Tag Archives: Beauty

What Do You Think of The Ordinary?

There’s been a buzz around skincare brand The Ordinary since it launched last year. They offer no frills “clinical technologies” at low cost, with the aim of improving price integrity in skincare. You can get most products for under a tenner and last week I finally jumped on the beauty bandwagon and placed an order.

The very first time I checked out The Ordinary website, I was so baffled by the long chemical names of the products, I clicked away pretty sharpish. I’ve only upgraded from a basic three-step routine relatively recently, so all the jargon was a mystery to me. Even the explanations of each product were as clear as mud. Unless you’re a beauty geek, you really need to research the ingredients and find the ones that are right for your skin type. Luckily there are lots of reviews around.

Thanks to a hugely helpful post by Victoria on Bois de Jasmin, I felt a little more confident. I did a bit more reading and tried again. This time I purchased Buffet, Natural Moisturizing Factors +HA, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F (see what I mean about the names?) and 100% Plant Derived Squalane. All of these seemed suitable for my combination skin with dry patches.

 

My Routine

AM

‘Buffet’ is a serum containing a number of peptides which I apply in the morning after cleansing, in the hope it will increase my skin’s collagen. I love it and find it a dream to apply.

I follow this with Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F, which is a Vitamin C serum for brightening the skin. The Ordinary offer four different Vitamin C serums and this is what confused me the most. They do have a guide but it still uses a lot of technical language. In the end I plumped for Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F because it combines high potency with a very low risk of stinging.

The consistency turned out to be quite watery even though it’s a light oil. Next time I’ll go for the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate which is a light cream formulation with a very low risk of stinging and medium potency.

Next is a couple of drops from my Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster. In time I’ll be replacing it with The Ordinary’s version seeing as it’s  a whopping £38 cheaper!

Everywhere except my t-zone, I apply the Natural Moisturizing Factors +HA which is a non-greasy, easily absorbed moisturiser with added hyaluronic acid which has a comforting feel.

For sunscreen and its make-up priming properties, I finish with Paula’s Choice RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30.

PM

In the evening after cleansing and toning, I use the Buffet serum again followed by Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster and Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment. But again, once the Paula’s Choice product runs out I’ll switch to The Ordinary’s Advanced Retinoid 2%.

Lastly, I apply the 100% Plant Derived Squalane to try and combat the patches of lizard skin on my cheek and neck which I’m thoroughly fed-up with. When I’ve used it up I’ll try one of the number of plant oils (probably the 100% Cold Pressed Virgin Marula) to see if that gives a better result. I finish my evening routine with Natural Moisturizing Factors +HA.

 

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The Ordinary’s “apothecary chic” packaging.

 

I want to try the Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% as a weekly exfoliating treatment but feel nervous about the fact it’s described a “peeling formulation”. If you’ve tried this direct acid, please let me know in the comments.

Apart from the Vitamin C Suspension 23% and the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, you can use any combination of products as long as you apply the water based formulas before the oil based formulas (there is a table that tells you which are which). However, they recommend using no more than 3 serums at any one time.

Obviously I haven’t used the products long enough to review them, but overall I’m impressed with those I’ve tried so far. They are easy to apply and I’ve had no adverse reactions. What I’d love to hear about is your experience.

Have you tried anything from The Ordinary? Do you have advice to offer? If possible, please share how you combine your products.

 

 

 

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Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent by Mandy Aftel plus Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir By Aftelier Perfumes

 

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent

Mandy Aftel’s 2001 book Essence and Alchemy had a profound effect on me, as I know it did on many others in the perfume community. It cast a spell that seems to have enchanted me for life and even led to short-lived experiments with my own  oil-based perfumes.

While Essence and Alchemy intended to  give people interested in a perfume a grounding in natural perfumery, Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent  is aimed at everyone.  Mandy was moved and inspired by witnessing the effect re-connecting with scent has on people who didn’t think they liked perfume.

 

 “Watching them discover authentic aromas and their sensual pleasure is profoundly thrilling, like watching a starving person feast on a delicious smell.”

 

That’s not to say that those already addicted to fragrance won’t find plenty to love and learn in this meticulously researched book.  Mandy has collected a large array of antique books and we get to benefit from the knowledge she has accumulated over the years.

 “Indeed entering the world of fragrance is like falling through the looking glass and finding on the other side an everyday miracle, a mystery, a source of wonder. It is truly a transformative experience and one I am passionate to share”.

 

Mandy is beguiled by natural materials and she transmits that feeling so well. You don’t just get the facts in Fragrant but an intimate explanation of why these materials matter to us as human beings; how they connect with us on a deep level and have the potential to transform us. The fact that Mandy has not lost that sense of wonder or passion comes across on every page.

 

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Fragrant goes into much more depth than Essence and Alchemy and cleverly uses a different fragrant material to tell the multi-layered story of perfume and approach it from a number of interesting angles. “Cinnamon” tells the history of the spice trade which is entwined with that of perfume, while “Mint” goes into the use of remedies within the home and the intriguing Books of Secrets. “Frankincense” explores incense and spirituality,  “Ambergris”  focuses on animal derived essences and finally “Jasmine” is a thoughtful meditation on perfume and beauty.

There are recipes at the end of each chapter for very simple oil and alcohol based perfumes and I shall definitely be trying out a few for body oils as I’m mildly obsessed with those.

Aside from the content, the writing is beautiful.  Each sentence has its own gentle rhythm, which makes reading Fragrant an almost meditative experience.

Mandy manages to reignite the passion I felt when I first discovered the world of essential  oils and then perfumery. She has reconnected me to the visceral reason why perfume captivates me so much.

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent is a gorgeous treasure trove of a book.

 

Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir

Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir is something I’ve wanted to try for ages so I reverently tipped some of the sample onto my fresh-from-the-bath skin.  I was intrigued to read that Mandy created it as an ode to singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.

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It’s built around resins that have been prized since ancient times for their spiritual and healing properties. Ancient Resins contains frankincense, Balm of Gilead (poplar buds). benzoin, elemi and labdanum in a base of jojoba and fractionated coconut oil.

Frankincense is a distinctive material and I expected it to dominate but in Mandy’s seasoned hands it practically purrs on the skin, taking a back-seat to the balsams.

Ancient Resins is a seductively balsamic body oil with a subtle vanilla undertone.

What I was particularly pleased about was how quickly it was absorbed by the skin. The oil is not at all greasy so you don’t have to linger for long before dressing. It leaves the skin thoroughly moisturised and softly fragranced. 

Ancient Resins Body Oil & Hair Elixir is a real sensual pleasure both to apply and wear.

 

ancientresins

 

Have you read Fragrant or tried any of the Aftelier body products?

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The Joy of Face Masks

I only really got into beauty and skincare after the age of 40. Before then I didn’t wear much make-up and never put little thought into my very basic skincare routine. Now I’m making up for lost time and thought I could use the blog occasionally to share/gain information and this new found passion.

One aspect of skincare I really enjoy is the use of face masks. Unlike a lot of skincare it feels – argh, this word makes me cringe but I can’t think of a better one – pampering. I run a bath and have a soak while my mask/s of choice gets to work.

I have been quite the fan of “multi-masking”: putting more than one mask on at the same time. I use the Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant on my oily T-Zone and the Aveda Intensive Hydrating Masque on my cheeks and neck where the skin tends to be dry. But this winter I got the Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Mask by Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins and it is LOVE.

This creamy treatment mask with Cordyceps and Reishi Mushrooms plus Ginger, Holy Basil and Turmeric instantly reduces visibly redness, blotchiness and reactivity.

I apply liberally all over and it tingles for a few seconds. I like this because it feels likes it’s actually going to do something. It’s also definitely a tingling, rather than a stinging, sensation. As per the instructions I leave it on for around 10 minutes and rinse off.

I notice the difference immediately. My skin feels firmer, less sensitive and even strengthened. Of course this is my impression rather than a measurable result. It’s like getting a new layer of stronger, healthy skin.

I don’t think I’m completely imagining this though because I felt this before I read on the Origins website that this treatment mask “helps revitalize and restore luminosity to stressed skin and rebuild a protective barrier to help avoid future flare-ups. Leaves skin calm and comforted.”

origins

It’s categorised as best for redness and sensitivity but is suitable for all skin types. At £37 for 100ml it’s not exactly a bargain but I do think it’s worth the money for the results it gives me. Especially at this time of year, when my skin is suffering the ill-effects of harsh cold winds and drying central heating.

Right now, I’m curious about the Korean sheet masks which are having a moment. Have you tried them and would you recommend them? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments and let me know whether you have a favourite face mask.

 

 

 

 

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