Why your winged liner doesn’t come out ‘right’

Have you ever tried to recreate a look from a picture/YouTube video that you really like that involves winged liner, but it just won’t go right?

I like to think of myself as pretty experienced with winged liner at this point. I’ve been doing it for about 14 years (I can’t count the amount of times I was asked to take my makeup off at school), but even I get frustrated when someone’s liner looks completely different to mine, even if it’s been applied in the same way.

The reason? Your eye shape.

You can perfect a technique 1000 times and it still won’t come out looking like it looks on them. That’s because one of the main things to take into consideration is eye shape. None of this ‘I’m never any good at applying liner’ or ‘it just doesn’t come out right’. You just need to find what looks best for your eye shape.

The best way to do this is by trial and error on methods and/or wings that are suited to your eyes. Of course the first thing you need to do is establish exactly what that shape is…

A couple of the things I found most affect how my eye makeup, and particularly my liner, looks is that my eyes are fairly hooded and deep-set. My liner can look perfect when it’s been applied with my lid in a certain position, but the moment I open my eye it looks strange.

Doing a bit of research comes in handy, as there’s so much information available on what makeup suits different types, and getting advice from a professional is probably the best option to really get the most out of your makeup overall, but definitely to determine your eye shape and how best to apply liner.

I’m not going to sit and pretend I can give any real advice on what another individual should do with their liner… because I can’t. I’m not qualified to do so, but I’ve picked things up along the way on what works for me specifically. If you get the right guidance and understanding then it should be the same for you too.

The main message here is to not knock yourself down for being ‘bad at eyeliner’. You likely just need to apply it in the right way and then you’ll be way better at it!

Caudalie Mousse Nettoyant Fleur de Vigne (Instant Foaming Cleanser)

We all know how important the double-cleanse is, especially for those of us that use a lot of products and are heavy makeup wearers.

I absolutely love my stash of cleansing balms, but I realised I didn’t have enough variety of non-balm products (or so I told myself…)

I was just looking at some foaming cleansers on Look Fantastic and this popped up as a duo: 2 x 150ml for £22! Of course it’s always easy to find a discount code somewhere as well so I decided this is the one for me to try.

What it is

A soap-free liquid to foam cleanser (the pump dispenses foam) that is designed to effectively remove makeup and make the skin feel clean without drying it out.

How I got on with it

I’ve been really enjoying this cleanser and it’s certainly going to be a re-purchase once I’ve got through what I have stashed.

There is a distinct, strong scent which is almost too much for me as it’s quite intense, but it’s a really lovely smell so it’s not much of an issue. It’s a really fresh scent, but I think it would be a bit too much for someone who doesn’t like fragrance in their products as it’s probably one of the most fragranced products I have. I’m personally not too fussed by fragrance in products, so for me it adds to the experience, but it could do with a little bit of toning down.

I’ve been using it as part of my double cleansing routine – sometimes first, sometimes second – and it does a great job regardless of whichever stage I use it. My skin feels really clean fresh, without feeling tight and dry as a lot of foaming products can do. I only use it once a day as I use a different cleanser in the mornings, however this is gentle enough to use twice a day while still being effective.

The texture of the foam

The bottle is a really good size and so far has lasted me a couple of months (I only use this one once a day, as I use a different morning cleanser) and is really easy to use. Is it a bit weird that it’s quite satisfying to pump?

One thing I would say, however, is that most of the time I don’t feel it would be enough just on its own. That may be down to my habit of double-cleansing that now means I don’t feel clean enough using just the one product. If I’ve had a lazy day (yes, I do occasionally get them with skincare and sometimes I’m naughty by putting next-to-no products on – but it’s rare!) then it definitely would be enough if I’ve just been lolling around the house with no products on my face. If I’m out and about and/or I’ve been good and used skincare and makeup, then I’ll feel like I need something a little more heavy duty.

But that doesn’t take away from this product. It’s a great cleanser and I’m really, really pleased that I’ve found it. I plan to try out more Caudalie products at some point (I definitely don’t need to go buying any more skincare at the minute!!) based on my experience with this cleanser.

The last thing I want to point out is that, while the majority of reviews I came across were raving about this cleansing foam, there are a few that experienced their skin getting drier over time. This is something to bear in mind if you have particularly dry skin and want to try the cleanser: it may be worth just getting a small size to make sure you get on with it properly. My skin is very temperamental and would be classed a combination, so sometimes it can lean towards the drier side if it feels like it, but I’ve definitely not had any issues off the back of this.

I’d be interested in hearing your experience with this if you’ve tried it too!

IT Cosmetics

I have found my new holy grails in base makeup.

For a long time I’d seen and heard about the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream, but as a heavy-coverage foundation lover I didn’t feel I could justify the brand’s price price for a CC cream. It was only after I received a sample of the foundation alongside a different purchase that I got curious and gave it a try.

I’m a bit of a sucker for a good deal, so when the Black Friday deals were flying around in November, I picked up a few products from the brand to try them out. Boy, am I glad I did!

The products I bought are:

  • Your Skin But Better Foundation
  • Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream (SPF 50 UVB)
  • Bye Bye Undereye Full Coverage Anti Aging Concealer
  • Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Powder
  • Concealer Brush

I also got a makeup bag which included some other bits from the brand (mascara, brow powder, moisturiser, cleanser etc) which I won’t include in this post as I want to focus on the great products I’m now loyal to.

Your Skin But Better Foundation

I’ll start with this as it’s the first product I tried from the lot.

As I mentioned above, I tried this from a sample out of curiosity. I wouldn’t normally be that fussed about foundation samples, but for some reason I was drawn to trying it. I was astounded by how it just became one with my skin!

Instantly I noticed my skin looked more refined, almost as though there was a filter on it. The coverage was exactly what I was looking for, and the tone was perfectly even with a matte finish. I also noticed that it’s less sticky than other foundations, and doesn’t transfer anywhere near as much.

I was lucky that it was around the time of Black Friday deals, because I went on to the site to buy it and then decided I also wanted to try a few more products which got me some killer deals (30% off, free gifts and the like).

One thing that I really love is that it doesn’t look cakey or over-the-top in natural lighting – it just looks as it describes itself: your skin but better. It claims to improve your skin over time when used regularly, but I can’t attest to this as it’s too difficult to attribute any improvements I’ve seen in my skin to this as opposed to the extensive skincare routines and various products I use, so I’m focussing on how this performs as a foundation only.

I can whole-heartedly say that this has shot right up to the top 3 foundations in my list – perhaps even claiming the spot 1 or 2 (too difficult to REALLY rank them, though) – and one I’ve already bought more of and will repurchase again and again.

CC+ Cream

This is pretty much in the same category as the foundation for me: insane coverage yet not heavy.

I really love that this contains SPF, although it’s important to point out that this wouldn’t be enough on its own – you should always use a proper SPF and enough of it! As I’ve eluded to earlier in the post: I wasn’t convinced that a CC cream would do it for me. To be honest, I think that’s my own issue for not doing enough research and understanding what a CC cream is (I just associated it with a tinted moisturiser and BB cream).

I’m not sure whether I prefer this or the foundation as they’re both on par with one another, so I find that I alternate between the two as I love them both. As with the foundation, this gives a full-coverage (although maybe slightly less full) with matte finish and doesn’t budge or transfer too easily.

This is a product that I also already have a backup for without having finished my first tube, and expect to repurchase it again and again.

The only description I can think of for this, along with the foundation, is they’re like an undetectable velvet veil that perfects your skin and tone.

Bye Bye Undereye Concealer

I think this would be the next in line for comment, as I apply it either before/after whichever of the above I’m using on the day.

Now first a warning for you: don’t do what I did and just go for whichever colour you think might work for you if the colour you would have chosen is out of stock… I’ve ended up with 2 different colours which I mix to create the perfect colour for me. Initially I went for the lighter colour and looked ridiculous! So I bought a darker one to counterbalance and I was lucky that it blended to create the right colour. What with lockdowns galore I just couldn’t muster up the energy to return the light shade so I was lazy and hoped for the best. Don’t try this at home is all I can say…

Anyway, as I was lucky enough for the two shades combined to give me the correct shade, I could really notice and appreciate the full effect of the product. I went in with too much at first, at which point it went cakey very fast (this would happen with any concealer, so I wasn’t put off). When I removed the excess and used it a couple more times with less, and I could appreciate the amazing coverage and smoothing effect. This is one of those products where I can honestly say a little goes a long way and it makes quite the impact.

I felt like a doll after using this and the foundation/CC+ cream!

I also got the concealer brush to apply this with and I’m really glad I did. I don’t think it’s really necessary but it definitely makes it easier and gave the effect I was looking for. I use the flat end to gently apply the concealer and blend it with the fluffier end. Each end of the brush has a cover which makes it perfect for carrying around with you. I use this every time and haven’t wanted to use anything else since I first tried it.

One thing I will point out, however, is that the concealer can go ever-so-slightly cakey under the eyes and highlight lines if you don’t set it properly. I have chubby cheeks and I smile/laugh a lot (easily pleased), which really doesn’t work well with an unset concealer. That’s why I’m really glad I bought the powder. Which brings me on to the next point…

Bye Bye Pores Finishing Powder

There are loads of finishing powders out there that are plain excellent, so this isn’t something I would say is 100% necessary, but I fell in love with it alongside the rest of the products.

It’s a super fine, translucent powder that really does perfect skin. It appears white in the pot, but when applied just enhances the skin without altering the colour or tone.

It’s mattifying and I would dare to say quite blurring. I really enjoy using this to set the concealer under my eyes (see above – absolutely necessary!) which does an incredible job, as well as using it on the rest of my face to give that perfected, blurring effect we’re all striving for. It’s perfect for me as a matte fan (I’m not a dewy-skin person as I feel like I just end up looking sweaty!).

I do struggle to dispense it occasionally, which is my only gripe. It comes with a really cute little puff which basically blocks the powder from being dispensed so I have to carefully dislodge the puff slightly in the hope that powder won’t go flying. It’s not that big an issue though, and certainly not anything to make me want to stop using it.

I bought all of the above from the It Cosmetics site, and some other bits from Cult Beauty but I’ll save that for another day as those discussed here are my staples.

It’s safe to say I’ve been converted to an IT Cosmetics fan. I know not everyone gets on with it but from what I’ve seen people have largely had the same positive experience as I have. This is all my personal thoughts and feelings on the products after using them myself for a while now. All pictures are my own,

My Influenster VoxBox Experience (UK)

When I first found out about Influenster I got right on it. I had not heard much about it before but for the chance to try out complimentary beauty products it was ideal (I buy way too many, I’m weak!).

I was regularly reviewing products and completing all my ‘snaps’, and just enjoying the overall experience. I wasn’t solely there for the free products as it gave me a chance to talk about products I do and don’t like without going on too much on Instagram, but let’s be real – we all love free stuff.

I actually realised that a a few months ago I was selected as a potential candidate for a campaign, and I was fuming that I’d missed it. I’m one of those people who never deletes unwanted emails so my inbox is full of junk and things get missed…

Back to just doing my thing and seeing other people’s ‘received complimentary sample from Influenster’ reviews I was happy just posting about what I was enjoying at the time. I’m an optimist so I thought at some point I might be selected for a Voxbox, but there’s no rush. Some people never seem to get chosen and some people get chosen regularly, so I knew it’s a bit of a gamble.

So when I got another email for a potential campaign I was excited to see what it was! Then I saw: kitchen appliances. Considering my interests and reviews etc were all beauty product-related I wasn’t sure how they concluded that I would make a good candidate for kitchen appliances. I opted out of that one as there would be someone else who probably would benefit from it more than I would, and would have a genuine need/interest.


Then I got the email.

“Are you the perfect fit for our next campaign?”

The way these work is: you’re shortlisted for a Voxbox campaign, and you have to select whether you want to opt in or out. In the initial email there’s no indication as to what the campaign in question is about, but if you click the opt in option you’re directed to a questionnaire to complete. There’s a series of questions to establish whether or not you would be suitable, and at this point you’ll get a good idea of what the campaign is about.

For this one, it was self-tan related and focused on Bondi Sands tanning products. I have used self-tanning products in the past on and off but I don’t do it religiously – usually just for an event or night out for example. But I was definitely interested in trying some out because I’ve never found the right products for me.

Less than a week later I got the notification that I was in for the Bondi Sands VoxBox. I was so excited! I thought It would take ages for it to arrive but I got a surprise when there was a knock on my door the next day. The postman made my day better when I realised it was already here.

I already knew what was included but I couldn’t wait to open it and see. I was greeted by 3 full-sized products from the Bondi Sands Pure range:

  • Self Tan Foaming Water
  • Self Tanning Face Mist
  • Self Tanning Sleep Mask

I won’t go into the details too much on what I thought of each product as this is more about my experience of getting a VoxBox, but I’ll give a brief overview.

First up, we have the Self Tan Foaming Water

I used this on my body and I really liked the results. I was a bit dubious at first as it’s marked as ‘dark’ and I’m pretty fair, but it gave a really gorgeous glow without being too much. It was a pretty even finish and lasted a few days before fading. The application was pretty easy (using a mitt) but a bit of liquid came out when I was expecting just foam at one point which ran down my leg and resulted in an intense patch on my foot. This wasn’t too big a deal and only happened the once so I wouldn’t lower its ranking just for that. I had no adverse effects after using it – my skin texture was the same afterwards just with more colour.

Next up we have the Self Tanning Sleep Mask

I wasn’t really too sure what to expect from this, and I was a bit apprehensive in case I would wake up with an over-the-top patchy tan on my face. Despite my apprehension, I was really impressed with it. The tan was even and gave a really beautiful colour that wasn’t too orange and lasted really well for a few days. I just applied it with my hands which worked perfectly.

Lastly, we have the Self Tanning Face Mist

I used this mist a few days after I used the sleep mask so it had a few days to wear off, and I didn’t expect to like it as much as I liked the sleep mask. That was the mistake. I LOVE this – I think it is my favourite product from the lot. I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy spraying a tanning product on my face but it wasn’t unpleasant and it developed into the most gorgeous tan over the next few hours (note: I did spread it across my face with my hands, I didn’t just spray and leave it at that. If I’m going to buy any of these in the future, it’ll be this one, although I’ve been swayed to marking this as my go-to tanning product for the Summer.

All of the products contain Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C which is a really nice touch as it feels like you’re doing your skin a bit of good by using them. They’re also all colourless and odourless which makes for a very pleasant experience in comparison for previous self-tanning products I’ve tried. The packaging is also unique: ethically sourced, 100% recycled plastic. The drive for eco-conscious packaging and products is more important than ever, so this is a really great attribute. This is a range I can really get behind.

The only point of contention (although, not really a point of contention) is that it would have been ideal if it came with a mitt from the brand. Fortunately for me I already have one at home, but not everybody who was selected for this VoxBox may have had one.

After I had used all of the products and given them a chance to work their magic, I went into my Influenster app to post my reviews. The process was super easy – on my profile there was an option under ‘my campaigns’ to review each product from the VoxBox and rate them out of 5 stars. I already knew what I wanted to say and comment on, but there is a section with some guidance on points to discuss for those who weren’t sure what to mention. It’s also super easy to add pictures, so once I did all of the above for each product I was notified that I had completed the campaign.

Overall this was an amazing VoxBox to get an I’m really grateful for Influenster for giving me the opportunity to try these. I hadn’t tried the Bondi Sands range before and to be honestly I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for this. The end-to-end experience was great from Influenster and I hope to be lucky enough to be chosen for future VoxBoxes.

Pointers for being chosen for a Voxbox:

  • Link all of your socials – the more reach you have, the more likely you are to be chosen for a campaign
  • Review regularly – build up your Influenster presence and contributions. Leaving 1 review and not doing anything else is unlikely to earn you a spot
  • Engage, engage, engage! Post polls, discussions, questions etc and engage with others on the app. The more you engage the more of a presence you’ll get which is always a good start

I hope you enjoyed learning about my experience of the Bondi Sands Pure VoxBox from Influenster. All of the opinions and comments are my own and from my own experience, and all product pictures are mine.

Learn skincare with me. Lesson 8: Ceramides

Ceramides are one of those words I’ve heard thrown around in skincare a lot, but never knew too much about what they were until I did a bit of digging. A lot of skincare products include ceramides (for good reason, of course) so back in the day when I was throwing products on my face without much skincare knowledge, I knew they contained Ceramides but I didn’t know why. I do now!

What is it?

Ceramides are what are called ‘Lipids’ (fatty acids, but I think the word Lipid sounds nicer!) that occur naturally in the skin. They form around 50% of the skin barrier and play an important role in keeping that barrier happy and together, preventing the skin barrier from becoming too permeable, thus keeping in the moisture our skin craves. In simple terms: they bond the cells together at the surface level and create a plump and protective top layer that retains moisture.

Even though these are already present in our skin, their presence diminishes over time with aging, which is why they’re such a fundamental component in anti-aging skincare.

What are the benefits?

First and foremost, moisture is locked into the skin. Moisture isn’t lost via the skin barrier when Ceramides have anything to do with it.

As a result of moisture getting locked in, signs of aging are reduced. When the skin is dry and dehydrated, some unwelcome characteristics are more prominent. This is because skin is less plump when it’s dry and dehydrated, so hydration and moisture really are key to fighting and hiding signs of aging.

Ceramides also aid in fighting environmental aggressors and protecting the skin. They essentially help the skin barrier do just that: be a barrier for keeping the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out.

They’re not known as a ‘powerhouse ingredient’ for no reason!

Things to be aware of

This is one of those perfect ingredients that are compatible with everyone as we all produce them naturally – they’re what are known as ‘skin-identical’ ingredients. They can be used on all types of skin, including sensitive and delicate as they pose such a low risk of any damage.

It’s always nice to know you can use an ingredient freely and without needing to consider any risks!

So, a shorter post but Ceramides keep it short and sweet! A simple, but special ingredient that features in some of the most iconic skincare products for good reason.

I hope you enjoyed reading! I haven’t updated my blog in a while as life has been busy but I’ll be trying to post a bit more regularly. As usual, I’m not a skincare expert and this is based on my personal research and experience. For any concerns, please contact a professional to make sure you get the most well-suited advice for your needs and your skin type.

Pharrell’s Humanrace skincare: 3 minute facial

First of all, happy new year to my wonderful followers and any newcomers! I hope you all enjoyed the festive period as much as you could under these circumstances (cough, Covid!). I haven’t been very active on here because, well, life. But I’m back and I’ll be posting more regularly on products and more.

So, I don’t think I was alone on being way too excited for Pharrell’s skincare line ‘Humanrace’ to drop back in November. I also had to endure the long wait for international shipping, so when it got here I was more than ready to abandon any other routine I was currently doing after I’d seen all of the posts from other customers who had already got theirs.

Before getting into the detail of the products, I think it’s only right to discuss the unique elements of the brand itself. Humanrace’s mantra is ‘skincare for everyone’ – and I genuinely feel this is very much the case. The packaging is made from reclaimed waste materials, and the dispensers containing the products inside are replaceable. In an age where the majority of us endeavour to do our best by the environment, it’s refreshing to feel less guilty when finishing a product and being able to replace a smaller element rather than throw away the whole thing. I was also very pleasantly surprised to find that braille was featured on the routine kit’s box as well as each individual product. This really speaks volumes about the thought that had gone into achieving the goal: ‘skincare for everyone’. Pharrell’s ambition was to create skincare that everyone can use regardless of gender, race or any other obstacle that might dissuade someone from looking after their skin.

The line includes a cleanser, an exfoliator and a moisturiser.

So let’s begin…

The aesthetic

I’ll be completely honest and say this isn’t pretty skincare. Some products and brands jump out at you solely for how they look, and this isn’t one of them (at least not in the usual way). The intense green packing disrupted by a white text goes with the brand’s overall aim as it isn’t the usual type of product marketed towards just women – it’s pretty basic and unisex/uni-anyone (that a word?). However, it’s definitely not unpleasant by any means. It’s just different!

The Rice Powder Cleanser
This is the first powder cleanser I used and I’m not going to lie, I kind of love it.

To use it, you wet your hands, pop a bit of the powder onto them and rub them together. This instantly turns it into a gorgeous, light lather that is a real treat to use. One thing to keep in mind though, your hands need to be wet enough to ensure the powder turns into enough of a lather, otherwise the cleanser doubles as an exfoliant with the grainy texture. This isn’t really an issue though as it’s super easy to make sure it’s used properly.

There’s not really any scent to it, so irritation from perfume isn’t really a concern. On that note, any form of irritation seems to be pretty unlikely (on my skin, at least). It’s really gentle and does a great job. My skin feel clean and fresh without feeling dry and stripped.

The ingredients on the front include fruit AHAs, Snow Mushroom and geranium. Delving a little bit deeper into the list, the first ingredient is Kaolin, which is a clay. This is perfect for oily and combination skin as the ingredient gently extracts oilsimpurities without upsetting the skin. Think about it, clay masks are MASSIVE when it comes to brightening and clearing the skin, so including this gentle but effective clay in the cleanser is a stroke of genius. The next ingredient is, unsurprisingly, rice powder. It’s a very, very mild exfoliant (hence my earlier comment around the texture and lather!), and the rice also absorbs sebum making this cleanser DOUBLY great for oily skin. The list goes on with wonderful ingredients, so I won’t go through them all and make this go on as well…

I’ve been enjoying using the cleanser everyday as advised by the brand.

The Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator

This has to be one of the most gentle exfoliators I’ve used, it really is gorgeous.

Firstly, I love the dispensing method! Pushing down on the top of the dispenser provides the perfect amount to use on your face, so you’re not using too much or too little. It’s kind of therapeutic pushing down on it…

Anyway, the texture is almost cream-like so using it is a very pleasant experience. Again, I haven’t experienced any irritation while using it so it’s ticking all the boxes so far.

On the face of the product, it lists 8% Glycolic Acid and 2% fruit AHAs. This ingredient list also contains rice powder, and as far as I’m aware there is no issue with using this ingredient in both the cleanser and exfoliator as it’s so gentle and the exfoliator isn’t meant to be for daily use. The combination of chemical and physical exfoliation in this really makes it special. It also contains lotus leaf, which Humanrace describes as a “natural antioxidant that protects skin from free radication damage and environmental aggressors such as pollution and UV rays.” It really packs a punch.

My skin appears brighter and really smooth, without feeling like it’s gone through something to get there as it can do with some skincare. I use the product 2-3 times a week, aiming for 3.

The Humidifying Cream

Last but by no means least… the moisturiser.

I can’t get enough of this. From just the first use my skin was noticeably softer – I’m talking REALLY soft. The consistency is enough to have me swooning at it is; it’s super light and absorbs really well. There’s no heavy residue that makes you feel like you need to wash your hands after touching your face (although, we all know we shouldn’t be doing that right now as it is…)

Like the cleanser, the cream contains snow mushroom which is amazing when it comes to moisturising. The ingredient list also boasts hyaluronic acid and squalane to really draw in that hydration and keep it there. Perfect for this time of year, and my skin is really reflecting that. Another interesting addition which I had not heard of before is ‘adaptogens’. Humanrace state that the formula is adaptogenic: adapting to your skin type. Of course I can’t validate this but so far I believe the brand is very transparent and has good intentions, so I trust it. Plus, I will reiterate: my skin is loving this so I wouldn’t discount any of the benefits posed by Humanrace.

Overall this is a brand I can honestly say I stand behind, and would recommend to anybody. It’s a bit pricey, as are most products these days (especially celebrity-brand products) but it’s worth it. I bought the 3-step routine for $100 (plus shipping and duties), but the cleanser, exfoliator and humidifying cream are priced individually at $32, $46 and $48 respectively. The refills are $30, $42 and $44, which collectively cost more than the 3-step routine which is something I would hope Humanrace will change and perhaps do a refill set at a similar discounted price.

A couple of things to add: some of the positives the brand highlights is that the products are vegan, cruelty free, dermatologist tested and microtear safe. I think it’s safe to say this really is a universal brand that anybody can enjoy.

I’ve been using the brand for a month and these are my thoughts, feelings and experiences so far I’ll leave it there for now and update if anything changes. As usual, please don’t take anything from l my review as advice as I am not an expert – just an

Learn skincare with me. Lesson 4: Retinoids

I first heard about the benefits of retinoids in my early 20s, and thought that’ll probably be something I need to start using soon.

But then I saw the price of retinol products and though SCREW that!

Fortunately, the skincare sphere has changed pretty fast and there are now brands that have made retinoid products far more affordable and more accessible.

Retinoids are a big, big player on the skincare field for a multitude of reasons, so I’ve been doing some deeper digging to really understand them.

We’re going to focus on the topically-applied retinoid: “Retinol”. This is thought to be the most tolerable form of retinoid that the average person can use to see improvements in their skin, and reap the benefits of the retinoid spectrum while minimising the risk of irritation.

Also known as:

Retinyl Palmitate (weakest form of retinoids)
Retinol (most tolerable, strongest after the above. The focus of this post)
Retinaldehyde (stronger than retinol)
Adapalene (strongest OTC)
Tretinoin and Tazarotene (prescription-only, extremely effective but more irritating in relativity)

What is it?

A vitamin A derivative, retinol is made up of molecules that burrow deep into the skin’s layers to work its magic. Where the majority of topical skincare products work primarily on the surface of the skin and just under, retinol provides a multitasking approach: penetrating the epidermis (the skin’s outer layer) to really change and improve what’s under the surface, whilst exfoliating the surface.

It’s developed a reputation throughout the skincare community for being a spectacular product because of what it can do.

What are the benefits?

I mean really, what aren’t the benefits of this? This has to be the number 1 skincare ingredient out there, but it doesn’t come without it’s problems. We’ll come on to that though… for now let’s focus on the positives!

One of the main reasons people use retinol is because of the immense anti-aging benefits. It is the best thing you can use to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, unveiling more youthful skin over time and benefitting from its firming properties. There is evidence that it actually slows down the body’s aging process as well, so it’s not just a ‘quick fix’; it pays off long term.

Unsurprisingly, it also smooths the skin as well, giving a healthy glow. It reduces redness and dark spots adding to an even complexion.

I was surprised to learn that it is also used for acne and spot treatments. Retinol helps to reduce spots as well as pores, so it literally seems to be a ‘does-it-all’ product.

So why don’t we all just use retinol all the time?! Well, you’re about to find out…

Things to be aware of?

Retinol isn’t just a slap-on-and-go type of product; there’s a lot to know.

The two most pressing, and important points are:

  1. Wear SPF after using retinol. To be honest, you should be wearing SPF anyway as we’re all aware of the impact of UV rays at this point, but this is especially important when using retinol. Your skin will be particularly vulnerable to further damage when it’s gone through the ringer with retinol. As we now know, retinol stimulates cell renewal, so do you really want to be exposing those brand-new, shiny cells to UV damage straight away? I would suspect not. That renewed skin is more sensitive and susceptible to sunburn, so it really is critical to use a broad spectrum SPF. Night time is believed to be the best time to use retinol, for this reason as well as the fact there can be a short period of irritation, so while you get your beauty sleep your skin can benefit from the application but also recover from it too. See my recently post “Learn skincare with me. Lesson 3: SPF” for more information on sun damage.
  2. Don’t go in full-throttle. You must go in easy when you start using retinol, because it can be so irritating to the skin. Your skin will need to build a tolerance to it, so it’s recommended that you start off small (1-2 times a week) before building the usage up over time. Take it easy at first so your skin has time to adapt, and it’s always a good idea to get advice from a dermatologist first, so if you’re unsure or just want an expert’s guidance on it then that’s probably the smart thing to do!

Unfortunately, you’re not going to see instant results the next morning after you apply it for the first time; it takes time to see the results. The general consensus is that the improvements will be noticeable in your skin after approximately 3 months. Interestingly, it is also stated that the cell-renewal benefits don’t tend to continue after 3 months of use, so it is often advised that you use retinol for 3 months, and then stop for 3 months as it will become futile after continuous use.

Retinol is known for drying to the skin. Some people’s skin may be too sensitive for use full stop, for example people with eczema and psoriasis may suffer from adverse side effectives more than the average. Again, it’s so important to consult with a dermatologist as it is, but especially if your skin is sensitive or has any condition. For anyone else, the best thing you can do it: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!

In doing my digging, I learned that you shouldn’t use AHAs and BHAs when you are applying retinol. The reason for this is retinol will provide the exfoliation that you’re looking to achieve when using the acids, so in combining the ingredients you’re at risk of overdoing it, thus causing easily-avoidable irritation and damaging the skin barrier. Let’s not do that, let’s keep our barriers happy!

I was personally surprised to find out that retinol does so much more than what I initially would have thought. I hope you enjoyed reading and learned something new from this post, even if it’s just something really small!

I’ll end here by adding some of the retinol products I’ve been enjoying. Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Arden, Beautypie, Medik8 and Pixi

Learn skincare with me. Lesson 3: SPF

To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t made this the first post in the series because is there really anything more important?!

By now we are all aware of what the sun can do and what damage it can cause, so it’s ultra important to use SPF and protect our skin as best we can.

I know that pretty much everyone is aware of the qualities of SPF at this point so I won’t patronise in this post (I’ll try, anyway), but I will cover off the key details.


Also known as?

  • Sun protection factor
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun cream
  • Sun block

What is it?

Sun protection factor – SPF – is literally what its name implies: protection from the sun.

The sun has two different types of damaging rays: UVA and UVB rays. On a very (very!) basic level, the easiest way to differentiate between the two is: the ‘A’ in UVA indicates aging, and the ‘B’ in UVB indicates burning. There’s a lot more to it than just that, but that’s a simple, basic understanding. UVA rays cause premature aging (as do UVB). Those dreaded wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots only appear sooner when we take no steps to prevent the damage. So in (sun)light of the above, we need to understand the ways we can protect our skin from aging before its time.

SPF comes in two main forms: mineral and chemical.

The general preference for people with sensitive skin is mineral sunscreen, as it’s less likely to cause irritation. If you’re looking to use an SPF under your makeup, however, mineral sunscreen may not be the best one for you as it sits on top of the skin instead of absorbing so much, acting as deflector against the rays. Look for an SPF with Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Dioxide if you’re leaning towards mineral.

Chemical sunscreens penetrate past the skin’s outer layers to absorb the UV rays before they can damage the skin. These are more suitable for use under makeup as they absorb more into the skin.

What are the benefits?

It should be pretty apparent what the benefits of using SPF are by now, but because it’s so important I’ll drill it in by covering them off more.

Delayed signs of aging. Of course it’s inevitable that we will all start to age over time and look older as we get older, but using SPF will surely slow down and delay the signs of aging. Let’s push those wrinkles and age spots as far down the line as we possibly can! Have you noticed freckles and pigmentation appearing that wasn’t there before? They will almost certainly be a result of sun exposure, so the sooner you start using SPF the better. And in addition to that, the higher the SPF the better! (I’ve usually opt for one with SPF50 PA+++).

Preventing sunburn. I don’t really need to even mention this as we’ve all had it somewhere on us at some point, but it is NOT fun. The less we have of that, the better. Not only because it’s really painful and uncomfortable at the time, but because once that burn fades into a beautiful tan the damage is there for good and you’ll eventually end up like a leather bag if you’re not careful.

Preventing skin cancer. Definitely the most important point of them all, we have to be so careful in the sun because of the risk of skin cancer. We all want to be around to spend that time with the ones we love, so please(!) protect yourself and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Things to be aware of

There is an argument that chemical sunscreen is damaging to coral reefs, so if you’re (hopefully) eco-conscious, then that may also be an important factor to consider if you reside in tropical regions when it comes to deciding the right SPF product for you.

SPF must be reapplied every couple of hours, so don’t just pop it on in the morning and think you’re good for the rest of the day. There are specific sunscreens designed to require application once a day (I like Ultrasun), so where reapplying every couple of hours is a faff you could go down that route instead.

There are some sunscreen products out there that have such a low SPF it begs the question: why do they even exist? Using an SPF with a minimal SPF is about as good as trying to drink water out of a bottle with a closed cap – it’s there but it’s not doing anything for you. Sure, something is better than nothing, but when it’s so low it just becomes futile, so make sure you opt for a high SPF. The British Association of Dermatologists recommends a minimum SPF of 30. My mum has always used factor 50 at a minimum on us since we were kids because unfortunately her mother was a victim of malignant melanoma likely caused by sun exposure, so this is a topic I take very, very seriously.

Also, look for a broad spectrum SPF covering both UVA and UVB rays. Do your research to make sure the sunscreen you’re looking at covers all basis, as there are some rather basic ones out there. Don’t be tricked into thinking that just because you’re wearing sunscreen you’re protected; it needs to be enough.

A good sunscreen can be pricey, but it’s worth it. Don’t skimp on the most crucial part of your skincare routine.

Below are some of the sunscreens I’ve been really enjoying. Ultrasun is thicker and leaves a layer on your skin, whereas the other 3 (Missha, Biore and Purito) are all a lot more suitable for wearing with makeup. However, Ultrasun is definitely effective as I learned when I forgot to apply it to a patch on my face (!) which got a slight burn (grrr).

As always when it comes to skincare, always speak to a Dermatologist for proper advice, information and suitability for your skin. I am not an expert in any way – this is primarily just my own research, so please do your own research and speak to the relevant professionals if you have concerns about your skin.

I hope you take away from this the importance of SPF, and thanks for reading!

Learn skincare with me. Lesson 2: Hyaluronic Acid

The next instalment of ‘Learn skincare with me’ is focusing on another ‘top dog’ ingredient in the skincare world: Hyaluronic Acid.

It sounds scarier than it is – it’s definitely not going to erode your face when incorporated into your routine. In fact, the results are so good that you’re doing your skin a disservice by not using it.

So let’s get into a bit of the detail….

Also known as?

  • HA (Hyaluronic Acid)
  • Hyaluronan
  • Sodium Hyaluronate

What is it?

With a gel-like consistency, Hyaluronic Acid is a molecule that our body produces naturally with about half of our body’s production of it present in our skin. It holds a thousand times its weight in water, rendering it being incredible for keeping our skin moisturised by and retaining water.

It’s also a strong humectant, drawing water to the surface of the skin – building on that already-impressive ability to hydrate skin.

Hyaluronic Acid can be applied topically via the vast array of products available on the market, or in the form of a filler.

What are the benefits?

To be honest, we should really be asking what aren’t the benefits of this wonder-ingredient. The most prominent benefits that make it so popular include:

  • Hydrating and moisturising the skin (of course)
  • Keeping the skin healthy and supple, giving it that sought-after youthful appearance
  • Plumping fine lines and improving the elasticity of the skin
  • Giving a ‘glowy’ appearance to the skin

I mean really, who isn’t looking for all of the above?

Things to be aware of

Unlike Vitamin C, there aren’t really any ‘cautions’ when it comes to using HA as it’s such a friendly substance.

As our body’s naturally produce it, it’s incredibly unlikely that any adverse reactions may occur as it’s extremely rare.

It works well with pretty much any other product out there, so you can play around with other products and still use HS alongside it without any worry.

I’ve recently been loving Beautypie’s Triple Hyaluronic Acid to get my fix, which is so affordable and feels really nice to apply to the skin. In my opinion there’s a visible difference in the appearance of my skin when I apply this, reinforcing the above points I’ve found from my dive into the detail.

I hope you enjoyed this post from my learning skincare series! I’ll be learning about more of the popular ingredients in skincare, so keep an eye out for some more ‘lessons’ coming up.

The skincare brushes you didn’t know you needed (you don’t… but you do)

I’ve always hated sticking my fingers in pots of products, regardless of how clean they are. It just feels like I’m contaminating the rest of it. I especially can’t stand when I have to scrape it out from under my nails afterwards (ugh!). Brands seem to be getting better at including spatulas etc, but there’s still loads of products out there that don’t.

So of course when I found out Sigma have a brush set specifically designed for skincare I had to add it to my birthday list…

I’ve had a few Sigma products over the years and I’ve never been disappointed, so I was more than willing to jump straight in with these and try them out. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did!

What’s in the set?

  • A clay/mud mask brush
  • A serum brush
  • A moisturiser brush
  • A gel mask brush
  • An eye cream brush
  • A spatula brush (for mixing products)

Clay/Mud Mask Brush

Although a lot of masks come with applicators, this is a particularly nice one as it’s silicone and just feels like an upmarket tool to apply masks with. I’ve used this on a few masks so far and it’s made the application easy, smooth and most importantly – not messy!

It feels really good quality, and is really easy to use with any type of mask (in my opinion) because it’s sturdy enough but also flexible enough to spread the product over your face as required. It’s labelled as being suitable for ‘mud or clay’ masks, but I’ve used it with masks of other consistencies such as Herbivore’s Blue Tansy and Prism masks.

I’m really pleased with this mask alone as it just makes masking even more enjoyable without getting it all over your hands!

Clay/Mud Mask Brush

Serum Brush

This is a nice brush to have and apply serums with, but I still find myself applying serums with my hands half the time because it’s nice to have that sort of massaging motion to add to the pamper session. But I still like to use this brush the rest of the time, as there’s a weird feeling of luxury when applying serums with a brush! It’s got a two-tier bristle system: the bristles close to the handle are more dense, with more sparsely placed, longer bristles pertruding from them.

The only less-positive point with this one is that sometimes when it comes to cleaning, some of the product is still on the bristles so you really have to make sure to clean it properly.

This is definitely a nice addition to have, and tool to use for applying serums.

Serum brush

Moisturiser Brush

I’ve never heard of a moisturiser brush before, so I was pretty intrigues to try this one. In some ways it’s weird to apply moisturiser with a brush, but it’s actually pretty pleasant! I don’t bother if the moisturiser is in a tube, but if it’s in a pot then it’s so much more pleasant than digging my fingers in and getting in that dreaded product-under-the-nails situation I despise!

After applying using this brush I usually pat the moisturiser in to help it absorb properly. I don’t really know whether that’s necessary or not but I like to do it!

Moisturiser Brush

Gel Mask Brush

This is a nice brush, but it’s the one I’ve used least. I don’t think I’ll use it for its intended purpose, solely because the mud/clay mask brush (applicator) is my personal preference for all types of masks I’ve tried so far. This is a smaller brush which does actually apply gel masks onto the skin nicely (I used it with the Elemis Plumping Pillow Facial, which was a really nice duo admittedly) so perhaps I’ll use it with more masks from time to time, but I think I’ll find a different use for it in my skin care routine.

Gel Mask brush

Eye Cream Brush

This is a little gem in skincare, which not too many people seem to be aware of!

I know you’re not meant to drag the skin around your eyes at all, and I swear I try my best not to! But occasionally I find that I rub the cream into the skin around eyes instead of patting it in gently.

This little brush is perfect to really gently apply eye cream without accidentally dragging or mistreating the delicate skin in any way. An added bonus is the avoidance of dipping your finger into the eye cream (if you use a pot of it), so you can just pick a bit of it up on a clean brush and then apply it.

Eye cream brush

Spatula Brush

This little silicone beauty is hands-down my favourite one of from the set. Picking up products from a pot has never been easier – from cleansing balms to lip balms.

It’s super easy to clean in-between products (obviously, it’s silicone), so when I like to use it to scoop out my cleansing balm it’s ready in just a few seconds to scoop out some of my Nuxe lip calm. I then use it to actually apply to lip balm to my lips and spread it across, which works like a dream.

If I only had to go for one brush from the set, it would be this one. It’s just so versatile and makes everything so much easier.

Spatula brush

Have you tried this brush set or any of the individual brushes? I would definitely recommend giving them a try if you’re a skincare junkie.

I was a bit dubious over whether or not I would actually get on with these, as products like this often seem like a gimmick. But it’s been a big win for me so I’m really glad I have them now.

Links to the brushes:

Thanks for reading!