Review – Silk Hydration Air Soft Face Lotion SPF30 by Hawaiian Tropic

Hawaiian Tropic SPF

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

THE PRODUCT
Silk Hydration Air Soft Face Lotion SPF30 by Hawaiian Tropic, facial sunscreen, £12/50ml.

IN A NUTSHELL
A combination of physical and chemical protection, the Face Lotion offers broad spectrum SPF30 with a boost of 12 hours’ hydration. This is the second facial sunscreen that I’ve found enjoyable to apply and wear, and I prefer this one for its price and accessibility (I will talk about the first at a later time). This was actually an impulse buy, and I have no regrets. Though I had my doubts about it, the Face Lotion has quickly become a favourite that I’ve already stocked up on.

At first glance, looking at the ingredients list left me feeling a little unsure; it goes on forever, and the first three quarters consists of words I can’t even begin to try saying out loud. I’ll hold my hand up to the fact that sunscreen ingredients are not my strongest point, so I don’t know whether this is good or bad, but I raised an eyebrow. Fragrance in the middle of the list was a big red flag. But towards the end of the list we have hyaluronic acid, silk amino acids, a vitamin C derivative and several botanical extracts including aloe vera, all of which made my eyes light up. The vitamin C especially (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) sealed the deal for me, as antioxidants enhance skin’s ability to fight external aggressors, therefore it amplifies the effectiveness of the sunscreen. There is no drying alcohol and no octinoxate – something I actively try to avoid – in the ingredients, so I thought this is worth the risk, even with the fragrance.

The claims on the bottle are ultra light texture, 12 hour hydration, won’t clog pores, suitable to wear under make-up and water resistant.

The packaging is sleek and plastic and features an airless pump which allows superb control of how much product is dispensed. The Face Lotion is yellowy in colour and of a light cream consistency. It is incredibly easy to spread out and rub into the skin without dragging. It absorbs well without leaving a cast, though I like to leave it for a few minutes to dry before applying makeup. I can attest to the compatibility with make-up claim, because everything applies beautifully on top of the Face Lotion without pilling – my biggest pet peeve. It also feels very hydrating but not at all heavy. It gives a bright glow – some might say shine – that I personally love, though I realise those with oilier skins might find it too much. At first when I applied this the fragrance made my skin feel numb and cold for a few seconds, but after a week of use I no longer get this reaction. I have been using this sunscreen for over a month now and I have no irritation, no breakouts, no sunburn, only a beautiful glow and hydrated skin. I haven’t been able to test it with water, but it doesn’t bother me either way as I would just re-apply after swimming. By the way, it smells lovely.

FINAL VERDICT
I was a little wary about this sunscreen to begin with… Too many times in my experience cheaper meant worse, and the affordability of this product (it’s always on offer somewhere) worried me that it would not be suited to my skin. I would prefer for this to not contain fragrance and to offer higher protection. But for how well it applies, makes my skin feel, wears under makeup, causes no irritation and contains no nasties (aside from fragrance) that I try to avoid, this one is a winner. I’m already stocking up on it during the summer sales.

Review – UV Super Moisture Milk by Skin Aqua

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

THE PRODUCT
UV Super Moisture Milk by Skin Aqua, facial sunscreen, £11.62/100ml.

IN A NUTSHELL
This won’t take long. I don’t like it. It broke me out, and when I used it on my chest I burned.

Let’s talk about the positives. This Japanese cult favourite has SPF50+ with a PA rating of ++++ – every skincare junkie’s dream. Though tiny and a bit of an eye sore, the bottle is well made, light, sleek, it has a squeezy nozzle and the cap screws on nicely without any trouble. The product is runny in consistency – indeed, like milk – and feels like a very light lotion going on the skin. Because of this applying a large amount isn’t a bothersome chore, which can often be the issue with sunscreens. It absorbs well without leaving a white cast, and my favourite thing about this is that it contains no alcohol or fragrance – heaven for my dry skin. One of the greatest highlights of this sunscreen is no drying alcohol which is near impossible to find in Asian sunscreen.

On the negative side I feel that the Moisture Milk made me a little bit greasy, which I think must have been the cause of my breaking out. I don’t know what it is, but while applying it it feels wonderfully moisturising yet something feels terribly off. Makeup did not wear well with this and I pilled around my hairy areas (hairline, brows). In the end this broke me out and I delegated it to body use, but it’s proven to be nothing more than a light lotion.

A brief look through the ingredient list brings no suspects to my attention that could indicate why I reacted to this. I’m also shocked that I burned with it, as I know this to be a favourite product of many people around the globe. Admittedly I bought this on Amazon, so perhaps it was an expired product… I don’t know, but this experience had been bad enough to make me not want to buy it again, especially as I’ve found a favourite since.

FINAL VERDICT
Again, in a nutshell, I simply don’t like Moisture Milk and enjoy very little about it. I’m going to assume it’s down to my skin being particularly finicky, because I’ve only seen good reviews about it thus fat. I will not repurchase this sunscreen and based on my experience I would not recommend it to anyone else either.

Review – Gentle Cleansing Milk by REN

REN cleanser

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

THE PRODUCT
Gentle Cleansing Milk by REN, milk cleanser, £19.00/150ml.

IN A NUTSHELL
The Evercalm range by REN is catered towards sensitive skin that’s not very happy, whether because of dryness, reactivity or acne. The lovely thing about Evercalm is that sensitive skincare generally can be used on all skin types. This cleanser was my very first experience with the brand.

True to its name, this cleanser is gentle and milky. So gentle and milky in fact, that I find it suitable only for my morning cleanse; it leaves behind a light and soothing blanket of feeling moisturised which in and of itself I love, but I find that because of it the Gentle Cleansing Milk can’t handle tackling the residue from the first cream or oil cleanser I would use in the evening.

This cleanser contains several ingredients whose properties are to soothe, nourish and moisturise; packed with fatty alcohols, shea butter, moisturising oils like sunflower or sesame seed and a handful of other botanical extracts. I find myself really feeling the effect of the oils used in this product because after washing and drying my face it feels as though I had already moisturised it. I personally love this effect, but I think others especially with oilier skin types wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I do. I’m a little confused about the presence of several essential oils and artificial fragrance in a product that’s aimed at sensitive skin… I suppose it’s there to improve the sensory experience of using a more expensive product, but personally I would rather be without it. The scent this addition achieves is very herbal that’s great first thing in the morning.

Gentle Cleansing Milk can be used on wet or dry skin, but I personally prefer to do it wet and delicately massage my face as I cleanse. Whenever I tried it dry I felt like I needed twice as much product and it didn’t feel as milky going on, but rinsing off almost makes it foamy and it takes a thorough rinse to completely remove. I highly doubt this will take off anything more than just the stress of the day/night (hopefully you’re not stressing at night!). Despite the added fragrance I use this directly on the eyes with absolutely no irritation.

FINAL VERDICT
I find this a truly fantastic option for my skin needs and I think that anyone with dry and sensitised skin would enjoy this cleanser as part of their routine. Yes, there are a few eyebrow raisers for irritated skins, but I think that the nourishing oils preceding them in the ingredients combat any potential damage they could cause. But, at the end of the day it’s all a personal choice.

At first I thought that this one bottle of Gentle Cleansing Milk would be enough for me in my life because it’s not revolutionary. However, as time goes by and I’ve used it every morning for about three months, I’m getting more and more hooked. I think this might end up being a repurchse!

Review – Lash Impact Ultra by No7

 

THE PRODUCT
Lash Impact Ultra by No7, £14.00/7ml, mascara.

IN A NUTSHELL
To keep it short, I do not like this product. I’ve had good experience with No7 mascara in the past and was due a new tube so I had a look around and picked this to try out. It claims to instantly give bold lashes with clump-free, full bodied volume with no flaking or smudging.

The first thing that REALLY shook me was the smell – it smells like straight up industrial paint. It wasn’t making my eyes water or giving me any kind of reaction, so I didn’t mind, I was just surprised. The formula is very wet and a lot of product comes out on the wand so I had to wipe the majority of it off before applying to my lashes. Even after doing that I simply could not apply this mascara without it giving me spider leg lashes that remained wet for a good 30 minutes. It flaked and rubbed all around my eyes within an hour or two and at the end of the day I had a classic case of severe raccoon eyes. After about a week of trialing I gave up on it and decided to give the formula time to dry out.

Fast forward four months. The formula is much drier now and it’s the perfect consistency that applies like a dream. It really gave me impressive volume and length that looked like false lashes. However, an hour later the flaking and smudging ensued. This was, sadly, the nail in the coffin.

FINAL VERDICT
I have used this mascara 10-20 times and each time I was borderline disgusted with how I looked. I was really disappointed with the last attempt because it started out so well. For the price especially I think this is not worth it, I would not recommend it, and mine is going in the bin.

Short Essay On Mental Health – When Coping Mechanisms Have Lives Of Their Own

My Most Recent Shopping Binge

I didn’t realise this for many years, but I’ve been struggling with depression for the majority of my life. I remember, as a little girl, being so unhappy with my life that I wanted it to end. I never spoke about it to anyone because my understanding was that it’s normal to feel sad and that thinking about death is just something everything does when they’re feeling sad. Now, as an adult with diagnosed depression, I realise that that’s when my problems have started.

I didn’t have any understanding of what depression is until I was about 17, when I was at my deepest and darkest low. Learning about this illness made me realise that along the way I’ve developed some coping mechanisms, and it made me realise that they started taking over my life and my mind.

I’ve struggled with disordered eating patterns since I started my A Levels. For months I would starve myself, then in a day I shovelled in the amount of food I would have eaten in that time, then I tried to purge and punished myself if I couldn’t do it and for the lack of discipline in the first place.

I am a little better now. I still restrict and binge occasionally, but not dangerously. It’s just something that I automatically reach for when things fall out of place and I can’t put them back in order. It’s still a cause for concern, but no one is concerned.

Until last night. And oddly enough, my binges are not what brought about the concern.

Last night I was consoling my mum who is unhappy at her job. It just so happens that I too am unhappy at my workplace and I’ve been job hunting the past couple of weeks. I was in very high spirits when I received three interview invitations over the course of one week, two of which I was REALLY excited for because they were actually close to my interests.

I went to the interviews and I’ve done my absolute best. I was really happy with myself for how I’ve done and I gave myself a good pat on the back and went home feeling hopeful. I never let my expectations get too high, so getting the call back with a rejection from both the places I was excited for left me feeling a little deflated, but ultimately I was okay. I had done my best, the interviewers told me they loved meeting me and that they’ll hold on to my details if anything else crops up.

But I wasn’t okay. Somewhere deep inside, beneath the layers of thick skin I’ve grown over the years, I cracked. I very tiny paper of me was devastated that I had done so well, the people I met loved me so much, and STILL I wasn’t good enough. It was a truly miniscule part of me that felt this pain, but it hurt so strong that I felt it on the surface too.

I felt I lost control of something that I was handling really well. For a year I’ve been wanting to change my job and my constant state of depression was stopping me from making that move. Now I took charge, went out there and got the results I was after, and in the end it all backfired. There was nothing else I could do; I was rejected for reasons I could not control.

Control is a significant element of coping mechanisms. The loss of control in personal life is counterbalanced by the creation of control in one’s behaviour. One dangerous example is eating patterns, as I had developed as a teenager. Now, as an adult, I’ve translated this to shopping.

So here’s my confession: I have a shopping problem. When things fall out of place in my life, I spend money. Last year I spent 4 months spending every single spare penny I had, and it was in things like makeup, clothes, books, food (so I could binge), and many other things I did not NEED, but WANTED there and then.

Fast forward to my heart-to-heart with my mum last night. I told her that these recent job rejections have really deflated me and made me feel helpless, and I started getting the urge to spend. Not to shop, not to buy something nice that I will enjoy, but to spend. It’s an itch that I can’t get to to scratch it away, and ignoring it doesn’t work as it keeps nagging at me day and night.

We concluded that I have the shopping equivalent of bullimia – the urge to buy more makeup and skincare than I can store and ever use up when I feel a loss of control in my life. It was the first time I ever spoke about it out loud as a coping mechanism and I realised that it’s not just a bad habit I have; it’s becoming a problem.

I’m not sure what to do about it now if I’m honest. But knowing that my mum is aware of this, knowing that she’s acknowledged it as a problem that I might need help with and knowing that I can talk to her about it is a huge weight taken off my shoulders. Therefore, if you have a similar problem, I urge you to reach out to someone or find a community that will make you feel understood. I’ve learned a lot about eating disorders from Mia on What Mia Did Next. The community she has created over the years is amazingly admirable and lovingly caring. Her videos have opened my eyes to so many things in this world, and not just from the point of view of an eating disorder sufferer. I highly recommend visiting her channel to everyone, regardless of the difficulties you’re facing in your life.

I wish you all strength, courage and perseverance in battling your inner demons. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out to someone. You may talk to me if you feel comfortable to do so – I would love to help, even if just by saying you’re not alone in this.

Until then – you are not alone in this. You can survive anything. And you will. Stay strong.

Review – Pure Skin Face Wash by Balance Me

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash

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

THE PRODUCT
Pure Skin Face Wash by Balance Me, £16.00/125ml, gel cleanser.

IN A NUTSHELL
Another accidental discovery in the cleansing world, Pure Skin Face Wash quickly found its way into my skincare routine and the depths of my heart. Upon my hairdresser’s recommendation last year I subscribed to Birchbox for a few months and this was one of the first items that was sent to me. My skin was not happy at all at the time and I was frankly terrified of putting anything new on my face, but having a weakness for products of natural origin, I was convinced by the “99% Natural” claim on the bottle.

I find this face wash akin to an oil cleanser, but in gel format. Rice bran oil, which is the fourth ingredient in this cleanser, is a popular option for the oil cleansing method especially in Japanese skincare. It’s rich in fatty acids and vitamins E and B, making it very moisturising and an excellent choice for targeting concerns of ageing and acne. Other ingredients in the Pure Skin Face Wash like glycerin, aloe vera leaf extract and moringa seed oil add to the moisturising properties of this little gem. Although free from fragrance, this cleanser has a distinct herbal scent that some might find off putting (I am not to be counted among them, I find the scent refreshing); it is achieved with the use of several flower oils which can irritate extra sensitive skin types. On me however this product has been nothing but a dream.

I especially love this face wash for my second cleanse after using Ultrabland, but if I was left with no other options for everything else, I would be more than satisfied with this offering. When applied to the skin it glides effortlessly whether you wet your face first or not (I’m the former type) and the slip allows for a massage if you’re feeling indulgent – I find the scent would go well with that little treat. It’s gentle enough to be used directly on the eyes, yet effective enough to remove any residue from the first cream cleanse. If you don’t double cleanse, this on its own will struggle to remove all your makeup or sunscreen. It rinses off with ease leaving behind no residue, only comfortable feeling and nourished skin.

FINAL VERDICT
I cannot imagine life without this cleanser. I have been faithful to it for about 9 months and during this time my skin has become more balanced, thus clearer and less dry. I like to try out new things and I don’t like hoarding too many products that perform the same function, but Pure Skin Face Wash is exempt from this rule. The fear of breaking out from a new cleanser is greater than the nuisance of finding a place to store it, so I like to have at least one back up of this at all times – you know, just in case.

 

Review – Ultrabland by Lush

Ultrabland AJ

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

THE PRODUCT
Ultrabland by Lush, cream cleanser, £25.95/225g.

IN A NUTSHELL
Ultrabland is the first cream cleanser I have ever tried and – spoiler alert! – have fallen madly in love with. This discovery was life changing for my skin, and it was before I had the vaguest idea that double cleansing is a thing. Funnily enough, the sales assistant at my local Lush gave me a sample to apply around my hairline when I dyed my hair with their henna. I never used it for that purpose because I completely forgot I had it, so when I dug it out of the depths of my skincare cabinet I looked up what it is and how to use it. And thus the love affair commenced.

I’m a huge fan of responsibly sourced bee byproduct use in skincare – my skin responds well to their bacteria and fungus fighting properties. Beeswax and honey are among my favourite ingredients in this cleanser; I find them nourishing and soothing on my skin, and I firmly believe that both these ingredients have helped calm my acne and dryness. On top of this sweet almond oil is my favourite mixing oil for the oil cleansing method, and rose water is my favourite hydrator. So in conclusion, Lush gathered all my favourite ingredients and threw them all in one pot to create my Holy Grail cream cleanser.

This is a really simple and basic cleanser that delivers fantastic results. I’ve been using it for my double cleanse for over a year now and as tempting as other options on the market seem at times, I have no intention to change it out anytime soon. Ultrabland is buttery smooth and glides onto the skin like a dream. I lightly spread it over my face for as long as I feel the need to – sometimes I’ll indulge in a little massage, sometimes I just want to take off my makeup and get to sleep ASAP – and take it off with a wet cotton pad until I’m clean and then I follow with my gel cleanser. Ultrabland effectively removes all face makeup and SPF, but struggles with heavy eye makeup and liquid lipstick. It leaves my skin feeling nourished and fresh, and over time it has helped to balance my complexion and combat a lot of the dryness and acne.

It can smell a little funky sometimes – to me, reminiscent of a sizzling sausage. It doesn’t bother me at all and the smell doesn’t linger. I would say it takes some getting used to making the best of Ultrabland, as to begin with I always found myself with an oily residue on my skin. But with practice I got the hang gauging exactly how much product I need and how to effectively remove it.

FINAL VERDICT
This is a beautiful cleanser and I’m forever grateful for the lucky discovery. I think it’s very effective both in cleansing and caring for the skin. However, it needs extra help on those days when I wear heavier makeup – which I’m okay with. I appreciate that it’s available in three different sizes and that I can return the pots it comes in to exchange for a face mask. All in all, I highly recommend this to everyone.