10 January 2016

3 Ways To Boost Your Skin While You Sleep

Overnight Face Masks: Erborian, Voya and James Read
Who else has broken most (if not all) of their new year's resolutions? I hear you, but I have a solution if one was to start taking better care of your skin. Finding time to regularly scrub and mask and rinse and tone and hydrate is harder than it sounds, which is where an overnight face mask can handily step in. It makes sense, really; not only is a bedtime treatment insanely effortless, it also sees your skin fed with potent, pore-kind ingredients during the time it repairs itself. (Which is while you sleep, FYI.) I go to bed with masks on often, so I thought I'd share three of my favourites. There's one for plumping, one for glow-boosting, and one that soothes winter dryness a treat.

Voya Hydra Veil Face Mask, £32

This is the one for dehydration. It's a little bit richer in texture than the other two masks, but in no way 'greasy' or 'thick' - just delightfully cosseting when skin feels tight. The secret here is the extracts of seaweed, as algae is great for replenishing the moisture stores in your pores, as well as calming redness and inflammation. I reach for this one when it's been a particularly cold day in the city, and find a thin layer is plenty to see away the dryness that tends to crop up on my cheeks and forehead. You can still feel it on your skin in the morning - in a good way - as skin has a certain dewiness that, after cleansing, makes a smooth canvas for foundation.

Erborian Sleeping BB Mask, £36

There isn't a product I haven't loved from this French-Korean fusion brand, and the Sleeping BB Mask might be the best I've tried so far. It promises to create a plumping 'cocoon' over skin while you sleep, which sounds like it might be cloying, right? But that couldn't be further from the case. I tend to apply a pretty thick layer of this overnight treatment, yet it still feels supremely light on skin. Think silky and supple, a bit like a serum once it's dried down. It's all about fixing fatigue, so it's a great one to use if you've crept in late or are tight on time. Come morning, skin looks glowy and rested, like you're one of those sensible, early-to-bed types.

James Read Sleep Mask Tan Face, £25

This self-tanning mask breaks all manner of records in my books: most comfortable tan, most natural glow and most enjoyable way to fake bronzed skin (because you wear it while you sleep, you see). Like the Erborian mask, it has a light, serum-like texture, meaning you can barely feel it on your face - something that you can't say about a lot of self-tanning creams. The colour builds up very gradually, so I use it as a mid-week pick-me-up that leaves a healthy, tawny veil to reverse winter dullness. Oh, and did I mention that it's hydrating, too?

2 March 2015

Fake Tanning Tips for Dry Complexions

Fake Tanning Tips for Dry Complexions
A facial fake tan is great for lending some warmth to flagging skin, but nothing kills that glow quite like a parched complexion post-DHA. If you find that faux tan tends to rob your pores of essential, dewy moisture, read on to find out how you can maintain a honeyed hue with optimum hydration.

Choose a tan with benefits

Instead of grabbing for the first fake tan that promises golden skin, do a little research on the product's ingredients. Many lotions now impart a thwack of hydrating benefits - and no, I'm not talking gradual tanners that lend only the softest glow.

Gradual tanners are best for drier skins as they're lighter and hold less DHA, but should you want a deeper tone, there are gentle products to be found. For example, St. Tropez enriches its lotion with soothing aloe vera, while He-Shi harnesses moisture lock technology and, unlike many tanners, is free of parabens and alcohol.

For my part, providing I put in the prep, I get great results with St. Tropez, as it boasts a believable shade of bronze that doesn't cling to scaly skin. Crucially, my face feels soft - not tight - whenever I wash it off, and I don't have to pile on the flash balm in futile attempts to restore skin's radiance.

Go for a gradual lotion

There are great gradual tanning options out there that take the edge off pasty skin - they're perfect if you're looking for just a gentle kiss of warming colour. Some do little more than lend your limbs and cheeks the subtlest tint, but what you want is a tanner that doubles up as a damn good moisturiser.

The Crème de la Mer Gradual Tan is as plush as some of my favourite hydrating creams, so you get a full-on thwack of moisture that gently lifts the tone of your skin. Pair it with the Nuxe Self-Tanning Face Cream for a head-to-toe hint of bronze. Its deliciously unctuous formula feels like a soothing treat on my sensitive pores.

Prep with a water-based cream

Typically, it may seem wise to skip face cream before you apply fake tan - the oils in your moisturiser can act as a shield against DHA. That said, a water-based cream will still allow tanning agents to react with skin cells, all while keeping moisture intact for happy, hydrated cheeks. Look for oil-free creams with water high on the ingredients list, and allow them time to sink in before you pat on a layer of tan.

The Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Jelly is a perfect tan prep buy, as the water-based hydrating gel pumps pores with weightless, shine-free moisture. It's quenching enough to counteract the drying effects of the DHA, but the lightness ensures it won't block the glow-giving effects of tanning agents.

An honourable mention also goes to the St. Tropez Body Moisturiser. Though it does contain oils, it's also packed with a tanning booster called L-Tyrosine, so the lotion bumps up your skin's moisture while enhancing the effects of the tan that follows.

Try an instant tan

If longevity isn't a factor and you're able to keep away from the rain, then opt for an instant tan that doesn't run the risk of stripping your skin. These lotions come with the huge bonus of bronzing skin sans DHA, and they're great for mixing with day cream should you want a subtler tint.

When I want a one-night-only tan, I opt for NKD SKIN - it's the budget-pleasing sister brand to Vita Liberata. The Wash Off Tan is supremely matte so you won't load skin in unsightly sparkles, plus it boasts plenty of slip that cuts down the risk of patchy, orange knees.

Two hydrating self-tanners of note

Clarins has the authority on tans that segue seamlessly into your beauty routine, and two that I love allow me to use them in tandem with moisturising creams.

The Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster comes with the premise of being a made-to-measure tan, with one drop lending some subtle warmth, while three will provide a deeper tone. Cocktail it with a nourishing, plumping cream like the Cetaphil Moisturising Lotion, and - hey presto - you've custom-blended a gradual tan with hydrating clout.

I also regularly reach for the Instant Smooth Self-Tanning balm; a mousse-like primer which sits on top of your day cream and underneath your makeup. It instantly injects a breath of warmth, allows your makeup to glide on smoothly, and comes with a hint of DHA to lend a more long-term glow. Want more info on this multi-tasker? Then you can read my full review here.

9 February 2015

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation Review

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation Review
Owed to my pre-existing love for the NARS Sheer Glow foundation, it's safe to say I was pretty excited to try the brand's new base offering. The All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation hasn't fallen shy of expectations - in short, it could be neatly summed up by its somewhat wordy title.

However, I'm going for a full breakdown of each of the product's qualities, kicking off with the texture and its alluring 'weightless' claim. It's worth noting that you need to give the bottle a hefty shake before you pump; this will bind the pigments and the base to create that featherlight formula.

NARS promises that just one pump will cover every imperfection, and indeed, I found that this small serving was enough to spread into every crevice. The foundation has a water-like consistency with a pleasing slip, which means you can glide it on with fingers - even if your skin is quite parched.

At first, this oil-free foundation felt, well, a bit like an oil to me, as the texture is quite thin yet seems like it will cosset weather-beaten skin. A thwack of silicones attributes to that rather unctuous, comforting feel, but once you've spread it all over your pores, that second-skin lightness kicks in.

The first time I wore this was to a house party, and it actually made me feel quite paranoid. I had to keeping nipping to a mirror to check it hadn't slipped right off my face. This is a good thing - it's down to the fact that I could barely feel it on my skin - and sure enough, the coverage remained intact until I scrubbed it off.

Speaking of coverage, this is more a of a full finish foundation. It's an unexpected touch considering the lightweight feel of the pigments. For those who love that flawless look but crave the lightness of a BB cream, this combines the two in a way that I haven't seen or felt before. In fact, this marks a resurgence of full finish foundations filtering onto shelves - at last, they're cracking formulas that can compete with the texture of alphabet creams!

Please do - as I said before - ensure you remember that hefty shake, as without it, this product loses some of its lightness when applied to your skin. Once on, I find that I need minimal concealer (just under my eyes and around my nose) and I can skip the powder to let the semi-matte finish do its glow-boosting job.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, £32

19 January 2015

Concoction Haircare Cocktail: A Custom-Blended Shampyou

Concoction Haircare Shampyou Shampoo and Conditioner review
Bespoke blends are filtering into every corner of the beauty world, and if your one-size-fits-all products don't do the trick, why not try getting personal? Concoction is one such brand that aims to cater to your custom needs, allowing you to mix up individual haircare cocktails with their clever Shampyou.

You begin by choosing a base shampoo - I plumped for refreshing Rosemary & Mint - then add in two Superserum Shots depending on what your hair is craving. I opted for Turn Up the Volume and Gimme More Moisture to plump and hydrate my locks, but you can also pick up colour-enhancing shots or a treatment that smooths your strands.

Give it a shake, then, Bob's your uncle, a haircare masterpiece is born, and I’m pleased to say that it’s every bit as prescriptive as I’d hoped. For starters, my roots feel squeaky clean and my lengths have a weightless quality, which I’m certain comes from the body-building properties of the volume shot. While this lighter texture allows me to coax my locks into a fuller style, the ends are noticeably softer thanks to the dose of aloe in Gimme More Moisture.

It’s worth snapping up the Concoction Creme de Concoction Conditioner also. Though not bespoke, it’s an utterly beautiful calming cream that nourishes dry lengths, and the scent - oh, the scent - is clean, feminine and more than a little luxurious.

You can find your Shampyou base blend for £11 from BeautyMART and snap up your Superserum Shots for £2 per vial.

16 January 2015

Facial Friday #1: Ginvera, Clayspray and Origins

DIY facial with Ginvera, Clayspray and Origins
As much as I love having expert hands pummel my pores with a deluge of glow-giving oils, sometimes it’s tricky to slot a professional facial into my schedule. An arsenal of scrubs, peels and intensive masks allows me to do the job at home, and what better way to finish a Friday than by buffing your way to fresh weekend skin?

The season’s many aggressors - including central heating and chilly winds - can add up to a profusion of dead skin cells, dry patches and excess oil. This is just one of the DIY facials I use to hit the refresh button, and it centres around bringing radiance back to my dreary winter complexion.

1. Exfoliate

After cleansing, I begin my facial with some gentle exfoliation. Ginvera Marvel Gel, £22, dissolves clogged pores without any abrasive grains, making it the perfect pick for my reactive, fragile skin. As you rub it into a dry complexion, you can feel the dead skin cells come away, which strikes the perfect balance between being gross yet strangely satisfying.

2. Use a Clay Mask

To clear out radiance-killing impurities, you need a hard-working clay mask. Clayspray Chococlay Clay Masque, £25, is enriched with macromolecular hydrogels, which help to conserve your skin’s natural moisture while digging the dirt out of your pores. It’s one of few products I’ve used that give an instantaneous result, as rinsing off the dark brown clay reveals fresh, bright skin and a matte t-zone. If you’re dealing with combination skin, this is great for restoring balance.

3. Steam Clean Skin

Though the first exfoliating step has allowed the face mask to penetrate pores, the removal step is just as crucial for getting the most from the red clay and cacao. I run a flannel under hot water, wring it out and drape it over my skin, then leave it to set for a few minutes before I gently buff the mask away.

4. Apply a Moisture Mask

I tend to do this routine at night, so I top it all off with the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, £23. With debris and dead skin cells removed, the hydrating mask can sink in deeper, so I wake up with plump and pillowy skin that lends a smooth canvas for makeup.