And yes, if you were wondering, it really is 35 products, count up your own beauty routine, how many products do you use? I bet you'll surprise yourself!

Ciao for now

Saturday, January 17

Mineral Make-up - Application Tips!

Lily lolo mineral make up, Mineral foundation and mineral blush with real techniques blush brush and ecotools travel powder brush. China doll and juicy peach are the shades.We discussed here how mineral make-up helps to fix your clogged, acne-prone skin. But what about application? How do you get a full coverage face? Do you really need to to use a giant kabuki brush? How is mineral make-up different?

With a very fine and soft texture, mineral foundation floats over the skin and settles to look unbelievably natural; you'll never get a mask-like, cakey finish. However, the main crticism of mineral foundation is that  coverage is too light. Coverage can be built up, but mineral foundation will usually provide up to medium coverage rather than full and flawless coverage.

Building coverage from Natural to Flawless!
If full coverage is what you want, it's easily solved!
1. Add a mineral finishing powder on top - Lily Lolo flawless silk is amazing!!
2. Just use a primer or BB cream/CC cream first. Just like using an eye base, a primer/BB cream will give the mineral make-up something to 'stick' to. Now despite BB cream being formulated especially for acne-prone skin, my skin doesn't like it for every day, so I do this if I need full coverage for an event or if my skin hates me today!

The Right Brush - step away from the kabuki!
Alongside the make-up you'll see these giant brushes called 'kabuki brushes'. They are absolutely enormous and as far as I can see do nothing but waste product. Forget it! Instead grab yourself a travel sized kabuki brush, a buffing brush or even a flat blusher brush. I've found this travel sized Eco-tools brush to be absolutely perfect! It's dense enough top pick up enough product, small enough to give accuracy and soft enough to blend to an airbrushed finish - you don't apply eyeliner with a paint-roller, same goes for your foundation.

mineral make up brushes, lily lolo super kabuki brush and ecotools travel powder brush for mineral foundation.

Can mineral concealer really keep my spots covered?
Mineral concealer is a surprise for those used to liquid make-up. When I first used it I thought 'how can a powder possibly cover my spots?' Again, mineral make-up is not powder as we know it. It is also somehow 'thicker' than the foundation to do a good job of covering redness. Using a small eyeshadow brush with soft, slightly fluffy bristles, dab product right onto the spot and, using the very tips of the bristles, gently sweep away the excess product from around the spot.
          The concealer glides over  uneven texture of those spots we couldn't resist popping, and stick to the red angry spots when liquid simply wipes off.

Lily Lolo mineral concealer in barely buff. mineral make up.

Do I need finishing powder?
I have oily/combination skin, I find I don't need to add finishing powder! Although for that flawless, long-lasting coverage the Lily Lolo flawless silk powder is brilliant. It's hard to explain, slightly iridescent, it just sort of blurs everything together and makes your skin glow. Worth a try of you're looking for a finishing powder or have an event coming up.

Do I really need mineral blusher?
My cheeks have larger pores on them so I'm sticking with minerals there too. Mineral blush can be a little too sheeny and not provide enough colour pay-off so go for something which is labelled matte and don't be scared by the colours, I have super-pale see-through Nicole Kidman skin and these two colours are absolutely perfect for me!

Lily Lolo mineral blush, mineral make up in shades juicy peach and candy girl.

If you decide to make the switch good for you! You'll be seeing the results very quickly and I'm certain you won't want to go back to the smeary liquids out there!

1. Make the toner - check!
2. Oil cleansing method - check!
3. Switch to mineral make-up - check!
And just like that your acne's on the run, we're kicking its ass!

My brand of choice is Lily-Lolo; it's the only brand I've ever tried and the £13.49 price tag looked great next to the £25+ of some of the more showbizzy brands. It's also fully vegan and BUAV approved, so none of our furry friends have suffered for my vanity.

Ciao for now

Tuesday, January 13

Skincare hero ingredients - HONEY!

Hydrating, soothing, anti-bacterial, cleansing and yummy on toast -- is there anything Honey can't do? Learn about this all time hero skincare ingredient and how to make it work for your skin, sing hooray for honey!!

Your honey doesn't need to be manuka or organic or anything fancy at all! Your normal, supermarket honey will do the job. When mixing honey with other ingredients always warm it up slightly first, the consistency changes dramatically to a much runnier texture. It's much less sticky than you think and easily dissolves in water to rinse away with no troubles at all!

Probably the easiest facemask in the world is a spoonful of honey spread all over your face and rinsed off 10 minutes later. If you've never done this you're missing out on what is probably the most instant and dramatic brightening treatment in your cupboard or on the shop shelf alike. Apply at the beginning of an important day - graduation, wedding - any kind of event - and you'll have radiant photos to gaze back on.

We already love the oil cleansing method for night-time but did you hear about the popularity of the honey-cleansing method? If you've run out of your normal morning cleanser, nip downstairs and grab your bottle of honey! Squeeze out a blob, smooth over your face and as it warms on your skin just massage in the same way you would any other cleanser. If it's slightly crystallised in the cold weather, don't worry, you've got yourself an exfoliator too! N.B. Honey isn't great at removing make-up so keep it as a morning cleanser.

Redness? Big angry spots? Irritation?
1. Mix your honey with natural youghurt or whizz up some oats in the blender and mix mix mix, smooth over your face for 10 minutes. . .
2. Mix your honey with green tea and soak a compressed sheet mask in it then apply to your face for up to an hour
. . .rinse off and in the morning you'll be looking much calmer.

Honey is nature's natural anti-bacterial. So if you have any spots that you just couldn't stop yourself from picking and squeezing, ensure they don't get infected by smoothing over a dab of honey - perfect for if you don't like the smell of tea tree oil! You can also add it to this wonderful acne-fighting toner too!

Keep a bottle in your bathroom and whip it out whenever your skin needs a lift. Relax with a thick layer when you're in the bath and the steam will help it get down into your pores.

One last note, as I found out when doing a quick honey cleanse yesterday - never get honey in your eyes!! Ouch!

Skincare is all about having the right ingredients, here is a wonderful place to start; skincare hero ingredient - HONEY!

Ciao for now

Saturday, January 10

Mineral make-up for acne-prone skin

Lilo Lolo mineral make-up in old packaging, blusher, foundation and eyeshadow and 17 lipstick in the background
We get spots, we cover them with thick, liquid make-up, it blocks our pores and we get more spots, so we cover them again! What else can we do? Mineral make-up is waiting in the wings to treat, cover and heal your acne-prone skin.

I spoke in my acne story about how 3 changes made a big difference and chased away the acne. Switching to mineral make-up was one of those changes. For years I was smearing my chin with thick, studio finish MAC concealer as I tried to cover my spots; blocking my pores, smothering my skin; concealer, oil and dead skin cells mixing and sinking into my pores, breeding bacteria.  My chin was awful for years until one day I sort of woke up, researched and never used the concealer again.

Mineral make-up is made up mainly of zinc oxide. An increasingly common ingredient in acne treatments, zinc oxide is a powerful anti-irritant which means it will help to heal any angry, painful spots. It is also an anti-oxidant (more on anti-oxidants soon!) so it'll help protect your skin from sunlight.

Lily Lolo mineral make up in new black packaging, foundation, blusher, eyeshadow and concealer with revolution eyeshadow palette in the background, iconic 3

When shopping for normal liquid foundations we look for 'oil free' which won't block our pores, here is make-up  that achieves all that AND actively helps your skin, calms it, heals it. I've even gone to bed a couple of times in full make-up (our little secret!) with no nasty consequences - although I certainly don't recommend it!

Don't think of mineral make-up as a 'powder'; it is not made of talc and all the other chemicals usually found in  powder. It is made of crushed minerals; no oil, lotion, water, no paste-like consistency to mix with sebum and sink into your pores throughout the day - it's 'non-comedogenic' (a fancy term for 'doesn't block pores').

Lily Lolo mineral makeup, mineral foundation in the shade china doll. Zinc oxide make up
Remember, although mineral make-up is non-comedogenic, your pores can still be blocked when oil, dead skin cells and pollution are present, but at least you'll know it's not your make-up causing the problems.

If you suffer from blocked pores, acne, blackheads, little bumps, do yourself a favour - throw out the liquid, cakey make-up, stop smearing it over your pores and treat your skin to a veil of healing minerals instead.

Lily Lolo mineral make up eyeshadows in bronze sparkle, gold digger and pink champagne
Lilo-Lolo mineral eyeshadows L-R Bronze sparkle, Gold digger and Pink Champagne

Do a little Google search and find a mineral make-up that might fit you! My brand of choice is Lily-Lolo, an online British brand who ship all over the world, BUAV approved so no cruelty to animals, no testing on animals and fully vegan. 

And if you're still unsure or if you've made the switch, find out how to get the best application here; Mineral make-up - application tips.

If there are other brands I don't know about comment below and let me in on the secret!

Ciao for now

Sunday, January 4

3 Step Method for Removing blackheads

Blackheads will not go away on their own. They are stubborn, deep, hard little plugs that need dealing with!! Despite what the adverts tell you, there is no quick fix and scrubbing them with grapefruit scented soap will do nothing at all. Read this post to understand the what and hows of blackheads and click here for more about your pores, read on to discover the methods for removal that work.

Best used all together your 3 methods are;
1.) Salicylic acid
2.) Hot oil massage
3.) Physical extraction.

1.) Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliator which is able to get into your pore and exfoliate it from the inside (as opposed to glycolic acid which exfoliates on the surface only). Over time salicylic acid dissolves the plug of dead skin cells and oil to finally clear out your pore. Of course we can hurry things up a bit with steps 2 and 3. As the salicylic acid dissolves and softens the plug we can work on moving it up the pore to the surface.

Paula's choice salicylic acid lotion and serum. Chemical exfoliation for blackheads and clear pores.
Paula's choice is always my go-to site for salicylic, a great range, just click here

How to use salicylic acid
A chemical exfoliator needs time on your skin so a facewash will literally do nothing. At all. Use a salicylic acid lotion/serum or toner instead. There are different concentrations available and if your skin is sensitive start with 2% or even 1%. Unlike other ingredients your skin will be able to build up to a higher concentration, watch this video by DermTV to better understand progressive exfoliation. Apply in the morning before your moisturiser.
N.B. Don't use with retinol in the evening or it will stop the retinol from working.

2.) Hot oil massage
Before physical extraction a hot oil massage is said to loosen the blackheads and soften the plug ready for your comedone remover tool. 

Sweet almond oil, castor oil, the oil cleansing method and 1 pink face cloth and 1 muslin cloth. Mineral oils, natural skincare

I'm constantly singing the praises of the wonderful, fabulous, acne-killing oil cleansing method and hot oil massage seems a great extension of that.  I stumbled across this post by Renee Rouleau and am curious to have a go. Don't go as far as trying to squeeze out all the blackheads with your fingers; it's easy to scar your skin. However the method she describes for opening your pores and massaging all around the blackheads sounds smart and can only help to ready us for the final step, the actual removal of the blackhead. . .

3.) Physical extraction
We've all jabbed our fingernails into our skin and ruthlessly tried to squeeze out our blackheads - on the new, shallow blackheads it may have worked but for the most part, we ended up with red, sore skin and the blackheads remained, right?

Forget the occasional attack of your delicate skin, let's do it properly!

N.B. If you have a new, shallow blackhead to remove - I get tiny ones around my lips - a quick squeeze with your fingers after step 2) may be enough. But for those deeper blackheads read on. . .

You'll need a comedone remover/extractor - a double ended tool which you can pick up for a couple of £/$/euro/(insert chosen currency here!) from ebay, amazon or a beauty supplier. On one end is a little spoon-like hole on the other a very small wire loop to push down all around the pore so that the blackhead pops out. Needless to say it's best to have a good beautician do this for you - at least the first time. If done wrong you could scar your skin and cause broken capillaries so please please don't just jump into it - if you're not squeamish, watch a demonstration on YouTube.

Comedone extractor tools. Blackhead removal for clear pores. Remove blackheads.

Start with a clean face, clean fingers and clean extraction tool.

First, the 'plug' needs softening over time - Method 1) Salicylic acid

Second, you need to open your pores and soften the blackhead - Method 2) hot oil massage is one way or I don't know about you but my pores are never more open than when I've had a bath or been working out.You can also spend time with a bowl of hot water and a flannel as described in the oil cleansing method  -- don't rush this step, your success depends upon it!

pin up girl in bathroom after a bath wearing a red robe with kitten heels. 1940s vintage pin curls hair.
I love sitting around in a lush red robe and high heels when I've just had a bath :-)
Let's extract!
Grab your comedone extractor, position it over the pore and push down using the wire loop. It will exert even pressure all around the pore so hopefully the blackhead will come wriggling out. If it doesn't work the first time try another couple of positions, if it still doesn't work, accept that today isn't the day and choose another blackhead.

Don't think "the harder I press the more blackhead will come out", this won't work. Without the plug at the root there's no point damaging your skin just to remove some gunk just under the surface.

When you're finished, tone and apply your salicylic acid treatment - it may tingle! Then clean your extractor tool.

Leave it a few days until you try again, once a week will be enough but you may want to try every 3-4 days if you're zealous!

Of course prevention is better than cure, so while we take care of the annoying blackheads we already have, let's keep our other pores clean. If we follow the anti-acne rules and routine to keep our pores clear and bacteria-free, stick on the DIY Bentonite, bi-carb pore-cleansing mask every week, hopefully, our blackhead dramas will end!

Clearing blackheads is not an easy or quick process - no matter what the Neutrogena adverts tell you! There isn't any pus there to clear the pore like a spot, so they'll never go away on their own. Be prepared for a long journey, frustration and anger. But then, one day, you'll look in the mirror and notice a positive change, your blackheads will suddenly look much better and maybe by this time next year they'll even be gone!

As I said in Know your blackheads, KILL your blackheads, don't let blackheads make you feel self-conscious. Mineral make-up will cover them without making them worse and remember they are very small, other people will probably not notice them at all and are certainly not staring at them while you chat.

Here's to a clean-pore new year!
Ciao for now