Saturday, 27 February 2016

Review: A few Products from the La Roche Posay Toleriane and Effaclar Skincare Range

For Christmas last year, one of the lovely gifts I got was a Boots voucher (always a winner with me).  I love getting vouchers because it gives me an excuse to buy expensive things that I wouldn't usually buy... like fancy cleanser and toner, what a treat!  

I've been using this cleanser and toner from La Roche Posay for about a week now... I'm definitely still making my mind up about the Toleriane cleanser - although I don't have particularly sensitive skin, I much prefer using a lotion cleanser in the evening as opposed to a wash-off one, as I find wash off cleansers can really strip my skin and leave it feeling quite dry and tight.  This one works reasonably well removing makeup (I use it to remove skin makeup, and use an eye makeup remover for my eyes and eyebrows), although it's not proved itself the best in terms of speed and efficiency... or perhaps I just have ridiculous expectations since Micellar waters graced our bathroom cabinets.  To be honest I tend not to wear heavy foundation, but I can imagine for those who do this cleanser just wouldn't cut the mustard.  It's almost a little too gentle, and I can't imagine it ever removing my 5am-just-got-in-from-the-club face (yeah, that one).  The lotion itself isn't as thick as the No7 cleanser I mentioned in my last post but it's not quite as runny as a cleansing milk - it's difficult to describe, but it's almost like trying to remove your makeup and cleanse your face with a light moisturiser.  All in all, it's a good product, but it's certainly not an all-purpose cleanser, and within that price range I think there's probably better products around.  Maybe for more sensitive skin types this could be a holy grail, but for me, although it does leave my skin feeling soft, hydrated, and clean, its basic functionality as a makeup remover is a little too flaky for my taste.  Perhaps my opinion will change once I get used to the formula, but for now I just don't have the patience to be cleansing my skin 3 times in a row every night. 

The Effaclar Astringent Lotion, however, is a whole other kettle of fish - and it's only £8.25 in Boots at the moment.  I bloody love this!  I use this after cleansing, putting a little on a cotton pad and then sweeping over my face avoiding my eye area.  The product contains salicylic acid (for more on that, read my post on salicylic acid facials), which makes your face tingle for a few seconds as you apply it - this also gives it quite a strong smell, which I actually really like as I think it smells very clean and refreshing, kind of like when you give the bathroom a really good scrub.  I feel like using this really helps to balance out some of the oil in my skin so I don't wake up super shiny, and also really helps calm down any breakouts that might be trying to surface.  I've really noticed it helping a lot with any spots I've had, with redness and swelling noticeably reduced overnight, and I feel like it helps close and even shrink my pores after cleansing.  I couldn't ask for more to be honest!  The Effaclar range is also specifically designed for 'imperfection-prone skin', and is definitely a range that I've found really suits my skin type, which is oily/combination and spot prone.  I think next time I will definitely get a cleanser from the Effaclar range, too, instead of the Toleriane range.  

Finally, I thought I'd just briefly mention the Effaclar Mat Moisturiser (also currently on offer for £10.87 at Boots).  I previously really liked the Effaclar Duo moisturiser, however - laugh at me if you will - the bottle was too long to fit in my makeup bag which bothered me far too much to carry on purchasing it.  This one is a bit shorter and a bit wider, and has that matte packaging which feels so luxurious.  This is perfect, again, for oily skin types like mine.  It sinks in really quickly, feels very light on your face, but also is almost completely mattifying, it's insane!  The one thing I would say is that you don't get so much for your money... this bottle will only last me between 6-8 weeks, so I think it works out quite an expensive moisturiser.  Also, I'm not sure how I feel about wearing this under makeup.  I really like a dewy skin look, and find that using this can sometimes dull my face a little when I put makeup over the top.  But for days when I don't bother, it's a lifesaver.  If you've got oily/combination/spot and shine prone skin, this is definitely worth a try!  

Ruby x 


Saturday, 20 February 2016

Empties #1 - Products I've used up this month

If I actually manage to use up a product in its entireity, it means I'm on to a winner.  The amount of half-used, once worn, 4-times-sniffed stuff I've pawned off on my sisters, my mum, my housemates (etc.) over the years would probably fill a couple of wheelbarrows; it's quite ridiculous.  However, this month I've actually managed to gather together enough bits and pieces that have sadly reached their end of their life to write a post on it!  

This must've been the third or fourth bottle of No 7's Beautiful Skin cleansing lotion that I've managed to use up.  I'm in love with the stuff!  It usually lasts me around 6-8 months too, so for £9.50 I don't really think you can go wrong with this product.  It's really hydrating and leaves your skin silky-soft, but is equally great for removing makeup.  I tend to use this on my face, and a micellar water or eye-makeup remover for my eyes, brows and lips.  I was forever getting the No7 money off vouchers from Boots, and not really knowing what to spend them on, until I found this product... next time you find yourself staring confusedly at the No7 counters, voucher in hand, pick this up and give it a go!

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a bit of a lip balm addict.  My favourites are definitely the EOS ones - they're so dinky, come in loads of different flavours and are organic, darling.  Word of warning: as much as I love stores like Urban Outfitters and Topshop, don't buy them from there!  They're so much cheaper online (check out this 5 pack for £12.99), instead of being £7 a pop, plus, with Amazon Prime you can get them in a day anyway and order them from your bed - bliss.

I've loved using this Mac Prep+Prime 'Skin Enhancer' as a primer for what feels like forever!  It must've lasted me around 9 months or so, which I think is pretty great considering I wear makeup most days.  A little also goes a long way with this product, and I find the slight pink tint in this product really helps balance out any yellowy undertones in my skin and gives me a nice luminous base to apply my foundation onto.

I've found this Rimmel London Double Duty base coat to be a great, affordable nail product which does exactly what it says on the bottle.  It's got a very light pink tint, and dries with a rock hard, high shine finish.  Between colours I like to keep my nails topped up with this to help keep them strong... it's the perfect budget base coat, hence, I've used it all!

The Lancome Hydra Zen Nuit night cream is a product it's taken me quite a while to use up, as I don't tend to get particularly dry skin and prefer day creams to night anyway.  However, I really can't fault the hydrating power of this little pot.  It's a slightly heavier, but very silky cream, which sinks straight into your skin.  Whenever I use this I wake up feeling fresh as a daisy.  

Equally, I've loved using Clinique's Moisture Surge eye gel on mornings when I'm not feeling so fresh.   Not gonna lie, I think this shit is expensive and I don't actually remember purchasing it which probably means I got it as a free gift with something - I don't think I ever would've spent £35 on an eye gel, even in the days where I didn't have food to buy and bills to pay.  But, in spite of this, if you're going to splash out on an eye gel, this one is the bomb.  It visibly brightens your eyes, and is so refreshing, especially on hangover mornings.  This little baby has been the keystone of my morning routine for the past year or so, and I will miss it, dearly.

Thanks for reading, as always!  If you likey, don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin' via the link below.

Ruby x


Thursday, 18 February 2016

My Experience With Using a Salycylic Acid Facial Peel

A couple of months ago, if someone had recommended me to put acid on my face to help manage acne and scarring, I probably would've thought they were almost definitely a psychopath and have promptly ran away.  However... the more I started to read about 'facial peels', the more curious I became, until one day I found myself on Amazon, ordering a '20% Facial Salycylic Acid Peel Kit'.  Next thing I knew, it was going on my face, week after week.  So I thought I'd write about my experience so far and include some photos for your viewing pleasure!

The kit I bought comes with a 30ml salicylic acid solution and a 50ml neutralising gel (as well as a few free cotton pads, how generous), and cost £16.79 plus postage, which I think was £2.80.  You can get many different types of facial acid and in different concentrates, but having read quite a lot online first, I knew I wanted to start with a relatively low percentage of acid.  At first glance, I thought these bottles looked tiny and wasn't sure if I'd been ripped off or not.  However, having used them both weekly now for almost 6 weeks I'd say I've used just under half of the acid and about the same, if a bit less, of the gel.  So, on second thoughts, I think there would be on average 12 weekly treatments in each set, which I believe represents great value for money.  The instructions I received with the kit recommended using the treatment weekly.  I made sure to read the instructions multiple times, as well as comparing them with ones online, and doing a patch test beforehand - it's a risky business putting acid on your skin so if you do ever choose to try this sort of treatment I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing what you are doing before you begin!!!  I feel like it is something which will work differently for everyone; this is just my experience and method. 

Beginning with clean, makeup and oil free skin (I use the Lancome Gel Eclat cleanser as I find this to be one of the best for me to make my skin feel really super clean!), I apply the acid, which is a strong smelling, clear liquid, using a cotton pad.  I put it straight onto my face, avoiding eyebrows, lips, eyes etc... you can also put vaseline on these areas to protect them from the acid.  Each week I would increase the time that I left the acid on by a minute, from one minute in the first week up to 6 in week six.  The instructions also recommend that you leave it on for 7 minutes as a maximum, as well as leaving a 2 week gap between treatments 6 and 7.  I'm not going to lie, the acid is pretty strong stuff!  You can definitely feel it doing it's thing; it's kind of a light and hot tingling sensation, a bit like if you use a deep cleansing face mask, and in a similar way, it makes your face feel quite tight.  It's quite bizarre to look in the mirror as you do it, as the acid creates a very fine crystallised layer on the surface of your skin, making it look a bit like you've been in the arctic.  I use a timer on my phone to make sure my timings are precise, and once the time is up for the acid I apply the neutralising gel, using a cotton pad again and applying in circular motions.  I leave this on for a minute, then rinse off with cold water.  After a few minutes, I apply a good moisturiser, something quite thick - either Cetaphil moisturising lotion or La Roche Posay Effaclar MAT.  Around 2-3 days later (there's no delicate way to put this), my skin gets a little more dry, and err, peels off... kind of like having sunburn... in February.  It sounds a lot more dramatic than it is, as with a good moisturiser, which I apply 2-3 times a day, it is so easy to manage.  I've found as the weekly treatments have gone on the peeling has been far less intense anyway, and it only ever tends to be around my chin, which I would say is where my acne/scarring/blackheads are worst anyway.  

Below I've put some photos from Week 1 (on the left), versus those from Week 5 (on the right). 

For me, the difference is quite subtle, and difficult to show on camera, too, but I have definitely noticed it.  Although this isn't a cure-all treatment for acne (as I've still been getting spots in between treatments), the texture of my skin has improved tenfold since using it.  My skin is usually quite oily; I find this really helps to balance it, and for first few days after using, it really does feel like you've got a new layer of baby-soft skin.  The difference hasn't been dramatic, but I have seen a reduction in the amount of spots I've been getting, and also feel that week-on-week some of my pores have slowly but surely been shrinking, as well as some of the acne scarring I have.  I think it's also helped with redness and inflammation - all in all, for 5 weeks of usage, I can't really complain.  All it seems to have done is improved my skin, which has made a big difference to my confidence.  Admittedly, I don't have the worst skin in the world at all, and I don't believe spot-free skin is the only beautiful skin, but my skin has always been (or rather, not been) a bit of a soft spot for me - pardon the pun - and so I have the attitude that if I can do something about it, why not try.  

That's all I have to report on using facial peels so far - I'm going to carry on using the kit I've got and complete 12 weeks, then see about perhaps moving onto a higher percentage or different type of acid if I want to continue.  Let me know what you think, and if you'd like me to do a follow up post at the end of the 12 weeks.  Lots of love,

Ruby x


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Rococo Nail Apparel Review

I've been using Rococo Nail Varnishes for a little while now, and having picked up not one, not two but seven new shades online in Space NK's January sale, I felt it'd be rude not to share the love that I have for these polishes.  Plus, they were £3 each, down from £12, so for a girl who can't resist a bargain, they make a very exciting find... read on and be prepared to keep your eyes PEELED next time you're browsing the site. 
Rococo Nail Varnish Organza Lady Lavender Jean Jeanie Blue

I'm a sucker for a good pastel, so this appropriately titled 'Lady Lavender' muted lilac hue was quickly added to my shopping basket, along with a beigey nude 'Organza', and the gorgeous iridescent 'Jean Jeanie'.

I also got another couple of pinky shades; 'Powder Puff' (top left) and 'Doll Face', as well as more of a teal shade 'Kitsch' and a brighter one, 'O.T.T.' (which, at this point, was exactly what it said on the label - what can I say, exam stress well and truly got to me this year).   

I love Rococo nail varnishes for a few different reasons.  Number one would have to be the colours - there is a great range and I find the colours definitely appeal to my particular taste in polish.  I also really like that you can get different finishes, each of which is named - for example the 'Creme' polishes are creamy, opaque and highly pigmented polishes which I find only take 1-2 coats, even for nudes, depending on the look you're going for.  I got mainly Creme formulas this time, but also a couple of 'Luxe' shades (Organza and Jean Jeanie), which have a more shimmery finish - see below for Jean Jeanie in action.  I'm also a big, big fan of the brushes.  They're quite long, and also reasonably wide which for me makes it so much easier to do my nails (I should've taken a picture really, I didn't realise how hard it was to describe a nail brush! You'll have to trust me on this one...).  I find the polish lasts 2-3 days totally chip free for me (using top coat, too) which is generally a miracle considering I'm quite a busy bee with work and uni and life in general, and after around 5-6 days I'll need a fresh coat.  But for me, this is pretty optimum!  The finish is lovely, especially with a top coat and I love that they are also fairly quick drying considering they're quite opaque formulas. 

Rococo Jean Jeanie Luxe

Rococo Nail Polish Review

And last but not least, the packaging is beautiful.  I think we all secretly love a bit of luxury, and just look at this packaging, which is probably half the price of the polish.  Each bottle comes individually boxed, and the lid of each can also double as a nail varnish rack/makeshift jenga block if you're feeling creative.  Has anyone else tried Rococo Nail Varnishes?  What did you think?

Ruby x


Monday, 8 February 2016

What to Expect When in Japan: A Photo Diary

Photo diaries are one of my absolute favourite types of post to look at.  You essentially get to experience other people's travels through pure, unadulterated photographic pleasure, while conveniently bypassing all the stress of 'oh shit I lost my passport and all my cash and my cards' or the bewilderment of 'I haven't pooed in 9 days' (two phenomena I unfortunately suffered from, simultaneously, while away).  Photo diaries are also perfect for a Monday, when you need to ease yourself into the week and can't do with too many words on a page at any one time.  So my friends, feast your eyes upon the cream of the crop from my recent 2 week trip to Japan (read more about that by following this link)... Here's what to expect:

 Gates: These just seem to be the done thing.  Expect to find them pretty much everywhere, in all shapes and sizes.  

Water: For me, there was a surprising amount of the stuff.  Plenty of lakes, rivers and even beaches.  There's also quite a few opportunities to travel on boats, for example you could get the boat from Kurihama across to Kanaya to see the giant buddha at Mount Nokogiri, which provided a pleasant break from trains and buses.  

'The God of Happiness' (so cute)

Buddhas (and other carvings): Tons of these, too.  Check out the aforementioned Mt Nokogiri, or Kamakura for some of my favourites.  

 Kanji: These are some of the characters used to write in Japanese.  They're beautiful, completely incomprehensible to the unenlightened Westerner, and exist pretty much everywhere you look.  

Me looking rather smug next to a giant fish. 

Fiver for whoever can tell me all the ingredients in this... Even after eating it I had no idea.

Fish: There is a lot of fish in Japan.  From the tiny to the threateningly large, you don't have to look out for these bad boys because you'll see them wherever you go regardless.  Some fish more tempting than others, we managed to resist the 'fried pond smelt' for 200 yen.  Fish fanatics should definitely check out the Tsukiji fish market and surrounding area.  


Views: From bustling streets and city centres to breathtakingly tranquil countryside, you won't be short of views wherever you go.  One of the many things I especially loved about Japan was one minute being in the stiflingly hectic metropolis of Tokyo, before hopping on a train and within an hour being in the heart of absolutely nowhere, surrounded by mountains and moss and roots and greenery.  Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the ever majestic Mt Fuji, which was sprinkled with snow during our trip.


Shrines: (and temples, and more shrines).  Here I feel it's appropriate to introduce some new vocabulary which will become central to any tourist in Japan: the state of being, known as 'shrined out', is one I had never experienced until being in Japan.  Around the 3/4 day mark, you'll probably realise what I mean...  There are a lot of shrines.  Some of my favourites were definitely in Kyoto, which is well worth a visit just to see the mind-boggling golden temple (don't forget your sunglasses, because that gold is bright, I'm telling you). These shrines (etc.) also often involve many, many steps.  I'm going to sound like your mum now and tell you to take good walking shoes.


Capsule Hotels: These are a reasonably common accommodation option in Japan.  We stayed in one in Kyoto called Nine Hours and I have to say, if you get the chance it's definitely worth the experience.  For around £15 for the night (try and book online before for the best offers), you too can sleep in a pod that is ever so slightly reminiscent of the bunk bed I used to share with my sister, but with a whole lot more sophistication.  You even get pyjamas, toothbrush and toothpaste, all your toiletries and some little slippers, too.  

Bamboo/Gardens/Other General Nature Stuff: Japan is also a nature-lover's heaven.  I was a particular fan of the everlasting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and it's definitely worth getting to a Zen Garden or two.  There's something almost eerily peaceful about the traditional Japanese gardens, which feature carpets of mossy ground, gnarled, ancient trees and cool, still water.  

There were also these last few photos which I really wanted to include but for some reason was struggling to categorise, except perhaps for under the title of 'The Unexpected'.  

The infamous 'McChoco Chips'

Err... this section on the same floor as the children's toys...

The most fetching headgear

Buddhas under construction

Instructions, in case you forget

Bus stops that look like games

An insy winsy person in a rather large costume

A salon for dogs

And the cutest of pooches

As always, arigatou gozaimasu (thank you very much) for reading, and don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin' if you likey.  For the record, I did manage to get my passport (and all the cash, and my debit cards) back, by some incredible stroke of luck.  Having unknowingly dropped a zipped purse containing those all-important items at a bus stop while travelling in Kyoto, I realised half an hour later whilst about to enter a temple that I consequently didn't have any money, any way of getting money, or the vital document I needed to get home at the end of our trip, and had lost it in the city we were going to be leaving that evening.  We spent half a day despondently searching for the lost items - filing police reports in Japanese, hopping on and off every number 12 bus we could see, attempting to communicate with bus companies about a 'lost passport' (they mainly thought we wanted to buy a bus ticket) and trying not to combust after taking what turned out to be a few too many laxatives (if you're confused, go back to the beginning of this post), we had pretty much given up.  

We resumed our original sightseeing itinerary for the day, the passport a distant memory...  as evening came and it was time to get the train home, we thought we'd ask one last time in the tourist office at the station.  Lo and behold, the purse had just been handed in!  We made a final desperate journey to the police box we had been directed to where we were informed that a Chinese tourist had handed it in, after finding it on the floor at the bus stop (the shameful carelessness of the whole affair, I know).  To my joy, all my cash, cards and passport were still intact, and the day ended with great relief for both me and Chiara, who remained ever-patient and calm throughout the whole ordeal (she's the best, really).  That's the great thing about Japan, which is so hard to put into words.  The whole time we were searching, people were so friendly and kind.  Everyone seems to be incredibly considerate and honest, and very willing to help without asking for anything in return.  Japan is host to a whole array of sensory treats; mouth-watering, buttery aromas, the boom of a city pulsing with movement, the salty flavour of the fresh sea breeze... but it would be nothing without its people, too, who are endlessly delightful, attentive, patient and kind.  I had the best two weeks of my life, and would recommend it to anyone in an instant.