Monday, 24 February 2014

DIY Home Facials

The beauty industry constantly comes up with new ways to help us spend money. Yes, they pry on our insecurities and yes we women fall for it. On the other hand, I’m all for prevention if we can actually do it with products that work. I’m not talking about products which ‘give the impression of improving the appearance of the skin’ like the mainstream TV ads would lead you to believe.
I want to know about the products that actually really make a difference, whether we are talking about the skin tone, pore size, fine lines. And I’m talking about the results that are there a few days after using the product, not when you actually have the cream on.

Some of the treatments available are salon-based procedures such as massage, skin needling that inject vitamins, exfoliation and micro-current muscle and tone stimulation. A lot of those treatments work. The problems are not just the cost, but also time we are required to actually set aside to actually visit the clinics. I have no idea how the average woman manages all these maintenance appointments, we have hair, nails, waxing, eyebrow shaping, facials, tanning etc. Seriously. That’s just of the top of my head. It’s difficult and time-consuming to be a woman. Full stop.

So what are the salon alternatives for an average woman to use at home at her own convenience and that actually make a difference? I’ve tried quite a few, some I liked more than the others, but as always it’s also about the needs of my skin and my preferences.

The most affordable product I’ve tried was Sarah Chapman Facialift massager. Sarah Chapman is a famous facialist who has developed her signature skinesis radiance facial massage. The home version massager has eight heads and massaging nodules that, when used, replicate the massage that Sarah has created. Of course, it’s not the same, but if you’re not a dab hand at massage, it’s a nifty thing to use at home.
The Facialift relies heavily at lymphatic drainage and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you’re not familiar with massage or what lymph system does in our bodies, I’ll explain.
Lymphatic system is a secondary circulatory network system in the body that carries a clear fluid called lymph. Lymphatic massage helps body get rid of the waste and toxins, relieves tension and speeds up the metabolism. Lymph vessels and nodes are present in our bodies, as well as on our faces, mainly on the side and jaw line. The lymph vessels solely rely on our muscles to make them work, so they can always use a little nudge to make them work better.
If you want to feel the effect of lymphatic massage, then try and press the area just between cheekbones and jaw and on the temples. You should feel an immediate release of tension.

The Facialift massager makes this process really easy to use. The design of the massager targets the jaw line, stimulates toxin elimination and tones the muscles.  It’s made out of plastic so it’s easy to clean.
You should not use it on dry and unmoisturised skin – you don’t want to stretch and damage the dry skin. Instead, try and use mild massage oil suitable for face and give it a go. With regular use your skin tone should improve and you should also get rid of any spots that are appearing on the jaw line. Massage is beneficial for all skin types and feels good. Yes the massager is not the same as the salon treatment but it’s a fraction of the price and so convenient to use when you’re at home watching TV.

Genuine Dermaroller is another product that has filtered down from the successful salon treatments and found its use in our DIY home treatments.
The roller contains micro needles that puncture the skin and stimulate the regeneration process and collagen production and also allow some nutrients to penetrate further into epidermis. Sounds scary? Only a little bit..

As the Dermaroller works by puncturing the skin, special care has to be taken with the hygiene, so you need to disinfect your roller before and after each use. The needles are superfine, and the way to use the roller, is to press gently on the skin using horizontal, vertical and diagonal movements. The gentle rolling should stimulate the skin enough and allow the penetration of products.

Yes, what you use with the Dermaroller is equally important as the microneedling. I personally like to use vitamic C serum that I make myself.  It will sting in the beginning, but your skin should get used to it very quickly. Other products to try would be the face masks rich in hyalruonic acid, a well known plumping and mositurising agent. In any case, Genuine Dermaroller will improve the penetration and make the most out of your skincare products. 
Although the results are cumulative, Alison Telfer, a dermaroller practicioner, advises using the roller a day or two before a big night out where you want your skin to look more radiant.
It would be a good idea to perhaps try the treatment in a salon that offers it, then you can be sure if that’s something you would actually use at home. The salon treatment uses longer needles so the effects should be more dramatic, but I’ve been happy with the results of my home use Genuine dermaroller. It really works. Once you get it, use it regularly, two-three times per week, and never share the roller with anyone. The roller is mainly targeted to use with wrinkles and scars so it’s not good for use with acne and rosacea and other skin irritations.

I’ve always preached that good cleansing is very underrated as it’s helps the skin ‘breathe’, it gets rid of the daily pollution and the dead skin cells. Cleansing and exfoliation helps the skin absorb the mositurisers. One product that is designed for this purpose is Magnitone Pulsar. Its especially good if you’re ageing and also plagued with spots and blackheads as well as fine lines.
It’s a cleansing brush attached to a battery-operated device that can massage, exfoliate and cleanse the skin. It will be weird to use at first, it reminds me of the first time I used an electric toothbrush, such a strange sensation that feels so normal to me now.
Magnitone is quite fabulous. Once you charge it, the battery should last for ages and just use it morning and night after taking make up off or in conjunction with the face wash if you use one. You will, of course, need to start slowly and get used to it. In the beginning the skin will feel dry and tight, you may also break out in spots, but after a few days it will settle and reveal a plump and soft skin. Your pores will shrink to nothing! Your make up will look amazing and you will end up using less of it. I have a combination skin and am quite lucky to be relatively smooth and wrinkle free at the age of 43, but I still get the odd spot and Magnitone has been brilliant. It also tones, has an exfoliation and a massage setting. Brushes can be easily replaced when worn and you can use it on your body too. I have to say I’m a total convert. Once you get over the initial tightness, the skin looks soft, clear and fabulous. The major plus point of use is that you can actually keep it in the shower – such a convenience. You can do your face and skin on the body – it’s amazing for preventing ingrown hairs after waxing.

The last home treatment I’ll cover is the CACI Microlift. I cannot stress enough that ageing is not all about wrinkles, it’s mainly about skin tone and sagging. You can be totally wrinkle free and have a sagging jaw line. Gravity sucks, I know. But you can have very toned and plump skin and have a few expression lines and still look amazing and young.
CACI Microlift is the treatment that will help to keep skin in the toned and plump shape. It’s not very cheap, but it is much cheaper than having an ongoing salon treatment. CACI salon treatment has been established for a long time as it works in keeping the skin lifted and plump. Plus it’s a good maintenance tool. So how does it work? The system emits tiny micro impulses at low frequencies that stimulate collagen and promote healing. The impulses work on the facial muscles that are either over stretched or slack, so it’s a bit like Pilates for your face. Gentle and redefining.

Word of warning - space out the treatments. Don’t go crazy and use everything at once. If you want to try microneedling, use it twice per week in the evening and definitely don’t use it straight after Magnitone or exfoliation. Your goal is to stimulate the skin, and not irritate it.
Your brand new skin is sensitive, so use a sun block. Your skin cell production is not unlimited. There is something called “a hayflick limit” and it basically tells us that the cell regeneration process is limited to a specific amount of times our skin cells can renew. In a nutshell, our skin cells are not immortal so can’t regenerate indefinitely. What it means, is that you can’t abuse the skin daily and expect your face not to suffer. Be sensible.


If you want to shop for any of the products above, here are the links:

Sarah Chapman Facialift

Genuine Dermaroller

Magnitone Pulsar

CACI Microlift

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Some Behind The Scenes Photos From My Day Job

I love how Instagram makes me feel like I can take photos... This was taken during the shoot for Drama with Fabrice Jacobs with one of my favourite models du jour Ava Mcavoy and styled by Magdalena Marciniak. All photos by me. Real photos from the shoot published in Drama.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sound of Silver DNA - La Potion Infine

From time to time I get sent products from PRs in exchange for make up credits in magazines or because they like my blog. I tend to be picky on what I write about, as I don’t want my blog to sound like a press release platform – there are many blogs doing that already. So I’ll try plenty of products but some just don’t stand out for me, in a good or a bad way.

One of the products got sent was "La Potion Infinie" and I have to say that the packaging was just great – in a simple black pot (my favourite colour) with a specially designed card that portrays one of the twelve archetypes of the “la maison” which is Argentum Apothecary. I have to say that the name Argentum Apothecary confused me in the beginning as I thought it was a chemist that sold many different brands. Well it’s a brand, so it’s either confusing or I was being thick, but it’s all good now.

The brand has one product only, La Potion Infinie, that can be used by both men and women, all over the face, neck and around eyes. Certainly the packaging won’t be  out of place in a man’s bathroom.

But, as well thought out the packaging and the story behind the twelve archetypes can be, the product actually is amazing. Yes the ‘la maison’ thing is all gimmicky, each jar coming with a serial number… it reminds me a lot of Crème de La Mer marketing story. Yes maybe there are too many product launches these days so the new product has to stand out with something, but for me, this cream is stands out as it actually works.

I’ve been using it now for a couple of weeks and from the first application I felt like my skin was being tightened, but not in a bad and uncomfortable way. It just looked more toned, my pores looked finer and skin felt firmer and hydrated. I didn’t feel like I was smothered in silicones and useless fillers, the texture of the cream is somewhat liquid, and the feel on the skin is matte. 

What’s so special about it?

The two main actives are Silver hydrosol and DNA HP. Silver hydrosol is also called colloidal silver and it’s somewhat controversial. It’s widely used in dog owners’ community as a healing and antibacterial agent. But there are also some wild claims that promise that silver will cure  pretty much everything, including cancer.

How does colloidal silver work?

Silver is not produced by our bodies, we don’t really need it, we don’t get deficient of it either. But it’s toxic for bacteria and fungi and it’s a great antiseptic that comes from just one element (Ag) The effectiveness of silver compounds as an antiseptic is based on the ability of the biologically active silver ion (Ag+) to irreversibly damage key enzyme systems in the cell membranes of pathogens.

From all the elements that have that effect to bacteria, silver is one that is the least toxic to us. Silver is widely used in medicine for wound dressings and it can be used as a dietary supplement.  But efficacy of it as a ‘do it all cure’ has been proven as ineffective. However I have ordered some colloidal silver to try as a supplement – that shows a bit how impressed I was with “La Potion Infinie”.

The second active is DNA HP, which stands for hyper polymerised deoxyribonucleic acid. I don’t actually know what the extracted DNA is from, but the brand says the DNA is from a marine based ingredient that acts like an antioxidant that regenerates tissue and also delivers hydration to the skin. The DNA ingredient works by trapping the toxic radical called hydroxyl, which affects both collagen and elastin. And the way it delivers the hydration to the skin is different from other creams – something about the cream’s molecular weight that attracts water into the subcutaneous layers of the skin.

What else is in the “La Potion Infinie”. Lots of good stuff actually. One of them, caffeine, gives the skin that immediate lift, but the others are very nourishing such as argan oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, aloe vera, tocopherol. Lovers of the “green” products will be pleased with the ingredients list as the cream has 99.5% ingredients from natural origins.

The one thing I don’t like about the “La Potion Infinie” is the price, sadly it retails at £147. It seems like these days high prices for skincare are a must, but I do like that the product actually looks and feels luxurious. And with the super stylish packaging it will definitely make a good present....

For me. Send it to me please. I will be forever grateful.

The ingredients, as picked up from the brand’s website: Colloidal Silver, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Glycerides, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Glycerin, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aqua, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caffeine, Sodium DNA, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Parfum, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Limonene, Linalool, Eugenol

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Escargot For Your Skin - Dr Organic Snail Gel

It seems like women will try anything in their quest for younger looking skin. Baby lamb placenta, funky mushrooms, sea kelp harvested at a specific time of a month, specks of gold in creams, crushed diamonds, snail’s slime…  

Yes snail’s slime.  Not even kidding, There is a face cream (gel actually) out there that contains pure extract of snail’s slime.

Dr Organic have noticed that snails farmers in Chile had unusually soft and hydrated hands, any cuts and grazes would heal much quicker. The scientists from the company did some testing on snails secretions and noticed high levels of collagen, elastin, allantoin (what I think is the main active here to provide wound healing), glycolic acid and other antibacterial substances that help in healing and smoothing the skin. Apparently snails can also regenerate their shells when broken, who knew? The extract is called Helix Aspersia Muller.

Dr Organic people mixed the slime with the aloe vera gel and some nice smelling lime and lemongrass oils to produce this lightweight gel. No idea what the slime in itself smells like but this gel is refreshingly citrusy. A bit clean and medicated even.

They must be trying to overcompensate for the slime…

So how will they sell it and who will buy it?

The gel is marketed as soothing under moisturizer treatment, good for repairing wrinkles and for general cell turnaround.

Do people even like snails?

I don’t. They are horrible, slippery and they eat my fruit and veg in the garden.

I put copper tape and eggshells to prevent them from eating my cucumbers and when I see snails I cover them with salt. I am an animal lover but I see snails as pests. No love lost between us. They are even not that slow for my liking, And now how do I go about smothering myself with their slime in pursuit of smoother skin?

Well, I’ve tried it. Made me cringe for a bit, but got over it. The gel is very lightweight and moisturizing.  Dr Organic must be very confident about its effectiveness as they are actively marketing the snail’s shell on the packaging, not sure I’d go that way, but hey I guess the controversy is always interesting.

If you didn’t know what was in it, would you buy it or would you buy it regardless? I really want to know!


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Sunscreen And Why To Use One

I talk about skin ageing a lot and one of the main causes of collagen breakdown is the sunlight. Or more to the point, ultraviolet radiation.

Ultraviolet rays are emitted by light sources, such as sun. They are invisible to the naked eye although we feel the effects of it on our skin through suntan and sunburn. 
There are a few types of UV rays, but the ones of interest in skincare are medium and long waves or UVB and UVA. For simplicity I call them "burning" and "ageing" rays, although it's not entirely correct. UV rays are also responsible for production of vitamin D in the skin.

So, the rays are there, some are absorbed by the ozone layer, but a lot get to the Earth's surface. We do need them, but we also need to protect ourselves from overexposure. UV rays can also impact the DNA structure directly and indirectly, and cause skin cancer.

So how can we protect ourselves? Obviously by using sunscreen when planning a direct exposure - sunbathing. And that's when majority of people tend to use sunscreens when they can actually see the big bright sun in the sky. But they should be using them on a daily basis.

Sunscreens can be organic chemical compounds and physical (mineral). Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays and physical reflect and scatter them. The thing is whatever they are made of, they will break down in a couple of hours and you'll lose your protection. And that's why when we're sunbathing, it says to reapply liberally every couple of hours or more often if we're swimming, etc.

But how about when we are out and about during the day and in a city with full make up on? That's when it gets more complicated and confusing.

Lots of us want to save time so we'll buy a moisturiser with built in SPF. Most of them if mixed into creams are chemical ones and they will rarely offer my more than UVB protection, so it means that you're still exposed to the UVA radiation. 

But the biggest problem is that the chemical sunscreens can be a bit controversial. Some can cause allergic reactions, some interfere with DNA.

So that leaves us with mineral sunscreens. They are the ones that create a barrier on skin and leave us with a whitish tinge. They are the best we can get at the moment, a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen that we apply on top of our daily moisturiser. 

The key in choosing a good one is that there isn't one. Go for the maximum protection that you can. I tend to pick SPF50 and I go for the texture and smell that I like. Many of them can be greasy so try a few. My personal favourite is Sisley Broad spectrum facial sunscreen, but it is expensive. Shiseido does a good high protection UVA/B sunscreen and, while it's not exactly a bargain, it is cheaper. There are loads of sunscreens available, so get samples and try a few to pick the one you like.

But don't forget that even the best sunscreen will break down in strong sunlight and stop giving you protection, so cover up with a hat.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Steamcream - My New Find

I've always been a fan of those products who do a bit "more" than what they are just supposed to do. A bit like Rodial Glam Balm, I've used it for years, it's perfect hydrating mask, dry skin moisturiser, treatment for sunburn etc, so I was very excited that there's another product that can be used in many ways. Except this one is a bit different and comes in super cool retro packaging - a tin. 

So why is it good? 

I like that it contains proven moisturisers such as cocoa butter, glycerine (palm free), almond and jojoba oil. In addition to that there are some lovely essential oils that as well as making the product smell nice, they are soothing and antiseptic, then orange blossom water that balance oily skins and also there is oatmeal which is so good for soothing sensitive skins. Not too many ingredients and it's made in traditional way, by fusing all the ingredients by steam. How cool is that???

Why do I love it? 

It's lightweight, it just sinks into the skin and leaves it nourished. You can use it on the face and body. Makes a good hand cream. You can take off make up with it. You can use it as a mask, mix it with oat flakes and use it as a scrub. You can massage your skin with it before a facial steam and cleanse. And you can mix it with foundation to make your own tinted moisturiser or BB or CC cream or whatever they choose to call it these days. I'm sure you can think of more ways to use it... And best of all, it's pretty much a bargain £12.95.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Chanel's A/W Catwalk Sparkle

Usually at this time of year I’d be busy doing all Spring/Summer colours like everyone else is. But the weather being as it is (yes we had snow this week in UK and it’s April) and it’s freezing, so I thought I’d check back on the A/W fashion shows from last month and pick some interesting looks. For all we know, this season might just carry on and we’ll have no summer at all. Last year, anyone?

Once again, fashion designers are flirting with punk as their inspiration (maybe because the Costume Institute is doing a Punk exhibition?) so cue the mix of different fabrics and textures in one outfit, teamed with the streamlined silhouette and darker colours. Always at the helm of originality while keeping their own style, Chanel interprets this look well.

Next year’s punk face, according to Chanel is fresh and glowing. And perfect. Skin is prepped with Hydra Beauty Serum and Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, cheeks are flushed with the natural pinky crème blusher. Chanel have always done a good blusher, and for the upcoming A/W the new shade is called Inspiration. Not yet available though, but you can find other shades from Chanel. Their blusher colours are subtle so incredibly user friendly.

Eyes are lightly lined with a pencil, with lots of black mascara on the top lashes. But this is where this look gets different. Platinum sequins are glued on around the eyes ensuring plenty of light would be reflected. Get your own sequins on with the help of Frontcover Cosmetics, their Sparkler kit comes with extras and with the glitter sealing gel to keep the sequins in place.

What stops this look getting all romantic and too girly are the eyebrows, strong and arched and beautifully filled in. Really good eyebrow pencils are available from Sisley, Laura Mercier and Shiseido. Choose a colour that suits your natural eyebrow and hair colour.

Keep the lips nude and sheer. Mix some Chanel Conditioning lip balm with some Precision lip liner in Pretty pink.

There you have it, your own Chanel catwalk look. You certainly don’t have to wait for the next season to wear it, now is always good!