Blog

A is for AHAs

Introducing AHAs, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids! 

AHAs are a family of acids which are used to exfoliate skin.  They help remove dead skin cells, but without potentially causing damage by using a physical exfoliator like a scrub, which can cause micro tears in the skin if it’s used too harshly.  

Some of the most commonly known AHAs are glycolic, lactic, mandelic and citric acid.  They’re found in a lot of different products, and in various strengths.  AHAs are water soluble, meaning they can’t break through the skin’s natural oils, so they can’t penetrate pores as deeply.  They’re best suited for surface exfoliation rather than cleaning out pores like BHAs (or Beta Hydroxy Acids).  

AHAs are perfect for giving a more glowing complexion, and help fade scaring & pigmentation.  They lift off the dead skin cells which make skin look dull and block pores, and break down the desmosome connections (or glue) which attaches the dead skin cells to the healthy skin underneath.  

Dead skin cells can exacerbate the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles, so AHAs have anti-aging properties. They also increase the skin’s collagen production so they can help reduce new lines forming too – win win!

AHAs exfoliating and removing dead skin cells from the skins surface

Getting started with AHAs

Whilst using acid exfoliators doesn’t come with the risk of causing small tears in the skin like physical exfoliators do, acid overuse can damage the skin’s barrier. 

It’s best to start low, ease your skin into and then build it up.  The type of acid you chose is important, as acids with a larger molecule size don’t penetrate the skin as quickly, meaning a lower risk of irritation.  Lactic acid has larger molecules than glycolic acid, so it’s less likely to irritate skin. Lactic acid also has humectant properties which attracts water into the skin, making it a really good beginner acid.  

The percentage of the active ingredient in a product is also a factor. Although it might be really tempting to start on the highest % in the hope you’ll get results more quickly (trust me, I’ve been there!).  Diving in to a high percent is the quickest road to skin irritation and a damaged skin barrier. Start low, and then once you’ve used up a bottle look at replacing it with the next percentage up.  

It’s really important to use an SPF everyday anyway, but especially if you start introducing AHAs into your routine.  They increase photosensitivity, which means they make skin more sensitive to UV damage, so a broad spectrum sunscreen which protects from both UVA & UVB damage is a must.  

How to fit acids into your skincare routine

AHAs are water soluble, which means they can’t pass through oil.  Applying them onto thick, oil based products means they just won’t be as effective.  It gives them the best chance of working use right after you’ve washed your face. Then once they’ve sunk into your skin carry on with the moisturisers and creams which you already use.  

As they cause photosensitivity it’s best to apply them in the evening and let them do their work overnight (but still remember the sunscreen in the morning!)

If you already use products like retinoids, BHAs or Benzoyl Peroxide, be cautious applying AHAs at the same time.  It comes back around to protecting your skin barrier, so alternate the actives on different days. Once your skin is used to tolerating them you could use a BHA in the morning and an AHA in the evening.  

Eyeshadow mistakes you’re probably making, and how to fix them

Three eyeshadow mistakes you're probably making and how to fix them

Is there any better feeling than opening up a gorgeous new eyeshadow palette?  That feeling can soon turn into panic when you start creating a stunning look, which just isn’t turning out anything like you thought it would! When I talk to women about the makeup that they struggle with, eyeshadow is always near the top of the list. A lot of that stress can be taken away by fixing these really common eyeshadow mistakes.  

Eyeshadow Mistakes No1 – Using the applicator which comes with your eyeshadow palette

A lot of high street eyeshadow palettes include a little sponge applicator, and trust me – they’re almost impossible to get a gorgeous, blended eyeshadow with! Instead, it’s definitely best to invest in a couple of really good eyeshadow brushes.  I would always advise having one or two blending brushes, along with a shader brush to press shadow into the skin.  A pencil brush is another good investment, especially for applying shadow underneath the eye or in the inner corner where you need to be more precise.  

Some of my favourite blending brushes are the Peaches & Cream PC10 and PC22, the LimeLife #10 blending brush, and the Kitstars S30 and S31.  

For shader brushes, you can’t go wrong with the Zoeva 232 or the SoEco Shading Brushes

I love the LimeLife #11 brush, is perfect for detail areas without any harsh lines. 

All these brushes are vegan, and LimeLife are Leaping Bunny certified too, so you can be sure no bunnies have been harmed!

Some people prefer using their fingers over brushes, and although I’m not one of them. If I had to chose between using a free spongey applicator or my fingers..it would be my fingers every time without fail! 

Eyeshadow Mistakes No2 – Applying eyeshadow before your foundation

Out of all the eyeshadow mistakes reducing fallout is so easily solved!  Some shadows are definitely better than others with reducing fallout, but it generally depends on the pigment that’s being used.  I’ve not yet found a good yellow eyeshadow without fallout, and if you’re using loose glitter..it’s virtually impossible to avoid! 

Applying eyeshadow before foundation
Makeup: Kat Lord Makeup Artist
Behind the Scenes captured by: Ruth Taylor Photography

It’s never fun realising your time spent creating a perfect, glowing face has gone to waste now it’s got flecks of eyeshadow and glitter on it? Easy – do your eyes first! It means you can easily tidy up any fallout from your eyes.  

It is also best to not apply foundation to eyelids underneath eyeshadow.  Foundation can sit in any fine lines, and make your shadow more likely to crease.  So by applying it afterwards means you don’t accidentally apply any on to your eyelids.  

Eyeshadow Mistakes No3 – Using too many colours at the same time

This one feels slightly hypocritical as I am an absolute lover of bold, blended eyeshadow..BUT I also absolutely appreciate how stunning using one colour eyeshadow can look.  If you’re not sure on blending, then it’s always best to start with one colour and get that nailed first.  If you try to fit too many colours in, all blended perfectly, it can easily look muddy and patchy without a bit of practise beforehand.  

Classic eyeshadow with winged liner
Makeup: Kat Lord Makeup Artist
One colour used with it being concentrated and blended on different areas of the eye

Concentrate the colour in the crease, and then blend up so it fades out over your brow bone.  Then pat the eyeshadow across your lid, fading out slightly towards the inner corner.  By avoiding packing on the lid colour close to the inner corner, this helps to open up the eye.  If you have a shimmer or highlight, use a small brush to apply that to the inner corner to brighten them up even more.  

Now you’ve got those eyeshadow mistakes sorted, check out these tips on eyeliner – an absolute must if you’ve got hooded eyes!

Top Tips for Maintaining Brows at Home

One thing 2020 gave us (aside from learning how far 6 feet really is & trying 10 different recipes for banana bread), was an excuse to go back to the au natural brow.  If you’ve decided to take back control of your brows at home, then this is the guide for you!

I try to forget the times when attempting to balance my brows resulted in looking like I had tiny lines on my face.  Cue embarrassing reference photo…

After some self inflicted brow mistakes in my teens and twenties, I’ve been out off doing my brows at home. That is, unless I forget to book an appointment and realise I’ve got an event coming up that I’d prefer not to resemble a cave woman at. I just don’t trust myself with a wax kit at home, and tweezing them feels like way too much effort.  

Since lockdown I think I’ve made it into the salon 2 or 3 times to get them ‘done’ properly. The rest of the time has been spent either embracing them in all their natural glory, having a half arsed attempt at tweezing them before getting bored or (very occasionally) sitting down with my magnifying mirror and going all out.  

Without a doubt, the easiest way of keeping on top of them..is keeping on top of them (which is one of the very small list of new year resolutions for 2021).   

What you’ll need to maintain your brows at home

A metal makeup spatula (or a ruler)

A brow (or eye) liner

A pair of tweezers

One thing that’s much easier when doing somebody else’s brow is the overall shape, and making sure they match up. 

Aesthetically, brows help frame our face, add structure and can help you look more ‘put together’ even on a makeup free day.  It all comes down to angles, and matching the angle to your eye shape.  

How to pluck your brows at home

How to pluck brows at home

First off, you need something with a straight edge.  I used one of my metal makeup spatulas, but a ruler or even an eye pencil will do the job.  

Then, line it up with the side of your nose, going just inside the inner corner of your eye.  This is about where you want your brow to start.  Put one mark here with a liner, I used an eyeliner so it’s a bit easier to see.


How to pluck brows at home

Next you want to find where the arch should be, so keep the ruler by the side of the nose.  Then angle it across the centre of your pupil when you’re looking straight ahead.  This is where the highest point of the brow should be.  


How to pluck brows at home

Finally, move it to line up with the outer corner of the eye, this is where the brow should end.  

Brow Tip
Pluck brows after the shower, the warmth opens up the follicle making it easier to pluck.

When it comes to knowing how thick brows should be, it’s very much down to personal choice. 

To avoids that ‘tadpole’ brow from the early 00s, try connecting the 3 lines you’ve just drawn together. Make sure the two lines along the brow are parallel (the same width all the way along). Then taper it off from the arch down to the point.  

If you’re not sure how thick you want them to be, take one row of hairs from the bottom of the brow at a time.  Remember, once they’re gone – they’re gone for at least a few weeks! Avoid plucking from the top of the brow, concentrating on the bottom of the brow. Still make sure to tidy up any strays from the top of the brow though.

For more tips on makeup & skincare, come over and join us in The Face Base

Eyeliner for Hooded Eyes Made Easy!

Easy winged eyeliner for hooded eyes

Eyeliner and hooded eyes aren’t two words which seem to go together. With liner transferring or the shape not looking right it can be a minefield, and so many of my makeup clients think it just can’t be done.

But eyeliner for hooded eyes is so easy – once you know how!

What are hooded eyes?

The trick, is to apply your liner with your eyes open, this shows where your eyeliner needs to sit. It also stops your eyeliner from smudging. When applying eyeliner with your eye closed, it can smudge as soon as you open it.

It gives a gorgeous wing when your eyes are open, and looks really funky when your eyes are closed too!

The eyeliner you use is so important too. Gel liner with a brush can be a bit more difficult if you’re out of practise, plus needs a good quality brush to get sleek. Liquid eyeliner is another option, but it can take a bit longer to dry. My favourite is the Limelife by Alcone Perfect Eyeliner, which is a pen liner. It dries really quickly, and the tip is so fine and soft it glides on easily.

If you’re still not sure on how best to apply eyeliner for your eye shape, have a look at booking a virtual one-to-one lesson. They’re always customised to you and what you want to learn. So if your not sure on eyeshadow for hooded eyes either, you can learn it all!

The how, when & why on skin purging

Skin purging – it’s the skincare dark (the deep, deep dark) before the light. 

What is skin purging? 

Skin purging is when you begin using a new active on your skin and your skin cells start turning over much faster.  It’s most likely to happen if you’re already prone to breakouts & start using –

  • a retinoid (or Vitamin A)
  • An AHA or BHA (like glycolic acid, salicylic acid & lactic acid) or
  • An acne treatment like benzoyl peroxide

It means that the new, healthy skin cells will find their way to the surface quicker.  Unfortunately, it does also mean that all the excess sebum, dead cells and bacteria are bought the surface quicker too.   

What does skin purging look like?

Purging varies in person to person, and it can look like blackheads, whiteheads, small pimples or even cysts.  Skin can also go dry and sometimes peel. 

If you do break out this should be in the places you would normally be prone to. If it’s in new areas it could be a sign of a reaction, but more on that later. 

How long does skin purging last? 

Your skin renews itself in cycles, which last about 28 days.  If you’re purging your skin should be over the worst of it in that time, but it could be up to 6 weeks depending on your individual skin and how quickly the cells renew.  If it goes on for any longer it’s time to speak to your dermatologist or GP if it’s on prescription. 

How to reduce the chance of my skin purging when I’m using a new active? 

The best way is to ease your skin into using a new product if it’s likely to cause purging.  This can either be by using it once every 2-3 days instead of every day.  Your skin can gradually get used to it, going in manageable steps, rather than from 0 – 100mph.  You can then work your way up to daily use after a few weeks once your skin has adapted. 

If you’re not using a prescription product it’s always best starting out with the lowest %. Once the whole bottle has been used and your skin has adjusted, then try the next strength.

How can I help my skin when it’s purging?

It’s best to keep your routine as simple as possible around the product causing the purging.  I keep my routine as basic as possible, but even more so when I’m prescribed something new by my dermatologist.  Stick to a cleanser for your skin type, a good moisturiser which is maybe slightly thicker than usual to help combat the dryness, and a facial oil to help keep the moisture in.    If you’re not sure what your skin type is or what a good basic routine looks like for your skin, you can use this free tool to find out.  

An SPF is an absolute must-have when using any active product.  They make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Even if you’re not outside UVB rays can penetrate glass and damage your skin.  

While you’re purging it’s the time to take a break from acne treatments or exfoliators, as they’ll only aggravate your skin further. Make sure to check any face masks for actives in the ingredients list. 

How can I tell if my skin is purging or if I’m having a reaction? 

From someone with sensitive skin, I’m always cautious of a potential reaction when I start using a new product.  Even if you’re not prone to sensitivity, if you’re using a product you haven’t before there’s still a chance you could have a reaction – so how do you tell them apart? It can be difficult to tell but these are some things to look out for. 

If you aren’t sure if you’re having a reaction it’s always best to speak to your dermatologist (or GP if they prescribed it) and get some advice.  If it’s a product you’ve bought over the counter it’s best to stop using it. Then either look for a lower % product or visit a dermatologist for a prescription product which may be better suited for your skin.  

Purging can be a necessary evil, but understanding what it is and how you can help your skin can definitely make it more comfortable. 

For more skin advice, why not come over and join The Face Base Community – it’s free (and always will be!)

Skin Types – Why do they matter and how do you find yours?

Skin types are everywhere when you’re buying skin care products – normal to dry, normal to oily, acne prone…it seems like the list is endless.  But, in a Cerave survey last year, a third of the men and women who took part said they weren’t sure on their skin type, and 37% were using a product not suitable for their skin.  So what are they and why do they matter?

But what does a skin type mean, and why is it important to know yours?

Your skin type is genetic, and when it’s really simplified comes down to how much oil your skin naturally produces.  This can then be further complicated by acne, dehydration, sensitivity, eczema, psoriasis, ageing, sun damage…and the list goes on – all of which are skin conditions.  Skin conditions can change down to external factors, or can be pretty permanent. Conditions are separate to your skin type though, and should be treated differently. 

Wanting to solve skincare concerns without knowing your skin type is like putting an address in a sat nav, but not your current location. It’s easy to get lost and will definitely take longer to get where you want to go.

I’ll talk to clients regularly about their skin type, and quite regularly if some one has breakouts they’ll generally tell me they have combination or oily skin, regardless of how much oil their skin really has.  It’s this case where you can think you have one skin type and buy the products you think will help. When in actual fact you’re getting a skin type and condition mixed up & potentially aggravating your skin, making your skin condition worse.  

As we go through different stages of our life our skin type can change too. If you’ve had a skin care routine which has worked for years which then starts becoming less & less effective it may be worth re-evaluating your skin type to check what you’re using are still the best products for you. 

It might sound really  confusing, but I promise breaking it down makes it so much easier. You can also use this free tool to help you demystify your skin type.

What are skin types? 

There are different ways of categorising skin types, but sometimes it’s best to keep it simple in the first instance, so here are the basic skin types-

Dry Skin Type

Having a dry skin type means your skin naturally produces less oil or sebum than normal.  This doesn’t inherently cause dry skin, but it does mean your skin can’t form the lipid layer (or skin barrier). It’s this barrier which helps your skin retain moisture and to protect itself from outside aggressors & bacteria.  

As we age our skin naturally stops producing as much oil, and the skin’s barrier starts to become thinner.  It could be you have normal skin until your late 40s, and then through your 50s and 60s it begins to get drier, meaning a shake up of your skin routine is probably needed. 

It’s important to help your skin build up its barrier, as this is what will help your skin retain moisture. This helps reduce the tight, flakiness that you’re probably suffering from at the moment.  The lack of a good skin barrier can cause sensitivity, and acne due to irritation & inflammation – so treating the dryness can then solve many other issues too.  If you think you’ve probably got dry skin, you can use this free tool to identify your skin type.

Signs of dry skin can include - 
Tightness after you’ve washed your face
Flakiness
Skin can look dull
Skin can sometimes feel itchy
In extremely dry skin, it can start to crack and look scaly

Oily Skin

Oily skin is pretty much the opposite of dry skin, with the skin producing too much sebum than normal.  People with oily skin generally know they have oily skin, from the shininess soon after you’ve washed your face.  

The good thing about having oily skin – your skin should have oil.  It’s necessary for your skin to protect itself, heal and just function how it needs to to be healthy.  It can mean that breakouts are more likely, down to the larger amount of oil being the perfect place for acne bacteria (aka Cutibacterium acnes) to multiply.  

It’s important to not try to rid your skin of all oil, and using moisturiser & a facial oil (designed for oily skin) can actually help your skin regulate oil production.  If that sounds a bit familiar, you can use this free tool to check your skin type.

Signs of oily skin can include - 
Shininess within an hour of washing your face
Larger than ‘normal’ pores
Blackheads can be present
Breakouts may be more regular

Combination Skin

Combination skin is pretty much what it says on the tin – a combination of different skin types.  It’s normally thought of as oily skin in the T-zone (chin, nose & forehead), and dry skin over the cheeks. There can be some exceptions where there are normal skin in some areas too.

Combination skin is one of the most common skin types, especially when we’re younger.  The different areas can adjust as we get older, or sometimes oily areas producing less oil as we age. 

There are a few options with skincare routines for combination skin, one being using different products for the different areas.  Alternatively, using products designed for combination skin can be more cost effective, but maybe not as effective for your skin. If you think you’ve probably got combination skin, you can use this free tool to identify your skin type.

Signs of combination skin can include - 
A shiny forehead, nose & chin
Drier skin on cheeks than on the rest of the face
Larger pores on the oilier areas

Normal Skin

Normal skin is the holy grail that anyone with oily, combination or dry skin is searching for with the skin producing the right amount of oil which is should be for ‘optimal performance’.  It’s actually far from normal for most of the population though, and is more of a way for skincare products to be categorised than an actual skin type.  

If you are one of the blessed ones with a good balance of oils, and clear, blemish free skin it’s still really important to give it the love and attention it needs.  Having a good skincare routine, albeit a basic, potentially more hassle free than for some other skin types, means you have good foundations and less chance of sun damage in the future.  The easiest way to find out your skin type is by using this free tool

Signs of normal ski include - 
Pores aren’t particularly noticeable
Skin is well hydrated with good texture
Minimal breakouts and blemishes

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is a middle ground between a skin type and a skin condition, but isn’t an actual clinic diagnosis.  Any skin type can also have sensitivity, due to environmental factors like the weather, skincare products which aren’t right for your skin type, intolerances to food, or a skin condition like eczema, contact dermatitis or psoriasis.  

Dry skin can be more prone to sensitivity.  Remember that lack of skin barrier? Without the lipid layer protecting the lower layers of skin there’s more chance it will be irritated and sensitive.  

Sensitivity can be almost permanent, which is why I’ve still included it in this list. It can cause a lot of confusion as it can cause havoc with the appearance and characteristics of the skin.  It is also included in this free tool to identify your skin type.

Signs of sensitive skin include - 
Redness and irritation
Acne when skin is not generally oily
Skin ‘flaring up’ when trying new products
Skin behaving differently in different seasons

For more skin advice, why not come over and join The Face Base Community – it’s totally free!

The Double Cleanse

The double cleanse – aka the best ‘secret’ skincare hack (which really shouldn’t be a secret!)

If you haven’t heard about double cleansing it’s a super easy way to boost your skincare routine without over complicating it or investing into lots of new products.  It’s derived from East Asian skincare routines which generally consist of 8 or 10 steps, but don’t worry – it’s definitely not that complex or time consuming!  The basis of double cleansing is using one product to remove makeup, and another to give a deeper cleanse to ensure skin is properly clean.  

Why should I double cleanse? 

Being able to use gentler products to protect your skin and not accidentally cause damage, but still ensuring your skin is absolutely free from dirt and impurities which have built up through the day.  It also means less breakouts from products like SPF which although a lot of people think cause breakouts, it’s normally the fact they’re not been removed properly at the end of the day. 

How do I do it? 

Generally the first cleanse is done using an oil based product, which cuts through makeup and SPF (even if it’s waterproof). You can use either an oil based cleanser, an oil based micellar water or a facial oil which you already own – no baby wipes!  Apply it with a cotton pad to dry skin till all the surface makeup has been removed, then rinse with a wash cloth. 

For the second cleanse it’s important to use a product which is suitable for your skintype, for dry and dehydrated skin a hydrating cream cleanser like Quench Cleanse and for oily, acne prone skin a cleanser designed to balance oil and bacteria like Dream Clean. This second step is to start to treat any skin concerns, and give a deeper clean without using harsh products which can damage and strip your skin.  

When should I double cleanse? 

Personally I don’t double cleanse in the morning, I save it for night time only.  Although it’s so important to make sure your skin’s clean when I haven’t used any other products over night I don’t need to apply extra cleansing products to my skin when I don’t need to remove makeup or SPF.  Over washing can weaken the skin’s barrier, making it drier and more sensitive, so save the double cleanse for once a day and make sure you use gentle, skin friendly products

Making sure your skin is super clean means those serums and night time moisturisers you’ve invested in will be able to work even more effectively as they can easily penetrate your skin rather than trying to soak through dirt which is left in your pores. 

5 Things Your Makeup Bag Needs & 5 to Leave

Whether you’ve got a makeup bag overflowing with products, or if you have the same few things which you always stick to because makeup isn’t really ‘your thing’, there’s a few products which I honestly believe every woman needs, along with a few which we really don’t.  

If you’re curious about skincare too, make sure you take a look at 5 Things You Need in your Skincare..and 5 You Really Don’t as well!

Need It – Cream Highlighter

A cream highlight instead of a powder gives that appearance of an inner glow instead of glitter central. It’s one of those products which works for every age & skintone, especially when it’s applied before any foundation or base product.  If you want the kind of highlight you can see from space then using a cream before your powder highlight gives the perfect base to make it pop even more. The Danessa Myricks Dew Wet balm is the most natural, glowiest ‘highlight’ I’ve ever seen, and the clear suits absolutely everyone so no worrying about which shade is best! 

Need It – The Right Blush

For years I was one of those people who never wore blush, it just never seemed to look natural. That was until I realised I was just using the wrong colour blush, or rather the wrong undertones.  The right colour blush is very much like the right colour foundation, it’s as much about whether it’s warm or cool toned as it is about the actual colour.  If you need a warmed toned foundation go for a blush which is peach or coral toned, and if you’re cooler a blue based red or pink will look beautiful.  

Need It – The Perfect Red

Red lipstick seems to be one of those marmite makeup products – people either love it, or hate it.  The feeling a red lipstick gives is something I wish every woman would give themselves a chance to experience, and similarly to blush it generally comes down to the right tone for your skin.  If you never go for reds and it scares you, why not try a sheer shade like 206 Shirley Temple to give a buildable colour you can make as subtle or as bright as you want. 

Need It – Eyeshadow Base

Whether I’m wearing eyeshadow or not, if I’m wearing ‘full’ makeup, applying PLouise base to my lids is a must.  It minimises creasing, which one an area of your face which is constantly moving, can be a big problem especially once we’re over 25.  When I am wearing eyeshadow it starts off by giving me a clean, even base to work on so I’m not relying on the shadow colour to cover any veins or darker areas.  Using a base (or eyeshadow primer) means I need less shadow as it makes the colours more vibrant, reduces fallout as the shadow has something more to grip onto and ultimately makes it last longer without smudging or sliding when it’s hot or the makeup has to last a long time. 

Need It – Brow Mascara

If brows aren’t on your list of places to apply makeup to, I get it! Sometime’s it can be hard getting the balance between a neat, structured brow and unnatural blocks above your eyes, which are never flattering.  So if you’re not sure what to start with or what you need, skip the pomades, powders and even pencils (though pencils are my first choice for creating & filling in brows), and go for a brow mascara.  Using a clear product will just enhance your natural brows & make sure any wilder hairs are tamed and stay put. If you need them to appear fuller then one like Perfect Brow Gel helps to fill in any gaps too, with natural fibres which attach to your brow hair to give the illusion of more brow hair with a couple of strokes. 

Leave It – Primer

I feel like this one’s a bit controversial, it’s definitely a point my best friend and I disagree on anyway! I know primer’s are hailed as the be all and end all to a flawless complexion, but honestly applying foundation properly is much more important and means you have one less layer of product on your face.  I prefer to pat in foundation with the side of a brush, in a similar way to using a sponge or beauty blender, just much more hygienic and easy to clean.  It means your skin isn’t aggravated by rubbing it and if you have any texture the product is being placed on top rather than ‘swept’ over it which can make it even more obvious. Unfortunately I’ve never found a primer to make super textured skin smooth, it’s something only photoshop and editing can achieve, so in short, I wouldn’t waste your money. 

Leave It – BB Cream or Tinted Moisturiser

This one is more for if you want to use both tinted moisturiser and full coverage foundation, or if you’re quite dark skinned and struggle to find a BB cream which is dark enough.  It’s much more cost effective to have a foundation and then adjust the coverage to what you need – and reducing the coverage is much easier than increasing it.  I use a facial oil or moisturiser, take a bit of foundation and mix them together before applying them as normal.  Hello tinted moisturiser from the products you already have! 

Leave It – SPF over Factor 30

SPF 15, 30 or 50, there’s some pretty big jumps between those numbers, and definitely bigger jumps than there are between the difference in protection each one gives.  SPF 15 protects against about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 about 97% and SPF 50 about 98%, so between 30 and 50 the difference is only 1% more.  The problem with factor 50 is that it can give an almost false sense of security, with people thinking because it’s so high they don’t need to reapply it, but it only lasts for the same amount of time as any other factor.  It’s also equally as important to make sure your sunscreen has UVA protection, which are the rays responsible for a lot of skin ageing and can penetrate glass leaving you susceptible even when you’re inside. 

Leave It – Lip Plumping Glosses

How do lip plumping glosses work? They irritate your lips to make them swell using ingredients like capsicum (found in chilli peppers), cinnamon, bee venom or peppermint.  The effects aren’t guaranteed for everyone as it depends how sensitive your lips are, and your lips can become used to them over time, reducing the effectiveness. The other thing to bear in mind is that because they’re designed to be irritating they can damage your lips if you use them regularly, making them more likely to be chapped and dry.  I much prefer to make sure they’re hydrated, and use a lip liner and shading to make lips appear bigger over a plumping gloss. 

Leave It – Correcting concealers

By this I mean you don’t need every colour correcting concealer.  It’s a bit like buying every type of moisturiser, one for dry skin, sensitive skin, normal skin and oily skin if your skin type is always sensitive.  It’s much more cost effective, and less wasteful to look at which colours you need to correct imperfections in your skin and stick to those.  A quick guide is green for redness (a go to for acne prone skin), peach toned for blue based dark circles, and lilac to disguise yellow tones.  

5 Things You Need in your Skincare Routine..and 5 You Really Don’t!

The amount of products available when you look through the skincare sections of beauty websites makes it feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack trying to find what you actually need. Let’s break it down, and look at what you really should have, and what you can delete from that shopping basket before you checkout. 

Need It – SPF

It’s one of those things, if you want to look after your skin, SPF has to come top of the list. Although you can find plenty of moisturisers, foundations, BB creams and the rest which give SPF protection, most don’t also give the equally important UVA protection.  Plus, do you really apply moisturiser with SPF to your ears, and all the way to your hairline every time you put it on? I know I don’t! We apply moisturisers and makeup in the places we feel we need them, so the chances of us applying them to give a proper coverage to protect our skin is more unlikely using a combined product.  I swear by the LimeLife sunscreen, it doesn’t cause breakouts on my sensitive skin and goes on easily without leaving a residue.

Need It – Moisturiser

It’s one of those none-negotiables in skincare, no matter your skin type or skin conditions, I can’t think of anybody who doesn’t need a moisturiser.  What type is a bit of a different matter, for oilier skin something which is lighter and quickly absorbed is a good shout. Whereas for dry skin having one (or two) emollient moisturisers is best, for particularly dry skin having that second, thicker, moisturiser to sink in overnight can be a game changer. 

Need It – Serum

As the Queen of Skincare Caroline Hirons says – Treat your skin type with cleansers & moisturisers and your skin condition with serums. Serums are the step in-between cleansing and moisturising, giving your skin the active ingredients to help with whatever you need, before you apply oils and moisturisers which can block the serum from penetrating properly.  Some common serums include ingredients like hyaluronic acid for added hydration, Vitamin C for evening out skin tone, retinol for anti-aging and nyacinamide as an anti-inflammatory. 

Need It – Acids

With the exception of one physical exfoliator, I leave my exfoliating to the chemical experts now! Trust me, the difference in my skin is ridiculous and is so much healthier since I changed.  Talking about putting an acid on your skin might sound scary, but our skin is naturally acidic and these acids are perfect for giving our cells a little helping hand.  As with anything for your skin, go gentle and work up to make sure you get on ok with it, starting with a gentler formulation and increasing the frequency before moving to something stronger.  Some of my favourite starter acids are from The Ordinary, who keep it simple with their products so you know exactly what you’re buying. 

Need It – Lip Balm

I’m counting lips as part of my skincare, because they need a lotta love too.  Dried, chapped lips are even more painful than dry skin, and drive me up the wall when I can’t wear a matte lipstick because it shows them off even more! It’s important to have a mini routine for lips, like using a DrPawPaw lip exfoliator once a week, making sure your evening facial oil is massaged into your lips and that a lip balm with SPF is applied (and reapplied) every day. 

Leave It – Toner

Whenever I think about toner I get a flashback to teenage me rubbing it in religiously after washing my face ignoring the fact it felt like my face was on fire.  Toner was designed to both balance out the PH levels of the skin after using an alkaline cleanser, and also to remove any dirt left in your pores after you’ve cleansed – while seriously drying out your skin from the high alcohol content.  Luckily, they have moved on a bit in the last 20 years but are they still a necessity? Absolutely not. I prefer to double cleanse with an oil and then my cleanser to remove any dirt and makeup in a much gentler way, and check the PH levels of what I’m using so there is no ‘PH balancing’ required.  

Leave It – Pore striping face masks

Having clean pores always gives me that ‘Ahhhhh’ feeling, it’s one thing I miss the most about having my brows waxed, because I do love when the wax is pulled off the middle bit between your brows and leaves my skin feeling so clean. That being said, purposefully ripping things from out of your pores is just a recipe for disaster, mainly because the more you do it, the more damage you cause to your skin – eventually opening up your pores even more, making them more susceptible to blackheads.  Plus, it HURTS! 

Leave It – Harsh Physical Exfoliants

Remember Apricot Scrub? Another one that as a teenager we were all obsessed with! If only we knew then that what those harsh bits of apricot shell were doing was actually causing micro tears in our skin, reducing it’s ability to hold onto water and making it easier for bacteria to get in.  I feel similarly about mechanical exfoliators, they can be way too harsh for most people’s skin, especially if you add in a human rubbing harder than they should be, and using it with a physical exfoliator! The only physical exfoliator I use nowadays is a gentle mask like Skin Polish, with jojoba beads which don’t harm the environment but are also gentle, and oils to moisturise at the same time. I feel like I’m getting a pamper with my face mask but I’m not stripping or hurting my skin in the process.  

Leave It – Makeup Wipes

Unless you’re going somewhere with no running water to use a cleanser, makeup wipes are a most definite no. They’re harsh on your skin & do a pretty good job of damaging your acid mantle (the protective layer which keeps your skin healthy). They’re also nowhere near as good at removing makeup in comparison to an oil based cleanser so you’re leaving a lot of dirt on your face when you think it should be clean – and we won’t even get started on the environmental factors of throwing away pieces of non-biodegradable matter every day. 

Leave It – Coconut Oil

Coconut oil seems to be hailed as the saviour for everything. Need a hair mask? Coconut oil. Need a moisturiser? Coconut oil. Run out of mouth wash? Coconut oil.  I’m not saying it needs to totally go in the bin, but really I don’t rate it as much as a lot of people do.  From your skin’s perspective it’s definitely not an oil I’d chose to use on my face, mainly because it can’t penetrate pores so it basically sits on top of the skin, and the main thing it’s going to do is clog your pores – hello breakout! 

What the labels on your beauty products really mean

Who even cares about the sticky bit of paper on the back of your makeup & skincare, full of weird little symbols no one looks at and lists of ingredients that you’ve never even heard of?! They’re surprisingly useful though, and mean you know you’re using the best products, in the best way, for your skin. 

There’s a lot of information on there, most of which is legally required, but the most important to most customers are the ingredients and the symbol labelling, which is what we’re going to have a look at today.

Ingredients

First off, the ingredients, or known as INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is one of the most important, not just for what’s in the product, but how much of each ingredient.  By law, the ingredient list is in order of the highest quantity ingredients first going down to the lowest quantity.  So when you have a product which claims on the front of the bottle something like ‘Contains Organic Argan Oil’ it sounds great right? Except then on the ingredients the organic argan oil is the 5th ingredient..from the end, meaning it’s likely about 1% Argan Oil, not so great!  There’s nothing illegal about labelling a product as such, because it does contain Organic Argan Oil, but that’s why it’s so important to check what it is we’re actually buying.  

A lot of the ingredients can look scary, but following the myth of ‘if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it’ isn’t always a good idea, a lot of naturally derived ingredients have quite complex chemical names but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them.  For example, you’ll never see ‘Water’ on the ingredients list – it’s always ‘Aqua’, and these products are exactly the same – 

  • Rosa damascena – Rose
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – An enzyme which our skin naturally produces & gives antioxidant protection
  • Curcuma longa – Turmeric
  • Epigallocatechin Gallate – Derived from green tea
  • Glyceryl Caprylate – Produced from vegetable oils, it stabilises products and helps regulate skin’s moisture

Some really good resource to check what ingredients really are –

INCIDecoder website  – https://incidecoder.com which has a pretty complete database of a lot of cosmetic ingredients, and is updated regularly. 

Skin Deep – https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ where you can search for ingredients and also gives ratings for expected sensitivity and any concerns. 

Next up, let’s decode the little symbols – 

Opened Jar Symbol – 

Officially known as the Period After Opening (PAO) symbol, this tells you how long the product should be open for before being replaced, with the number of months on the jar.  It’s a legal requirement to have it on any cosmetic product, but if it’s rubbed off a pretty good guide is – 

  • Mascara – Replace every 3 months
  • Lipstick & Liquid Products – 12 months
  • Powders – 24 months

Book with a finger – 

Meaning ‘Refer to Insert’, which is basically when there’s not enough room on the packaging to display all the information it means the rest of the label is on either an insert or on the product box. You could also see a small arrow in the bottom corner of the label indicating the label is multilayered and you can peel it up to show the rest of the information.  

UVA in circle – 

On sunscreen products it’s not only the SPF which is important, if a product isn’t broad spectrum, protecting your skin from both UVA and UVB rays you’re still at risk of sun damage.  The UVA label means it meets the minimum EU standards of UVA protection alongside the SPF which protects from UVB. 

Recycling – 

We all know how important recycling is and luckily most companies now package their products in recycled materials.  The most commonly used symbols are – 

Recyclable – Shows the packaging can be recycled, sometimes with additional symbols to show what type of plastic is used so it can be recycled accordingly. 

The Green Dot (which confusingly usually isn’t green) – Most commonly used in the EU, it shows that for each piece of packaging used by the company it gives a financial contribution to a national recycling organisation. 

Flame – 

Pretty self explanatory, and found on a lot of labels that aren’t skincare or cosmetics, it simply means the product is flammable.  Generally in cosmetics it’s for aerosols and products containing a large quantity of alcohol.  

Certified Cruelty Free – 

The two main certifiers of Crulety Free cosmetics are PETA and Cruelty Free International (or the Leaping Bunny).  Both organisations audit the companies they certify along with their supply chains to ensure the products from raw ingredients to the finished products are entirely cruelty free.