Saturday, 16 November 2019

Sugaring vs Waxing

(aff links) Something a little bit different today because I spent a large portion of the Summer just gone thinking about body hair and how best to rid myself of it. I've therefore been asking myself a few very (un)important questions over the past few months:
What's the difference between waxing and sugaring?
Does waxing hurt more than sugaring?
Should I really attempt to wax or sugar myself at home?
How can I remove the hair on my legs without it growing back within 10 minutes?
Can I give myself a Brazilian wax and if so how do I avoid 3rd degree burns on my bits?
So. Many. Questions.

Sugaring vs Waxing - a wooden spatula with sugar wax dripping from it

Summer may be long gone but while it was still here, I tried a few different hair removal methods - hot wax, wax strips, sugar wax and an epilator have all featured - and throughout this vanity-driven journey I've felt inspired to share my findings and try to answer that age-old question that plagues so many of us (it doesn't): Which is better? Waxing or Sugaring?
So let's break it down, first of all we need to discuss how these two methods of hair removal differ.

Sugaring vs Waxing - What's the Difference?

The main difference between the two methods of hair removal is obviously the general formula; one uses a wax of some description while the other involves some variation of sugar. With waxing, you can choose between soft wax or hard wax. Generally speaking, hard wax is used on smaller areas with coarser hair (think bikini area and armpits) and soft wax is used on large areas such as the legs. Hard wax is stripless (it's allowed to cool slightly before being quickly 'zipped' off) while soft wax is spread onto the skin with a spatula and then removed with a cotton or paper strip. You can also buy pre-waxed strips, that I have used for years on my facial hair and the large strips can be a good option for getting your legs hair-free.

Body Sugar or Sugar Wax also comes in a few different variations - there's the soft sugar, which you apply with a spatula and take off with a strip (you can find a few different brands in Boots) or a 'hard' sugar, which I haven't seen in any stores but is fairly easy to make yourself. Hard sugar formulas are actually quite fun to use (yep, I've made my own and it actually worked) as it involves 'kneading' your little lump of hard sugar until it becomes opaque and flexible, spreading it onto your hairy skin and then quickly zipping it off. There are plenty of recipes online and step by step videos on YouTube showing you how to make this but they generally involve a bag of sugar, water, lemon juice, a little salt and a bit of patience while you heat it over the stove.

Does Waxing hurt more than Sugaring?

In my experience, yes, yes it does. The reason for this is that wax formulas not only adhere to the hair you want gone, but to the skin as well...which you probably don't want gone. This means that when you remove the wax, you remove some skin cells with it, which, granted is good for a wax-and-exfoliation-in-one effect but not so good if the wax didn't grab all the hairs and you want to go over the area again. I have made the mistake in the past (which I actually haven't learned from as I still do it occasionally) of over-waxing my upper lip and essentially giving myself a graze. Not only is this not a great look, but it stings! If I behave like a normal person and don't overdo the waxing on my upper lip, it's totally fine though and I'm moustache-free for a few weeks. I have also had a few DIY bikin wax attempts that have ended with me CUTTING WAX out of my pubic hair with nail scissors because it's all gone terribly wrong and hardened too much before I've braved the big rip.

I have found sugaring to be much less painful - yes it still feels like you're tearing your hair out at the roots, but it's much more bearable. This is because sugar does not stick to your skin, it just wraps itself around the hairs, therefore you're not irritating your skin in the process. Sugar wax is also water soluble, so if you do happen to get some stuck in your hair, or you chicken out and want to get it off your skin without taking any hair off, you can just remove it very easily with water.

Some Waxing and Sugaring Products I Recommend

As mentioned, I have tried a lot of different hair removal products over the Summer just gone, so I thought I'd share a few that worked well for me.

Hair Removal Wax:

Smooth Appeal Original Facial Hair Remover Wax - This is a little saucepan of wax that you heat carefully on the hob before applying to the hair and removing quickly, without a strip. This is one of the more gentle formulas I've found.
*A note on post-facial wax care; I often would break out in tiny white heads on my upper lip a few days after waxing and it totally took away all the enjoyment of having a nice, smooth face. I found a way to stop this happening, which is quite simple really - I now gently cleanse the area after waxing (obviously cleanse before waxing too) with a tea-tree wash (we have a big bottle of Australian Bodycare Skinwash) and the next day apply a gentle acid exfoliant - I was using Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner but I've now run out so will try something else next time. If you have sensitive skin, this might not be a great idea, but it worked for me in keeping the post-wax spots at bay.

Jolen Facial Wax Strips - Pre-coated wax strips that look a lot like sticky tape. Hands down, the best, least irritating wax strips for face that I've tried. They're quite reasonably priced too, which is always a bonus.

Veet EasyGrip Ready-to-Use Wax Strips - Large, pre-coated strips that I found to be good for bigger areas, like legs. These are by no means painless but they are really easy to use. Just warm the strip a bit in your hands before pulling it apart so the wax is nice and sticky, ready to adhere to the hairs. Or, do what I do and sit on the strips to keep them warm and ready as you wax. If that's not an excellent hack, I don't know what is.


Nad's Natural Hair Removal Wax  - This is a sugaring kit that inlcudes a tub of 100% natural Sugar Wax, wooden applicators , fabric strips and a little bar of pre-wax soap. The soap is a really important step as it removes any oils (both natural and from body lotions etc) from the surface of the skin and hair, giving the sugar the best grip. I found this to be an excellent product and was really pleasantly surprised when I first tried it.

I haven't tried any other commercial sugar wax formulas as yet but as mentioned, I did make a little pot of my own that I used a few times and found to be really effective. There are a lot of tutorials out there but I followed this one on YouTube.

Overall, I definitely prefer sugaring as a hair removal method - it's less painful, it's easier to clean up and it's much less irritating. That said, I have had some great experiences with professional waxes (you can read my reviews of Brazilian and Bikini waxes at Ministry of Waxing here and here) and am yet to try professional sugaring - that'll be one for next Summer I think!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream

(aff links) Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream had been on my wishlist for quite some time. I first tried a sample size that came as part of a Space NK gwp a few years ago and had decided, as I scraped out the very last bit from that tiny pot, that it was a good retinol cream for beginners and one day I was going to need the full size in my life. That day arrived on my birthday in September so I've been the proud owner of my very own jar for a good few weeks now.

Jar of Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream. The jar is dark green with white writing

It can't have come at a better time really because I am far more inclined to use retinol products in Autumn and Winter than I am in the warmer seasons and this is one of the more pleasurable retinol creams I've used.
This is a really thick, buttery formula that smoothes onto the skin like a dream, smells quite a lot like vanilla ice cream (heavenly) and makes the skin feel instantly plumped and moisturised - an effect that makes it almost wasteful to apply it before bed really!
Jar of Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream. The jar is dark green with white writing and the lid is off so the texture of the cream is visible - it is thick and off white
The rich moisturiser was designed to reduce the appearance of sun damage, fine lines and enlarged pores and features a time release Retinol and high potency Retinol as well as encapsulated Vitamin C. In the formula is Colloidal Oatmeal to soothe and calm, Red Clover Flower Extract, which helps to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, Vitamin E to moisturise and protect and Jasmine Extract to rebalance, soothe and protect.
The cream has a Glycerin and Shea Butter base and is free from silicones, instead using something called Diheptyl Succinate as an emollient which is derived from Castor Oil. Interestingly, the formula also includes synthetic Beeswax, which makes this a vegan product.
I'm usually quite interested to understand the exact concentration of retinol my skin will be receiving when trying a product like this but I can't seem to find this information, so I'm just enjoying it for what it is to be honest!
The back of a rar of Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream. The jar is dark green with white writing

To use the Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream, you simply massage it into a clean face before bed, get some sleep, then wake up to a glowing complexion. That's how it works for me anyway.

I have not used this consistently over consecutive nights but rather use it a few times a week and so far, while I haven't seen an improvement in fine lines (yet, I have hope!), I have noticed an improvement in overall texture and brightness, so it's a yes from me.

Close up shot of the texture of Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream. The texture is thick and creamy

Overall, I would say that this is a good 'starter' Retinol product, a good Retinol cream for beginners, if  you will. So if you're new to the world of retinoids and don't want something that could potentially peel your face off, this is a good option. It's a total pleasure to use too thanks to the thick texture and delicious scent.

I class Clark's Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream as a bit of a luxury item as it comes in at £85 for 50ml. It's a treat, yes, but a treat worth having nonetheless. You can find it at Space NK.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

ARK Skincare Triple Action Exfoliator & Hydration Injection Masque

(Samples) I'll start by saying these two products are the perfect partners; one exfoliates and preps the skin before the other comes in and delivers a whole lot of hydration.
Together they are an ideal addition to your Sunday night skincare ritual or equally, they're so quick and simple to use, they're ideal for those of us that are short on time but want a little something extra to get skin glowing.

These products are my second venture into ARK Skincare (you can read my previous review here) and I have another product to try out next, but for now, onto the goods!

Ark Triple Action Exfoliator Review

The Triple Action Exfoliator has the word triple in the name for a very good reason, that is, it exfoliates using three actions- physical, fruit acid and enzymatic.
The physical action comes from bamboo micro particles that literally slough dead skin from the surface of the face for a polished, smooth look and feel.
Fruit acids (AHAs) include Bilberry, Orange, Lemon, Sugar Cane and Sugar Maple support skin renewal and help to reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles and acne scarring.
Capping things off nicely, a Skin Regenerating Enzyme works to dissolve the bonds that 'glue' cells together on the surface of the skin and therefore aid in fading pigmentation and improve absorbtion of the skincare you apply afterwards (in this case, the Hydration Injection Masque).

Designed for use once or twice per week, the exfoliator is applied to a damp face and neck and then massaged gently using circular movements. The amount of time you leave it on your skin depends on your age; Teens and Twenties are advised to wash it off after massaging, Thirties and Forties leave it on for two minutes and Fifties and beyond are advised to leave the Exfoliator to work for up to five minutes. To remove, you need to use a damp, warm cloth and by need, I mean you need to use a cloth to take this off - trying to rinse it off is just not going to work given the texture of the formula.

Ark Hydration Injection Masque Review

Like a big old drink of water for your face, the Hydration Injection Masque was created for tired, stressed out skin that lacks radiance. Featurimg a 'Hyaluronic Acid Booster' to drench the skin, this is a multivitamin mask that plumps and restores vibrancy. The masque contains an encapsulated blend of vitamins inlcuding Vitamin A, Vitamin B5, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Vitamin A is in the blend to boost Collagen production while Vitamin B5 smoothes the skin, Vitamin C fades pigmentation and Vitamin E is included to act as an anti-inflammatory and provide some protection against UV damage. Rounding off the formula, Sugar Beet and Abyssinian Oil offer intense nourishment for a soft, smooth look feel.

On application, the Hydration Injection Masque feels instantly cooling and calming and instantly relieves irritation and discomfort - perfect for using after active products like the Triple Action Exfoliator really! Though it's worth mentioning that I didn't feel any irritation after using it.
To use (once or twice a week), simply smooth a think layer over the face and neck and leave on for the amount of time recommended for your age. For Teens and Twenties, leave on for five minutes, leave it to work for ten minutes if you're in your Thirties or Forties and for Fifties onward leave it on for up to twenty minutes. Remove with a warm, damp cloth, pat dry and follow with your usual skincare. The Masque can also be left on overnight for an intensive treatment.

I really like both these products individually but when used together they are an absolute treat with instantly visible results that left me looking refreshed and hydrated with a buttery-smooth feeling face.

Both the Triple Action Exfoliator and Hydration Injection Masque retail for £35 each for 75ml. As a side note, I've just discovered that ARK also have a range of scented candles in a range of scents including Vanilla, Sandalwood & Amber and Nutmeg, Cinnamon & Clove (which sounds perfect for Christmas). You can find the candles here and the Exfoliator and Masque here.

Friday, 25 October 2019

5 Reasons to Love Autumn

(Gift/non aff link) Having grown up on the south-east coast of Australia where it's pretty warm all year round, the British Autumn is quite a novelty to me. In fact, it's probably my favourite season of all - not warm but not so freezing you need multiple layers on just to put the bins out. Pumpkin Spice Lattes (I know), woolly jumpers with wellies and cosy candle lit nights are just a few of the things I look forward to when this time of year rolls around. It might be an unpopular opinion but I'm always glad to see the back of Summer (bye bye10pm sunsets) and look forward to the colder months closing in- here are 5 reasons why.
Brunette woman walking down a tree lined path with her back to the camera wearing a black coat with an orange jumpsuit underneath

It's Time to Switch Up my Skincare Routine
I am such a lover of thick face creams, rich oils and luxurious body butters and obviously these are more necessary and enjoyable in cold weather. I enjoy my skincare and bodycare routines so much more in Autumn and Winter and live for the moment when I get to crack out my richer products, as well as my beloved retinols and actives that I don't reach for as much in the Summer. I don't really enjoy the feeling of lotions and creams on my body during hot spells but when it's cold it's a whole different story - I love cocooning myself in nourishing, hydrating products, especially before snuggling down for the night.

It's Leggings Season
I don't know about you but I love me a pair of decent leggings and I'm always pleased when the mercury drops and I can bring my favourite, most comfy pairs out of retirement and get them on my legs. Leggings are excellent because they're basically a hybrid of tights and trousers but I have some very strict criteria when it comes to what I will bare on my pins. Firstly, they must be thick and opaque. Whether colured, patterned or classic black, my leggings must absolutely, under no circumstances be sheer enough to show what shade knickers I've got on. Secondly, they must be high-rise. High-rise styles are more flattering on me and so much more comfortable than hipster style cuts. Which leads me to my third, most crucial criteria - the leggings must be comfortable otherwise I may as well just wear jeans. One pair of leggings I've found that tick all the boxes are the *Wolford Velvet Sensation Leggings which are super comfy, cosy and thick enough to wear like trousers.

Shorter Days mean Longer Nights
I personally prefer nighttime to the day and as an adult, I always have. To me, Autumnal nights mean snuggling up wearing thick, woolly socks, endless cups of tea in front of box sets and enjoying the flicker of a scented candle or two (extra points for pumpkin/baked goods fragrances). There's just something a bit magic about Autumn nights isn't there? As a side note, it's also officially slow-cooker season, which is my favourite because there's no easier, lazier way of cooking dinner than that!

Everything Looks Extra Beautiful
I know not one person that doesn't appreciate a crisp, delicate oak leaf that has welcomed Autumn by turning various shades of red, brown and yellow. I think London was made for Autumn weather and the city and surrounds are at their visual best when there's a chill in the air. Trees full of turning leaves are quite simply stunning and to me, everything just looks so much more beautiful. And, as my little family and I enjoy long walks on the weekends, the slight bite in the air and the sight of my little boy enjoying the crunch of leaves beneath his wellies brings me so much joy.

It means Christmas is coming
...and Halloween is just around the corner. Autumn signals the start of a distinct festive vibe - supermarkets start stocking all kinds of limited edition delicacies, there's a mix of Halloween and Christmas themed decorations and products in the shops  and the coffee chains bring out their long-anticipated special flavours. I'm personally a great fan of Christmas and all the festivities that come with it and the weeks leading up to Halloween are my favourite time to browse Instagram - I really enjoy all the clever Halloween looks posted around this time! Autum is basically one big mash up of spooky stuff and Santa and it's the ideal time to watch the Iconic The NIghtmare Before Christmas. Perfection.
Are you a lover of all things Autumn or do the warmer months have your heart?

This post contains a non-affiliate link to a gifted item. I was not paid for this article.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

CeraVe Comes to the UK

(Samples/Affiliate Links) CeraVe already has a huge following on its home shores of the US and now the Dermatologist-developed skincare brand is making a name for itself in the UK thanks to its gentle, effective products. I have been trying three different products from CeraVe; the Hydrating Cleanser, Facial Moisturising Lotion for PM and the Daily Moisturising Cream.

Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser Review

The Hydrating Facial Cleanser has already achieved cult status this side of the pond thanks to its gel formula rich in Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid. This particular cleanser was developed for 'normal' to dry skin (there are cleansers for other skin types available) and is described as being fragrance-free, non-irritating and non-comedogenic. The Ceramides in the formula work to protect and restore the skin's natural barrier while Hyaluronic Acid does it thing as a humectant by attracting hydration to the skin. Something I have found with this cleanser is that sometimes it ever so slightly 'stings' my skin during use. I couldn't figure out why sometimes it did this and sometimes it was perfectly fine and soothing until I looked at other products I was using. Basically I have used anything very active the night before (exfoliating acids, retinol products etc), this will sting a little bit! I know for a fact that many, many people get on extremely well with this and the sensation I experience when using after actives doesn't take away from the fact that it's a very well known, well loved product.

Cerave Facial Moisturising Lotion for PM Review

The Facial Moisturising Lotion for the PM however is a whole different story. I really like it as a light but effective moisturiser (and not just at night either). Packaged in a tube with a convenient pump, the moisturising lotion features Ceramides, Niacinamide, Glycerin and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, which is an antioxidant consisting of coconut oil and glycerin. As forementioned, Ceramides work to protect and restore the natural barrier function of the skin while Niacinamide (Vit B3) improves fine lines, wrinkles, uneven tone and dullness. Glycerin, which is second on the list of ingredients after Purified Water, is also a humectant that works to keep the skin shielded and hydrated. A very nice night cream that feels much more luxurious than it looks. ETA I have linked above to the lotion available at Boots - though it doesn't say PM on the tube, it seems to have the same ingredients!

Cerave Moisturising Cream Review

The Moisturising Cream for Dry to Very Dry Skin is designed for use on both the face and the body (which are words that usually frighten me a bit for no particular reason) contains 3 different Ceramides as well as Hyaluronic Acid to attract hydration to the skin and keep it locked in. This is a very nice, very inoffensive, very decent product that I imagine pretty much everyone would like. Because it doesn't really smell like anything at all (except, maybe a bit like...water? Does water smell like anything??), absorbs quickly and leaves skin suitably soft and smooth, it seems to me that it's a one-size-fits-all sort of moisturiser that you'd have in your bath and body stash ready for when you don't want anything fancy or scented but just crave a decent hit of moisture and don't want to wait an age before you can get dressed. By happy coincidence it just so happens that the Daily Moisturising Lotion is recommended by various pro fake tanners as an excellent aftercare moisturiser. It was great timing when this arrived because I was literally sitting there in a fresh layer of fake tanning foam in preparation for our holiday when the Postman turned up. The reason it's praised for its faux-tan maintaining powers is because the formula doesn't contain any of the oils that usually break down the colour.

One of the main selling points of the products is that they are affordable yet effective with the cleanser on sale for £9.50, the facial moisturiser at £13 and the moisturising cream coming in at £9. CeraVe products are available at Boots.