What I Am Starting With – Make-Up – My 2019 “No Buy”

Related: Introducing my 2019 “No Buy”, Skincare Inventory, Bodycare + Haircare Inventory

My name is Anna Jo B. and I am a make-up addict.

Well, that’s not exactly what it is. In the wise words of Hannah Louise Poston: “I am a beauty addict”.

As has been immortalised in the photo above of some of my make-up items, I undoubtedly have a weak spot for beautiful packaging. Now, don’t get me wrong – not every item of make-up I own is high end and a display piece in its own right. But it’s definitely what I gravitate towards and as a result I collect beautiful things to surround myself with.

Anyway, welcome back. Today, we tackle The Beast of my “No Buy”. Today, I confess to the internet my hoarding habits. Today, I expose myself.

As usual I have broken this down into categories and today’s number is 10: primer, foundation, concealer, powder, setting spray, face colour (bronzer, blusher, highlighter), brows, eyes (eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow), lips (liner, bullet, liquid, gloss) and miscellaneous.

What I Am Starting With

Below is a breakdown of the numbers of what I currently own. I will not type out here each exact product by name, but it is something I have written by hand in my bullet journal, which I am using to help me track my progress. If you are doing an inventory of your own, or are planning any type of No or Low Buy, I strongly encourage you to do this as it hammers in the magnitude of what you have. Numbers alone don’t have the same effect.

PRIMER – 13 products (5 of them are samples)

FOUNDATION – 12 products (2 of them are samples)

CONCEALER – 10 products (3 of them are samples)

POWDER – 2 products

SETTING SPRAY – 2 products

FACE COLOUR – 5 bronzers, 8 blushes (1 of them is a sample), 8 highlighters

BROWS – 6 products

EYES – 12 eyeliners, 5 mascaras, 24 eyeshadow palettes

LIPS – 5 liners, 9 bullet lipsticks, 18 liquid lipsticks, 7 glosses

MISCELLANEOUS – 4 products

150 products across 10 categories. 41 eye products. Across 24 eyeshadow palettes, 254 pans. 39 lip products. I have some serious work to do.

Reflecting On What I Have – Confessions Of An Addict

This is obviously quite a lot more than necessary for an average makeup wearer. Now, I am braced for criticism on the outlook I’m about to confess to, but hear me out – I don’t think it’s too bad.

Let me explain. I think it’s the eyeshadow category that’s the most concerning because of the sheer amount of pans and how long they take to work through – and I don’t even wear eyeshadow every day. But something that I’ve come to realise over the course of 2018 is that I am a simple collector. My collection of 24 palettes is perfectly curated and I love every single item in it. It brings me joy just to know that they are all in my possession. The fact that I don’t use any of them to their fullest potential doesn’t bother me, because I am just glad to have them.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t care about using them. That’s not the case at all. I want to use them. I want to pan them. I want to show them that love and dedication, that one-on-one experience that I can’t give them because I have other palettes to think about. But this doesn’t get me down. To me, a self-proclaimed Shadow Collector, it’s enough to open a palette, look at the shadows and admire them for their textures, colours and arrangements, and put it back without touching any of the shadows. I am at peace with this.

In fact, I’ll add to that fire – I want MORE. If I were in the financial position and had the storage for it, my collection would be double or even triple its current size.

The same outlook applies to the lip category, although I do wish I used those products more and I think I can do better. That category leaves a trace of guilt every now and then, but it’s not overbearing.

As for the rest of my make-up, it’s excessive and I need to work my way through it to find the crème de la crème for each category. And I am excited for this search.

Exceptions From The Rules

In my introduction I have outlined the initial rules to my “No Buy” and I would like to refer to two of them here:

  • I am NOT allowed to buy a product until I am down to the last one in its category, with some exceptions.
  • I AM allowed to shop sales for backups of my Holy Grail products if it’s in a category I work through quickly.

Upon reflection I see that the first rule really applies to the second – the exceptions are the Holy Grails.

I have two Holy Grails:

theBalm Cheater Mascara – I’ve struggled to find it in the UK recently, so this problem may have fixed itself. I currently have one backup so the situation is not dire and I have other mascaras to use up and new ones I’d like to try. If I find Cheater anywhere to buy I will assess how I feel about it there and then.

Pixi Rose Glow Mist – at this present moment I have no interest in trying any new mists. Currently I have one backup and I won’t repurchase until I work half my way through it, unless a bargain presents itself to me.

There is one more exception to consider:

  • I AM allowed to shop for limited edition make-up if after careful consideration I conclude that it would add value and joy to my life.

Truthfully, this only really applies to eyeshadow palettes, but who knows, I might get drawn in by a lipstick or highlighter too. Whatever it will be, should a limited edition release attract my attention, I am permitted to buy it only once I’ve searched the depths of my soul for the last bit of confirmation that it would be a purchase that would make me truly happy. Otherwise it will be a pass.

Plan Of Action

Make-up is a core category of my “No Buy” that is a little different from the other three, because there is so much variety in it and because its main purpose in my life is pleasure. Therefore, I am able to devise a more structured plan to work through my collection as opposed to using things up in order, as I would in my other categories whose purposes are purely functional.

What I am talking about is of course shopping my stash. Many readers might already be familiar with the concept – for a given amount of time selecting an item from my collection for each category to focus on. I have been shopping my stash for a few months now and I’m finding it very effective in understanding my collection better. By forcing myself to focus on one product for a month – for that is the amount of time I spend on each shop – I get to know my products through and through and I learn what I like and what doesn’t work. By implementing this strategy I have already decluttered a primer, two foundations, a concealer, two eyeshadow palettes and a few lip products before I even decided to commit to a “No Buy”. So we may see me declutter my collection through the year as I shop my stash each month and as I learn more about what I own. This is the most exciting aspect of this project to me.

And that is all.

Now you know all my dirty little secrets. I am truly exposed and I feel good about it. I’m glad to have revealed so much of my thought processes regarding these material objects and I’m looking forward to seeing how they will transform as my “No Buy” progresses.

And for now I am happy to keep my head down and focus on what I have in front of me.

Anna Jo B.

What I Am Starting With – Bodycare + Haircare – My 2019 “No Buy”

Related: Introducing my 2019 “No Buy”, Skincare Inventory

I hope the new year is treating you all well so far. I’ve had a difficult start myself, having to struggle through an illness and a bout of pretty poor mental stability. But I’m finding my feet again and diving into things that bring me joy and peace, which in turn gives me hope for the near future.

I’m back to spill the beans and share with you how much product I own within a category applicable to my 2019 “No Buy”. Today’s victims are bodycare and haircare. As I don’t have an overwhelmingly large amount of product in either of these categories I have decided to combine the two into one post.

As with the skincare list, I have broken down bodycare and haircare into further subcategories: showering, treatment, moisturising, body SPF and deodorant for bodycare; wet washing, dry shampoo, oil and styling for haircare.

What I Am Starting With

Below is a breakdown of the numbers of what I currently own. I will not type out here each exact product by name, but it is something I have written by hand in my bullet journal, which I am using to help me track my progress. If you are doing an inventory of your own, or are planning any type of No or Low Buy, I strongly encourage you to do this as it hammers in the magnitude of what you have. Numbers alone don’t have the same effect.

Things that I have not included in these lists are items that I did not purchase, that do not belong to me, and that are not my responsibility, but that I do use from time to time. In other words, products that I share with my mum, but which are hers more than mine. In contrast there are products we share in equal parts or even I use the majority of; those are included here.

Additionally I have one shampoo and one conditioner which I did not include in my final count. The reason for this is because I have barely enough for a wash or two in each and they were both transferred into travel bottles, so currently they stand in my cupboard without names. They are the first in line to be used up, but adding them to my list would have been futile.

I am happy to report that only yesterday I have already removed a few items from haircare! I’m giving myself a small pat on the back for this small achievement. I am a #CurlyGirl and this year I am starting the Curly Girl/Guy Method, aka. CGM. CGM limits the amount of ingredients in haircare that I can use and last night I used up the remainder of my non-CGM shampoo. This means that as of next wash I can get more serious about CGM, which in turn means that several styling products I have are no longer suitable. Some are going to my sister, some to my mum, and some I will donate to Give And Makeup. Nothing will be thrown away.

Bodycare

SHOWERING – 6 products

TREATMENT – 2 products

MOISTURISING – 6 products

BODY SPF – 3 products

DEODORANT – 4 products

TOTAL – 21 products

Haircare

WET WASHING – 2 shampoos (1 of them is a sample), 2 conditioners (1 of them is a sample), 2 treatment masks

DRY SHAMPOO – 2 products

OIL – 1 product

STYLING – 4 products

TOTAL – 13 products (2 of them are samples)

All in all, I think this is pretty good – 34 full sized products and 2 samples across two categories is nothing compared to my 67 full sized products for the face alone. I feel this is manageable and that within 6 months I should decrease the numbers above by about 40%. I am happy with this.

With the start of my CGM journey I will inevitably have to buy a clarifying shampoo, which will take place in the next week or two. I might also find myself needing some styling products as my current selection is rather sparse. But before I make the decision to buy anything I will spend a long time with what I have already and I will do research before making any purchases.

Exceptions From The Rules

In my introduction I have outlined the initial rules to my “No Buy” and I would like to refer to two of them here:

  • I am NOT allowed to buy a product until I am down to the last one in its category, with some exceptions.
  • I AM allowed to shop sales for backups of my Holy Grail products if it’s in a category I work through quickly.

Upon reflection I see that the first rule really applies to the second – the exceptions are the Holy Grails.

I don’t really have any Holy Grails in bodycare or haircare. So this one is nice and easy – no exceptions, just get on with it.

And that is the total roundup for today. I’m excited to work my way through these products and discover more of what’s out there once I deplete my stocks.

The next time we meet will be to discuss the skeleton in the closet – The Beast, The Make-up. My skincare list won’t look so bad after I tackle this monster. I can’t wait!

Anna Jo B.

What I Am Starting With – Skincare – My 2019 “No Buy”

Related: Introducing my 2019 “No Buy”

New Year, new me, right? Well, not exactly.

I am a perfectionist and I like things to have a clear beginning, middle and end, so posting this on the first day of the New Year is almost symbolical to me. But I don’t share the view that the New Year will bring a New Me with it. I am the same person who is going to work on her flaws and try to better herself, to become a better version of what I already am.

Today I am starting to share with you the products that I currently own within the categories that my “No Buy” applies to. The first category is skincare, which I have broken down into further 10 subcategories: make-up remover, cleanser, scrub, actives, hydrator, serum, eye care, moisturiser, facial SPF, mask.

What I Am Starting With

Below is a breakdown of the numbers of what I currently own. I will not type out here each exact product by name, but it is something I have written by hand in my bullet journal, which I am using to help me track my progress. If you are doing an inventory of your own, or are planning any type of No or Low Buy, I strongly encourage you to do this as it hammers in the magnitude of what you have. Numbers alone don’t have the same effect.

Things that I have not included in this list are items that I did not purchase, that do not belong to me, and that are not my responsibility, but that I do use from time to time. In other words, products that I share with my mum, but which are hers more than mine. In contrast there are products we share in equal parts or even I use the majority of; those are included here.

MAKE-UP REMOVER – 3 day (for fixing mistakes while applying make-up), 3 night (heavy duty removal)

CLEANSER – 3 first cleansers, 8 second cleansers (4 of them are samples)

SCRUB – 2 scrubs (1 of them is a sample)

ACTIVES – 3 acid products, 8 vitamin C products, 1 retinol product

HYDRATOR – 10 products (1 of them is a sample)

SERUM – 6 products (2 of them are samples)

EYE CARE – 8 products (3 of them are samples)

MOISTURISER – 13 creams (7 of them are samples), 5 oils (3 of them are samples), 2 heavy duty (1 of them is a sample)

FACIAL SPF – 5 products (1 of them is a sample)

MASK – 11 products (1 of them is a sample)

TOTAL – 91 products, (24 of them are samples)

This means I have 67 full sized products across 10 different categories. That’s a lot of product.

Reflecting On What I Have

Before inventorising my stash I had hoped that I would be able to reduce what I own down to the bare necessities in about 6 months’ time, but seeing these numbers black on white makes me think otherwise. If I stick to my “No Buy” as I intend to, I estimate that I won’t need to buy any more product – at least in some of the categories – for another 12-18 months.

My top three areas of concern are moisturiser, vitamin C, and eye care.

Moisturisers for the sheer amount of product I have, although it’s also a category I work relatively quickly through. The fact that around half of them are samples isn’t hugely comforting, because I’ve already learned them to take a surprisingly long time to finish.

Vitamin C, again, because I have so much, and because it’s an ingredient prone to expiring. Only 2 of my 8 products contain pure L-Ascorbic Acid and they are both sealed, so I am not too worried about them, but the thought of them sitting in my stash makes me uncomfortable. This is definitely a category I am going to be paying extra close attention to.

Eye care, at a glance doesn’t look too terrible. Only 5 full sized products should be easy, right? Wrong. I already have the knowledge that samples last a tremendously long time. Most recently it took me a month of twice daily use to finish a deluxe sized sample. And I have 5 full sized products. This is mildly terrifying. I feel like I’m drowning in eye creams already.

Exceptions From The Rules

In my introduction I have outlined the initial rules to my “No Buy” and I would like to refer to two of them here:

  • I am NOT allowed to buy a product until I am down to the last one in its category, with some exceptions.
  • I AM allowed to shop sales for backups of my Holy Grail products if it’s in a category I work through quickly.

Upon reflection I see that the first rule really applies to the second – the exceptions are the Holy Grails.

The clear and definite Holy Grails at this present moment are:

  • Akamuti RosewaterHydrator – This is one of very few products that I allow myself to buy in bulk, and the reason is simple: it’s irreplaceable in my skincare routine, I use it consistently, and it’s cheaper for me to buy in bulk.
  • Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing GelHydrator – Another staple in my routine that I have written about here, but more easily replaceable than the Akamuti Rosewater; though not by choice. It fills a step in my routine that I refuse to take out, but currently it’s filled with another product that does the job okay. Now is the time to keep an eye out for a bargain, because I want this with me at all times.
  • The Hero Project Vit C-30Actives (vitamin C) – This is by far the best vitamin C I have ever tried, and one of few that I see to actually bring me visible results. The first time I bought it was a lucky find at TKMaxx for a reduced price. As I work near one of the stores, every now and then I pop in to see if I can get a back up and save money on it, because I know that I will for 100% repurchase it one day. Having said that, reflecting on the observations I made on my areas of concern above, I think I will stop this habit until I reduce my stock of vitamin C products by at least half.
  • The Body Shop Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing MaskMask – Truly tried and tested not just by me, but also by my mum, and a firm favourite with both of us in the cleansing mask compartment. Normally this never goes on any kind of sale, but twice I have been able to get it at a reduced price, and if another such opportunity arises I will snatch it up before anyone else can.

And this is it for today. I have a feeling that I’m missing out a few Holy Grails. But then again, if they don’t come to mind immediately they can’t be that important. We will learn in the months to come.

The next post will be a continuation of me sharing what I have, this time in bodycare and haircare. Both these categories are not as full as skincare, so I will combine them before tackling The Beast – Make-Up.

Anna Jo B.

Introducing my 2019 “No Buy”

I have written before about my compulsion to buy as a coping mechanism in times of stress and anxiety. I think in recent years we all have fallen victim of aggressive marketing and an abundance of choice, and as a result we probably ended up with more things than we need and want.

In the second quarter of 2018 I started obsessively decluttering various areas of my life. It was therapeutic, it gave me great joy and it lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I think it’s safe to say that my shopping habits had already improved by that point, but I still found myself accumulating more things and often feeling overwhelmed by my possessions.

For the year 2019 I have decided to commit to a “no buy”. The aim of this is to minimise the amount of things I have, to use and appreciate the products I already own and to save money.

Below I will outline my inspiration for this, my intentions and rules. In the coming weeks I will break down the products I own into categories, share with you what I already have and what my goals are for each specific category.

Why I Want To Do This

The Back Story

In August 2017 I was targeted by a co-worker to be the subject of a public joke. I was bullied as a teenager and this incident brought up a lot of old trauma. As I was already in an emotionally vulnerable place, this atomic mixture put me in a downwards spiral and I suffered a mental breakdown in which I found myself with little to no support from some of the people I counted on. The timeline of this event was really unfortunate, as it was less than a month before my birthday, which I knew I would be spending alone. So, depressed and not finding comfort in people, I turned to shopping to make myself feel better. It made perfect sense – I’m just buying myself a birthday treat, I deserve it after what I’ve been through. Well, the treat turned into one purchase after another, adding up to hundreds of pounds in a matter of a week or two. Thus began my infatuation with make-up, leading to following YouTube influencers, leading to buying more make-up.

Simultaneously I had bad skin. I’ve always complained of dryness and sensitivity, but it’s the acne that really affected my confidence. Although not quite addictively, I was already buying more skincare than necessary to try and fix my problems. December 2017 is when things finally improved, but worsened again with a vengeance after a couple of weeks. Desperate, I started searching the depths of the internet for remedies I could try. When after a month I started seeing results, I started learning more about skincare. I wanted to try every product I ever heard or read about – and so I did. Additionally, recently I started working for a large skincare company; aside from fantastic discounts and other perks, I keep getting an abundance of products to try that I am not permitted to sell or give away (for the most part). In my bathroom I have a whole washbag of samples to go through, and just yesterday I was given four full sized products.

Where I Am Now

Since August 2017 for make-up and December 2017 for skincare, I have learned a lot about myself. I’m very aware now of what I like and dislike in make-up, what techniques I like to use, what methods I want to try and what colours look best on me. I know what skincare ingredients work for my skin, what formulations feel good and what benefits me the most.

Even with the knowledge I have gained, today I find myself with too much product for one person to use. I don’t enjoy having this abundance of product and the anxiety that comes with it. I have already somewhat minimised my collection and I got myself into the habit of really thinking through how much value a new product would add to my life. In 2019 I intend to focus on this more, to be more disciplined in my purchasing habits and to use what I already have.

My Inspiration

  1. Marie Kondo. I read The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying and Spark Joy prior to my decluttering phase earlier this year. It was extremely helpful in the tidying of course, but also in my thought process and outlook on life. As I follow her on Instagram I’m often reminded of her philosophy and recently I started flicking through her books again, feeling an urge to read them again. I want to get closer to achieving the lifestyle Marie Kondo’s methods promote.
  2. Anna Newton, aka. The Anna Edit. Fun fact: Anna Jo B. is a pseudonym derived from my real name, and it was inspired by Anna because I adore her whole life aesthetic. With her recent book launch, An Edited Life, I think of her as the English Mario Kondo. I love watching her videos on capsule wardrobes or organising her attic. Sure, she does beauty and fashion posts too, which you could argue contribute to my problem, but I don’t find that to be the case for me. I’m going to see her at a talk in Norwich where I will be getting her book, and I can’t wait to delve into her thoughts on organising your life through and through and applying her strategies during my 2019 “No Buy”.
  3. Hannah Louise Poston. She started her YouTube channel in January 2018 to document her No Buy Year, which is coming to an end. I have followed her for most of her journey (I found her sometime in March or April) and I almost feel a change within myself as though her No Buy affected me in some part too. Hannah is a joy to listen to – something she hears often – and observing her reflection on her habits throughout this year has been an interesting educational experience for me. Plus, I kinda want to be her, or at least her friend, so there’s that too.

My Rules And Goals

Before I outline what I intend to do and achieve in 2019, I have to make it clear that these rules and goals are not set in stone. I am going to review them after three months, reflect on my progress thus far, and make amendments to My Rules And Goals if I feel they are necessary or plainly a good idea.

I name this my “No Buy” as apposed to my No Buy, because I will still be buying things, but I think a Low Buy is not strict enough for what I need. I won’t be going in as harsh as Hannah did in her No Buy Year. But who knows, maybe after the first quarterly review I will find converting to a No Buy to be more suitable. Time will tell.

My Rules
  • I am NOT allowed to buy a product until I am down to the last one in its category, with some exceptions – I will specify these in the coming category breakdown.
  • I am NOT allowed to search for sales, unless I need a specific product and I’m looking for the most cost effective way to acquire it.
  • I AM allowed to shop sales for backups of my Holy Grail products if it’s in a category I work through quickly – I will specify these in the coming category breakdown.
  • I am NOT allowed to shop for any other backups or bulk purchases.
  • In the event of a sale I am NOT allowed to give in to it if I have to spend more to “save” or if it doesn’t benefit me in another way. Only shop a sale if it actually means saving money and it doesn’t mean adding to my pile of stuff.
  • During the “No Buy” if I come across a product I would like to try, I am to write it down specifying its category and revisit it at a time when it comes to replace my last product in said category.
  • I AM allowed to ask for skincare and make-up as gifts.
  • I AM allowed to shop for limited edition make-up if after careful consideration I conclude that it would add value and joy to my life.
  • Finally, realistically I can’t tell myself that I can’t comfort or reward shop because of my life situation. But it’s something that I want to avoid. Therefore the restriction I will impose upon myself is to only make the purchase after careful thought and consideration, as with limited edition items. No impulse buys.
My Goals
  • To reduce the amount of products I own down to the necessities and things I truly love – ideally I would like to identify True Love necessities to combine these two criteria.
  • To get to know my products, truly test them and thus learn more about my own likes, dislikes and preferences.
  • To be more aware of what I have and to have less of it.
  • To spend less money, and to spend it more wisely when I do make a purchase.
  • To observe how my spending in other areas of my life is affected by the “No Buy”.
  • To track my spending on skincare and make-up and to track what I use up.
  • To produce less waste.
  • To make a conscious effort to shop in stores more than online.
  • To live a more mindful and organised life.

What’s Next?

My main categories of products my “No Buy” applies to are Make-Up, Skincare, Bodycare and Haircare.

Over the next few weeks I will further break down each of these categories, share what I currently own, explain any exceptions that apply and more specific goals.

After that, I will document my “No Buy” as Hannah does on her YouTube channel. I am doing this to hold me accountable as well as to help me observe any behavioural changes and to reflect over time.

If you find yourself described in anything I’ve said in this rather lengthy introduction, I invite you to join me in my “No Buy”. You can create your own rules and goals that are most suitable for your life – you could be more lenient or stricter than I am. Or, I hope that you will be interested to stay around for the ride and watch my progress with me.

Anna Jo B.

Review – Extreme Senstive SPF50+ by Ultrasun

Ultrasun Body

MY SKIN
Dry and sensitive, acne prone – primarily hormonal; eczema prone.

THE PRODUCT
Extreme Sensitive SPF50+ by Ultrasun, body sunscreen, £22/100ml.

IN A NUTSHELL
This is exciting, because this bottle is empty! Despite not getting a lot of daily exposure I have been trying really hard to keep up with my sun protection during the heat wave we’re having in the UK. I feel that this empty bottle is testament to my dedication; I am proud!

Ingredients and Texture
To keep it brief, this sunscreen is a physical and chemical hybrid formulated to be suitable for sensitive skin. This means it does not contain several potential irritants, but the ones I’m most excited about are no fragrance, mineral oil, or octinoxate – my Number 1 chemical to avoid in sunscreen. What is included are botanical extracts to nourish the skin and antioxidants to increase the skin’s ability to protect itself against outside aggressors.

In texture this cream is quite scary upon application – it’s like a thick lotion that takes some work to rub in, but it’s manageable. It’s difficult to tell, because I am very fair of skin tone, but on me this cream does not leave a white cast. In fact I kind of enjoy the fact that it takes a while to rub this cream in, because it helps to see how well you’re covering your skin, and after several seconds it absorbs completely. I find that I can feel it on my skin throughout the day, but it’s not suffocating. It will DEFINITELY get sticky when you get sweaty, but then again, you’ll be sticky with or without sunscreen – or at least I will be.

Packaging
The packaging is great – simple but effective. It features an airless pump that not only preserves the product, but also ensures that you get every drop of it, and the bottle is made of sturdy and opaque plastic that again, preserves the product within. The bottle comes in a cardboard box which has a plethora of information printed on the inside walls, eliminating the need for wasteful leaflets that realistically no one ever reads. My favourite part is the instructions with recommended application.

Ultrasun Guide

As the majority of the population does not use enough product to warrant adequate protection, this is not only important but also very useful for the average consumer. I certainly have found it handy and it enlightened me about how much I should use.

Performance
If you haven’t been aware, here in the UK we have been having a crazy heat wave for the past couple of months and the sun is intense. As I’ve mentioned earlier, my skin is very fair in skin tone and although I do not burn crazy easily, the sun we’ve been enjoying would fry me up momentarily.

Since purchasing this sunscreen and wearing it daily I have not a trace of tan anywhere on my skin. I’ve had co-workers ask me if I stay indoors all day to avoid burning. I have strangers gush in disbelief at how fair I am remaining during this summer weather. Honestly, I’m a little shocked too, but very, very happy. As a bonus, after taking a shower my skin is soft and nourished after wearing this sunscreen. I have had absolutely no irritation whatsoever with it, so it certainly lives up to the “sensitive” claim.

FINAL VERDICT
I am very, very impressed. I was prepared for this cream to work well and keep me safe from burning based on my experience with the Facial Anti-Spot & Anti-Pollution Fluid SPF50+ from Ultrasun, but I wasn’t expecting to remain as pale as I would be in the dead of winter. I don’t enjoy the sticky feeling I get in intense heat, therefore I’ve decided to look for an alternative option to use on days when I have little sun exposure – eg. work days with not much more than the brief commute to and from work. But for days out on the beach, in the garden, in town, with a lot of time out in the sun, this will be my go to. 100% worth every penny.

Review – Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel by Benton

Benton Aloe

MY SKIN
Dry and sensitive, acne prone – primarily hormonal; eczema prone.

THE PRODUCT
Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel by Benton, hydrating gel, £17.58/100ml.

IN A NUTSHELL
Spoiler alert: I love and cherish this product like it’s my firstborn that brought eternal honour to the family (think Mulan).

At the beginning of the year 2018 I made some significant changes in my skincare routine. Up until then I was unhappy with the condition of my skin as I was continuously battling persistent acne and dryness with the occasional flare-up of eczema – but when it came it didn’t come to play, let me tell you that – since the age of 15. It’s been down to a mixture of reasons: hormonal imbalance (I have PCOS), stress, side effects from long term medication (steroids) and uneducated product misuse; these are just some of the reasons.During Christmas before that I had done some reading and binge watching on YouTube, I gathered as much information as I could and I came up with a new routine for my skin.

The aim of my new routine was to be absolutely minimal, very gentle, focus on hydration and protection, and most importantly not to overwhelm my skin. Prior to that I didn’t use that many products at a time, but I didn’t know a lot about what they were doing and I think I may have done some damage to myself because of that.

Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel is truly one of a kind, and a little unusual. It is without a doubt a gel, but less watery and more viscous in texture than you’d expect, so it’s almost reminiscent of a lotion. Upon application it glides smoothly and absorbs beautifully to make the skin feel instantly hydrated, but it also leaves a feeling of ever so gentle protection. I’ve been using it as my hydrating step after cleansing and toning, and before serums (if I’m using any) and moisturising. After about a week of use I started seeing a difference in my skin as it was clearly becoming more balanced from the ample hydration I was throwing at it. My complexion became slightly clearer and more glowing, my pores decreased in size ever so slightly and my skin was looking more plump with each day. After months of use my skin became unrecognisable with virtually no blemishes – something that I hadn’t experienced in at least 5 years – no dry patches and an overall fresh glow.

Let’s talk about the ingredients, because they are absolutely fantastic. It contains a host of incredibly soothing, nourishing and hydrating ingredients, 11/16 of which are botanical extracts. As could be expected from Korean skincare, some of these ingredients I had never heard of before, and the others had me enthusiastically nodding along with excitement.

Of the non-botanical ingredients we have glycerin and betaine – excellent humectants that draw moisture into the skin – and arginine, which has powerful healing properties and some anti ageing benefits. On the botanical side, the extracts from lichen and propolis have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, making the gel effective at treating acne, while extracts from portulaca, szechuan pepper and green tea serve as antioxidants. To sum it up, the contents of this gel do a bit of everything.

The packaging is very simple and fuss free with no bells and whistles. It’s a very ordinary plastic squeezy tube with minimalistic design that looks elegant on a curated skincare shelf. Benton clearly put substance above style and for that they get serious brownie points from me. The tube allows superb control of the amount of product dispensed. The plastic is completely opaque meaning it protects the gel inside from turning in reaction to sunlight. But the thing I appreciate the most is that once you get low on the product you can cut the tube open and scoop out the gel stuck to the sides, thus getting 100% of your money’s worth.

FINAL VERDICT
I simply adore Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel; the apple of my eye. Seven months ago my blemished, red, patchy skin was bringing me to tears and was seriously bringing down my confidence and today I can honestly say that I love my skin and am very happy in it. For the first time in years I leave the house makeup free and I feel absolutely no shame about it. I firmly believe that Soothing Gel is one of the main reasons for the improvement in my skin. Of course it would be plainly foolish to claim that it is solely responsible for my current clear complexion – my new routine consisted of 4-5 other products that were new to me, and as time went on and my skin was getting stronger and healthier I started incorporating more and more products. They all worked together to help me achieve my goal.

I recommend this product for all skin types. It will quench thirsty skin while on the oilier type it will nourish without overwhelming. This is especially fantastic for those who are looking to rehydrate and repair their skin that might be suffering from damage to their skin barrier caused by neglect and dehydration. And on more balanced skin this is a perfect all-in-one product to give your skin the daily hydration it needs and deserves. You basically can’t go wrong with it and it holds a very special place in my heart. 

Review – Face Brightening, Anti-Spot & Anti-Pollution Fluid SPF50+ by Ultrasun

Ultrasun SPF

MY SKIN
Dry and sensitive, acne prone – primarily hormonal; eczema prone.

THE PRODUCT
Face Brightening, Anti-Spot & Anti-Pollution Fluid SPF50+ by Ultrasun, facial sunscreen, £28/40ml.

IN A NUTSHELL
My first ever experience with Ultrasun was with a body sunscreen that I’ve found incredibly effective. Upon realising that they also offer a variety of facial sunscreens I started digging and picked this as my first trial.

The Fluid is a hybrid of both chemical and physical protection against the sun. It boasts of patented technologies and makes many claims that make it sound like the Guardian Angel we’ve all been waiting for. On top of providing high protection from UVA/UVB radiation, the Fluid also claims to protect against infrared and pollution, to be fast absorbing, non-greasy, moisturising, ultra light, brightening and water resistant. It contains antioxidants like vitamins C and E for boosted benefits and a few botanical extracts to help nourish the skin. It doesn’t contain a lot of the nasties I try to avoid: octinoxate, fragrance and mineral oil being the main three.

I do not find this sunscreen fast absorbing, ultra light or non-greasy – but it’s not terrible. The most important thing is that it doesn’t break me out or dry out my skin while being highly protective. It’s rather thin in consistency, like a milky lotion, so it’s best to shake it up before applying. It’s relatively easy to spread across the face and rub in until absorbed, but I find that if I roughly spread across one area, focus on another, and go back to the first, it can get pretty tricky. It leaves the faintest of white casts; on my fair complexion it doesn’t bother me as it makes my skin tone look more even, but darker skinned people might find this a nuisance. I don’t like this to wear under makeup, as I find it just sits on my skin and as the day goes by, it will pill off my face – I’ve found it doesn’t mix well with oils, despite containing squalane. The Fluid leaves my face looking shiny and I can feel it on my skin most of the day.

I really appreciate the packaging of this product. It’s a squeezy bottle that’s sleek, small, fully opaque, and the cap is secure so you don’t have to fear any leakages if you put it in your bag. The box it comes in includes a guide to help you understand how much product you should be using for best protection – something I appreciate and have found very useful. All the information you will ever need is written on the box, inside and out, eliminating the need for leaflets that realistically no one ever reads.

FINAL VERDICT
This sunscreen is very effective in intense sun exposure, and for that, I take my hats off to it. It puts substance over style which I really appreciate. It’s very moisturising, non-irritating and has not broken me out. I do not enjoy wearing it due to its greasiness, pilling and mild discomfort of wearing, but I am willing to overlook this when times are hard. To sum it up, I do not intend to wear the Fluid on a daily basis, but on active days with intense sunshine and lots of exposure, this will be my Number 1 to go to and for that reason I will repurchase it when I run out.