Sunday, 26 April 2015

Manuka Doctor: Normalising Facial Oil and Why We Can't Get Along

This product really works. Really. My skin has been a normalised delight since using it, totally well behaved. But it smells so disagreeable and I really just can't get past that. 

This is the first facial oil I've used that actually gets fully absorbed into my skin by morning and that is a totally good thing. A lot of facial oils tend to sit atop of skin, like a barrier, not really feeding my face. Whereas the Manuka Doctor Normalising Facial Oil will be all soaked up by morning. 

Because of this, my skin has been a lot more balanced. They don't call it 'normalising' for nothing! I've been able to go completely bare skinned all day. Yup. You read right. While I do get a thin layer of film/grease/oil on my face, it's tolerable enough that I don't feel ashamed enough, not even to blot. 

So yes, it definitely works well enough. 

But, and this is a super big but, this is one disgusting smelling product. Ughhh. I honestly struggle to apply it. I dispense it form the little pipette and I have to force myself to put it onto my face. Holding my breath as I massage it into my skin and then breathing solely out of my mouth as I wish for sleep.

I never thought that the scent of a product would really mean that much to me; it feels like garnish, not substance. But when the scent is as overpowering as this, it becomes an integral part of the product. Just don't make it smell bad. Smell like nothing. Just don't smell bad, please.

It's an absolutely undefinable scent. Pungent, sour and very capable of holding on. What surprises me the most is that this actually contains parfum (fragrance). What on earth did it smell like before? 

While I love its effectiveness, I can't bring myself to continue using it. I find myself suffering, dreading it, in fact. But I will stress that it did work some normalising magic on me.

Manuka Doctor Normalising Facial Oil is available from Manuka Doctor online at £19.99 for 30ML. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Eliminating What I Thought Were Blackheads Once and For All: Mario Badescu Silver Powder and Origins Modern Friction

Let's talk about blackheads, and what they apparently aren't. I thought I suffered with blackheads through all of my teenage years, right up to present day. Actually, I haven't. Instead, I have suffered with sebaceous filaments. These are blackheads in disguise. They don't look too dissimilar to blackheads, in that they are dark, clogged pores. When you squeeze them they excrete a translucent/white gunk, yet they never seem to be cleared. Alternatively, blackheads are actually much darker, and can raise the surrounding skin. When you get rid of a blackhead, it's gone for good... Unless it comes back. 

It was while reading Really Ree's post Is it a Blackhead? And How to Treat it! that the whole thing really hit home with me. "Yes, my blackheads never stay gone!" I exclaimed out loud, in my mind. And everything came into perspective, I was treating them all wrong. 

I actually accidentally discovered the answer to my face. While it's far from perfect, I am in love with my unclogged de-gunked pores right now.  Thank you Mario Badescu's Silver Powder and thank you Origin's Modern Friction for giving me the answers I never knew I always needed. 

The routine is simple. Silver Powder is a face mask that is activated with water. This is applied first then rinsed away with the help of Modern Friction; an exfoliating gel.

Mario Badescu Silver Powder

When I first purchased Mario Badescu's Silver Powder, I was rightfully confused. What even is Silver Powder? Well, it is just that. Except it's white instead. 

Supposedly, you dip a wet cotton pad into the powder and blot it onto your face. But when I did this, I found that it was difficult to evenly distribute and the cotton often transferred. Ideally, this powder needs to be mixed with water to form a paste, and then applied to the face like you would a conventional mask. The thing is, the  powder absolutely disappears in water. Like, some serious dissolving right there. So mix your water sparingly. A few drops, even. Apply the paste to all problem areas of your face and let it sit for 10 minutes. 

You'll find that as the mask starts to dry up on your face, it will turn back into powder (thank you). Meaning it will begin to fall off even when you think you're not moving, getting it all over your clothes and house. Problem. Big problem. But not big enough to make me hate it, given the results.

I saw results from this product instantaneously. After the first use, literally. And I hate that, I know, it's corny and untrustworthy, but after the first use I saw a massive reduction in clogged pores. And I continue to see results week after week. 

Essentially, the product seems to take all those real tricky articles in pores and remove them. That's what a lot of clay masks claim to do, but this one actually does it. This doesn't mean my pores are invisible. It means my pores are cleared. My pore size is still large, unfortunately. But they are far less noticeable because they aren't filled with any dark matter. Instead, they are now just fleshy coloured, and I really can't get enough of seeing that. 

When you rinse off the powder it then turns back into a paste. It's a lot of powder-to-paste-to-powder-to-paste with this process, and while it's messy, it's worth it. This powder is very light on skin. You will not feel it drying and hardening. In fact, you won't feel it on your face or doing anything to your face at all. But it is. 

Origin's Modern Friction

Origin's Modern Friction is an exfoliator, and it's a strange one at that, but a great one. 

It's fairly unconventional. Most exfoliators I've encountered have contained microbeads or have been a chemical fussed gel. Instead, this is like a thick, creamy gel, that, when smoothed into damp skin, turns into a thin, silky cream. It also contains rice starch, which are really soft clumps that roll around your face. It's odd at first, but instantly refreshing. It feels very comforting and it effortlessly helps remove the sticky Silver Powder.


I have moderately sensitive skin and I let this product sit on my face for ~30 seconds. Never do that. My skin became very raw, red and sensitised. But don't let that be a deterrent. This product work perfectly when removed instantly. Use it to scrub, then wash away.

This product will last a long time. You only need a very small, 2 pea sized amount to cover your entire face as it spreads like a dream. Always apply to damp skin. Not only does this help the product spread further, but it also reduces irritation.

Both of these products are extremely powerful and successful. But they are also extremely drying. I find that after using these products it is always best to follow it up with either an extremely hydrating moisturiser, or an oil. I always use PureChimp's Super One (Natural Face Oil) as it prevents any dehydration or dryness.

I do this combination 2-3 times a week. After the first use, I saw results from the Silver Powder. Small results, but results nonetheless. After a month of use, the pores of my forehead were completely cleared and colourless. I am still trying to combat my cheeks and nose. These are far more stubborn areas of skin. But I still continue to use the products on the no-longer-congested-areas to prevent a comeback tour. 

They aren't perfect. Both of these products have some pretty major faults. But when used together, their results are so successful that I can't help but look past all that. They have become an absolutely essential part of my skin care routine.

Mario Badescu's Silver Powder can be purchased from Beauty Bay for £10.25 / 1OZ (UK Retailer). For the brand listing, visit Mario Badescu

Origin's Modern Friction can be purchased from Origins for £33.00 / 125ML. Alternatively, a smaller 50ML version for £12.50 can be purchased from John Lewis

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Konjac Sponge Company: Kojac Bamboo Charcoal and Konjac French Green Clay Facial Puff Sponges

When I think about a sponge - as I'm often one to do - I generally think of a dry, gritty collection of fibres and definitely not a gelatinous, cushion of springy jelly. Welcome, Konjac!

Konjac is actually an edible plant, known for its effects in levelling cholesterol, controlling weight loss and internal restoration. (+) But, when you don't ingest it and you just rub it around your face a little, it actually has some neat properties too! Primarily, konjac is used to balanced the skin's natural pH levels. It is also packed in minerals and antioxidants to help keep skin healthy. Combine that with bamboo charcoal and you have yourself  a product rich in antibacterial and antifungal properties to help remove excess oil and toxins. Like I said, neat!

I really can't get enough of these sponges. It is the most clean I have ever felt.

I started with the Konjac Bamboo Charcoal sponge which was the ultimate introductory sponge for me. This product targets excess oils, blackheads and acne. While I did not notice any significant reduction to excess oils, blackheads or acne, I did notice that my face was delightfully clean and purified. 

While the sponge's surface is rough and uneven, it is incredibly soft on skin. This microsurface noise helps to gently exfoliate skin, offering a deep cleanse.

This is where I found the key difference between the Konjac Bamboo Charcoal and the Konjac French Green Clay. The Bamboo Charcoal is ever-so-slightly rougher than the French Green Clay. Slightly. But both of them are beautiful to use, and offer that ultimate clean and real feeling without any negative or damaging results.

After 2 months of use, my Bamboo Charcoal finally saw the last of its days. As the sponges age, they will inevitably decay: their size will shrink, they will sag and their holes will expand. This is where I moved onto the French Green Clay which has fairly similar and effective results.

The French Green Clay is catered more for the needs of oily skin. As it's softer than the Bamboo Charcoal, it offers a gentler level of exfoliation, meaning it is in no way abrasive or stripping of the skins natural defences and pH level. It also helps to unclog pores - now this, this I did notice a difference in. I found my skin was a lot clearer when using the French Green Clay, probably due to it being more suitable for my skin type.

I use this once daily in the morning to help remove all traces of my overnight facial oils. I also like to use it to help remove face masks as it can really pick up product and clear it away.
The sponges have a lovely buoyancy to them, which will last with proper maintenance. Once dry, the sponges will harden and shrink. It becomes quite scarily brittle but as soon as it tastes water, it will plump up and soften yet again. I don't like to leave my sponge to go dry, I found this to decrease its lifespan and reduce its effectiveness, so I retain a small amount of water inside the sponge and hang it to dry (without actually ever letting it dry). HoweverKonjac outlines the correct 'Use & Care' of their products, which apparently, I'm doing wrong, but I much prefer the results.

These sponges have become an essential part of my daily routine that give me an unmatched sensation of clear skin and liberation. 

Konjac Bamboo Charcoal and Konjac French Green Clay can be purchased online from The Konjac Sponge Company at £7.99 for one piece. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Baresome, Now with Pinterest!

I've been living in the Pinterest button drawer for a little under 2 years now. As a professional artist, I have many boards related to all things art, design and tutorials and many secret boards related to all things beauty, skincare and make-up. The latter of which, really isn't applicable to my main audience, so I keep it as a secret catalogue for any products I want to put on my wishlist.

This is where I've really missed a trick.

I recently read London Beauty Queen's post: "The Social Slot: How to Utilise Pinterest for Your Blog and Grow and Audience". And, well, quite frankly, it made me feel like a dummy. It explains how LBQ uses Pinterest to direct traffic to her blog. Foot traffic aside, I really shouldn't be hiding my pins because they don't suit my main audience. I should just make a Pinterest catered towards my beauty/skincare/make-up audience. 

The way I worked my secret boards was similar to that as a wishlist, storing my favourites then removing any pins which I had later purchased. Now I will be keeping all my pins and placing any purchased products into an additional boards, linking back to any reviews published here.

Hopefully this will also serve as a guide to anyone hoping to find products for skin needs similar to that of mine. A head start, if you like, before I'm finally able to save up the £165.00 I need for the Crème de la Mer: The Oil Absorbing Lotion. Race you?

Follow Me on Pinterest

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Cleaning Oils: The Good, The Even Gooder and The Just Too Cheap To Really Be Included

I've done it, I've hopped on the double cleansing bandwagon and I am here to stay! Well no, that's not entirely true. I've jumped on the cleansing oils bandwagon, that can definitely stay and double cleansing is really super rewarding, so actually I'll let that one stick around, too.

I don't know why I never did cleansing oils sooner. The oil cleansing method leaves my face feeling truly purified. True pure. It's incredible how effective it is. It honestly does just dissolve make-up in front of your eyes. Which, yes, you can happily do as they are so gentle that I can gladly get oil in my eyes without any agitation

Cleansing oils are to be used like most regular cleansers. You simply dispense several drops into the palm of your hands and begin to massage it gently into your skin, starting in circular motions from the centre of the face, outwards. You'll feel any make-up, dirt and grime melt under your fingertips. Once finished, simply wash away all traces of the oil and follow it up with your favourite toner.

Double cleansing, is well, very self-explanatory. You cleanse your face twice. That is, just apply a cleanser to your face, twice. Apply oil cleanser then rinse. Apply milk/gel/cream/micellar water/whatever your normal cleanser is, rinse, then continue with your normal routine.  The first cleanse is to remove all make-up; a deep cleanse. The second cleanse is to pick up any of the slack the first cleanse might have missed out on. 

While I have never done oil before, I thought it appropriate to compare three different brands of varying price ranges to get to grips with quality and results. There's DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil £21.50 / 200ML, L'Oréal's Skin Perfection Miracle Cleansing Oil £7.99 / 150ML and Superdrug's Vitamin E Dual Phase Cleansing Oil £3.00 / 150ML.


I actually started in the middle price bracket with the L'Oréal Skin Perfection Miracle Cleansing Oil and I instantly fell in love. At first touch, I felt every foreign particle on my face crumble away in the mixture. When I first pumped the oil into my hands it was warm, it was delightful. It has, what I can only pin down as a peach-y scent. But the texture, the warmth and the smells make it an all-encompassing pleasure to use. 

The L'Oréal Skin Perfection Miracle Cleansing Oil also claims to help "rebalance skin's natural oil production". Admittedly, I didn't notice this. I did, however, notice that my skin texture was a lot smoother and brighter. I definitely appeared and felt clearer after using this product.

I jumped into the shallow end next with Superdrug's Vitamin E Dual Phase Cleansing Oil. That was a mistake. £2.99 for a cleanser that removes make-up, impurities, moisturises dry skin, defends against pollutants and prevents premature skin ageing (yup, check the description yourself), for less than three of my finest British pounds? Someone really missed a trick there with that mark up. Or it doesn't work. And it's most likely the latter.

This thing is just truly horrible to use. It's cold, it doesn't mix well, it doesn't wash off well and it stings my eyes. 

Looking at the bottle, you can see the separation between the oil and water, because oil and water don't mix together! So you shake the bottle well before use, but of course, they still don't mix together

I pour several drops of the solution into my palm, and it's always cold, that's the first disappointing part to this never ending problem of a product. When I apply it to my face, it kind of just sits there on top of my skin. It doesn't feel like it's actually applying to my face in any way, it's just sitting on top and getting pushed around a little. 

For removing eye make-up it's utterly useless. It stings if you get it in your eyes, so either close 'em real tight or don't bother with this product at all (I would suggest doing that last thing). 

When it comes to removing the product, I feel like I have a film of this horrible mixture still sitting on my skin. Enter the double cleanse, save the day.

Finally, I tried the luxury DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. Now this did blow the other contender(s) out of the... water/oil. Sometimes price is synonymous with quality, and this is that time. 

This is a real rich oil cleanser. Once again, I can feel a warmth and a weight to the product when I pump it into my hands. And it smells like real olive oil. Scrumptious.

It gets straight to work from first application, melting away any impurities from my skin and dissolving them in the mixture. Eye make-up is honestly removed in a single wipe. I can't believe how effective this is.

My skin texture feels deliciously soft after using this product. I'm so supple, so princess. It definitely nourishes my skin in a way I've never felt from a cleanser before. 

Deep Cleansing Oil scored Effective, repurchase and can be purchased from DHC for £21.50 / 200ML. Skin Perfection Miracle Cleansing Oil scored Effective, repurchase and can be purchased from L'Oréal for £7.99 / 150ML. Vitamin E Dual Phase Cleansing Oil scored Avoid and can be purchased from Superdrug for £3.00 / 150ML.