Tag Archives: Skincare

Morning Skincare: Two Serums from DECIEM

It’s taken me a while to catch on to the fact that it’s serums that make a real difference to your skin and not moisturiser. Now I’ve found a few I use regularly and have incorporated these two into my morning skincare routine.  Both are from brands under the umbrella of DECIEM “The Abnormal Beauty Company”.  Journalist and vlogger Nadine Baggott recently filmed a fascinating interview with the founder of DECIEM, Brandon Truaxe, which is well worth a watch if you’re into skincare.

I alternate these two serums each morning after a hydrating spritz and applying hyaluronic acid to my neck in the form of Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex by NIOD.


Copper Amino Isolate Solution 1% by NIOD

Another catchy name from NIOD. CAIS has become quite the cult product since its release, being thought to promote long-term skin health and combat the effects of skin ageing. Copper peptides are supposed to have multiple benefits including assisting with wound healing, collagen synthesis and anti-inflamatory responses.  Victoria of Bois de Jasmin didn’t think much of it  so I didn’t expect great things. However I found my skin really liked it. It seemed to soothe and strengthen my reactive skin.

It has very low viscosity (it’s like water!) and absorbs really well. The main reason I like it is that it feels healing on my cheek and neck which are constantly battling eczema. Maybe if you skin is already healthy you won’t notice a difference.

It comes in two bottles which you combine to create a bright blue liquid. A friend of mine doesn’t like face products that are blue, in the same way she doesn’t trust blue food, but I like it. It also smells faintly of rusty pipes which I don’t mind one bit. I’m sticking with it for now and will purchase the new improved CAIS 2 when I run out of the original formula. If the price of £38 for 15ml is a bit rich for you, The Ordinary are launching The Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% in the spring.



Niacinamide 1% + Zinc 1% by The Ordinary

Niacinamide + Zine 1% regulates the skin’s sebum activity, reduces the appearance of blemishes and brightens skin tone. I use it because I have combination skin and this has noticeably helped to balance it out: I no longer have an oily T-Zone. I like The Ordinary’s version because it states it has a high 10% concentration of niacinamide (vitamin B3) whereas some don’t tell you the exact percentage. Paula’s Choice do a Niacinamide Booster at 10% but it costs considerably more then £5 for 30ml, at £40 for 20ml.

I really like the texture of this serum because although it combats oiliness, it doesn’t feel  drying.  I don’t use it at the same as my Vitamin C serum because this can cause a redness reaction.


Do you use a serum in your morning skincare routine? Please share your choices in the comments. I love to hear what works for other people.



Filed under Beauty Review

Two Favourite Balm Cleansers

When I get home from work the first thing I do after making a cup of tea is take off my make-up. I do a pre-cleanse with micellar water to remove my mascara and lipstick and then go in with a balm to get rid of the rest (base, concealer, blush, SPF).

Balms are my preferred evening cleanse because they are thorough yet feel good for the skin. There is also a therapeutic aspect to them; you literally feel like you’re wiping the day away.

I used to use micellar water to take off all my make-up because it felt easier than messing around at the sink with water. However, I found that it dried my skin out and using a balm is actually quicker as well as more effective.

I spread a blob between damp hands and apply it all over my face. I then run a fannel under the hot tap, wring it out and use it to wipe off the cleanser. They are more pricey than cream cleansers or face washes but last ages.

There are a few balm cleansers around but I like the ones that are solid rather than cream-like. Clinique’s Take The Day off Cleansing Balm is a cheaper alternative to those below, but the lack of scent makes it rather joyless.  I normally askew heavily scented products in skincare but cleansers are one of my exceptions because they don’t stay on the skin.

Here are my two favourites: –



Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm 

Two of the reasons I love this cult cleansing balm are that it’s oily and has a fabulous orange scent. It contains essentials oils of orange, neroli, mandarin, jasmine and rose in addition to moringa seed extract which has numerous skin benefits. The base is grapeseed oil and sweet almond oil, however unlike the next balm, it is not all-natural.

I’m not sure how it does it but this balm manages to act as a deep cleanse as well as a skin conditioner. I use it on those occasions when I have a full face of make-up or am purely craving that uplifting scent. As suggested by Emma Hardie, I sometimes use it as a mask while in the bath so the oils can sink in. It’s available from Marks and Spencer but there are often deals online. It comes with a nice cleansing cloth.


Jane Scrivner Nourishing Cleansing Blam

Someimes I want something simple which isn’t heavily scented. This Nourishing Balm fits the bill but is still a pleasure to use. It’s more waxy with a lighter consistency than the Moringa Cleansing Balm. It has the refreshing scent of an essential oil blend; the type you often get in all-natural products such as this. It contains organic jojoba oil, beeswax and essential oils of ylang ylang, elemi, eucalyptus, frankincense, lemongrass, lavender, myrrh, sandalwood and sweet orange.

As the name suggests, this balm feels really nourishing rather than stripping.  I use it on days when my skin feels dry/delicate and it leaves it feeling soft and plump.  Again, it comes with its own fluffy cleansing mit.




Please let me know if you have tried either of these or your thoughts on other cleansers.




Filed under Beauty Review

The Boxwalla August Beauty Box

I feel closely connected to this particular subscription box. I first got to know Lavanya – the talented woman behind Boxwalla –  online a number of years ago through her perfume blog and then in person when she and her family visited London from California.

When her second child was born she blogged about how she had been inspired to start a new venture which turned out to be Boxwalla (which means a “box seller” in India). It was great to see the scheme grow and it has even been featured in Vogue.

Lavanya noticed I had recently got into skincare in a big way and kindly offered to send me the August Beauty Box for review.




The lovely boxes are made from recycled cotton scraps


Before Boxwalla I had been very sceptical about subscriptions boxes. From what I could tell, you’d get one or two things you might be half interested in and then quite a few random bits and pieces of little value, just to bulk it out. Therefore the first thing that impressed me upon opening the box was that it contained three high quality, full sized products and no filler.





Lavanya is passionate about green beauty but she is also only interested in those products that are nutrient-rich and actually work. I felt very fortunate that this box included two items from Odacité because I’ve been eyeing this plant-based brand for a while. However, after reading the packaging of both products I was still none the wiser as to what exactly they were and where they fit into my skincare routine.




This is the where the Boxwalla card came into its own. It detailed not only what the main benefits of the products were, but how and when to use them. As suggested, after misting, I added 2 pumps of the Oleosomes Time Release Delivery Créme (moisturiser) to the Pa+G Serum Concentrate (hyperpigmentation treatment) and applied all over my face and neck.

The emulsion sank into my skin fast and left a non-sticky, velvety feel. I have been having issues with eczema and dehydration but my skin has been incredibly soothed and hydrated since using this concoction. I’ve have also been using the Créme as a stand alone moisturiser. It contains seed oils but smells like herbs.




I only started using lip exfoliators recently and don’t know how I got along with without them before. My lips are smoother (obviously) and lipstick goes on better. The only issue is that I always end up accidently eating some, so an all-natural version is a definite plus.  Nordic Berries Lip Exfoliator by Henné Organics looks stunning, smells amazing and is gentle yet effective.



The box is great value at $54.95, especially when you consider the retail value is $131. The Odacité Oleosomes Time Release Delivery Crème alone costs £60 on Cult Beauty! There is limited availability to buy this box as a one-off if you’re interested.




I really admire the ‘slowness’ concept behind Boxwalla.  It’s nice to find someone who is focusing on sharing high quality products with integrity by artisans and small businesses. This isn’t a throw away buzz which fades soon after the box arrives in the post. Every single one has been curated with care and it shows. Boxwalla make sure that each box builds on the one before so you don’t end up with random products that don’t fit together.

This isn’t just about Beauty either. There are also Food, Film and Book Boxes and all but the Food Box ship internationally.

Boxwalla is a subscription box done right.




Filed under Beauty Review

Holiday Sun, Skin and Hair

After sharing a photo of the inside of my suitcase the other week, I thought I’d talk about some of the many products I took with me on holiday.

We spent a week in Majorca with temperatures of 27 to 30 degrees C. I brought enough lotions and potions to cover myself, my sister and niece.




I got Pixi’s Double Cleanse by Caroline Hirons in the re-issued Cult Beauty Box, just in time for my trip. It was handy to have a cream and balm cleanser in one container. I used the cream in the morning and the balm in the evening to take off my SPF. I liked the texture of both a lot. The cream is, well creamy, and the balm is nice and solid.



Vitamin C

After cleansing in the morning I applied a layer of Vitamin C serum. This powerful antioxidant is a good way to counteract the damaging effects of sun exposure.  I took two from both ends of the price spectrum.

At home, I normally apply DCL’s C Scape High Potency Night Booster 30 in the evening because of its grainy texture. It contains 30% vitamin C (L ascorbic acid) and gives a sharp tingle on application.

As my skin got drier through the week, I switched to The Ordinary’s Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% vitamin C because it’s in oil form. I’m extremely curious about the new Vitamin C 30% Suspension in Silicone from The Ordinary. I suspect it stings pretty intensely. Let me know if you’ve tried it.




Facial Sunscreen

For a base layer in the morning, I applied Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50 by La Roche-Posay. It was indeed very light and a pleasure to apply.

For re-application I took Bioderma Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50 which was a revelation. The mist is so fine you barely feel it hit your skin. This makes topping up your sunscreen an absolute breeze.  I never broke out, even with my combination skin.




Body Sunscreen

I knew we’d be spending a lot of time in the swimming pool so I looked for a sunscreen that would stick. I researched a lot of high-end brands and while most say they are “water resistant”, I went for Marks and Spencer Ultra Defense SPF 50 because it’s “very water resistant”.

I bought the cream for applying in the morning and the spray version for re-application. Not glamorous, but the best for our needs.




Lip Protection

Lanolips Tinted Balm is very moisturing and contains SPF 30. I got it in Rhubarb which is a natural-looking pinky colour. Good for poolside or on the beach when you’re not not wearing lipstick.


Body Moisturisers

I took my trusty La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume as well as the E45 Intense Recovery spray in case my skin got too over-heated from the sun.

I finished with a little Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse for the oil sheen and tropical scent (which my sister is now obsessed with). I didn’t wear any of the handful of decants I took in the end.






I took travels sizes of Bumble and Bumble’s sulphate free shampoo and conditioner but the conditioner wasn’t mosituring enough after a day in the sun and pool. Luckily, I had brought along a small tube of Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask by Briogeo and that worked wonders. I honestly think my hair came home in better condition that when I went.

I’m still experimenting with styling my hair using Wave Spray by Quai, so the jury’s out on that one.  I shared my sister’s great smelling Sun Care Protective Hair Veil spray by Aveda for a UV filter and covered my hair as much as possible.



At Duty Free on the return leg we tried a lot of perfumes to pass the time. Both my sister and niece have great noses. My sister spritzed Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermes for the flight home while my niece said Angel Muse was her favourite. The reason being “It smells like Daddy’s Christmas cookies”.




Do you have vacation sun, skin or hair care products to recommend?





Filed under Beauty Review, Perfume Reviews, Travels

Summer Break

Just checking in to let you know there won’t be a post on the blog for a few weeks. It’s time to take a break. I’m off  to Majorca on Monday for a lazy holiday by the sea which is something I haven’t done in ages and feel I really need.

For the last few years I’ve done city breaks and traveled with hand luggage only. The result of suddenly not having a restriction on liquids is that I’ve started throwing whole bottles into the case with abandon. Hopefully I’ll be able to lift it. I haven’t even started on the perfume yet…





If you’re heading off yourself, have a wonderful time and if you’re not, I hope you manage to do something fun for yourself before the end of August. We all need a break from the daily grind now and again.

Back soon!




Filed under Travels

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


‘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.


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.



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.





Filed under Beauty Review

What Are Your Winter Skin Savers?

Like a lot of people, my skin always becomes drier in the winter but this year it’s suffered more than ever. Here in the UK, it’s been a colder winter than usual with temperatures in London consistently around 5 to 7 degrees during January. I have persistent dry patches on my neck and face which can itch horribly. Some products have helped, but I’m yet to find a magic bullet.



Winter in a local park in London


I’ve been squirting a good amount of Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil into my bath water and once a week while having a soak, I apply Clarins HydraQuench Cream Mask which started to make a difference after three applications.  La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+ is still the best body moisturiser I’ve found.

I’m cleansing my face with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser after a recommendation from my pal Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume (who has been blogging about her contact dermatitis). I’m following this with La Roche-Posay Soothing Lotion for sensitive skin because although toners are supposed to do no more than water, I like using them.

HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase by Clarins is the consistency of water which makes it a little tricky to apply but also means I can use it on my parched eye area and it soaks in quickly. I follow this with La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intensive Eyes. I’ve turned to Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Cream (again La Roche-Posay) combined with a couple of drops of RESIST Hyaluronic Acid Booster from Paula’s Choice for extra moisture, but the effects have only been temporary. MAC Prep+Prime Lip provides a moisturising base for lipstick.



Unless it’s a gym day, it doesn’t make sense to use an antiperspirant during winter so I’ve switched to Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant. This stuff smells absolutely fantastic when sprayed but isn’t potent enough to clash with your perfume.

At night I’m mostly sticking with my usual Paula’s Choice evening routine except I’ve dropped the liquid exfoliant while my skin is so sensitive.

I apply Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm before bed and the truth is that I’m more than a little bit in love with this product. Previously, I was using Lano Lips but my bottom lip still split open, which was beyond grim. Since using the Nuxe balm my lips have been totally transformed even though I wear drying lip pencils and matte lipsticks most days. It also has a gorgeous honeyed lemon scent.



What products do you turn to in the winter to protect and nourish your skin? Have you found anything that works on dry patches? Should I just use Vaseline or is there a better alternative? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.






Filed under Beauty Review

Skincare Sorted – Paula’s Choice

For years I’ve lacked any kind of consistency in my skincare. I only bothered with a basic 3-step routine and would switch to a different product every time one ran out. I never had any confidence in a particular brand. I didn’t trust that the cheap ones would make a difference and I felt like I was largely funding the advertising budgets of the premium beauty companies.

I had never heard of American online brand Paula’s Choice before Birgit blogged about it on Olfactoria’s Travels.  I must admit, from that point until last year, I had a couple of false starts with the website. I just couldn’t get to grips with the many products and the long, similar sounding names. There wasn’t the usual “day cream, night cream, eye cream” categories and I no idea what BHAs or AHAs were. I just couldn’t find a way in.

Then when B came to London last year and had brunch with Vanessa and me, I asked her thoughts and she recommended a couple of products. That was the pointer I needed.

I was away and I’ve never looked back since.


Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice

If Paula’s Choice is new to you, basically you pick a range that suits your skin concern (Resist for me as it’s anti-aging) then pick products that suit your skin type (combination to oily or normal to dry). I suggest choosing a serum to treat the skin and a moisturiser with SPF for day. If you want, you can choose a moisturiser without SPF for night and add a liquid exfoliant once you have that basic routine sorted. You can use the moisturisers around the eye area though Paula’s Choice have now brought out an eye cream.

They do trial sizes too which are great for holidays as well as testing out new products. Other definite pluses are that they are fragrance free and not tested on animals.

What I think has made the most difference to my skin is not relying on a moisturiser to do all the work. They are often sold as miracle creams but their actual primary job is to hydrate the skin (the clue is in the name). The key is actually a good liquid exfoliant and the serum you use to treat the skin beforehand. As Sali Hughes says, the moisturiser is just a blanket to lay over the skin after treating it, in order to provide comfort.

I have combination skin and my daily regime (excluding cleansing) looks like this :


Resist Anti-Aging Ultra Light Super Antioxidant Concetrate Serum

Resist Anti-Aging Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Resist Anti-Aging Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense Moisturizer SPF 30 in spring/summer/autumn

Resist Anti-Aging Cellular Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 25 in the winter


Resist Daily Pore-Refining 2% BHA Treatment (liquid exfoliant)

Resist Anti-Aging Retinol Serum (on the eye area)

Resist 1% Retinol Booster

Resist Anti-Aging Barrier Repair Moisturizer


I finally have a skincare routine I’m happy with, containing products I use consistently and I can tell are working for me. My sister is also a total convert and has even invested in the men’s range for her husband. You can see why they don’t need to advertise.

In case there is any doubt, I’m not affiliated with the Paula’s Choice in any way; just a fan girl with happy skin.



Is there a beauty brand you’re loyal to? Are you a fan of Paula’s Choice? If so, what are your hero products from the line? 







Filed under Beauty Review