Tag Archives: skincare

Avalon Organics Lavender Daily Moisturiser review

Having well and truly exhausted my stocks of trusty Aldi moisturiser and finished my fabulous Bliss Triple O one, it was time to try a new product in my daily routine. Step forward Avalon Organics Lavender Daily Moisturiser.

Never mind the supposed organics credentials (it’s without artificial colours, synthetic fragrances or parabens and boasts bucketfuls of lovely natural ingredients), I was most attracted by the lavender smell. If you’re like me and love lavender scent, this is the range for you. It smells beautifully natural, not at all artificial, and turns putting on your daily slather of moisturiser into something you almost look forward to!

Now for the science bit (skip this if you aren’t interested in long words). It contains Organic Turmeric, Arnica and Calendula to soothe redness, Hyaluronic Acid and Organic Sunflower Oil to give ‘weightless hydration with a velvety finish’, Lipo-Filling Complex to enhance luminosity, clarity and tone and Organic Lavender and Grape Seed Polyphenols to reduce redness and defend against free radicals (however much I read on those little beggars, I still don’t totally understand what they do other than they’re bad!). There’s also chamomile, liquorice root, white tea and willow bark chucked in for good measure. Oh well, a little liquorice root never hurts, right?!

But all this bamboozlement with long words mean nothing if it doesn’t equal results… and I have to say, I’m really pleased with this moisturiser. It feels rich but still light, smoothes on and sinks in easily and acts as the perfect base for make-up. My face felt plumped and hydrated for the whole day and I don’t care how much of a hippy this makes me sound, but that heady lavender fragrance really does seem to have a soothing calming effect! It also handles sensitive skin really well, but without feeling oily. The packaging is pleasant (lots of purple, unsurprisingly), looks more expensive than it is and, at the current rate, I’d estimate that one tub will last at least 6 months with everyday use.

As for the organics stuff… I’ll have to confess that I’m not too bothered. Good thing too as Avalon Organics true organics credentials are a little cloudy, since describing something as ‘organic’ in the cosmetics world still seems to be a bit of a grey area. I guess you just have to put your faith in make-up brands and believe that the chemicals they’re making us put on our face are the good guys, and let the results speak for themselves. And in this case, the results are great. My skin feels softer, looks brighter and it really soothes the odd sensitive patches I get.

For a supermarket-bought reasonably-priced moisturiser, chalk me up as pretty impressed.

Avalon Organics Lavender Daily Moisturiser, $99.90, available from larger branches of Park N Shop/Taste/International

Make-Up Miracles: Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam review

At a recent facial, my beautician was so impressed with my skin that she proclaimed it to be ‘like bean curd’. I’m hoping she means the soft, milky-white kind as opposed to the yellowish wrinkled deep-fried stuff. If this was the case, my next make-up miracle can take most of the credit: step forward, Clinque’s Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam.

Prior to the entrance of Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam in my life, my forehead was suffering from a life-long breakout. Even when spots weren’t springing forth in all their shiny red glory, they were bubbling under as unsightly bumps lying in wait for a day when I’d need my photo taken to make their ugly presence felt. I’d tried various cleansers designed especially for acne prevention (Clearasil, Oxy, Witch) to little effect, plus continuous application of supposed miracle product Freederm only resulted in a constant headache and my family wondering why I smelt like the medicine cabinet.

Part of the problem was the type of Pill I was on – the one the NHS puts you on first as it’s the cheapest – so my GP switched me to a different brand. I became blessed with wonderful skin but also with a mystery nausea that steadily ruined my life and was basically akin to morning sickness during pregnancy. Blood tests abounded until someone worked out it was the Pill and switched my brand; whilst I no longer felt a 24-hour urge to vomit and lie in a darkened room, my forehead was back to square one.

Why didn’t I go to Clinique sooner?! I’ve already told you why they’re practically a make-up miracle in themselves but here goes anyway – stringently allergy-tested, 100% fragrance-free, great for sensitive skin, dermatologist-developed and with a long and trusted reputation for putting your skincare into their white-gloved hands.

After about a month of using the Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam, my skin was – and still is, she says frantically whacking on wood – the clearest it’s ever been in my adult life. I had got so used to anti-blemish products drying out and tightening up my skin that I’d assumed it was the only way; Clinique proffered a gentler, kinder path that actually produced results.

It works like any other cleanser – massage onto wet face, morning and night, rinse off, follow with a moisturiser of your choice. The pump dispenser is convenient, ensuring no mess (especially safe for travelling), and the foam itself is very light but easy to work with. As well as clearing up and preventing acne, it does the other basics of a cleanser, removing dirt, unclogging pores (another noticeable difference to my skin was how my blackheads were substantially reduced) and reducing redness. Whilst AM and PM cleansing is standard for the sweaty summer months, I find just a morning cleanse is enough in winter and only one or two pumps of the foam can go a long way – meaning one bottle generally keeps me going for upwards of six months, which I think is fantastic value given the stellar results.

My skin is softer, smoother, brighter and lighter – the coveted ‘bean curd’ that my beautician was on about. Clinique, my forehead sends you its eternal thanks.

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Cleansing Foam, $170 for 125ml

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream review

A quick Google of Elizabeth Arden’s legendary Eight Hour Cream will have you convinced that this cult classic will cure all it touches. So will the blurb on the back of the packaging: it ‘soothes, restores, calms and helps relieve chapped, cracked, dry skin… soothes roughness, redness and minor skin irritations… provides anti-inflammatory benefits… soothes and comforts minor weather burns, scrapes and abrasions’. That’s a lot of soothing for one tube.

Eight Hour Cream comes armed with glowing reviews, celebrity endorsements (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rachel Bilson, Amanda Peet, Jennifer Love-Hewitt) and an illustrious 80 year heritage from Liz Arden herself, who used it to soothe the legs of her horses.

I think the fact it was suitable to be used on horses highlights one of the main reasons I didn’t really get on with it – it really is industrial-strength, heavyweight stuff. And it really isn’t a cream; at best, it’s a balm but more accurately, it’s a thick orange-coloured wax with a strong medicinal smell.

I dismissed the smell saying ‘it’s not as if I’m going to eat it’ but I found myself inadvertently doing just that when I used it on my lips – a not entirely pleasant experience. I’ve been struggling with really dry lips for months now and, after reading about the Eight Hour Cream, thought it was time to bring out the big guns. The results were disappointing – after weeks, it looked and felt no better than using my regular balm. And what with the orange colour, unpleasant smell and taste, too-shiny finish and higher price tag, I think I’ll stick to my trusty make-up miracle Vaseline.

One of the major problems I encountered with the Eight Hour Cream was just how sticky it was. Although it claims to be great for cracked and dry skin, which I have aplenty, I found it a hard job keeping it there long enough for it to work its magic (its name comes from a client saying it made her child’s scraped knee all better in just eight hours). Strands of hair would frequently stick to my lips, which would in turn wipe off all the cream onto whatever glasses and bottles I’d drink from. I’d rub the Eight Hour Cream into my dry, peeling hands only to then find most of it rubbing off onto my bathroom’s doorknob when I left! Some make-up artists recommend using it as a shiny highlighter for cheeks – surely only possible in the controlled conditions of a photo-shoot and with a Croydon facelift hairdo!

On the places that haven’t come into close contact with surfaces, I can see some of the hype for 8 Hour. I had an itchy, flaking elbow that I dosed up with 8 Hour before I went to bed and by the next morning, it was nearly all better – so I guess that client from decades ago wasn’t just a figment of a PR’s imagination.

Overall, Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream fell short of expectations. I’ll be sticking to Vaseline, which I find better in nearly every aspect (texture, colour, taste, results, variety of uses), and keep 8 Hour for more serious skin complaints on anywhere other than my face. Even though I’m in no rush to buy again, one of the pros of the cream is that one tube does seem to last ages so it looks like it will be a bathroom cabinet staple for a while to come!

Bliss Triple Oxygen Energising Cream moisturiser review

As regular readers may know, the day where wonderful PRs sent me a bag full of Bliss bounty was one of the happiest in my life. Having been testing the Triple Oxygen Energising Cream for a good month now, I feel it’s time to make it my very first Beauty Spot and I’m afraid it’s bad news for my loyal Aldi moisturiser.

It’s basically a tub of loveliness. It’s beautifully lightweight (especially advantageous in this muggy HK humidity) and gets absorbs by the skin so easily, it barely needs rubbing in. It smells gorgeous and fresh, without being either overpowering, artificial or medicinal. It comes with some clever-sounding science stuff about how the pairing of oxygen and vitamin C helps cell respiration, collagen synthesis and skin hydration.

But all this is relatively unimportant compared to the bare bones – this stuff works. Rather like the Triple Oxygen Mask (soon to be a Make-Up Miracle – you heard it here first, folks!), it genuinely makes your skin look wonderful. As in lighter, brighter, softer and glowing. Dull skin is banished with all the effectiveness of a fairy godmother; I didn’t actually believe moisturisers could work such relatively instant wonders. Given the recent stresses of my job, this cream is about the only thing saving me from looking like the sleep-deprived energy-depleted dead-girl-walking that I feel (although the matchsticks propping up my eyelids are a bit of a giveaway).

Triple O Cream (not to be confused with the burger joint of the same name) is designed for use both morning and evening, which has pros (no need to buy two creams) and cons (uses up faster). But so far, it looks like one tub might last for at least 6 months, even with such regular use, hence justifying the HKD $420 price tag. It looks like a case of having realised the grass is indeed greener, I’m not sure I could return to the cheaper though perfectly functional astro-turf on the other side (that’s the Aldi moisturiser btw, for those that aren’t fans of an extended metaphor).

So it’s buh-bye sallow stressed complexion, hello radiant revived skin. Not bad work for a thirty-second routine rub of Triple O cream, eh?

P.S. Still waiting on other nice HK PR-types to start sending me free make-up to review; I’m twiddling my thumbs at rachelmread@gmail.com

Edit: Sadly, my prediction of the tub lasting 6 months was a little optimistic. With twice-daily use, I managed to eke it out for about 4 months; the shape of the pot is a little misleading as it’s only a cylinder in the middle filled with the moisturiser, not the outer edges too.

Bliss Triple Oxygen +C Energising Cream, $420, available from Bliss Spa in the W Hotel, Kowloon and counters in FACES (Tsim Sha Tsui) and Lane Crawford (Times Square, Causeway Bay and Pacific Place, Admiralty)

A Bliss-full day

Apologies for the lack of posts but I have spent the last week struck down with gastroenteritis – a week of being bed-ridden and existing on nothing but congee and clutching at my stomach. So it’s only now I can tell you about the amazing thing that happened to me last Friday morning…

If there’s one thing I don’t mind being woken up early by, it’s this:

There can’t be many better starts to a working day than a Chinese courier bearing gifts. Let’s take a sneak peek inside:

So that’s a bag full of Bliss goodies for those of you not in the know. I regard Bliss as Benefit’s smarter yet stunning sister – the two companies share a sense of humour and playfulness that I adore (pun-writer’s dream Bliss product names: Fatgirl Slim, Love Handler, Quadruple Thighpass, whilst each box opens with the missive ‘You look spa-velous!’ on the flap) married with top quality product. Bliss majors in skincare and body treatments (it’s the scientific wizardry behind the skincare that makes them smarter than Benefit fyi!) in-line with where it all started, their delightful modern luxury spas. Founded by Marcia Kilgore (who now oversees the brilliant Soap & Glory range, available at Boots in UK), Bliss spas offer up not just luxury but a sense of cool, fun and free brownies. Yes, you read right, free brownies. No wonder Kate Hudson, Oprah Winfrey and Jessica Alba are fans.

Receiving this bag of Bliss bounty is possibly one of the best days of my life – apart from my day spent at Bliss Spa itself, of course (and yes, I filled up on the free brownies, no doubt undoing all the good work the Bliss beauty therapists had spent hours on). It comprises of the Bliss Triple Oxygen Trio – energizing face mask, cream and eye mask – plus a lovely handwritten card telling me to ‘stay beautiful’. Note to PR companies worldwide, *this* is how it’s done. This, rather than the daily irrelevant spammage I receive as music/style editor for Teentoday, is the way to ingratiate yourself to your customers. Any other HK-based PR agencies wishing to bestow me with samples, I’m only an e-mail away at rachelmread@gmail.com (and you’ve got a tough act to follow!).

I was recommended the Triple Oxygen face mask by my Bliss therapist after my treatment, and ever since, it’s been waiting in the Make-Up Miracles vaults for me to shout from the rooftops about how brilliant it is so expect to see that get the full glowing write-up soon; I’ll save proper reviews of the other products (and even my trip to Bliss Spa at W Hotel HK if you’re lucky) for later, once I’ve had a chance to try them out. This is just a post to say a big thank you to Bliss for just proving why they’re totally at the top of their game.

Make-Up Miracles: Aldi Moisturiser review

It’s simply never too soon to start moisturising – your forty-something self will thank you for it at a later date.

Having said that, it’s safe to say that in your teens and early twenties, you don’t really need to be spending thousands on the stuff. For this reason, Aldi’s cheap and cheerful Siana day and night creams are just the ticket. Apparently the night one has a retinol complex to stimulate cell growth whilst both moisturisers contain the enzyme Q10, the same substance found in more expensive products that mimics the skin’s ability to protect against premature ageing. Quite frankly, the fancy words are immaterial because the make-up miracle is the fact that they cost £1.89 each and actually work.

They are light, sink in easily and do not have an overpowering scent. I’ve tried more expensive creams and these are just as good, if not better than those dearer counterparts. Packaging-wise, they look clean and simple (the jars are at least glass not plastic) so you won’t be embarrassed to have them on your dressing table. So there’s no excuse to not moisturise – and if you don’t, teentoday.co.uk will be the first to say ‘Told you so!’ to your wrinkles!

Originally posted at Teentoday.