A* for Aurelia’s Refine & Polish Miracle Balm

refine_polish_2What’s not to love about a dual duty beauty product? It is everything and more to someone who has a serious lack of time to devote to skincare on a daily basis but yet wants healthy radiant skin.  This is why Aurelia’s Refine and Polish Miracle Balm is a real godsend.

Using a unique enzyme base, BioOrganic Oils, probiotics and peptides that Aurelia is now renewed for it takes dull, tired flaky skin to radiant and smooth in no time.  It uses gentle rice bran to exfoliate and dislodge dead skin cells as you rub gently in circular motions. The resulting effect is that skin is not only smoother, but also brighter due to the flow of fresh oxygenated blood to the face. Key actives include Kigelia Africana which has a smoothing and firming action, Sugar Maple Sap which boosts the skin’s ability to self rid of dead skin cells and Hibiscus which naturally tightens the skin.

If you have ten minutes spare or are taking a bath, put it on as a mask. It will act as a deep exfoliating mask and the heady mix of Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Bergamot will relax you nicely before bed or uplift you for a busy day. I prefer the former. It is definitely worth every drop of its £57 price tag.

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A few other things I love about Aurelia:

  • Award winning – they slay at the award games. They are clearly doing something right!
  • They’ve just moved to their very own counter at Liberty’s. Now you can stay, hang around, talk and sample the goodies. Even better!
  • The founder Claire Vero was recently listed by the Sunday Times as one of the 35 women under 35 contributing to lead the British economy to green pastures. The sisterhood gets stronger!
  • They are currently giving away a sample of the luxury Firm & Revitalise Dry Body Oil with any purchase on their website. I’ve tried it and loved it. The offer ends today (31st August), so don’t delay!

RMK Cleansing Balm

101030_a02-thumb-360x360-305Easily one of the best and my current favourite cleansing balm.

Smells like the cashmere soft rose petals and feels like silk on the skin. I use it for a first cleanse and it melts make up and mascara off beautifully. Then add water to emulsify before flanneling off with lukewarm water.

It’s solid at room temperature but on applying to your face it melts into a sublime blend of moisturising jojoba, avocado and grape seed oil.

Buy it! So worth it! It even comes with a spatula.

£29 from Selfridges.

Ask Dija – what are the benefits of facial massage?

Facial massage is an important part of any skincare routine. This is the bit where you can actually make a difference on a daily basis.

It’s the part where you can spend more time to deeply slather the skin with nourishing oils and creams, that not only penetrate deep into the skin, but also create enough movement to get your circulation going. This will not only bring more richly oxygenated blood to your skin cells and give you a glow, but also stimulate the lymphatic system to filter toxins and waste products that create dullness in the skin.

A good facial massage session, will leave skin feeling plump and firmer with more radiancy. It should also leave muscles more invigorated and feeling lifted for more tone and definition of your face. You’d be amazed at how spending ten to fifteen minutes everyday massaging your face can relieve stress and give you some focused ‘me’ time.

Few tips on facial massage

- Don’t drag or pull your skin. Use enough product (oil or cream) to give you a good enough grip but not so much your hands are just sliding everywhere.

- Massage in long upward strokes. Around cheeks and jaw use small pinching and knuckling movements to lift the muscle. Don’t be afraid of using some degree of pressure!

- Be gentle but firm around the eye and nostril area. This is an area where congestion and tension can sit so feels amazing to drain all that away.

- End your movements just below the lymph nodes at the ear lobe to encourage draining of toxins and waste.

I tend to mix my own facial massage oil but here’s a few I like (most suited for oily/combination skin types).

Oils I like:

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A very light oil of Lavender, Ylang-Ylang and Jojoba that balances oil on your own skin for optimum glow.

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Organic cold pressed Chilean Rose hip seed oil that smooths and restores tired and dry skin. Amazing on more mature skin types too!

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Uplifting with Lemon Ironbark and Lemon Myrtle to purify and cleanse the skin. Black cumin seed oil makes it excellent for fighting inflammation.

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With a distinctively luxury scent, it’s amazing for blemish probed skin. It balances, restores and rejuvenates with Neroli, Sea Buckthorn and Frankincense.

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Helps the skin to heal and cleanse overnight. Contains antioxidant grape seed oil and decongesting carrot seed oil.

small print: plans are in place to film a facial massage video……..

Simple Skincare from Oh-Lief

oh-lief-natural-body-wax-chamomile-400x400I predict big things for this South African skincare line founded by sisters Christina and Louiza Rademan in 2010. Oh-Lief was born out of their love of nature and the desire to create sustainable organic green and natural products for their families to use. These handmade products are big on simple but effective ingredients that make skincare uncluttered and uncomplicated.

Beeswax and extra virgin olive oil make a significant amount of the base ingredients for all the products and it’s easy to see why. Olive oil is deeply moisturising and contains essential fatty acids which are important for skin health and integrity. Beeswax is a natural protective barrier for skin.

The Olive Body Waxes have been a big hit in my household. They are made from cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, avocado oil and beeswax. Therefore excellent on dry and dehydrated skin. Although hard in the pan they softly melt upon touch and allow you to use easily. However, the fact they are a wax and not oil shouldn’t tempt you to over use. It melts so a little goes a long way. The same goes for the Olive Hand Wax, which I have found excellent as a night time hand treatment, so I keep mine on my night stand. The chamomile and lavender essential oils makes drifting off to sleep easy work.

I have to give special mention to the Natural Olive Bum Balm made of just three ingredients – Olive Oil, Beeswax and Lavender Oil. It’s so much more than a cream for babies bums. In fact, I think the name should be changed, but that’s a campaign for another day. I’ve used it on sore skin on my daughter’s bum and it worked a treat, I’ve also used on cuts and grazes and it worked a treat. The lavender in it makes it a healer so it’s one to have around the house especially if you have kids around – big or small alike!

I think this is a beautiful natural and organic balms and lotions, made from a carefully selected ingredients prized for their simplicity, as well as their ability to deliver exceptional results with each use. There is currently a 50% off sale on their website so prices start from £5. Stock up because these will be fantastic come winter.

 

Managing Hyperpigmentation

Following my article on ThandieKay about the culture of skin bleaching, I’ve had some questions regarding lightening or fading dark spots on the skin i.e – hyperpigmentation. This is an issue I am extremely familiar with. Having black skin the ability to scar following a blemish is way higher and usually more noticeable than other skin colours.  This is primarily to do with the genetic make up black skin, but that doesn’t mean it’s not bothersome and I know women of all backgrounds and colours who just want to achieve an even skin tone and feel extra confident to go out make up free when they choose.

Dealing with hyperpigmentation needs a multi pronged approach and it also depends on the extent of it. Are we talking just a few spots, patches or is it all over the face? It’s a combination of practices and products that will deliver the best results and the clearer skin you’re after.

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A one-step resurfacing treatment to even out skin tone

As a starting point, are you using any AHA/BHA/PHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid/Beta Hydroxy Acid/Poly Hydroxy Acid) products? When included these acids super charge all manner of skincare products to not only exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, but also encourage new and fresher skin cells to make their way to the top. From cleansers through to masks these mainly fruit (milk and nut) derived acids encourage the turn over of skin cells by loosening and sloughing the bonds between dead skin cells and depending on the strength of the product they can do this on a few layers of skin. There are different types of acids available ranging from glycolic, mandelic, malic, lactic and salicylic acid. The latter also is great at breaking down oil deposits in the skin as well.

You can also get acid based toners to help with the lightening the discolouration caused by spots and blemishes. New age toners now come in the exfoliating pads giving you the precise amount of product to use.  Cane & Austin, Colbert MD, Zelens and First Aid Beauty all do acid based pads where the face can either be rinsed after use or left on for a more concentrated effect.

Masks are also a great way of getting a concentrated does of exfoliation, deep cleansing and brightening the skin at the same time. A personal favourite is Racinne Ultimate Aqua Blanc Brightening Masque using star blemish bull dozer ingredient niacinamide. You actually feel it go to work on your skin to gently reveal a more even and brighter skin tone.  There is also a toner on the series, which further boosts the mask. Korean and Japanese brands are great with products aimed at uneven skin tones as that is a big concern for women in that part of the world.

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A potent treatment for dark spots, blemishes and scarring

Moving on, serums are by far one of the best ways of delivering a more targeted hit on hyperpigmentation. They go to the heart of the matter as they are more concentrated and the formulations are thinner, designed to be easily absorbed by the skin. Lancer Fade Intense Serum is much lauded in skincare circles  to deliver visible results in about six weeks. It has a brightening complex comprising of red algae and liquorice – both famed for reducing over active melanin which is the root cause of hyperpigmentation. Cult British brand Antonia Burrell has the Radiant Light Facial Serum which is 100% potent natural plant extracts. It’s rich in vitamins A & C which are excellent in promoting cell turnover and brightening the skin. Spanish cosmeceutical brand Natura Bisse has put thirty years of experience in the Diamond White Serum which is intended to shock skin discolouration using a combination of naturally derived acids and peptides to inhibit the production of excessive melanin.

Deep set unflinching hyperpigmentation calls for deeper treatments like facial peels using acids or even laser therapy. These effectively take off a layer or more of skin to reveal newer unblemished skin. They must always be performed by a professional licensed practitioner or dermatologist, especially if you have black skin as they can paradoxically cause more scarring and blemishes if there is a mishap. If you’re a London resident I would always recommend EF Medispa as they have a wide range of advanced treatments they consult on and perform. I also like TouLou Organics Brightening & Lightening Facial which uses Bearberry, Liquorice and Mimosa Bark – all excellent in inhibiting over active melanin in the skin.

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Corrects blemishes and blotchiness associated with hyperpigmentation

Although, usually associated with mature skin the use of retinol (vitamin A) can also help in dealing with the effects of hyperpigmentation. Simply vitamin A is a cell communicating ingredient and can instruct rogue skin cells to look and behave like younger healthier normalised pigment cells, thus combating the unhealthy hyperpigmented cells. There are different grades of retinol available – some you can find on beauty shelves and some only on prescription. First time users of retinol based products should proceed with care and use every few days till tolerance is built. Indeed Labs do an easily accessible product called Retinol Reface with three different types of forms of retinol for clearer skin. Skinceuticals also offer hyper pigmentation corrective creams with retinol in three different strengths starting at 0.3% to 1%. Although suitable for anytime of day, I like to save my retinol creams for night time use as vitamin A can sometimes be compromised in sunlight. Recently Caroline Hirons wrote a great post on her blog about retinols and it’s well worth reading!

Another vitamin that is does a great job in brightening the skin and allaying the effects of hyperpigmentation is vitamin C. Brands who have a brightening range typically use stable vitamin C as a base. I absolutely love Australia’s favourite skincare brand Alpha H’s Vitamin C Serum. Used over a few weeks, skin tone is visibly lifted, more even and radiant. Co-incidently they have a TSV coming up on QVC on 19th August – check it out! Not this particular product though, but some of their other gems.

This brings me to finish on the importance of using sun protection, especially when dealing with hyperpigmentation. A limited amount of sun exposure is good for skin, but after that sun protection has to be worn as deep penetrating sun rays can worsen hyper pigmentation already in the skin, giving you even more of a dilemma. Most good brands do sun protection specifically for the face now and they have cottoned on that sometimes it can give black skin an ashen look, so a lot of formulas are now suitable for all skin tones.

Other common ingredients you may come across in the treatment of hyperpigmentation:

Resveratrol, kojic acid, liquorice extract, niacinamide (vitamin B3), azeleic acid, green tea, glucosamine.

There’s loads out there and lots of brands make different claims. Research and caution are active words to follow!

Finally – eat well – greens and fresh fruit are packed with nutrients, minerals and anti oxidants that will support your skin from the inside out. Take supplements to support your system. Guzzle even more water. It’s one of the simplest things you can do for clearer skin.

Star cleanser for oily skin

If you have oily skin keep reading, all other skin types go read this!

YTOOver the last six weeks I have been awed by Take it away! Gel Cleanser each time I’ve used it. It’s made specifically for oilier skin types and it gives a thorough cleanse without stripping. A lot of people with oiler skin still fall into the trap that skin needs to be devoid oil for it to be clean. Wrong! Skin needs oil and if you use a cleanser that is harsh and stripping, the delicate protective layer on the top surface of the skin is compromised and you get even more oil produced to compensate.

Oily skin needs a gentle but effective approach starting right from the cleanser used.

I love that this cleanser is enriched with Sandalwood which is very effective in combating and controlling oily skin. Prized in India as an effective acne treatment because of its antibacterial, anti inflammatory and astringent qualities, this makes it an essential ingredient in products aimed at oily skin. It also has vitamin C for its brightening effect on the skin.

The pump bottle make it very easy to use and it’s quite thick in consistency so a little goes a long way! £22 – 150ml.

*Yours Truly Organics was created by Kelita Bignall to gently deal with her acneic skin condition. She found prescription medicine worked, but didn’t want to be constantly dependent on chemicals. So she set about creating her own range of skincare using organic materials that have a positive lasting effect on the skin. I have more to come on Kelita and Yours Truly Organics in the next few weeks.

Product Review – Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser

Cream_Cleanser_Tube_Muslin_400x400_1024x1024The buzz about honey bee based products keeps getting stronger! A little while ago, I wrote about honey in skincare >>> and it proved to be a very popular read, so I just wanted to give a quick mention to British made Bee Good’s Honey and Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser. I’ve been using on and off for a few months and even though I feel a drier or mature skin type would benefit most from it, I have too have enjoyed it.

For my oily combination skin I use it on days I’ve gone sans make up and I want to give my face a quick wash before bed, concentrating more on moisture/hydration than exfoliation. The texture is very thick and creamy so its doesn’t dry or strip the skin leaving a tight feeling. It’s super moisturising and skin feels nourished and supple. I put this down not only to honey and bees wax but English Crambe Oil. Not one of the most popular oils I might add, but it’s an excellent addition for skincare items as it’s very light and doesn’t leave behind a greasy feeling or residue. Experts say that a layer on the skin, prevents water loss (TEWL – more on this later but for now here’s how Wiki explain it) as it forms a natural protective barrier.

To use, massage it into dry skin and then wet your hands for extra slip and give your face a good massage. I spend at about three to five minutes getting into all the nooks, crannies and pores. It comes with its own muslin cloth to remove, which is very helpful! I then use a hydrating spritz toner and a night cream or oil to lock in all that moisture into my skin. Like I say, great for dry or mature skin types.

 

£11.50 for 100ml from Bee Good.

 

 

Ask Dija: What is an active?

From an overwhelmed client stood in one of my favourite beauty emporiums.

Simply put an ‘active‘ is what makes the product work. They are the ingredients (or single ingredient) that allow the product to do what it is intended to do on the skin and effect a change.

The type of active the product contains will be determined by the task the product aims to fulfil. For example, products that are designed to combat oiliness and acne will have active ingredients like salicylic, lactic or glycolic acid. Lotions and potions for mature skin will contain anti ageing based actives in the form of vitamins and AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) to tackle fine lines and wrinkles. To target dry and dehydrated skin a product will contain high amounts of hyaluronic acid.

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Molecular structure of Vitamin C – a common active ingredient in anti ageing products. Also found in products targeted at revitalising dull and tired looking skin.

Serums and moisturisers tend to contain the most actives and are the best products for delivery as they go to the skin once it has been cleaned and is ready to receive the benefits of the product. One of the brands I love best for their labelling is Elemental Herbology. All the packaging detail what sort of actives their products have – making it easy to determine their key purpose.

The Italian skincare line Bakel also invests a lot of time and money into ensuring their products contain only active ingredients that get to work fast and deliver results. Again, the packaging is simple and clear and you can easily see the main ingredients.

The fastest way to clean skin

Biore_Self_Healing_One_Minute_MaskI am constantly on the go – my day usually starts at 5am and I’m pretty much on the go till 7.30pm when my little girl goes to bed. So I’m usually pushed for time, but I don’t want to sacrifice my skincare routine. Enter Bioré – maker of the famous black head remover nose strips.  The clever bods there have also thought this clever mask for busy bees like me. It only takes one minute to work and you can go about the rest of your routine without any fuss. Masks tend to need longer to work, so it’s usually the step that people cut out when pushed for time. A one minute mask is game changing in this department!

I love the self heating element to it. Even though its only for a minute, you’d be surprised as to the amount of heat it generates in such a short time. It’s a comfortable feeling, so nothing to be worried about – it cools down just as fast as it heats up. It’s formulated with kaolin, natural charcoal and zeolite. All are work horses in face masks for combination/oily skin – they are responsible for absorbing bacteria, toxins, oil and dirt to reveal smoother, brighter and more refined skin. The heat opens up pores for a good clean and boosts the effects of the other ingredients.

I love a good face mask after a work out but I never have time to put on my usual ‘ten minutes or more’ masks. My pores are open and toxins have been released through sweat, so a good fast acting deep cleansing mask is ideal for achieving radiant and balanced skin quickly.

I can imagine this is also a great option if you have a big night out or an important day ahead and you quickly want to give your skin a deep clean to combat any oil that may want to put in an unwanted appearance. To get the most out of this mask, give your skin a thorough cleanse as any grime/dirt sitting on top of the skin will compromise its efficacy.

If you have combination/oily skin, this is great to have in your mask arsenal. £7.99 for a pack of four and available from Boots – online and in store.

Product Review: Eve Lom Flawless Radiance Primer

A make up and skincare item in one. Right up my street!

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For some reason the text is on the other side of the tube!

I don’t always wear a primer underneath make up, but if a busy day looms, where I don’t want to faff around with touch ups, this primer has fast become my go to. I know a lot of people who swear by the Laura Mercier primer and in my make up artist days, it was my favourite to use on clients as well.  As great as it was on everyone else, sadly it wasn’t on me. I’ve been using this primer from Eve Lom’s Complexion Range on and off throughout the summer so far and its not let me down, even at a very important family party a few weeks ago, when I was the definition of a headless chicken!

This is very light and fast absorbing so makes a great base for make up. A mark of all good primers, it is able to diffuse light on the skin to reduce the appearance of blemishes, imperfections, pore size, lines and wrinkles.

Make up benefits aside, I like the fact that it does have skincare benefits. It boosts and stimulates the all important hylarunoic acid in the skin to lock in moisture. This also helps to plump up the skin. With vitamin A and E, it provides some protection from free radical activity. Sandy Lily extract and Niacinamide are good skin brightening agents and gently tackle hyperpigmentation for a more even skin tone.

Well worth a try if you’re in the market for a new primer and it is ideal in our current heat wave weather conditions where I’ve seen make up literally slide off people’s faces!