Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Air-Drying Essentials...

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like as soon as summer comes around they want to put down the hair dryer? Actually, this is me most of the year. I just can’t be bothered to be honest plus it saves time, money and energy! Therefore, I am always on the hunt for products/tools that leave my hair with a bit of shape and texture without using heat. These have been my most favourite finds so far…

Parlor by Jeff Chastain Detangling Leave in Conditioner - £17.00 buy here

I love a good leave in conditioner to ensure my hair is soft and manageable out of the shower. To me this is an essential step when it comes to air drying and one I couldn’t be without. I have tried so many it’s unreal but not sure if I have ever finished a full bottle (unbelievably)! Most of the time they get passed on my mum if they don’t pass the test! I first tried this one when a decent sized sample came in the monthly beauty subscription Birchbox. From there it was love and I knew I had to buy the full size.

This has a lightweight texture which instantly detangles as the name would suggest and it doesn’t leave any residue or sticky feeling which is a common issue with many leave in’s I’ve tried. It manages to leave my hair looking healthy and soft whilst also providing thermal protection should you wish to use heat tools. The formula decreases frizz but gives my hair a bit of texture rather than it being left silky smooth to the point you can’t ‘rough it up’ if you know what I mean. The main ingredients are Sweet Almond extract, Vitamin B5 and Nettle, these combined keep the hair and scalp moisturised while protecting hair fibre and adding shine. I’m not sure how but together the fragrance is so unique. Like fresh peaches and cut grass! Such a bizarre scent but it really works! All products by Jeff are without sulfates, parabens and are cruelty free which is of course an added bonus. Another issue I have is a lot of products irritate my scalp but this doesn’t. An absolute repurchase for me but I do still like to try others. Let me know if you have any recommendations?

Rahua Voluminous Spray - £25.50 buy here
This was an off-chance purchase due to seeing it on sale through Naturismo. I haven’t tried any other products from the brand but since buying this I’ve heard lots of good things so looking forward to investing in the shampoo and conditioner soon!
This spray is designed to provide light hold giving hair shape and texture whilst keeping it fresher for longer by breaking down excess oil. A true multitasker! The formula is 100% natural organic and I feel it really stands out because of this. To create volume in the hair without tons of chemicals is no mean feat and Rahua have nailed it using organic citrus juices (lemon and lemongrass) blended with lavender, corn silk, linseed, sugarcane and eucalyptus. I love applying a few sprays of this to my roots once towel dried, and then leaving it to do its thing. My hair is left bouncy and soft but not sticky. It leaves hair looking naturally full and fresh. Other ways I use this is in between washes, it has shape memory which means that you can easily mess it up and then recreate style. A few sprays around the roots and crown gives hair oomph and gets rid of any oil build up leaving it looking refreshed. This has become an absolute haircare essential for me and I think it would suit most hair types that are wanting to create volume without stiffness and are wanting a versatile product without harsh chemicals.

Classic Wetbrush £11.99 buy here

This is a complete saviour for detangling hair without ripping and breaking strands! As the name suggests this is to be used when hair is damp. I like to lightly towel dry and then get to work. This runs through the hair easily and gets out any knots. This type of brush is a saviour in my routine and I much prefer it to other’s I’ve tried like the tangle teezer which seemed to constantly fly out of my hands because it didn’t have a non-slip handle like this one! I will continue to repurchase always as it has literally changed my hair styling life, as dramatic as that sounds. It works for all hair types so I urge you to go get your hands on one immediately!

Aquis Microfibre Towel £30.00 buy here

This towel is perfect for prepping an air-dried style and is the best way I’ve found to prevent frizz and knots. As soon as I get out the shower I squeeze out excess water with my hands and then lightly use an old cotton t-shirt to squeeze out the rest of the moisture. I then wrap my hair into a turban using this. My hair dries so much faster and leaves my hair soft and doesn’t damage the hair shaft which is essential if you are wanting to create an effortless air dried style without creating a bushy dishevelled mess! You are left with hair that has a piece-y texture meaning natural waves can be yours! Keep a look out for these in TK Maxx as they usually sell them for a lot cheaper, that’s where I picked mine up.  

OGX Moroccan Surf Paste £6.99 buy here

As a finishing touch, I like to add this product to create further texture. Going nowhere near the roots I warm a tiny bit of this in my fingers and apply by scrunching into the ends of my hair gently. This leaves hair soft and with a matte finish which gives the beachy style I am always looking for. Usually I would hate any form of wax, paste or gel but a small amount of this really gives hair a relaxed vibe without feeling sticky or leaving any residue. It contains argan oil to moisturise, sea kelp to condition and sea salt to give texture and separate out strands. Perfect for summer waves! 

Do you have any tips for air-drying your hair? 

Thanks for reading xx

Thursday, 6 July 2017

My Battle with Congested Skin Part 2...Introducing Jordan Samuel etOILe with Retinol

If you follow me on IG you will have probably seen this sleek black bottle appear in many of my routines…. allow me to introduce Jordan Samuel etOILe with Retinol, your new best friend.

Anyone who is familiar with Jordan Samuel has probably already tried his antioxidant packed facial oil etOILe (if you haven’t you must!! My review here), this is essentially the same formula but with the inclusion of 0.2% retinol. The only other differences are that this treatment oil doesn’t have CQ10, Vitamin C and Squalane which the etOILe oil has.  

Back in April when I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself, and many others from the IG ‘Skincare Community’ at the Jordan and Jane (Scrivner) Event, this was on my list to purchase directly from him. I had been waiting to get my hands on this as soon as it was released, which luckily for me wasn’t long before the event, so I didn’t have to wait too long! I hadn’t had much experience with retinols other than a sample of Sunday Riley Luna, which to be honest didn’t rock my boat due to the added colourings and high price tag. I knew I wanted to delve into the world of retinol and knew that I wanted to start with this.

The reason being, the formula is gentle but is still designed to pack a punch with consistent use. Consistent being the word. Over time low percentages of retinol used frequently can contribute to reduction and tightening of pores as well as firming the skin and improving elasticity. Vitamin A (otherwise known as retinol) is known to help the skins structure and assist in reversing damage caused by ‘free radicals’ which are essentially organic molecules that are responsible for skin aging and tissue damage. These can be formed through natural physiological processes (breathing and breaking down food) as well as from the environment and can be a result of pollution, cigarette smoking, stress, diet, drugs etc, so prevention is better than cure. Retinol is big business in the anti-aging world and I can totally see why. Paired with other antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E there is a good chance you can prevent cellular damage and if topically applied and consumed regularly antioxidants can neutralise free radicals thus preventing them from causing more damage. Magic!

Initially I wanted to include retinol purely for anti-aging purposes, at the age of 26 I knew I needed to jump on the bandwagon if I want to look like Susan Sarandon at 70! In addition to that I had high hopes of it assisting with getting rid of PIH (post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation) which wasn’t fading as quickly as I’d like. Roll on a couple of months down the line, I was faced with the most congested skin I’d had in a long while and this is when I realised I had a gem in my hands…

Due to the low percentage of retinol and it being oil based I started using this every other night straight away. Some people build up usage but I knew my skin loved etOILe and it had responded well to SR Luna, so I was sure it would be ok. I’m pleased to confirm I wasn’t wrong :)

On the nights I use this I like to keep my routine fairly simple and gentle, so as to get the maximum benefit from the treatment. I’ve played around using other oils, balms and moisturisers on top but to be honest I find it most effective when used on its own as a final step. I prep by cleansing and applying a hydrating serum (ideally Jordan’s hydrate) and then massaging 4-5 drops directly over the top and pressing it into the skin. The addition of a hydrating serum is a must for me as it gives a buffer, minimising any potential irritation and boosts the performance of the retinol action. It absorbs just as well as etOILe and has an identical texture in my opinion, leaving no stickiness or oiliness to the skin. It layers extremely well with any other product I’ve tried underneath/over the top and I haven’t experienced any dreaded piling.

Upon application, it makes skin glow. But the real magic seems to happen when I’m asleep. If I hit the pillow with any small lurking spots it seems to zap them overnight and gives an overall healthier, plumper appearance to my skin come morning.

I have been using this retinol for just over 2 months with consistent use, and feel confident in saying it has benefitted my skin in more ways than one. In earlier June, I removed regular use of facial oils out of my routine (see my previous post here) and just solely used this. That’s where I began to see real results. My congestion started to decrease fast and any under the skin lumps I had were healing much quicker leaving no scarring behind. During my bout of ‘unruly skin’ I had a period of purging where some of the congestion came to the surface. This in turn created quite a few spots dotted mainly around my chin, cheek and jawline areas. At the time, I felt rather overwhelmed and unsure of how to deal with it. But instead of doing what I would usually do (throw a ton of products at it in the hope of clearing my skin fast, we’ve all been there!) I decided to take a more sensible approach. I stripped my routine back to basics and picked a few products to be consistent with. This being one of them, and my skin is all the better for it. I actually enjoy the simple but effective routine on the days when I incorporate this, and look forward to waking up knowing my skin will always look better than it did the night before. 

In addition to the above there has been an improvement in existing PIH but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it has faded it completely. Yet… I am hopeful that in the months to come I will see a bigger change in that area. Overall so far, I would say the biggest noticeable changes are that it has smoothed out the texture of my skin, created a more uniform brighter look and decreased the amount of congestion I usually have. Much better results than I had expected…

Over the coming months, I will potentially start to use this every night with another moisturiser or oil to see how my skin fares, as I have not suffered with any side effects in the form of redness, dryness or flakiness with this. I know a certain percentage of people can suffer with those issues as result of a stronger more potent retinol, but I honestly couldn’t be dealing with that even if it turns me into a goddess months down the line! There is no way I could persevere with something that burns my face off and causes my skin to peel like a snake!  

In my opinion this formula is a fantastic starting step into retinol, I think it would work well for all ages but perhaps suited to a more younger skin (25-35’s) that is looking to prevent rather than cure when it comes to aging. In the long-term retinol is known to increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, leaving skin plumper, creating a more refined appearance. With that considered I’m still not sure how effective a gentle retinol like this one would be at reducing deep wrinkles and lines. I would say if your target is to improve skin texture, reduce congestion, slow down the aging process and reduce the appearance of fine lines, then this is a must for you. But if you suffer with severe PIH, scarring, sun-damaged aging skin then maybe something a little stronger would give you better quicker results.

Packaging wise, I love the black and white design but that’s not just for show, the miron glass gives it a shelf life of around 6 months to 1 year (if I remember rightly). On the basis it’s kept in a cool environment. Preferably a fridge. I personally can’t be arsed to have to remember to take it out before walking up the stairs! So choose to keep it in a dark area of my bathroom. I would recommend only buying a retinol product that is packaged in an opaque container anyway, as that will eliminate its exposure to air and light. Otherwise the formula will break down and deteriorate.


Organic Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed (Marula) Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Organic Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit (Rosehip) Oil, Organic Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit (Seabuckthorn) Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Retinol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E).

So, there you have it! My new favourite addition to my skin routine! It is a powerhouse of a product which holds so many benefits, and at $43 for 30ml I think it’s extremely fair priced. Those of you that are Jordan supporters will already know this, but it can only be purchased directly from his website in the US. Link here

Also, if you don’t already, I would highly recommend following Jordan on Youtube. His videos are extremely informative and he is bloody hilarious! Link here

Have you tried a retinol in oil? I would like to try Pestle and Mortar Superstar next to see how it compares but will re-purchase this at some point for sure!

Thanks for reading xx


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

My Battle with Congested Skin Part 1...Two Week Trial without Facial Oils

What is congestion?
A build-up of impurities within the sebaceous glands, otherwise known as the oil glands, which can lead to blockages in the pores resulting in blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. These can be caused by dead cells, pollution and dirt but can also accumulate due to a variety of reasons including hormonal changes, bad diet, lack of cleansing and exfoliation. Regular washing does not get deep enough into your pores no matter what advertisements like to tell you, therefore the oil and dead cells can build up over time creating hardened oil plugs. You will often start to see visible bumps on the surface and underneath the surface of the skin.
The Trial:
Rewind back to beginning of June, I was suffering with the most congested skin I’d had in a long while and I knew I needed to take drastic action. Not only did my skin look rubbish but in turn I felt like rubbish. I was fully aware that one of the contributions to my under the skin bumps and lumps was facial oils and facial balms. I adore them. I would slather them on my face more than twice a day if I could, but I had a feeling they are were not my friends, at least not 100% of the time.
Before I continue I want to add a disclaimer that this trial was purely for my benefit only, because I know my skin. Not all congestion is due to the use of facial oils and balms, and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Every skin is different. I simply want to document this for my own personal use and because some may find it helpful if they are suffering from the same kind of issues.
There are many benefits to using facial oils/balms and although they contributed to increasing congestion they generally didn’t break me out, hence the reason for me wanting to continue using them and being in denial! I have tried many oils and balms with and without essential oils, and it took me a while to face up to the fact that it didn’t matter what type or brand I would use I seemed to have the same outcome with all. Bringing me to the conclusion that I need to experiment without them and see what happens...
Firstly, let me explain how I had been using oils and balms in my routines and the different ways I was enjoying them, all of which, I believe, led to the increase in congestion and ultimately left my skin looking dull and lifeless:
  • Cleansing – Luxurious balms or oils that need to be removed with a flannel. Usually once a day as a second cleanse. These are packed with wonderful oils and butters which make for a completely relaxing ritual
  • Pre-Shower – Some mornings I would apply an oil or balm like a mask prior to stepping into the shower, I would let the steam activate the scent and allow the ingredients to penetrate deeper into my skin. Sometimes I would use a light cleanser after, sometimes I wouldn’t
  • Oils mixed into face masks – To use up the tons of oils I have I would add a few drops into a clay or hydrating mask to boost the effects. This would be more than once a week usually
  • Overnight Treatment – Each night I would apply a facial oil or balm as a finishing step to ‘seal’ all of the products in.
  • Daily Moisturiser – I would apply facial oils a few times a week in the morning, usually mixed in with a serum to create an emulsion
As you can see from above I was using oils and balms a lot throughout the week and I don’t think, well I know my oily/combo skin couldn’t take it. The thing was I just couldn’t see that for so long, in denial because I wanted my skin to love them because I loved the feeling of using them!
As dramatic as it sounds on 7th June I looked in the mirror and thought I had to fix the issue! Here’s what was looking back at me and this is not the results from looking under a microscope by the way!
  • Under the skin bumps along my jawline, a couple that were painful and a few that weren’t
  • Under the skin white lumps which were whiteheads that were not coming to the surface around the middle of my chin and sides of my mouth
  • Blackheads in the middle of my chin and sides of cheeks including nose area
  • Dull lifeless skin
  • PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation) from previous blemishes
  • Uneven skin texture
I know that I could have it a lot worse and my skin didn’t look bad with makeup on but I believe we all strive for healthy glowing skin and that’s not where I was at with mine, so I knew I needed to make some improvements to my routine and diet. It’s not about having perfect skin, but being comfortable and confident, achieving the best skin health possible.
In this post, I am purely focusing on the effects cutting out oils/balms did for me during the 2 weeks but I will be doing a separate post on how I am tackling long term congestion as there are many other aspects that contribute to healthy skin. This is just the first step in the chain for me.
Firstly, I cut out oil/balm cleansers that needed a washcloth to be removed. I wanted to continue using balm/oil cleansers that emulsified as I felt they didn’t leave any form of residue. Usually I like a bit of residue, the nourishing plump feeling they gave me. But not during this trial. So, in the drawer they went, away from where my eyes could see them! Next I removed all oils and balms that I’d normally use to moisturise my skin, I replaced these with moisturisers that suited my dehydrated oily skin. Basically, all oils and balms went in the drawer!
Within a few days, I noticed an immediate difference, I was so surprised. My skin looked much brighter and even toned. I wasn’t expecting results so soon! I still had congestion but no new congestion had formed, which was something. Overall my skin looked calmer and less irritated, even though I hadn’t realised it looked that way before I started this trial. Redness around my nose and forehead were reduced.
Towards the end of the first week going into the second I had some under the skin lumps that came to the surface. Although it made me feel miserable to have spots I felt like it was a good thing, almost like my skin was purging.
After being consistent with the trial for a week I was happy, and with the results I was getting I had no desire to start using oils and balms again. That was until I went to the Red Magazine x Caroline Hirons event where Caroline discussed how amazing oils are for the skin, and made me crave using them again! After speaking with her directly and her stressing the importance of balance it made me realise that I should stay committed to what I was doing and see it out.
Fast forward another week and the results were clear to see. Under the skin lumps had disappeared without me directly treating them, and the overall appearance of my skin had improved. Although I went through a period where I missed massaging oily goodness into my face, I was so happy with the outcome of the trial I wanted to continue what I was doing. Although I am confident that cutting out oils and balms proved a success and quickly made an improvement to my skin I am aware that in the long term there are other changes I need to make in regards to my routine and diet. I’m creating a follow up blog post detailing how I am battling congestion and some noticeable differences I have found in my journey to clearer skin. Skincare can’t be responsible for ‘fixing’ everything and we need to ensure that we are looking after ourselves from the inside out!
Aside from that the 3 oils pictured are the only ones remaining in my routine. I will add them back in gradually but not for use every day as I think I’ve learnt my lesson! I will also be doing a post on what oil/balms I am keeping and why, so stay tuned for that.  

In the meantime, if you have any tips on how to get rid of dreaded congestion I would love to know!

Thanks for reading…