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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Lavera: My partner used this one, as he has been having trouble sleeping so has 'tired eyes' pretty regularly.  The smell was less fragrant than I anticipated, and didn't really have that 'relaxing' smell of a sleep cream.  The texture was fine -- a little on the heavy side perhaps.  There was not really anything that exciting about this, and it didn't do much for my partner's sleepy face, so would not buy this again.

PHB: I got a few samples of this with the intention of buying the full size if I liked it.  I have been searching for a replacement for the Origins Ginzing eye cream, and while this does not have the light reflecting particles that the Origins moisturizer has, it is incredibly light and works well.  If I had not received this in my January Love Lula Beauty Box, I would have bought this pretty soon.  The gel has an orange tint to it, but goes on completely clear.  The smell is lovely (I mean, it is neroli!), and it really does make under my eyes look more awake and healthy.

John Masters: I actually already own the full size of this, and absolutely love it.  The shampoo smells amazing (peppermint!) and makes my hair and scalp feel completely refreshed without drying it out or leaving it prone to oiliness. I ordered a little sample with my last Love Lula order to see if the ingredients had changed, as there have been switches noticed in many of their products recently.  They have.  Absolutely gutted as this means my favourite shampoo is no longer suited to me, so I will be searching for a replacement.  Would not buy this new formulation.

Caudalie: This was another product for my partner, and this was actually brilliant.  The elixir oil smells absolutely divine, and it really did work well to reduce the appearance of his fine lines (especially on the forehead).  It sinks in really quickly and did not leave any oily look or feel.  If Caudalie was not selling in China (which negates their cruelty free claims), we would consider splurging on this in the sales -- however, it is incredibly expensive so maybe not!

Esse: Yes yes yes! I love this brand now, and the refining cleanser is great.  I was not sure if my skin would be better suited to the gel or the refining formula, and to be honest my skin seems to like both equally.  The refining cleanser is thicker, and almost looks like a mud or clay mask.  It smells slightly fruity, and applies smooth.  I have a handful of samples of this left, and they have been lasting a decent amount of time.  I think the full size would last ages, and I definitely plan on buying either this or the gel one when I run out.

Alba Botanica: I was surprised by this sheet mask.  Originally I was thinking I would not be super keen on it, but it smelled like a delicious cocktail and did not irritate my skin at all.  The fruit enzymes brightened my face, and I did not end up breaking out like I sort of was expecting.  The sheet mask was pure black, and had the usual slightly slimy texture to it, but it didn't leave the stickiness that a lot of other masks do.  I think I would buy this again as a one off, especially since it is so cheap (less than a fiver).

NYR: I got this in a swap, and when I first used it I really did not like it.  I was expecting a richer cream, but this is a relatively thin lotion, and the smell of ginger and vanilla takes some getting used to.  It was okay as a body lotion, and was sort of moisturizing, but I definitely prefer a body butter or balm.  Will not be buying another.

Balance Me:  A staple, as I have posted about this several times before (Empties 1, Empties 2).  Already have purchased the full size, plus have several 7ml samples left from swaps!

Aromatherapy Associates: For a while, I was obsessed with AA, and I ended up buying nearly all of their bath oils on Ebay.  I also got several of these body gels from beauty boxes and swaps, so I have been slowly working my way through them.  I found this body gel a little disappointing, as the actual essential oils are not very fragrant, and after checking the ingredients I noticed a few that I would probably rather skip using.  It did help soothe my occasional aches, but otherwise I did not notice much of an effect, so I will not be buying again once I have used this all up.

Elemental Herbology:  This is a brand that is so hit and miss for me.  I absolutely love some of their products (like the Facial Glow), while others leave me with blemishes as they are too heavy for my skin type.  This Facial Souffle was actually in the middle for me.  I have another little sample of this, so I will pass full judgment after I have used for a little longer.  It is a potential yes, but also a potential no -- will check in next month!

Caudalie:  I wish I hated this.  I wish I did not love this.  Caudalie is a brand that has such good potential, but for me ruins it all by selling in China, thereby accepting animal testing.  I have two full size bottles of this grape water that I bought prior to finding out they sold in China, and when they have ran out, I am going to be so sad to not buy this again.  The grape water really helps soothe my tight skin after a shower (our water is very hard, so my skin gets a bit itchy/tight), and I love that it is a single ingredient spray.  I need to find a replacement, ASAP.

NUXE:  I went through a phase where I absolutely loved NUXE, and I bought up loads of products in their renowned December/January sales.  While some of their products are still high up on my list (I do genuinely rate the perfume and the shimmer oil especially), most of them are quite high in fragrance which triggers my allergies.  That is why I wasn't a huge fan of either of these exfoliants, as they had me in full on sneeze-fests.  Of the two, I mildly prefer the body scrub over the facial one, as it wasn't so near my nose and mouth.  Both products' exfoliation itself is gentle, and works well, but I won't be buying again as I don't fancy shower sneezing!

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Calling all Balm Balm fans!  Not only will I be running through some of my favourite products from this lush brand, but I have a massive discount code to share with you for 40% off all Balm Balm products on Love Lula!  So if you love any of these products, or like the look of one, go grab it before February 9th!

40% off Balm Balm Organic Skincare at Lovelula! Limited time offer. Use code BB40 at checkout. Don't miss out!

Balm Balm is a certified 100% natural and 100% organic brand with a whole host of products ranging from perfumes to body balms.  Each of the many items is free from common nasties like parabens, SLS, and synthetic preservatives, and is gentle on the skin.  I love the focus on five ingredient or less products, and everything I have used so far has been incredibly effective and very affordable.

One of my staple products is the hydrosol -- a refreshing single ingredient toner/facial tonic with a convenient spritz application method.  I have tried all four of the Balm Balm hydrosols, and have loved three of them and grudgingly accepted the benefits of the fourth.  All in all, these are always in stock in my cupboard, and I have not found a single product that is as handy and effective as these.

All four hydrosols come in a glass bottle, ideal for both the storage of the floral water within but also for recycling or even reusing, and all are 100% organic.  I love that I know exactly what I am getting with these toners, as they do not have added essential oils, preservatives, or extra 'filler' ingredients.  Plus, each is very clear about what skin type and skin condition the hydrosol targets, so you can be sure you are doing the best for your face.

The rose water is probably my favourite of the four, as I find it completely refreshing and gives me a glowy, revived look after using.  If I am having trouble concentrating on my work, I can lightly spray this and wake myself right up, or if I am feeling a bit warm or sticky, this is my go to for feeling fresh.  I also like the chamomile and the neroli hydrosols, but for very different reasons.  The chamomile floral water is great as either a pillow mist or pre-bed toner in your skincare routine.  The chamomile is also ideal for irritated or itchy skin, whether that is on your face, elbows, or elsewhere!  Another love of mine is the neroli hydrosol, as it is so lovely in scent and perfect for calming my anxious self.  Neroli is incredibly uplifting, but is also gentle on the skin so this would be a good fit for sensitive faces.

The only one of the four I find slightly less appealing is the frankincense, and that is only because of the smell. For some reason this toner is much more fragrant than the others, and I find it a little overpowering.  However, the effects on my skin make this negative something I can bear.  Plus, I found a solution to the smell!  The trick for these hydrosols is to give them a good shake before use, as some of the more potent smelling ones need the stir to dampen the intensity of the scent.  Be sure to do this with the frankincense one in particular!

My next product, or should I say products, for this highlight is the Single Note Fragrance Collection.  I was lucky enough to get the set of seven in a swap, however Love Lula is still currently selling the Five Note Collection which features the Lavender, Rose Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Mandarin, and Bergamot perfumes.  I can't even begin to describe how mouth wateringly delicate each of these fragrances is, but what I can say is they are worth the splurge!  The ones I keep returning to are the Ylang Ylang, the Mandarin, and Spearmint.

I have even tried my hand at mixing drops together to create a 'signature' scent!  Try layering a tiny amount of Rose Geranium with some Mandarin -- to me it's like summer!  But that is a whole other post.  I am so tempted to buy full size bottles of all of these so I can continue to experiment with creating new perfumes.  Help!

I have talked about the Balm Balm Little Miracle Rosehip Serum in another post, but I just want to reiterate how lovely I find it.  While not a 100% pure rosehip oil, this is so packed full of skin food that it is absolutely hydrating and is so gentle on my skin.  Plus I find it lasts for ages, so it is not a huge added expense to my skincare routine.

Balm Balm's Beauty Balm is my ultimate all-in-one product.  I never thought I would stumble upon a cleanser, exfoliator, facial mask, moisturizer, lip balm, and body balm that resided in one perfect pot, but I did with my September Love Lula Beauty Box.  I have to admit, I avoided oil based cleansers like the plague until I tried this stuff out.  I was convinced my combination skin would revolt, and that I would be left with ungainly spots all over my face after using this balm.  Well, that did not happen.  Not only was my face completely fine, it was radiant!  I felt so hydrated after using this, I decided to start to test out its other uses.  While I do not rate it highly as a lip balm as the description suggests, I did find it worked excellent in all the other ways.  One word of warning though -- if you are using this as an exfoliator, be sure not to overwork your skin with a muslin cloth or other methods.

The super light coconut cleanser I need to pick up in this sale, as I feel like I didn't fully experience the benefits in my little sample I acquired.  I was expecting this to be really slick as it is a coconut oil based cleanser, but I was pleasantly surprised at how light this actually was.  It did a great job of taking off my makeup, and then rinsed off easily and did not leave any residue.  Plus, I didn't get the dreaded spots on my face that coconut oil based products tend to usually leave the next day.  Win!

My final favourites from Balm Balm (at least so far -- I mean, I love everything by them!!) are all about pampering the skin.  Let me start with the lip balm, as I clearly have an affinity towards it seeing as I own two!  My lips had started to dry out this winter, a problem I later learned was caused by an ingredient in my previous lip balm (phenoxyethonal).  I grabbed the rose geranium lip balm pot from Balm Balm during the last Love Lula sale, and was just hoping to fix the damage done.  What I wasn't expecting was for my lips to be completely healed overnight, and for them to be more hydrated than they previously had been!  This stuff is a miracle worker.  I ended up buying the tube for convenience when out and about, and now I stick to the pot when at home.

Since the lip balm was such a hit, I decided to try my luck with the Fragrance Free Body Balm (which is very similar if not identical to the Fragrance Free Face Balm I have also previously tried).  I wanted something fragrance free for the days my allergies were really playing up, but I also wanted to try my hand at some DIY.  Well, a sample pot and a few drops of essential oil later I had an amazing lemongrass balm that was ready to soothe chapped skin! Both my own concoction and the original balm are incredibly hydrating, and are gentle enough for the more sensitive areas of my skin.  Plus, the fragrance free balm was safe for me to use on my eyelashes overnight, and they have never looked better!

I have actually just finished using my first sample of the Hibiscus Face Mask, and I think it is my new favourite exfoliating treat.  The mask is a combination of rice flour, rose geranium essential oil, ground hibiscus, and nothing else -- I love the simplicity of it!  You activate the powder with water (the instructions were not specific, but you really only need a tiny amount), then apply for ten minutes before rinsing off.  The mask stays a little grainy, which helps exfoliate the top layer of the skin, and I really liked that it didn't harden like so many other face masks.  And when I saw how inexpensive it is, I was blown away!  This is a must have for me.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Balm Balm, and feel free to share what products you are keen to buy and try yourself in the comments below!

And remember, you can get 40% off all Balm Balm products using the code BB40 before Friday the 9th of February!  Or, if you are looking for some facial oils to add to your routine you can use code HEAVEN for 40% off all Ooh! Oils of Heaven.   Hurry before it's gone!

40% off Ohh! Oils of Heaven at Lovelula! Limited time offer. Use code HEAVEN at checkout. Don't miss out!

40% off Balm Balm Organic Skincare at Lovelula! Limited time offer. Use code BB40 at checkout. Don't miss out!

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Spacemasks: the sensation that swept the beauty box world.  Featured in Spoilabox, Skin Organics Clean Beauty Box, Little Known Box, Ms Flow, Artemis & Xena, The Natural Beauty Box, VO Beauty, The Mama Box, Moi Meme, UniBox, The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, and more, it is safe to say Spacemasks got a ton of exposure over the last year.  This little pouch contains a self-heating eye mask that promises to soothe, relax, and carry you away from earthly worries.  Not only is the packaging adorable, but the company has produced one of the most unique product descriptions I have ever encountered:

"Spacemasks are new. Brand new.
We were created out of a collision of intergalactic material coming explosively together with a little human imagination. A flash of inspiration with an end product.
We wanted to find a way to escape the madness of our hectic lifestyles and leave our Worldy problems behind. Space travel seemed a reasonable possibility - new horizons, a clean start, no social media.
The cost of astronaut training and 4000 tonnes of rocket fuel made us think out of the box. So we came up with a box. A box of spacemasks in fact. 5 perfectly formed pouches each containing a heavenly Spacemask - capable of whisking you away to a carefree world unpolluted by Earthly distractions.
So there you have it. Spacemasks were born.
It is still early days after our launch but we already have 1000s of grateful space travellers.
We hope you too will enjoy the flight."

So is it really out of this world?

In a word, yes!

As soon as I opened the packet, the inner pads inside the mask began to react to the oxygen.  I am still not entirely sure how the science behind it works (from what I remember from school chemistry, iron and oxygen cause some sort of chemical reaction, and that reactions generates heat?), but what I found was that the blindfold becomes a gentle band of heat that encompasses your entire eye area and has a mild scent of jasmine that helps calm any nerves.

The mask itself is surprisingly cozy despite the elastic ear loops.  I have a weird dislike of elastic (I hate the squeezing feeling!!), but I quickly got used to the feeling and it was not distracting at all.  The outer side of the mask has a galaxy print similar to the packaging, and is made from some sort of soft, almost felt-like material.  The inner side is made from the same fabric, but is even softer which adds to the relaxing nature of the product.  For me, I don't care how useful a product is if it is not comfortable!  So this is a win-win.

The instructions say the mask works for approximately 15 minutes, however I found the blindfold actually held it's warmth much longer than that -- I'm guessing it was about 30 minutes before it started to cool at all, and even then it stayed comfortable long afterwards.

When I first used this eye mask, I honestly was really thrown.  The sensation of the pads slowly warming was incredibly odd, and I was not too sure if I was enjoying this 'interstellar relaxation.'  However, once I adjusted to the feeling I found I was genuinely zoning out.  The heat was not as intense as I first thought it would be, and my tired eyes really benefited from the extra TLC.

I do a lot of reading and writing for my job and for my PhD, so my eyes really suffer from the extended stress.  Plus, when I am feeling overly anxious I am prone to migraines.  So if you are anything like me, these masks can be a saving grace on off days or when you are needing to switch off for little while.

The packet the eye-mask comes in states the Spacemask relives "tiredness, eye strain, and many other Earthly tensions," which I definitely agree with, but several of the stockists' websites also state it helps with puffiness and dark circles.  Next time I have had a lack of sleep, I am going to be testing these claims!

Overall, I am well impressed with the product itself.  The only downside for me is the packaging aspect, as each mask comes in a foil packet that is not recyclable (at least to my knowledge).  I totally understand the need to keep these masks sealed tight so the chemical reaction is not triggered, but I hope a less wasteful way is found soon, as right now it would produce a lot.

Spacemasks can be bought singularly or in a pack of 5, with the multi-buy being £15.  For a product as effective and peace-inducing as this, I do think the price is worthwhile, and I have already purchased a full set.  I am hoping these can really help tackle the debilitating migraines I occasionally get.  From what I found from just one use, I have high hopes.

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

It is that time of month again!  And I feel a little sheepish after being so adamant that I could never get a good haul of empties in just a single month.  Well, January has truly proved me wrong.  I'm not sure if it is a case of having a lot of products that were already on their way out, or my partner insisting on his daily 'treatments' (he has been spoiled in recent months!), but I have an extraordinary amount of empties to share!

So many empties, in fact, that I may split this post up into two segments so none of the detail is lost.  But before I launch into specifics, check out my stash!

The full list of products is

Balm Balm Chamomile Hydrosol, 30ml
Caudalie Grape Water, 75ml
Elemental Herbology Facial Souffle, 5ml
Trilogy Rosehip Oil, 10ml
Esse Gel Cleanser, 10ml
Neal's Yard Remedies Ginger & Vanilla Body Lotion, 100ml
NUXE Melting Body Scrub, 50ml
NUXE Gentle Exfoliating Gel, 15ml
Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Gel, 40ml
John Masters Organics Scalp Stimulating Shampoo, 10ml
Caudalie Premier Cru, 1ml
Hurraw Moon Balm, 4.3g/.15oz
Ciate White Choc Pot Nail Polish Remover, 30ml
Balance Me Congested Skin Serum, 7ml
Lavera Re-energizing Sleeping Cream, 1ml
PHB Brightening Eye Gel, (Size not described, but I am guessing 1ml)
Esse Refining Cleanser, 5ml
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Detox Sheet Mask, 1 mask

There were a lot of hits in this mix, but also a handful of misses.  My least favourite item this month?  The Ciate White Choc Pot.

Not only was this item not up to my usual ingredient standards, it also was a bit inconvenient in terms of removing the nail polish.  I found that once you used this with a darker shade of varnish (say dark blue, black, purple..), the foam inside started to stain the edges of your finger.  Not ideal!  I was sent this as a freebie in a subscription box ages ago, so I used it so it would not go to waste, plus the ingredients were not so bad that I felt truly uncomfortable using it.  It did have some hydrating qualities to it (marula and sweet almond oils) which was surprising seeing how it is a nail polish remover.  However, there are many natural brands on the market that I would rather use, so I will not be buying this in the future.

My favourite this month was so hard to choose, I ended up picking three to showcase!  Trilogy, Esse, and Hurraw proved to be brilliant as always, and I will more than likely end up buying more of all three of these items once I have used up more of my stash.

I received a different Hurraw lip balm (Papaya Pineapple) in my Love Lula Beauty Box in March last year, but it was not until recently that I actually started using it.  I love the consistency of the Hurraw balms, as they are really smooth, not too oily, not sticky at all, and incredibly hydrating.  After hearing rave reviews of the Moon Balm, I added it to my basket and could not be happier with the purchase.  It smelled SO good -- like the perfect blend of warm and relaxing.  The scent is firstly of vanilla and blue chamomile, but has softer notes that bring a light sweetness from the cocoa butter, peru balsam, and rosehip seed oil.  Also, I have to point out this is the first time ever that I have finished a lip balm!  It was that good!!

The Trilogy Rosehip Oil was another winner, as it was very delicate and not too heavy for my combination skin.  I found my skin had far fewer blemishes when I was using this facial oil, and it was perfect for night use as the scent was so delicate that it put me into a really relaxed state of mind.  I used about 3-4 drops of this for my face and neck every night, and it lasted me several months, so I can't imagine how long a full size would keep for.  I have loads of facial oils to work through (remember my Hunger Games battle??), but once I have cut down on how many I have, Trilogy will definitely work its way in as a staple.

Esse was a new brand to me that was introduced through my beloved Love Lula Beauty Box back in September.  I have used one of these samples up already, and my skin absolutely loves it!  The gel cleanser is light and refreshing, and works into the skin really effectively.  I didn't find it drying at all, and I seriously love the scent (you know me and peppermint!!).  I am still trying to decide between this Gel Cleanser and the thicker Refining Cleanser, as both seem to work well for me, but either way, this brand is one of my favourite LL discoveries in a while.  I have stocked up on samples for the moment, but once they are used up, this is going straight into my basket.

Overall, I was able to recycle every single product packaging except three: the John Masters Organics sachet, and the two PHB sachets.  Also, I had to throw away the foam material from the inside of the Ciate pot.  So let's say 15.5/19 items were recyclable!  Even better, I decided to reuse two of the packagings for my own DIY projects.

Keep an eye out for my follow up to this empties post, as I will be going into more detail about the other winners and middle of the road products I tried out in January.  And if you have not done so yet, make sure to subscribe and follow The ecoLogical so you can stay up to date with our posts!

Until next time! xx

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Okay, the time has come to share my favourite products with all you lovelies!  Did you know I actually gave a sneak peek of some of my go-tos in the very first post in this mini-series?

I am going to split this post into two sections: face and body.  Like I mentioned in "Skin Deep," products using coarse materials are not the best to use on the face, so I have very different preferences for the two areas.  I tend to use physical exfoliators on my arms, legs, feet, and chest, whereas I choose more gentle products for my face.



So for chemical exfoliants I definitely prefer them mild, as my skin is prone to spots if I overdo anything.  The Madara Brightening AHA Peel Mask is great for when I need to completely kick start my skin, as it removes dead skin cells from the surface layer and leaves my face looking smooth and radiant.  I was thrilled when I got this in one of my Love Lula boxes, and it really has done my skin good, even though I only use it occasionally.  I tend to only use this once a month, if that.  The Elemental Herbology Facial Glow is a mask I do more often (usually once per week), as it uses fruit enzymes rather than an acid to exfoliate.  It is perfect for right before a shower, as it only needs to sit for four minutes before being rinsed off, and then creates a healthy glow that lasts for ages.


Like I have mentioned before, I do not tend to use many physical exfoliants on my face, as I find them too harsh for my skin type and for me they end up causing more spots.  However, this face mask from Balm Balm is lovely, and very gently buffs away at the top layer of skin both when applying and when removing.  The hibiscus and rose geranium smells lovely, plus it doesn't dry like concrete!


I heard a lot of hype around the Foreo products, and when I saw the price tag I thought no way could it be worth it.  Well, when I finally spotted it in the sales last year, I could not resist.  I quickly found out why everyone was so excited by this little tool -- my skin has never felt softer or smoother, and it looks so healthy!  I have the Luna 2, and it did genuinely transform my skincare routine.  Even better, it doesn't take ages and is the furthest thing from a faff.  I can cleanse and exfoliate my whole face in under two minutes, as well as massage in my moisturizer.  Win!

I also highly rate these little reusable cotton pads by Love The Planet.  I use them to apply toner, and occasionally to remove tricky waterproof mascara with a bit of my MOA Green Balm.  They are very gentle, made from the off cuts of towel manufacture (less waste!!), are 100% cotton, and are machine washable -- they even come with a handy mesh bag to toss them into before washing!

Not pictured, but another favourite of mine, are my various muslin cloths.  I am still deciding which brand I prefer, but I think I have to choose MOA for steaming/hot cloth, Balm Balm for more intensive exfoliation, and Liz Earle for daily cleansing.  I would love to hear your favourites, as I am always on the hunt for something new that will benefit my skin!


Okay, so for body exfoliation I tend to opt for one of two options: salt, or sugar.

For areas that I know have a reoccuring buildup of dead skin cells (so directly under my breasts, my chest, and my upper arms), I opt for a salt scrub.  The best one I have encountered so far has to be The Salt Parlour -- especially their Jasmine and Matcha Green Tea "Repair" scrub and their Lime and Avocado "Energise" scrub.  I got a sample of this is one of my The Cruelty Free Beauty Box subscriptions, and instantly fell in love.  The scrub smells absolutely amazing, and they have nourishing oils infused so your skin doesn't go dry after exfoliating.  I find the size of the salt is ideal, as it is not too rough but gets the job done.

My legs, lower arms, and back get the sugar treatment -- mainly because this PHB scrub is a bit scratchier and I do not want to cause any damage to the more sensitive areas of my body.  I love anything with peppermint in, and this solid bar is no exception.  It smells divine, revives me, and helps to moisturize the areas even after I am finished exfoliating.

Not pictured, but a newer favourite of mine, is my body brush.  I discovered this technique a few months ago, and as I mentioned in my previous post, it is actually known to improve circulation as well as skin appearance.  At the moment I just have a cheap one I picked up in a local shop (it is unbranded), but I am eyeing up the one by Green People.  Will check back in if I cave and buy!

*** I have to mention a potential runner up for this category -- I love the idea of coffee scrubs, and wanted so desperately to hop on the coffee ground train, but unfortunately I can't yet due to the problem of drainage.  Coffee grounds are notoriously bad for pipes, as they build up and cause blockages.  They don't dissolve like salt or sugar, so they just gunk up.  However, with a coffee filter or something similar to catch the fallout, these can be used without too much danger of damage.  When it becomes less of a hassle, and a convenient product is created to catch these grounds, I think coffee scrubs might actually become my favourite exfoliator (especially the scrumptious ones Optiat make!).

There you have it!  My favourite exfoliation treatments are rolled in to one handy post.  I would love to hear what your go-tos are, and which of these products you have tried yourselves.  Let me know in the comments below!

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Now that you have a good idea as to what form of exfoliator your skin needs, let's take a minute to figure out how to exfoliate safely and effectively.  The last thing you want is for your poor skin to be overstimulated or end up with micro-abrasions!  When done correctly, exfoliating is incredibly beneficial for the different layers of the skin, but if done for too long or with too much pressure, you will end up doing more harm than good.

1: The most important rule?  Don't overdo it.  How often you exfoliate will be up to your skin type, but a general rule of thumb for most skin is to not use heavier treatments more than twice a week.  This includes all the scrubs and masks.  The gentler forms of exfoliation, like muslin cloths and tools like the Foreo Luna 2 can be used daily, but be sure not to combine them with other exfoliants.  Using an exfoliating balm to cleans?  Rinse instead of wiping off with a muslin.

If you find your skin starts showing irritation or suddenly is full of unwanted spots, the culprit might just be over-exfoliation.  Take several days off to let your skin settle down, then slowly reintroduce a single exfoliant.  And remember, if you have oily or acne prone skin you want to be careful about what you are using so you avoid stripping the natural oils and congesting your skin even further.  Your skin type would probably find 1-2 treatments a week most effective rather than a daily one.

2: If you are using a chemical peel, be very aware of the strength of the solution.  This will tell you not only how long to keep the formula on your face initially, but also how often you can use this type of treatment.

There are three 'strengths' of peel: superficial, which penetrates minimally to target minor skin problems such as blemishes, uneven texture, or minor discolouration; medium, that targets more troublesome skin issues like mild scarring, wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots; and deep, which penetrates down to the middle layer of the skin to tackle serious cases of damaged cells, severe scarring, deep lines, and full discolouration (this type should ONLY be done by a professional).  The mid-highest strength peels can only be carried out once every 4-6 weeks, so be sure to check the percentage of acid!  Most at-home superficial peels can be done safely 1-3 times a week, but be sure to read any directions that come with your product.

3: Be sure to wash your face thoroughly with lukewarm water before exfoliating.  You want a face free from makeup or other products before starting, otherwise your skin won't receive the full benefit of the deep clean.  Plus, the warmth will help open up your pores, making it easier for them to soak in any nutrients coming their way.  Just be sure the water is not too hot, as that

4: Gentle and slow is best! Try using a circular motion, as this will help buff off any dead skin cells and pull out blackheads without the need to push down or use more pressure.  Think of it this way -- if you were washing and buffing a car, you wouldn't want to scrape rocks across the paint -- the same goes for your skin!  You do not want to scrub too hard or the exfoliant (whether it is sugar, salt, walnut, or bristles) can start to break the surface and cause tiny cuts.

5: Wet the area you are exfoliating before you start.  You wouldn't dry-shave (unless you want those uncomfortable red bumps!), and the same principal goes for exfoliating.  By starting with a moist patch, you can avoid scrubbing away healthy skin cells.

6: Try to exfoliate in the morning, as the effects of the treatment will last longer since the skin repairs itself overnight.  By using your scrub, mask, or tool in the morning, you can get rid of all those extra skin cells that appeared in the night.

7: Don't miss your neck, jawbone, and chest!  It can be easy to forget these areas when exfoliating, as the main areas we think about are face, arms, and legs.  However, these forgotten areas are prone to cell-buildup and can become congested easily.

8: Tried different exfoliants on your body and still unhappy with the outcome?  Consider body brushing, which not only rids the surface of dead skin cells to give a more radiant appearance, but also improves circulation and can reduce cellulite if done correctly.

You can find several varieties of brushes that will work, but you want one made with natural hair bristles and that is easily maneuverable, as the technique requires brushing from toe to head.  It is really simple, as you use long and quick gentle movements that steadily move upward, spending more time on any 'problem' areas.  You want to do this for about three minutes.  To learn more, read this full article written by Green People.

9: Don't skip the moisturizer after exfoliating.  You have just applied a relatively aggressive treatment to the largest organ of your body, and you want to be sure your aftercare is just as thoughtful as the effort you put into exfoliating.  By sloughing away those dead skin cells, you have left the area prone to drying out -- moisturizing thoroughly will combat this and ensure a bright, healthy complexion!

10: Check up on ingredients, especially when using a chemical exfoliant.  The different types of solution have different effects, just like every ingredient has it's own special use.

Glycolic acid boosts collagen production and is best for minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and minor scarring.  It can help brighten skin tone and can help with acne or hyperpigmentation.  Similarly, but less harsh, salicylic acid is ideal for treating acne, but can also treat hyperpigmentation, cell build-up, and other minor issues.

For more sensitive skin, enzymes are probably the way to go, as they are more gentle.  Instead of promoting growth of new cells, enzyme peels refine pores and remove dead cells to give the appearance of brighter, fresher skin.

There are many other types of acid, including lactic, TCA, mandelic, and Jessner's, each of which have their own strengths (as well as weaknesses! some of these higher strength acids can have you laid up for more than a week due to skin peeling and sun sensitivity!).  For less common acids such as these, it is worth checking with an expert to see if the solution will help your skin, and what percentage should be used.


Did you know that younger skin regulates itself naturally?  Crazily enough, the body sheds about 30,000-40,000 cells every minute!  This is a biological exfoliation, so if you are under 30 years old, be aware of your skin's cycle.  The total renewal process (meaning from one set of skin to another) tends to be every 25 days, so try to avoid more intense treatments that remove the full surface layer unless truly necessary, as you might actually be disrupting your body's in-built processes!

Waxing is in a way a form of exfoliation, so if you plan on waxing, do not exfoliate too soon before or after.  Give your skin a break, and it will thank you later!

Exfoliating is not just about having radiant skin.  The process helps boost blood circulation, which in turns helps with elasticity and skin tone.  Looking good from the inside out -- what more could you ask for?


I hope you find these tips useful, and keep an eye out for the next piece in this mini-series which will be all about my favourite products (many of which you got a sneak peek of in my first post!).

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Image from  on Etsy

When I say exfoliate, what comes into your mind?  Scrubbing away at the sink?  The search for baby soft skin?  Finally finding a use for those used coffee grounds?

Long gone are the days of in-shower microbead products (hurraw!!), and the time has finally come to highlight the effectiveness of natural exfoliants.  However, the sheer amount of choices to rid your face and body of dead skin cells can be pretty overwhelming.  Do you opt for the mask, the machine, the traditional morning scrub?  How do you even begin to pick??

While each has their own special strengths, the best place to start is figuring out what your skin actually needs.  Is it dry and flaky and need of a proper reboot, or is it sensitive and craving a gentler approach to healthy skin regrowth?  Choosing the wrong type, especially for your face, can actually do more harm than good, so consider how you might react to the various options before you start rubbing away at your cheeks and forehead.  The last thing you want is for angry red spots to start popping up!

There are three categories of exfoliants: mechanical, chemical, and physical.  What's more, the different versions found in each can have a variety of effects.  Confused?  I don't blame you -- I couldn't wrap my head around the amount of things to consider when choosing something as simple as a product to rub on my face.  But luckily once I broke it down, I found it couldn't be easier.

MECHANICAL:  This includes all the fancy machines and tools geared towards buffing the skin
PHYSICAL: Any product that has 'bits' in it that help remove the old surface of the skin
CHEMICAL: Usually in the form of a mask, these have formulas containing AHA or BHA

The first thing to know is this -- your skin type most likely can use any one of these exfoliants if used properly.  However, there are a few ways to determine which is ideal right away.  For example, if you have acne-prone skin that is not prone to sensitivity, or your skin feels congested, a chemical peel is probably your best bet.  Chemical formulas, especially those containing salicylic acid, will target the deeper layers of the skin and fight clogged pores much more effectively than mechanical or physical scrubs.  Plus, harsh scrubbing can actually exaggerate spots on problem skin!  Opting for a chemical exfoliant will battle those pesky pimples while also helping to treat scarring and minimize future acne.

Mature skin also benefits from chemical exfoliants, as the formulas can work to smooth the appearance of fine lines from the inside out.  A product with glycolic acid can reach the deepest layers of the skin and help change the appearance of a dulled surface.  It is also important to remember that aging skin requires more frequent exfoliation, as the skin has slowed it's ability to regenerate new cells.

Physical exfoliants are most ideal for normal (which can actually experiment with all three types!) or oily skin.  This includes combination skin that is on the normal-oily side.  One of the biggest factors that will determine what product you need is the 'grain' of the exfoliant.  On the gentler end you have oatmeal, rice, and baking soda, while on the other side of the spectrum you have rougher, more coarse particles such as salt and nut shells.  And somewhere in the middle you find dense but small scrubs containing sugar, coffee grounds, flower petals, and charcoal.

For the face, you really want to avoid the harsher scrubs, as these have the potential to create micro-tears in the skin, can cause sensitivity or even trigger spots.  Try to use a medium or small grain, and remember to not rub too hard and to moisturize fully after use.  I generally prefer the scrubs that contain fruit enzymes, as this combines the effects of a physical exfoliant and a chemical one.  Sugar is a favourite among physical exfoliators, as it contains naturally occurring glycolic acid, so both the top and middle layers of skin are addressed.

However, if you are worried about these exfoliants being too harsh for the face, then there are still options.  Exfoliating masks are becoming more and more popular with both small businesses and natural beauty giants, and can be bought with any budget.

Usually a five to fifteen minute treatment, these types of masks are multi-tasking queens!  I love to use an exfoliating mask when my skin needs an extra boost as well as it's usual buffing action.  You can clarify, hydrate, brighten, or balance your face while also polishing and rejuvenating the top layer of skin, all in one product.  For someone who is always busy and on the go, these are serious game changers.

Mechanical usage tends to be best for dry or sensitive skin, as there is a lot more control with this exfoliation method than with the others.  There is a huge range of machines to choose from, so do shop around for what suits both the budget you're comfortable with and the type of tool you wish to use.

My personal favourite is the Foreo Luna 2.  I have the original option which is targeted towards normal and sensitive skin, and I have found it has made a huge difference to my complexion and the softness of my face.  I tend to use this every other day with my gel cleanser, so as to avoid overstimulating and over-exfoliating my skin.

What is important to note is that pricey electronic exfoliators are not the only option for mechanical exfoliation!  A cotton pad or a simple muslin cloth can be just as effective for the skin, and for incredibly sensitive skin these can be the perfect choice.  There is such a wide range of coarseness for muslins that there really is one for everyone.  I have several varieties, as sometimes my skin needs something really gentle and other days it requires a bit more umphh.  MOA offer a super soft, gentle cloth that can be used for steaming or gentle exfoliation, whereas Balm Balm's cloth is geared towards a more hands-on approach to buffing away dead skin cells.  Again, it is all about the grain and about what your skin is seeking!

I always though exfoliating was a no brainer -- you rub, you scrub, and you are done.  But now that I have taken my skin's actual needs into consideration, I have to admit my face has never looked brighter and felt softer.  Experimenting with all the different options and finding which ones suited me was actually pretty fun, and I found out my legs and arms can take much more of a physical scrub than the more delicate skin on my face, hands, and chest.  My salt scrubs and walnut shell products are now reserved for my limbs and feet, while my sugar scrub best suits my lips, and my mechanical and chemical exfoliants do their best work on my face.  I think I have finally found my perfect balance, and my skin is no longer irritated and looks fabulous!

I hope this has helped you sort through the mass amount of options, and I would love to hear your experiences with exfoliators down in the comments!

Also, have an eye out for my upcoming follow up all about the dos and don'ts of exfoliating!  You can keep up to date by either subscribing via email down below, or following us on Twitter at @the_eco_logical

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Monday, 15 January 2018

After December's The Cruelty Free Beauty Box smashed it in terms of value and quality, I really was not sure how this monthly subscription box would top their Christmas collection.  Well, January has brought in both the new year and a new bundle of goodies, and I am well impressed!  Not only can I use everything in this month's box, but the variety of items, quality of ingredients, and the overall value all get top marks.

I know I have mentioned this box in the past, but through 2018 I will be making regular posts about The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, as it is one I have been subscribed to since their launch in early 2017.  While not all of the products included each month are 100% natural, they are always certified cruelty free.  The company ensures ethical practices, and their customer service is exceptional at answering questions and responding to queries.  Plus, I have seen a gradual shift towards more natural products over the last several months, and so for this reason, I will be doing a monthly write-up!

January's box has exceptional value, pricing in at about £40.  Seeing how this box is only 
£14.95, this is a great return!  Plus, rather than the tiny sample sizes that tend to come in less ethical subscriptions (you know which ones I mean!), the new year collection boasts four full size products and one deluxe size sample.  There are no complaints to be made here!

Brand wise, I am happy to see some of my favourites back in the box -- Tisserand, Lucky Cloud, and PHB have all been featured before, and Maggie Anne and Greenfrog Botanic are the 'new kids on the block' for the company.  While I have personally owned three of these products before, and I am familiar with all of the brands, I am actually pleased with the products.  The variety is here (no face oil this time thank goodness!), and everything is useful!

My overall view?  Two thumbs up!

PHB Eyeliner in Brown:

My love for PHB has been mentioned several times at this point I think, but I have to say it again: PHB hits a home-run every time!  Their black pencil liner is a staple for me, and I recently got the brown to test out on my upper lid as well.  

For me, the consistency and pigment are both ideal -- not too creamy, not too hard, and just bold enough in colour to make this the perfect everyday eyeliner.  I find the pencil easy to use on both the upper lid and the waterline, and it lasts all day.  The black is easy to smudge when first applied, but I haven't noticed the same effect with the brown yet.

Grab this from the shop for just 

Greenfrog Botanic Bodywash in Geranium & Peppermint:

This is another product I have used before, and I was happy to find it included in the January box as that means I have one less item on my shopping list!  Rather than using the standard surfactants, Greenfrog Botanic uses Ayurvedic soapberries, a natural soap, to get a great lather and squeaky clean feeling.  I love the gentleness of their products, as they do not dry out the skin or leave any irritating residue.  Plus, the Geranium and Peppermint scent is lovely -- a perfect blend of floral and cooling mint.  While this is the travel size bottle, it is an excellent value for the amount you get (100ml!).

Full size £8.95

Lucky Cloud Lip Butter:

I recently realized that a common skin and hair-care ingredient was causing me strife -- phenoxyethonal -- and I was relieved to see that this lip butter by Lucky Cloud did not include the  irritant.  And thank goodness, since this smells divine!  I am a fan for anything coconut, but this product has a rich sweetness to it added by the cocoa seed.  So far I am enjoying the lip butter, and find it incredibly nourishing.  I was worried it would be sticky or too thick, but the consistency is similar to some of my other favourite balms (like Hurraw) and does not leave any uncomfortable feeling.  If I wasn't already sold, the low price of this cutely packaged product would have won me over.  £4.50

Tisserand Aromatherapy Body Lotion in Neroli & Sandalwood:

I jumped on the neroli bandwagon a few months ago after trying out a few PHB Brightening products (including their facial tonic you can read about here!), so I was so excited to see this body lotion from Tisserand.  Just after a few uses I can say this lotion wins out in all criteria -- scent, texture, moisture, and ingredients.  In between a cream and a traditional lotion, I find this sinks into the skin quickly and effectively.  My arms feel so smooth, and the little cracks that had been forming around my elbow area are completely gone already!  I just finished up my latest lotion, so not only was this perfect timing, but it seems to be more powerful than the Neal's Yard formula I had been using.£10.95

Maggie Anne Nail Polish in Tansy (109):

If you know me, you know I love a bit of sparkle, especially when it comes to my nails.  What I most appreciate about Maggie Anne is they do not skimp on style.  This 6-free nail polish brand has both that smooth gel effect I tend to opt for, but also has a great range of colours and styles to choose from.  The best aspect for me is the no-nasties angle, as this nail polish does not include six of the common chemicals found in most high-street varnish.  One of these ingredients?  Formaldehyde (yes, the thing they use to preserve dead bodies!!).   Maggie Anne offers a product that is healthy for both your body and for the environment, and I for one am all about that!

Tansy is a deep blue that verges on purple in some lighting, although this might be due to the small amount of purple glitters in the varnish.  While this shade has a great amount of sparkle, it is not overwhelming and is still 'appropriate' for the office.  I wore it today, and found myself admiring my hands as I took notes in my meeting!

The applicator brush is ideal for broad, sweep strokes, but the wideness of it makes getting the corners sharp a little difficult.  A few touch ups sorted this quickly though!  I found the polish was a proper one coat deal, and was completely opaque with just one layer.  However, due to operator error, I did end up doing two coats for a few of my nails (I was in a rush, so had to fix a few missed edges!).

If you would like to subscribe to The Cruelty Free Beauty Box (or their specialized Makeup Box!), head on over and gets yours today!  The Beauty Box is just £14.95, and the Makeup Box is £19.95.  Not sure if you want to commit yet?  Try out one of their one off boxes.

I will finish linking to all the products as soon as they are live on The Cruelty Free Beauty Box Shop so you can have a look yourselves.  Keep an eye out for an update!

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

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