Posts tagged ‘skincare’

January 16, 2014

REN Rose Otto Bath Oil

Like many of you, I was given beauty products as Christmas gifts. Luckily for me, the people who bought them know my taste and so there’s nothing that I don’t love.

REN Rose Otto bath oil tops my list of the best beauty gifts ever. (Thank you to my lovely boyfriend!) The smell is incredible, and because it’s an oil, it moisturises so well that there’s no need for any additional post-bath moisturiser. REN make wonderful products, without many of the nasties such as parabens, sulfates or mineral oils. The base oil for this product is sesame, and the fragrance is based on the Rose Otto and Palmarosa oils it contains. I’ve been feeling ill for a week now, and bathing in this oil has helped relax and soothe my poor body like nothing else.  The bottle is glass, so can be recycled, although I tend to keep mine and reuse them as tiny posy vases.

As you might imagine, I’ve been using this oil quite a lot since Christmas. In fact, I’m about a third of the way down the bottle already. Many Christmas beauty and fragrance gifts will now be still unopened, as people wait for special occasions to use them. My advice to you? Open the packaging and use the products. Be lavish! My mother is notorious for keeping special beauty and fragrance products for ‘best’ – and so many times the products have spoiled before she’s even had the chance to use them. Shelf lives for ingredients are not indefinite, especially when it comes to natural ingredients like essential oils. They need to be stored appropriately and used within a certain time.

And, the best day of your life is today. It’s the only day of your life. What’s already gone is history and who knows what the future holds. So, open your special beauty products and enjoy them today. And while I’m on the subject, wear your favourite clothes too. Put your best shoes on to do the school run. Wear your favourite dress to the cinema. Or just to potter around the house. If your favourite things make you happy, you should make today a great day and use them…

REN Rose Otto Bath Oil (image from REN)

REN Rose Otto Bath Oil (image from REN)

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December 2, 2013

REN Rosa Centifolia review

I’ve been a fan of REN for a long time. Their famous Rose Otto bath is my favourite bathing treat of all time. I love the combination of the clean, simple packaging and high-tech, yet natural formulas. They’re also free from synthetics, mineral oils, sulphates. And, probably the most important thing, on a day to day basis, they just feel great to use and I’ve never never had a bad reaction from any of their products.

I’ve worked my way through a few of their facial products, but this summer they’ve introduced two new ranges, and I was keen to try some products from the Rosa Centifolia range. Luckily, the way they’ve decided to show the world these new products is by attaching samples of them to the cover of magazines. (Red, earlier this year and InStyle’s October edition) and so I decided to buy the magazines purely for the products. That might sound odd, but given that the products are worth more than the magazines, and I was pretty sure that they’d be great, I decided that it was a good idea. And, of course, with my long battle with a magazine addiction, clearly I was going to, wasn’t I? But I bet I’m not the only person who buys magazines purely for the beauty freebies – it’s genuinely how I’ve got my last three mascaras…

REN skincare

REN Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel: This was initially from a sample on the cover of Red, but I liked it so much, I bought a full sized version. I like to use a wash off cleanser at the start of the day to wake me up properly and this one is gentle, with the beautiful fragrance of rose. It doesn’t foam up, doesn’t leave my skin feeling too tight and is a great product.

REN Vita Mineral Day Cream: This is a lovely, simple day moisturiser. I’ve used the sample up, but I’m not going to buy a full sized version, as I’m  likely to replace it with something a bit more luxurious (I’m old, you see, I need something for my wrinkles!) but if you’re looking for a nice, every day moisturiser, this could well be it.

REN Rosa Centifolia 3-in-1 Cleansing Water: I bought this product to use at the end of the day, and I love how clean my skin feels once I’ve used this product, with the cotton wool pads clearly showing the grime that’s been removed! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work terribly well on waterproof eye make up, so I need to find something else to remove that. (Incidentally, I recently bought Boots Botanics All Bright Soothing Eye Make Up Remover to do that job. It makes my eyes really sting. I should have guessed from the warning not to get it in your eyes. Of all the products I use, eye make up remover really is the one that’s likely to get in my eyes, isn’t it!) Micellar waters have been really popular in Europe for years but we only seem to be seeing them more recently in the UK. I really like how simple they feel to use, literally like using just water, and I’ll buy one again. Though there are a few others that I’d like to try, this REN one is really nice.

REN ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Clarity Serum. I struggle a bit with the fact that my skin is dehydrated yet I have breakouts and blemishes. This product helps deal with the dehydration whilst also helping to reduce any spots I might have. It’s really simple to use, morning and evening on cleansed skin and is relatively frangrance-free. Unlike many spot clearing type products, it’s not astringent, as it’s adding moisture rather than removing it, and I absolutely love it. I’ll definitely be replacing this one once I’ve used it all up.

So, all the new REN products I’ve been using are firmly recommended. I’m going to try a night cream next, so if there’s one from the range that you recommend, do let me know!

Do you use any REN products? Are there any you’d recommend?  And do you buy magazines because of beauty freebies? Or is that just me…

June 21, 2013

What’s in your handbag?

Regular blog readers might remember me writing a ‘what’s in your handbag’ post ages ago. Shortly after which the bag in question, along with its contents, was stolen from my kitchen. Thankfully it was all insured, and therefore replaced with shiny new things! Huzzah!

I’m choosing not to think that lightening can strike twice and so I’m risking writing a new version of that post, because, if you’re as nosy as I am, the contents of a handbag are fascinating …

So, here goes.

The bag that I carry around switches between a silver Cambridge Satchel, a Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp tote, and a brown leather satchel that my Dad gave me to replace my beloved stolen Mulberry Antony. Each of the bags is useful for different occasions, but the one I have today is the brown leather one. Simple, logo-free and with enough pockets for me to endlessly think I’ve lost something, this bag is perfect for slinging across my shoulders and leaving my hands free for important things like ice-cream eating, hand-holding (romantically with my other half, or to stop my kids jumping into a lake) or endless Tweeting.

I like to carry a lot of stuff. So, small fancy bags are not really any good for me and this list really does prove it!

IMG_6393

Inside the bag:

  • Suncream. I used some chemical peel pads earlier this year and although they’ve improved my skin lots, they have left it very sensitive to the sun. Daily suncream is essential now. This one is by ROC.
  • Moleskine diary and fineliner pen. Because although I love technology, nothing beats pen and paper.
  • My purse. I love, love, love this purse. It was made for me by the talented Abi of ‘Sew You’ and it’s large enough to hold my keys, lipbalm, iPhone earphones, and a tiny box of dental floss as well as my cash and cards. After my last one was stolen, she sent me a free replacement, which just proves how fabulous she is.
  • Lifeventure water bottle. Reason enough for a giant bag! I carry water with me all the time after a kidney infection earlier this year, and the bottle – bought for me by my beloved – is with me every day.
  • My essential make-up kit: Rodial Glam Balm, Nars Sheer Glow foundation (in Mont Blanc, which just shows you how pale I am!) classic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, a very old Shu Uemura eyeshadow in Medium Brown, YSL Touche Eclat, Kevyn Aucoin eye pencil (one of the best I’ve ever used) and finally, lip gloss in Jean Queen from Lipstick Queen which is the perfect everyday pink.  Most of this haul was bought from my local Space NK
  • A packet of Chewits. Because you never know when the Chewit Monster might strike! Remember him? Actually, I have to confess that, having discovered them in my bag when I emptied it to take the photo, I’m eating them right now, as I type.  I quite often have a little something sugary in my bag. To placate my children – what a mother – or to to give me a little energy boost at 3pm. I know, I know, I should be eating fruit or almonds or something. But I’m not.
  • A magazine. In this case, the wonderful stationery-special issue 17 of Uppercase. For many, many reasons. It has a scratch ‘n’ sniff cover, for a start! Scratch’n’sniff! I know that at the age of 37, I should have grown out of such things, but it’s cherry, so therefore brilliant. I always have something to read in my bag. Being a public transport user, I never know when I’ll end up stuck somewhere and I prefer my reading material in print, not via e-reader. Books never die.
  • A Rapha musette. A gift from my lovely boyfriend, this little bag is often with me so that I don’t have to use carrier bags in shops.
  • And finally, my beloved iPhone 5. At 64GB, this is worth more than my car and I love it almost as though it were my third child. I’m not even joking (much) about that. My addiction to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and, I confess here … Happy Street … mean that I never want to be without it.

So, that little lot is worth quite a lot. A quick tally up shows that replacing it would cost me roughly £950. Mostly because of the unlocked iPhone, to be honest but even the make-up would cost me a fair bit to replace in one go. That’s actually quite a surprise. I’d better go and check that insurance policy …

This post will be entered into a Money Supermarket competition. 

March 20, 2013

Sweet Cecily’s lip balm kit: A review

I bought a lip balm making kit for my daughter from Sweet Cecily’s a little while ago, and promptly forgot about it until the other day when we were looking for something fun and a little bit different to do together. It proved to be the perfect choice, combining my girl’s love of making things and her desire to be a real ‘girly girl’ with her own lip balm, just like her mum!

It’s been a while since I wrote about a skincare company and Sweet Cecily’s is exactly the kind of brand I like. A small company based here in Yorkshire, creating hand-made skin care with natural ingredients and complete with pretty packaging, there is a lot to like. I look forward to trying out more of their range in the future. The Sea Buckthorn Berry hand cream looks particularly good for us gardeners!

The kit I bought contained all the weighed-out ingredients for five pots of orange essential oil lip balm and the little pots, lid stickers and instructions needed, all inside a cotton drawstring bag. My daughter added all the ingredients to a double-boiler saucepan for me to heat up. Everything melted easily together and there was the perfect amount for the five tins included. I then poured the melted lip balm into the little pots and left it to cool. It took hardly any time at all and so as an activity, it wouldn’t have been enough on its own. But – plenty of time was needed for creating five mini masterpieces to decorate the lids and so Eve was happily drawing oranges all afternoon!

PicMonkey Collage

Originally, the plan was for Eve to give out several pots away to friends, but in true diva fashion, she has decided to stockpile it all for herself. I have been honoured to receive a pot of my own to keep though, so I’m happy enough. The lip balm contains a lovely combination of shea butter, cocoa butter and almond and calendula oil and so is really moisturising and the orange essential oil adds a lovely fragrance. My pot is made all the more special because of the unique picture that has been drawn for the lid, which makes me smile every time I see it. I keep it in my bag and use it every day. I really recommend this kit as a gift, it’s been a great success.

October 29, 2012

Anya Hindmarch for British Airways: A Little Luxury.

Have you ever turned left on entering a plane? I haven’t. Not for me the luxuries of First Class, sadly. It has to be said that I’ve not been on a long-haul flight (the only time I think upgrades are really worth it) since 2006, when I flew to New York. I was in the second trimester of pregnancy and so spent the entire flight either walking around to stave off the threat of DVT or going to the loo. Given that, a First Class ticket would have been something of a waste of money!

Luckily for me, I do know people who turn left on entering the plane, and not only are they fortunate, they’re also kind enough to share their goodies with me. Now that I’m in the throes of saving up, I’m trying very hard not to spend money on luxury things, but I do love a bit of luxury (and who doesn’t?) so this really does help make up for my economising.

If you travel First Class with British Airways you are fortunate enough to receive a lovely Anya Hindmarch bag, filled with REN skincare goodies. REN skincare is a great brand and creator of my favourite Rose Otto bath oil. Inside this kit, which is structured like a little framed doctor bag and utterly lovely, is everything you could need to emerge after a long haul flight feeling as fresh as a daisy. Well, nearly… I’m sure the flat beds in First Class help with that too! Alongside the all-important sleep mask and ear plugs, you get the following things: Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel, Vita-Mineral Day Cream, Neroli and Grapefruit Hand & Body Cream, Biominetic Lip Balm (all by REN) and a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash. So very lovely.

Now, I don’t have any long distance travel plans in the near future, but I am going away to Whitby for a couple of days in November to stay in the fabulous looking Bensons Townhouse, which was all booked and sorted before I made my decision to save up for a bigger trip! I’ll be taking this perfect little travel bag of luxury with me and will very much enjoy a brief interlude from my economising…

October 3, 2012

Space NK and leaving beauty boxes behind.

I had a subscription to one of the beauty boxes until recently. Each month, I’d get a pretty box filled with a selection of sample beauty products posted through the letter box. And for a while, it was great. I love to get exciting post, and this was a little treat just for me. But after a while, the lustre wore off the whole thing. I heard rumours that beauty bloggers were getting different products to the rest of the subscribers, purely so they could act as free PR for the companies, and then another rumour about a ‘premium, invite-only’ box, that the company were going to just make available to a select few people. Quite how they were going to decide whose £12 a month was the most deserving of this premium line, I don’t know, but it seemed a little bit of ‘us and them’ behaviour to me. Of course, these were just unsubstantiated rumours, and I’m no beauty expert, but I decided to leave.

The other thing that I really realised about the experience is how much I love to go into stores and play around with products before buying them. Even getting the samples in the post wasn’t really the same, because part of the fun for me is chatting to the staff and learning more about the products that way. So, I’m back in the stores, trying things out, and enjoying the great customer service you often find with beauty brands.

One of my favourite places to do this is in Space NK. I like that they have a range of different brands, and that the staff in my local branch all seem to be really passionate about what they do and what they sell. Maybe they’re on commission, it doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I always feel as though I’m being treated well and leave the store with a happy feeling.

At a brilliant card holders’ event recently (where I had my hair straightened) I came away with a incredible free bag of lovely goodies, after spending enough money (on gifts and for other people, so not spending money to get freebies, which is really bad maths!) and I really don’t think it would have been bettered anywhere else. I have favourite brands elsewhere (Liz Earle and Neal’s Yard Remedies for example), and favourite brands in Space NK (Eve Lom, Darphin, Caudalie, Diptyque to mention a few) and there is room in my life for them all! I’m enjoying the process of choosing things in store again, and I don’t think I’ll be going back to a beauty box subscription any time soon.

August 17, 2012

Weston Scarves and Burt’s Bees collaboration

A Weston scarf is firmly on my ultimate fashion wish list. Founded by Professor Richard Weston, the scarves are a remarkable fusion of art and science, with stunning digital images taken from nature, such as rocks and minerals, being used to great dramatic effect. The end result is something not purely to wear for one season, but something you would love forever. Perfect for someone like me, who wears a scarf like an adult comfort blanket almost every day (honestly, ask my friends) and cannot bear throw-away fashion. (I’ve written quite a lot of blog posts about scarves actually, if you want to look…)

This summer, Weston Scarves are collaborating with Burt’s Bees in a campaign to support the British Beekeepers Association, with the creation of a stunning ‘Wild for Bees’ floral printed scarf and matching, special edition version of their 24 hour Milk and Honey body lotion.

The beautiful yellow, purple and green scarf, which is over a metre long, is being sold exclusively through the Burt’s Bees website, with all proceeds going to the British Beekeepers Association‘s ‘Adopt a Beehive’ project. It’s a seriously gorgeous scarf, I covet it so much. If you bought one, not only would you feel great about supporting the charitable campaign but you’d never want to take it off!

You can buy the body lotion nation-wide from Debenhams, the Burt’s Bees website and independent stores. I’ve tried the lotion and it feels very light, absorbs easily and really does soften the skin very well. Along with the milk and honey, it also  contains shea butter, coconut and grape seed oils and vitamin E, so there is no surprise that it does such a good job. I liked it a lot.

I’ve written before about the plight of bees and every single project that is making a contribution to their recovery gets my full support. As an allotment holder and keen gardener, I’m only too aware of the importance of all bees as pollinators. Approximately a third of the food we eat has been pollinated by bees, so whether you think it matters to you or not, the survival of bees is vital for everyone. This campaign, working to support honey bees in particular, will hopefully raise the profile of the British Beekeepers Association and the work they do in supporting bee colonies. The limited edition scarf and body lotion will be available throughout August and September.

With thanks to Burt’s Bees for the body lotion sample.

May 23, 2012

Yves Rocher Skincare Review

Yves Rocher is a company that’s been in my peripheral vision for a long time. It’s the number one skin care brand in France, and that’s where I’ve seen it on sale when I’ve been on holiday, so I’ve not really been in the market for skin care purchases.  As a result of that, I’ve never tried any of their range until now, as they are expanding into the UK market and so can be bought by mail order.

The first of their products I’ve been using is the Derma Smoothing Day Moisturiser for sensitive skin. I have skin that I’d consider to be sensitive. I am allergic to a few things and my skin often flares up for no discernible reason, so I tend to look for products that are designed to deal with that. This moisturiser comes well packaged in a nicely designed tub with a pink lid. It has a fairly thick gel-cream texture and is unscented. This is to remove any irritants that people may find in perfumes, and leaves it with a pleasant enough, fairly neutral smell. I liked this cream. It does exactly what it sets out to do, offer good long-lasting moisture without irritating my skin. I’ve been using it regularly, and applying liberally, for a couple of weeks and there is still plenty left in the 50ml sized jar, so I think it offers really good value too. It doesn’t have an SPF, so you’d need to add one of those on top, and luckily Yves Rocher do a range of sun protection too!

The second product I have been using is their Precious Night Oil, which is part of the organic range. I love facial oils for my skin. As I get older, my skin has got drier and wrinklier (how lovely) and this oil, used in the evening after thoroughly cleansing, feels really nourishing. I loved the smell from the sweet orange oil it contains. This product contains extracts from five different plants; lavender, jojoba, petitgrain, sesame, and sweet orange. Again the product is nicely packaged, in recycled cardboard and feels like a good quality product. I have been using this for a couple of weeks each evening and my skin does feel as though it’s less dry. It’s a pleasure to use and again, it feels like really good value, considering how little is needed each time.

I’d definitely buy more products from this brand on the strength of these two. In fact, I’ve got my eye on some of their home spa products which look gorgeous…

October 7, 2011

Home Spa.

Now I don’t have training to do for any physical challenges, it’s safe to say that I have slowed down a bit and haven’t made it to the gym as often as I should. I’m also trying pretty hard to deal with my sugar addiction.  No more full sugar coke and Danish pastries for me for a while – at least until I sign up for another challenge. Then I’ll give myself licence to eat a bit more!

What I tend to do when I’m trying to avoid food, is turn to the bathroom. Indulging in lotions, potions and other lovely things stops me from putting my hand in the biscuit jar too often – it’s pretty hard to eat and paint your nails (using my new NARS polish in Orgasm) at the same time! Plus, it makes it easier to eat better if you feel as though you’re looking after yourself on the outside too.

So, I thought I’d share some of my favourite products with you. We all like a nosy around each others bathroom cabinets to see what other people are using, so here’s my ‘I’m on a Diet’ Spa Evening…

All the ingredients for a great spa evening…

The first thing I do is light some candles (preferably from Jo Malone, The White Company or Dyptique) and  run a bath, adding REN Rose Otto bath oil. A classic, this foamless oil has the best  Moroccan rose essential oil scent ever, so it’s truly relaxing and moisturises your skin beautifully. I leave the bath to cool a little while going through the rest of my home spa routine.

I have a quick shower, using Lush’s ‘Rub, Rub, Rub’ salt scrub. It’s bright blue with a floral scent, and most importantly, it does a great job of tackling the bumps (keratosis pilaris) on the upper arms.

Then once I’m out of the shower, it’s onto a facial. My cleanser of choice is Eve Lom. The slightly medicinal and eucalyptus smell (always reminds me of horse hoof oil), takes a while to get used to, but I do love it now. Partly though, it’s because I know how well the product works. I massage it into my dampened skin and leave it on for a while before using the provided muslin cloth to take it off again. It cleans, exfoliates, decongests and soothes. I cannot cope without it now, and notice a real difference to my skin when I run out!

For my Spa Evening, I often exfoliate as well as use the Eve Lom muslin cloth. A recent discovery is Dr Brandt’s Microdermabrasion exfoliating cream, which I apply onto damp skin and massage gently round the face, especially the t-zone. It has a lovely lemon-y scent and really fine grains, making it really gentle but effective.

After relaxing in the bath, I’ll then apply a facial serum, often Caudalie’s Vinoperfect radiance serum. Serums make all the difference to a daily skin-care routine, adding so much more than just a moisturiser, especially now I’m in my mid-thirties. My skin isn’t too bad, but I am noticing more issues, so I want to try and deal with them without resorting to extreme measures. Having said that, I have started doing that thing of looking in the mirror and stretching my skin back with my hands to see what I might look like after a face lift! Oh dear…

As an aside, my favourite moisturiser at the moment is also by Caudalie – Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid. A moisturiser that tackles imperfections, pigmentation, texture, and radiance – basically all the problems I have at the moment!

If my skin is really congested I do also love to use Darphin’s Aromatic Purifying Balm. With twelve different essential oils, it smells amazing and I use it over cleansed skin at night.

The REN Rose Otto bath oil removes the need for a body moisturiser after the bath. So, it’s straight into clean pyjamas and having a warm drink, before going virtuously to bed…