Origins Clear Improvement Face Mask

I am here today to rave to you all about this wonderful little gem from Origins.
The Clear Improvement Mask contains charcoal and white china clay to cling to and draw out impurities in the pores once sidekick lecithin has dissolved them and made them a bit easier to remove. This is a hardening mask, so apply to areas that need a deep clean (I focus on the T-zone) and leave on for 10-15 minutes until the mask has set. You will feel a slight tingling sensation as the skin saviours work their way down to purify the pores but boy, oh boy, will you be forever grateful for it!

I use this once-twice a week and I have noticed my pores shrinking. The skin is left looking clear and feeling clean. With regular use this can help control blackheads, large pores and tackle the likes of milia and decongestion - what a beauty! I think that £20 is really reasonable for the mask; you get 100 ml and only need a smallish dollop to cover the T-zone so I can see this lasting at least 6 months. Can be found here. At the moment Origins are holding a 'Superstar Giveaway' meaning 3 free samples with any skincare purchase! Get in there!

Origins GinZing Brightening Cream Eyeshadows

As some of you may know, the Origins make-up collection came out at the start of the month. Part of this collection is a lovely selection of cream and powder eyeshadows. Being Origins, the main colour palette is that of neutral shades to subtly emphasise the eyes, but there are a few brighter shades thrown in too.

I adore cream eyeshadows for their ease of use. With the right shade, one little pot can make you look completely put together in seconds and lasts all day. I am a fan of the MAC Paint Pots, however find that some tend to crease on me if I don't use a primer underneath - a bit of a pain!

I didn't set my expectations too high with these Origins cream shadows, so as not to be disappointed. However, the two I've tried have been exceptional and I am super pleased! I have the shades 02 GingerZing and 09 Khaki Kick. I have worn them both by themselves and with shadows on top and there has been zero creasing! They are easy to blend across the lid and crease with either a brush or fingers (I prefer fingers for their warmth) but once they set they will not budge until a good eye make-up remover is swiped over.

The swatch photo doesn't really do them justice and I really encourage you to go see them in person if you get the chance! You wont be disappointed. At £16 each they are on the costly side, but for me it is worth it for such a long-wearing, quality product. Go have a browse here.

Why do you wear make-up?

The lovely Anna of ViviannaDoesMakeup posted a video recently talking all about her history with make-up and why she wears it. I thought it was a really interesting TAG and doing it myself gave me a chance to question why it is that I got into this crazy beauty world. I tag anyone that wants to add their two cents, so please comment with a link to your post if you do! I would love to read it.

1. When did you begin loving make-up? As a teenager with bad skin, I remember loading on the high-coverage foundations to boost my confidence. However, I wouldn't have said that I was particularly 'into make-up', but after a slightly better looking me. It wasn't until I discovered the youtube and blogging beauty realm in 2008 or so that I really jumped in head first and fell in love. I thought it was incredible that you could learn the tricks of the trade from some of the best artists out there whilst sat in your own home! I've never looked back since.

2. How do you feel without make-up? To be honest, ever since my skin cleared up after taking Accutane when I was 17, I wasn't too fussed about going out and about bare-faced. I'm very outdoorsy and quite often make-up is the last thing on my mind if I'm going out for a hike or swim. Having said that, if I'm doing normal people things for the day, my make-up is entirely dependent on my mood and I can be just as likely to rock a red lip as I can no makeup-makeup! It is art for the face and definite self-expression.

3. What do you like about make-up? I like that it boosts confidence, expresses your mood and sense of personal style and can transform the face. But probably what I like most is that it provides me with a creative outlet, which was particularly wonderful whilst studying science everyday at university!

4. Three Holy Grail Items? Origins VitaZing SPF 15 Moisturiser, Origins VitaZing Mascara, MAC Petting Pink Tinted Lip Conditioner

Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub

Firstly, let me start out by saying that I absolutely adore French brand Caudalie. I think they are forward-thinking with their products and have fantastic ethics (have a little read here). You can tell that a great deal of care and consideration is taken in the product formulation and presentation.

I am always buying the odd facial item (or few) and on occasion a nice little sample is thrown in. The Crushed Cabernet Scrub was one of these items. Upon arrival I was so excited to try this. The gorgeous jar-style container is both practical and aesthetically pleasing and the 60g size is rather generous for a complementary sample!

The product itself is um, interesting. I have used it three times (you can see in the picture above that you get a lot of use out of this sample!) and come to the conclusion that the texture is PERFECTION; more of a paste than a gloopy liquid(so really easy to use without wasting half of it as it plops to the shower floor once you've scooped it out!). But the scent is just, wow... not my taste. The name 'cabernet scrub' really does give a pretty good hint that it smells of wine. Occasionally, if I open it outside of the shower and just have a little sniff (like I'm doing now) I think, 'eh, It's not too bad..only slightly likely bad wine...' but once you get in the shower - holy jeez! Once the scrub mixes with water there is an overwhelming scent of mould/dust/bad wine. I'm sure there are some great skincare benefits to this, and my skin always feels lovely and smooth and moisturised, but the scent just ruins the whole experience for me I'm afraid! I'm really not picky when it comes to scents usually; even if a product smells a bit meh I will carry on using it for its benefits, but this is just too much.

Did I get a dodgy one? Has anyone else tried this? You may love the scent. With 99% natural ingredients and supposedly thigh-slimming effects, this definitely sounds like perfection, so maybe perseverence is key...Have a read about the product on the Caudalie website and come to your own conclusion.

NUXE Reve de Miel Hand & Nail Cream

This has been my first experience with Parisian brand NUXE. I have heard a plethora of good things about some of the products, primarily the little lip balm in a glass pot, but I needed a new hand cream and this popped up on trusty FeelUnique. At £10 for 75ml, this one definitely wasn't the cheapest, but I thought I'd give it a whirl.
In a daytime hand cream I look for good ingredients, quick absorption and a definite lack of greasiness. For night creams I'm not too bothered if they are a bit greasy and thick. So how does this one rate?

Ingredients: I had a little look around (obviously not hard enough) but couldn't find the ingredients list online. Upon arrival, I was a little disappointed to see propylene glycol and parfum on the list. Propylene glycol provides no skincare benefits. It is a by-product of crude oil and thus only acts as a filler in cosmetic products. Fragrance I am fine with, but only if it is from natural essential oils. Artificial fragrances can sometimes irritate my sensitive hands. Some of the good points include a lack of parabens and a nice addition of vitamin E, sunflower oil, almond oil and avocado oil amongst others.

The product absorbs pretty quickly and doesn't leave a greasy film, so this definitely works on the plus side for me, but the scent I have a problem with. Think of all the rosy/floral scented perfumes out there and combine them into one. That is the scent of this hand cream. Depending on my mood, I don't mind a rosy perfume, but this scent is just so strong and quite irritating if your hands are really dry and sensitive.

So for £10 I really was quite disappointed. I had such high hopes for the brand but can't see myself trying anything from them in the immediate future due to this little blip. If you like strong floral scents and aren't particularly sensitive, this may be the cream for you, but if you are at all irritated by perfumes then stay away!

Anyone tried any other NUXE products? I'd love to hear your opinion!

Dry vs. Dehydrated Skin

One of the most common confusions in skincare is that of dry and dehydrated skin. They both mean different things, are detected by different symptoms and need different treatments. The biologist in me couldn’t resist researching the two and thus the reason for my post today. So let’s get down to it...

THE DIFFERENCE: Dry skin is that lacking oil, dehydrated skin is that lacking water. Both can either be genetically determined or triggered by environmental factors, but it is important to realise which exactly you are suffering from (if any) as they both require different treatments. Dry skin is most commonly detected by a dull appearance, visible flaking or roughness and redness/sensitivity. Dehydrated skin often feels tight and irritated, appears dull and lines more visible. In many cases, dehydrated skin can appear quite oily in places where the sebaceous (oil) glands are over-reacting to compensate for the lack of moisture in the skin.

THE CAUSES: As we age, our sebaceous glands slowly decrease their oil-producing power house. As this natural hydrator slows, it is important we are applying more nourishing emollient-rich creams to compensate for the lack of lipid production. Aside from aging, if any of the genes corresponding for sebum or lipid production are impaired, the skin will not have optimum oil levels and thus will need replenishing creams. Weather forces such as sun and wind can rapidly suck moisture from the skin. UV radiation can also dehydrate the skin by damaging the precious cells which form the skin’s moisture barrier. Once holes form in this protective layer, the moisture barrier is much harder to maintain. Dehydration can also have a genetic root cause.

DEHYDRATION UP CLOSE: I am going to do my best to explain the biochemistry of how our skin maintains enough hydration. Our skin is made up of layers, as most of you may know. In the upper layers lies the moisture barrier, an area of specialised cells that work to lock water in the skin. The cells here are being constantly renewed and so it is important that the underlying mechanics are up to scratch to ensure this process is successful. Specialised keratin cells (the cell type that forms our skin, hair and nails) detach from the basal layer of the skin where they are produced. They then undergo a series of changes on a kind of conveyor belt as they make their way to the upper layers. One of these changes is the addition of moisture-grabbing proteins filaggrin and loricrin. Water-repellent lipids are also added to the keratin cells. This process of the cells making their way to the surface and changing form is known as ‘cornification’. The keratin cells change at the surface by all forming a giant matrix. Proteins from individual cells all join up to form a strong barrier (the moisture barrier) and lipids from inside the cells are released to create a water-repellent envelope around this matrix. Now, for the key players... Caspase-14 is an important enzyme in this cornification process. If you’re not aware, enzymes are a special kind of protein that increase the rate of biochemical reactions. They work by transforming specific molecules (here, Caspase-14 works on filaggrin) to form them into a completed product. In this case, if Caspase-14 or filaggrin are not present in high enough quantities, the moisture barrier will not be formed as completely and damage is more likely. Damage includes moisture evaporation (leading to dehydrated skin), and an increased risk of cell damage from UV-radiation.

The point of all this is that sometimes even if our diets are up to scratch and we’re leading healthy lifestyles, there can be a genetic root cause of dryness and dehydration. In this case, our only option is to venture along the treatment pathway. Products that are able to stimulate the production of things like sebum (if we suffer from dryness) or Caspase-14 and filaggrin (if dehydrated) are of course wonderful as the idea is that they help you to help yourself, but in the mean time make sure that you are going to go for a product to help your concern. Use emollient-rich creams for dryness and water-based creams aimed at repairing the moisture barrier and locking in moisture if dehydrated.

A couple ranges really worth looking at for dehydrated skin are Make a Difference™ by Origins and Vinosource by Caudalie. For dry skin, Oilateum Natural Repair Face Cream or Liz Earle's Skin Repair Moisturiser are great emollient-rich creams. Feel free to comment with any other suggestions! I hope this helped at least a little bit.

For further reading:
Denecker at al. (2008) JCB 180: 451-458

Review: Sleek MakeUP ONE Finishing Powder

Sleek MakeUP are a brand that I have had a pretty good run with for the most part. I think they offer great products for a high street brand and offer a good range of colour choices. The eyeshadows I must admit are too powdery for my liking, but some of the others I adore in my makeup collection.

The ONE Finishing powder is a water-based powder milled to an extremely fine consistency. It claims to absorb oil leaving a sheer finish on the skin and never looking cakey. There is only one universal shade available which I can see working for all but perhaps the very dark-skinned. It contains antioxidants and botanical extracts (whatever type of plant those may be) to produce a gentle cooling sensation when applied. I really enjoy using this with a small powder brush. The texture really is incredibly fine and the finish is JUST-mattified, never dulling. The skin still appears radiant somehow, which is exactly what I love in a powder. Once applied my make-up stays set all day (not that I am oily though, so I cannot speak for you guys out there, sorry :(!)
At £7.49 the price is very reasonable and I think you must give this is a try if you are searching for a new powder! Can be found here.

Review: Origins GinZing Mascara

I was blessed with many things in life, but long, luscious eyelashes were definitely not one of them! And thus I think mascara makes probably the biggest difference to my face (that and filling in my ridiculously uneven eyebrows which you will see below in their naked state haha!!)

Having been a huge fan of Origins for a long time and a user of their GinZing brightening eye cream, I was so excited to give their new GinZing brightening mascara a test drive! It gives 100% lift and volume to the lashes, two coats can be applied with 0% clumping and included are nourishing ingredients: Panax Ginseng to strengthen lashes, eye brightening pearl complex to make the whites of the eyes appear whiter, and carnauba wax to condition.

I honestly can vouch that this mascara is incredible. The wand is HUGE and as a small lash girl, I tend to stick to little rubber wands for fear of blobbing. However, with a little practice you can really work this into the lashes and build up some serious length and volume.

At £17 the mascara is pretty reasonably priced for a high-end brand. And at the moment you can receive a free 5ml sample of their best-selling GinZing eye cream with a mascara purchase! Head to your nearest store and take a look for yourself!