Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Brush up for flawless skin

Just a quick post about how to achieve a flawless complexion….

As you may have been able to tell from previous posts, I suffer from monthly blemishes and slight scarring from said blemishes. I’d love to be able to go without a base on, but unless I use a maximum coverage foundation, along with concealer, then my skin never looks flawless around the chin area (and even then it doesn’t seem to last long). This is especially frustrating if I am having a few weeks of clear skin and it is simply the pigmentation making me look spotty!

I’ve always used a sponge to apply liquid foundation after initially rubbing it on with my hands, to blend around the jaw and hairline, as well as around the eyes and nose. So after going to Clarins for my new (AMAZING) foundation and seeing the difference after the girl applied it to my chin using a brush, I decided to get one myself to see if I could do this as well, or if it was simply a trick of the light! I bought a relatively cheap foundation brush (£11 from Ruby & Millie) and am amazed at the difference it makes. 

The foundation obviously helps, as it is a maximum coverage one, but even using it with bases that are sheerer, the results are great. This also means that I don’t need to trowel it on my own face; I simply apply it everywhere as normal (fingers and sponge) and then put a bit more on the brush to blend around the chin. Obviously this means it’s important to get a colour that matches perfectly, and I’d definitely recommend the Clarins Truly Matte Foundation (RRP £22) that I now use.


I also apply Mac’s Studio Finish concealer (RRP £12 and again matched perfectly) to any blemishes I have and ALWAYS apply concealer with a brush as the heat from your fingers will remove it, plus, it’s more hygienic, especially as you need to keep this area as clean as possible to avoid bacteria build up. Finish with a dusting of loose powder all over, or just on the area you have covered up and your skin should look flawless all day.

Secret Beauty Verdict: Foundation brushes are a must, if you only use it to blend on certain areas, then you probably don’t need to spend a lot of money, but if you want to use it all over then perhaps go for a good one.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Va Va Voom! Get Cheryl's hair...

With the return of the X Factor comes the return of Cheryl Cole and her gorgeous voluminous hair. Rather than having to go to the hairdressers to try and recreate this look, I asked Paul Meritt how to get this style from the comfort of your own home!

Paul uses the ghd IV salon styler but any straightener in the same shape (with bevelled edges to curl) will work…

• Prepare your hair first with a thermal protector to protect from heat styling and then use ghd Heat Protectant Spray to help create and maintain volume.

• Take a section of hair from the front hairline to the crown (the crown is pretty much where the parting finishes at the back).

• Working from the front hairline, take manageable sections and gently clamp your hair at the roots in the styler, rotating 180 degrees toward the crown and lifting vertically.

• Then, guide the styler upwards from the root to the ends of the hair.

• Once a loose curl has been formed, wrap the hair into a barrel around two fingers and use a Kirby grip to secure in place at the root (like having rollers in your hair). Repeat this process, working systematically through the top section of hair from the hairline to the crown.

• Working through the rest of the hair, take manageable sized sections, place the ghd IV salon styler in at the root of the hair, rotate 180 degrees and lift slightly as with the top section to create volume. These sections do not need to be pinned and can be left loose.

• Once all the hair has been styled, the top section will have cooled. Unpin the barrel curls, tip your head up side down and use fingers to gently separate the curls. Whilst in this position, finish with hairspray for a light, manageable hold and shine.

Et voila! Gorgeous, bouncy pop star hair!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hit The Spot!

The days of raging hormones and teenage angst seem long gone, so why hasn’t your skin moved on? From the occasional monthly blemish to full-blown breakouts, adult acne is most prevalent in women and is more common then ever before.

A recent study conducted by the International Dermal Institute found that between 40 and 55% of the adult population aged between 20 and 40 suffer from some form of low grade persistent acne, which is fast becoming accepted as a common skin disorder and needs to be treated in a very different way to the teenage version. Generally, ‘adult acne’ (the term used to described the problem in the over 25s) appears in clusters around the chin and jaw line – the 'hormonal area' of the face, and is also affecting those who sailed through their teenage years with perfect skin, only to be bombarded years later.

For the most part, acne is a hereditary disease that changes the skin's physiology. Pores have hairs that help to regulate the flow of oils (sebum) but acne-prone skins have very fine hairs or none at all, which means that the flow is either excessive or remains in the pores. Once there’s an overflow of sebum production, it escapes onto the skin’s surface, creating a mixture of oil and cells that block oxygen from entering the pores. This lack of oxygen creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which then leads to the swelling, redness, and inflammation around the follicle.

One of the major triggers of adult acne is a hormonal imbalance, in particular an increase in testosterone. This is why some women find changing the contraceptive pill, or even going on it, can help regulate these hormones and clear the skin. However, these breakouts in the hormonal areas of the face can also indicate underlying medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that releases a large amount of male hormones into the body.
Although it is a myth that foods such as crisps and chocolate actually cause spots, diet plays a huge role in the production of healthy skin. Foods containing vitamins A and E are especially good for keeping the skin clear, while vitamins B and C are essential for the prevention of skin conditions. Beta-carotene (which gives fruits and vegetables their orange colour) is converted by the body into Vitamin A, so eat plenty of orange fruits and veg.

Drinking water helps to flush out all the nasties as well as keeping the skin hydrated, which helps to avoid over production of oil to compensate for dryness. Exercise also flushes toxins out of the system, by increasing blood flow and producing sweat, whilst also helping to combat stress (which causes excess sebum to be produced) and promote relaxation (sleep helps the skin recover).

There are four main factors that contribute to acne:

• Overactive Sebaceous Glands.
• Cell Accumulation blocking the pores.
• Bacteria.
• Inflammation.

Although it is important to start from within, these factors need to be dealt with to help clear the breakouts. By using the right cleanser to clear excess oil, the food source for the bacteria that causes spots will be removed, as well as taking away any oily shine. Cell Accumulation can be controlled by using a gentle chemical exfoliator (rather than a physical scrub) to remove surface skin cells that may block the follicle - anything containing Salicylic Acid is great for gently removing surface cells, whilst also deep cleaning the pores. Topical treatments and facials can help to eliminate bacteria and calm inflammation, helping to keep problem skin under control.

I absolutely adore Dermalogica’s adult acne ‘MediBac’ range of five products for home use. The line-up consists of Clearing Skin Wash, Clearing Mattifer, Concealing Spot Treatment, Overnight Clearing Gel and Sebum Clearing Masque but the three I use religiously are:
Clearing Mattifer (RRP £36)

A medicated topical treatment which claims to clear breakouts, reduce congestion and control shine and contains Organic Silicones which melt into skin to help diminish fine lines and smooth skin texture. Niacinamide, Zinc Gluconate, Yeast Extract, Caffeine and Biotin purify and inhibit overactive sebaceous activity whilst Salicylic Acid clears congested follicles to minimise future breakouts. I really find this works for me and by using it whenever I feel a breakout happening, or when I’m having a skin nightmare, it lasts for ages as you only need to use a small amount, and just on the affected area. It’s also great for those who suffer from shiny noses at the end of the day! It feels lovely on the skin; use it as the next step after cleansing.

Concealing Spot Treatment (RRP £25.80)

An intense treatment with a natural-looking tint for daytime coverage with Sulphur and Zinc Oxide to target, conceal and help clear breakouts. This is also a good alternative for those who prefer treatment products free of Benzoyl Peroxide which I personally find dries my spots out too much, leaving me with flaky, dry skin where my spot once was! Although I don’t use this in the day as it’s not quite enough coverage for me and I find it hard to blend it, it’s great to put on at night and the spot has shrunk significantly by morning.

Overnight Clearing Gel (RRP £34)

An overnight treatment gel which helps clear skin, calm inflammation and prevent future breakouts by reducing excess sebum, removing impaction plugs and eliminating bacteria. Salicylic Acid sloughs off pore-clogging skin cells to inhibit development of further breakouts whilst Niacinamide and Biotin combine with Zinc Gluconate, Yeast Extract, Caffeine and Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid to inhibit overactive sebaceous gland activity, purify to promote skin clarity and help calm irritation brought on by breakouts. Also includes Green Tea to soothe and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate. Phew – lots of ingredients but this is a great one to put on at night and can be applied over the whole face if needed. I find I need to put a moisturiser on top once it has dried but it seems to keep spots at bay.

Daily Microfoliant (RRP £32)

Although not in the MediBac range, the Daily Microfoliant is one product I can’t live without. This rice powder based exfoliator turns into a creamy lather when mixed with water, to gently slough away dead skin cells and deep clean the pores. I much prefer this to a physical scrub as it doesn’t feel like I’m literally scratching the dead cells away!

Other products I love (but aren’t in the Dermalogica range) are:
Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Tamarind (RRP £15) a lovely facewash which really feels like it clears my skin immediately, a little goes a long long way and really makes a fast difference to my skin.

I’ve mentioned it before and it’s an ancient product, but Elizabeth Arden 8 hour Cream (RRP £20) is amazing for my skin, more of a balm than a cream, it’s a bit too greasy for day wear, but put over my overnight clearing gel at night (or even on it’s own) when I feel like I may have a breakout, my skin feels much clearer and inflammation has gone by morning. Another fab Elizabeth Arden product for clearing skin is the Deep Cleansing Mask (RRP £16), again, a little goes a long way with this masque and it seems to clear my skin instantly - use this once or twice a week to deep clean, and definitely on problem areas when you have a breakout – amazing!

Cheap, natural and available from most places, Pure Tea Tree oil is great for dabbing on spots whenever and wherever. It can be quite drying so it’s best to dab it directly on the spot with a cotton bud, but I use this all day when I’ve got a nasty one to calm and soothe.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Dry Shampoos

This has been a long time coming but I’m finally writing a blog on Dry Shampoos – in response to Laura’s question ages ago!

I personally don’t wash my hair daily as it means I can’t do anything with it at all, especially if I want to wear it up as it’s just too ‘slippy’ when freshly washed and I always think it looks better on day two. This can be a problem though as it’s easy to leave it just one day too long thinking I can get away with it, but it just goes flat and lank. There are many women out there though who need to wash their hair daily, but when this isn’t possible, dry shampoos are a must-have product.

Before I get on to the ones I like, I want to mention one I’m not too keen as it’s hugely expensive when there are better products out there. Bumble & Bumble’s Hair Powders come in Red, White, Blondish, Brown and Black to sprinkle on the roots to soak up oil and add texture. They are fine for adding texture but the powder feels really heavy on the root and dirtier than it was before I put it on! I usually love Bumble Products but with an RRP of £27 I’d definitely suggest spending a lot less for a much better product.

So, onto the products I like - starting with KMS California’s HairPlay Makeover Spray (£RRP 13.40). This spray has a gorgeous citrus fragrance and has been designed to absorb excess oil and increase volume at the roots which it does perfectly. It’s also great to add a ‘matt’ finish to the whole of the hair when going for hippy waves, or a sleepy ‘tousled’ look.

Andrew Barton’s S.O.S Last Another Day Dry Shampoo (RRP £3.89) is another one with a gorgeous fragrance and is the cheapest of the lot. To be honest, it is my least favourite of the three I’m reviewing which perhaps reflects the price, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad product, it just doesn’t last as long as the other two do. Andrew is also so lovely and down to Earth, so everyone should buy his products anyway!

This is the best dry shampoo I have EVER tried – I absolutely love this product and every girl needs it on her dressing table. James Brown is better known as “Kate Moss’ Hairdresser” and has a range of products (with Ms Moss as his cover girl, naturally) that includes the Hair Reviving Dry Shampoo. This little beauty is handbag sized but last for ages, has no offensive smell and completely makes the hair feel clean again, I honestly can’t rave about it enough - at £5.99 it’s a bargain too!