Tuesday, 26 November 2019

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads

(Gifted Item) Sustainable products are everywhere at the moment and it's so good to see existing brands making the effort to adapt their existing products, But what's really exciting is all the new sustainable brands coming out with sustainable products designed to replace the usual disposable kind. One such brand is EcoPanda - a small UK brand creating sustainable products from renewable raw materials. So far, EcoPanda have created reusable makeup remover pads from bamboo which are completely washable, reusable and biodegradable.

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads in bamboo jar

I have the pack of 18 that come in a bamboo box (which has a cute panda illustration on the lid) and is complete with a wash bag. The presentation of this is so lovely, I think it would make an excellent gift for the eco-conscious beauty enthusiast in your life! You can also purchase a pack of 16 rounds that includes a bamboo face cloth and wash bag.

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads

The pads themselves are made from 80% bamboo and 20% organic cotton and feature 2 layers, so they're thick enough to feel like a good quality cotton pad. Designed for any skin type, they feel perfectly soft and pleasant to use (because if they didn't, why would you?) when using them to take off eye and face makeup and when using them to apply toners and acids.

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads

I will admit, I mainly use these to apply product rather than take it off, because I don't generally wear make up every day, and they perform in a very similar fashion to standard cotton pads.

How do you Wash Reusable Cotton Pads?

To keep the reusable bamboo cotton pads looking good and performing at their best, EcoPanda have the following recommendations:

  • Give the pads a quick wash after you've used them. Warm water and bar soap works best.
  • Before popping them in the washing machine, make sure they're in the supplied laundry bag. this will prevent them becoming frayed.
  • If the pads are heavily soiled (eg, they've removed a lot of foundation and mascara), give them a soak in warm water with a little white vinegar and soap
  • Wash the pads in your machine at up to 60 degrees Celsius
  • Don't add fabric softener, stain removers or bleach on the cotton pads (I'm thinking using these might break down the fabric).
  • EcoPAnda recommend that in place of fabric softener, just use a little white vinegar and a few drops of your favourite essential oil - the vinegar will soften the pads while the essential oil will disappate the smell of vinegar and leave them pleasantly scented
EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads

Bare in mind that it's going to be nearly impossible to keep the pads completely white - products like waterproof mascara will almost certainly leave their mark over time. This obviously doesn't mean the pads are any less effective, but it's good to have realistic expectations!

EcoPanda Reusable Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads Bamboo Box Lid

You can find the reusable cotton pads on Amazon and find out more at EcoPanda. The set with the bamboo box is currently £20.90 on Amazon while the set of 16 is £10.49.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Christmas at TK Maxx

(Gifted Experience) Over the last few years I've become quite a frequent shopper at TK Maxx. All year round it really is a total treasure trove of unexpected finds, absolute bargains and a whole lot of weird and wonderful things I never knew I needed. But at Christmas? There's even more to explore. Every visit to TK Maxx is different because there is always something new to discover and in my opinion, the bigger the store, the more fun there is to be had! Imagine my excitement then when I was invited along to the Oxford Street TK Maxx store to explore all that was on offer. My mission? To find unique and thoughtful Christmas gifts for my friends and family.
Opened in June this year, the Oxford Street TK Maxx is absolutely massive and is laid out across 4 floors with lifts and escalators to acces the different areas. I prefer stores that are planned out this way rather than just one big floor as I find it less overwhelming and easier to navigate.  During my visit I found some great items for my boyfriend, sister, son, Mother in Law and even my Secret Santa!

Christmas Gifts at TK Maxx

The Oxford Street store has an entire floor dedicated to men so if you're looking for Gifts For Him, this is the place to go. You can't go wrong with socks for Christmas (it's almost the law isn't it?) so I picked out a few warm, good quality pairs for Rich as well as a designer jumper in a neutral green colour I know he'll wear.

Socks and green jumper for Christmas from TK Maxx

For Gifts For Her, TK Maxx is an obvious choice and I spent a long time looking through the Gold Label racks and Women's Accessories to find a scarf I know my sister will appreciate (it's actually a scarf with a zip so it converts into a poncho which I though was quite cool). I also picked her up a new hairdryer because I know hers recently blew up.

Hot Chocolate, Candles, Soaps and toiletries gifts from TK Maxx

I also picked up a cute soap and a pampering gift set from the Body, Bath and Beauty section for my Mother in Law and a lotion and handwash from one of her favourite brands. I spent way too much time sniffing the scented candles from Candles and Home Fragrance on the Home level and chose a couple in fragrances I know she'll like. The Home level was probably favourite section to visit actually - there's a huge selection of acessories and furnishings for every room in the house and it's particularly exciting at this time of the year. There's a lot to choose from for the Foodie in your life too and I chose a Hot Chocolate Gift Set (complete with marshmallows) for the brother and sister in law to get stuck into.

Hairdryer and Hot Chocolate Gifts from TK Maxx

There are loads of Gifts For Kids and Babies on offer, so it was easy to find a few bits for my toddler. The little one loves books (there is a decent selection of books for kids) found a sound book that I know he'll love and an educational book and block set (he's very much into stacking things up at the moment so I think this will be a hit). I also spotted a Christmas Eve box that we can add a few goodies to for him to enjoy the night before the big day.

Book Gift Sets for Children from TK Maxx

Finally, my Secret Santa this year is a fan of gin so when I spotted a Gin Cocktail Set within the budget, I thought it would be perfect.

I think I did a pretty good job choosing gifts for some of my loved ones - it was a lot of fun visiting the store and really easy to find presents for everyone from babies through to grandparents. Having so many categories under one roof takes a bit of stress out of Christmas shopping and it's always nice to find quality and branded products at such great prices. If you can't get to a store yourself or don't fancy braving the Christmas crowds, you can shop Christmas Gifts online at the TK Maxx website.

*I was gifted a £200 TK Maxx giftcard. All words and views my own.

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.