Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review : balance Me skin bright hydrating face mist

Out of a grand total of 7 ½ reviews I’ve written so far, only two have been positive! To restore some balance, I thought I’d mention some of the products that I DO like and use every day. (Edit: unintended pun there. Har har.)

Going by my last few reviews, you might think that I have insane skin that reacts badly to everything. (I'm inclined to agree TBH) I've been using the skin bright hydrating face mist from balance Me for about three months and I can safely say that it doesn't break me out. Hurrah! Simply spritz 2-3 times after applying lotion and follow with your usual products. I haven't tried using it to set make-up because for fear of looking like I have melted candle wax all over my face. The mist isn't anywhere near fine enough!

Rosa centifolia (rose) aqueous extract - Antioxidant. Has hydrating and astringent properties. (Fragrant)  
Ananas sativus (pineapple) aqueous extract - Moisturising properties, contains AHAs
Glycerin - A humectant and hygroscopic i.e.  attracts and holds water from the environment. Increases hydration in the epidermis
Polyglyceryl-4 caprate - An emollient
Sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) - Hygroscopic. Increases hydration 
Citrus aurantium (neroli)* - Refreshing, helps control oil production (Fragrant)
Nardostachys jatamansi (spikenard)* - Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
Rosa centifolia (rose absolute)* - Moisturising (Fragrant)
Citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot)* - Astringent properties (Fragrant)
Pelargonium roseum asperum (rose geranium)* - helps control oil production (Fragrant)
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)* - Anti-inflammatory properties. Yarrow contains fatty acids, salicylic acid and is high in anti-oxidants
Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile)* - Soothing
Benzyl alcohol - Preservative
Dehydroacetic acid - Preservative
Limonene**, Linalool**, Citronellol**, Geraniol** - Fragrance ingredients

*natural pure essential oil
**naturally occurring in essential oils 

Overall, it's a good mix of ingredients. If you avoid fragrance like the plague you won't agree of course. As obsessed as I am with skincare/ingredients, I like botanical extracts and all that jazz so I don't completely rule out fragrant ones. There are sources of AHAs and BHAs but I doubt they're in high enough concentrations to function as effective exfoliants. There are a lot of hydrating ingredients (esp. glycerin and hyaluronic acid) which sounds like DUH the most predictable observation ever, but you can't take that as given unless you've read the label! It's surprising how many products are labelled as one thing yet the ingredients on the back tell another story. Take this Balancing Mist from Jurlique, for example, which "restores and hydrates the complexion". The second ingredient is alcohol: go figure. Anyway back to balance Me. Speaking of alcohol, this mist does contain it but it's near the end of the list so it's a small(er) amount. The alcohol will stop it going mouldy not burn your face off.

If scare stories about parabens and the C-word have you shi**ing yourself and triggered a skincare exorcism, you'll be happy to hear that the formula is free of parabens and a host of other nasties. Like REN with its clean skincare guarantee, balance Me has a ‘promise’ to make products free of parabens, sulphates, petroleum, mineral oils, silicones, DEA, PEGS, propylene glycol, artificial fragrances and colours. (They must be husband and wife because it's the same promise lol). If you’re hipster and believe in the benefits of “natural” skincare, you'll appreciate that balance Me also aim to create 100% natural products. Just be prepared to handle stuff that’s off by the odd percentile or so.

Overall, I like it. It’s refreshing, using it is mildly amusing (Yoon Seul & Oska’s mom in Secret Garden) and it does what it says on the tin. I wouldn't quite call it a skincare essential, it's more of a 'booster' product that helps keep the skin hydrated. The more products the merrier as far as I'm concerned! What I don’t like is the smell (smeeelll) which is VILE. I seem to have a knack for buying weirdly scented products: a mask that smells like poo, a cleanser that smells like lemony toilet cleaner and this. Which smells like bug repellent. But it’s fine, I can hold my breath for more than ten seconds. 

It's £20 for a 60ml bottle, which is the starting price of most toners. I don't expect it to last as long as normal pour-y toners because using a spray bottle = product wastage. I can feel it settling onto my feet when I spritz -.- One bottle would probably go for six months.

It works out to be £33.33 per 100ml which didn't seem particularly expensive .. until I compared it to the cost of other toners. I usually use Lancome's Tonique Douceur which comes in a 400ml gargantuan of a bottle. That costs £35.50 and works out to be £8.88 per 100ml. I also have Clarins' Camomile Lotion which is £23 for 400ml and works out to be even cheaper at £5.75 per 100ml. These aren’t called “value sizes” for nothing so probably aren’t the best comparisons, but I do have some normal sized ones too: Decleor’s Hydra Brightening Lotion works out as £16.33 per 100ml; DHC’s CoQ10 Lotion is £18.44 per 100ml and Givenchy’s Mist Me Gently is £22.00/100ml.

Here are a few more for comparison:

Gatineau Nasturtium Toner works out as £8.75 per 100ml 
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Purifying Toner (£12.50 per 100ml) 
Darphin Intral Toner (£13.50 per 100ml)   
Chanel Lotion Douceur (£15.00 per 100ml)  
Trilogy Hydrating Mist (£17.50/100ml)  
Sisley Floral Toning Lotion (£23.80 per 100ml)
It even beats Creme de la Mer! 'The Tonic' is £30 per 100ml and you know something is expensive when it's more expensive than Creme de la Mert.

The Hydrating Mist works out to be £15 above the average price (£18.15). Obviously, none of the lotions (chosen at complete random from John Lewis) are necessarily better - just cheaper, so it's something to bear in mind if you're thinking of purchasing.

Would I repurchase?
I like it but the product hasn’t really “wowed” me (except in replicating the smell of bug spray - incredible) and in light of my cost/value revelation that occurred in the last ten minutes, it's not something I’d rush to repurchase. There are plenty of other cheaper and perhaps better products to try. Only a few come in the form of a spray though, which I rather like using. I might try decanting some lotion into a Muji bottle or something ... would that work?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

One Week On - Decleor's Aroma Lisse Range

So, I stopped using the new Aroma Lisse products after less than a week - care to guess why? SPOTS. Effing spots AGAIN. Standard way of knowing whether something works for me. I don't believe your skin needs to "get used" to new products - that’s your skin saying “Hello, I’m inflamed. Be a good fellow and stop torturing me aye?.” It started off with two spots on my cheek (where I’ve never ever had spots before). A few days later I sprouted two more spots on my forehead and figured that was the time to stop before they formed a constellation. Once again, I don’t know which product is the culprit, but since there are four spots for four products I’ll divide the blame equally.

I wish I could pinpoint one ingredient causing irritation but there are quite a few suspects: shea butter, citrusy stuff (mandarin essential oil, bergamot fruit oil, lemon peel oil), generic “fragrance”, fragranced essential oils or even non-fragrant essential oils … Which are all ingredients in some other products I use that haven't caused any problems! Perhaps I’m overloading my skin? Whatever the reason, I’m not particularly enthused by this line. Sorry Decleor.

April resolution: I’ve tested a lot of new products since the start of the year so for the next few weeks I’m going to give my skin a break and stick to my tried and tested routine.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Review : Decleor New Aroma Lisse Range

Today's most will probably be the first and last of its kind: a review of something that's NEW! Holy Crust on a Cracker. Decleor released their new Aroma Lisse range on 1st April, aimed at preventing and correcting the first signs of ageing. The line-up is:
~ Aromessence Mandarine Smoothing Serum (£49.50/15ml)
~ Energising Smoothing Cream (SPF 15) (£52/50ml)
~ Aromessence Mandarine Smoothing Night Balm (£33.50/15ml)
~ 2-in-1 Dark Circle & Eye Wrinkle Eraser (£32.00/15ml)

Since I do not have the benefit of sponsors to send me free stuff before launch, I visited a department store to nab some samples to try out ;) I wanted to snap pictures of the packaging and look up the ingredients (since Decleor do not publish ingredients lists online *growl* Even the "key ingredients" tab is blank!!) but ... well. I forgot. At least the sample of the Aromessence serum has the ingredients printed on the back. As for the rest... I'm trusting Decleor and hoping for the best haha.

First Thoughts:
Aromessence Mandarine Smoothing Serum
Absorbs quickly and without any shininess - which was unexpected, because when I applied some against the back of my hand in store there was an obvious sheen. Smells like lemon rind.

Hazel Seed Oil - moisturising, has astringent properties and helps protect skin against free radical damage
Camellia Kissi Seed Oil - moisturising. Have to mention that this originates from Japan! Banzai!
Sunflower Seed Oil - contains Vitamin E. Helps repair the skin and reduce inflammation
Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil - anti-inflammatory properties
Evening Primrose Oil - anti-inflammatory properties
Mandarin Orange Peel Oil - Mandarin Essential Oil is a key ingredients in the Aroma Lisse range, which Decleor have apparently proven to have "preventive and correcting properties". This oil is made of 80% D-Limonene which "effectively stimulates youth protection within the skin by protecting and detoxifying cells from damage caused by free radicals. In addition it also repairs DNA damaged by UV radiation." Sounds great but general internetting hasn't produced anything to back up this claim! The most I've heard about Limonene is that it's an irritant and photo-toxic. Not sure what to make of this!
Bergamot Fruit Oil - another citrus oil, also known for photo-toxicity
Linalool - fragrance ingredient
Michelia Alba Leaf Oil - can't seem to find much on this, other than it being used primarily in perfumes
Lemon Peel Oil - detoxifies the skin and helps improve skin tone. I'm starting to feel some de ja va...
Tocopherol - AKA Vitamin E
Grapefruit Extract - anti-oxidant. Potentially irritating to skin but I've read that it's OK in small amounts
Soybean Oil - helps improve skin tone and is a source of anti-oxidants.
Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil  - astringent properties. Like other citrus oils it can cause skin irritation.
Citral & Citronellol - fragrance ingredients

Night Balm
I found this to be much less heavy and oily-feeling than other Decleor balms (e.g. Iris and Ylang Ylang) but there is still some shine. You're going to bed so who cares? It leaves your skin soft and smooth like a baby's cheeks. Really. I've never found my own face to be so cute. Also has the less than endearing smell of lemon rind.
Update: full ingredients list and review here

Eye Cream
Even without an ingredients list to look at I'm pretty sure this contains yellow pigments to give it dark circle erasing properties. Try to dispel the image of yellow eye bags that that brings to mind - it won't make you look jaundiced. I was left with a yellowy residue on my ring finger after applying but I couldn't see any difference to the eye area.
Update: complete ingredients list & review here

Energising Smoothing Cream
The cream has a smooth, thick texture (thicker than Hydra Floral) but doesn't feel at all heavy on the skin. My make-up and other products went on fine afterwards, no piling or other annoyances. Unlike the Hydra Floral cream which is packaged in a jar, this product (full-size) comes in a twist pump bottle which has the benefit of being more hygienic and less fiddly without spatulas and all that. It's also better for preserving the ingredients. The downside is that product tends to get stuck in the bottom and wasted, as happened to me with the Aroma Purete Fluide :(
This product also differs from Decleor's other offerings in being the only moisturiser with sun protection (excluding the Sun Expert range, smartypants). I wish it wasn't though. I feel like it reduces the size of useful moisturiser with useless suncream because cosmetics/skincare with added SPF don't provide adequate sun protection. I use a separate suncream so it doesn't make sense to buy a moisturiser with SPF.
My other peeve with products+SPF is that they tend to use chemical suncream - which I avoid. I don't know whether this is chemical or mineral, but I'll update in due course.
Final comment: smells like lemon rind. Just take it as given that EVERYTHING SMELLS LIKE LEMON PEEL.
Update: complete ingredients list & review here

Will I be buying the full sizes?
The day cream is lovely - it's so hydrating and "smoothing" just as it claims. As much as I like it, the SPF has put me off. :( As for the eye cream, I'm not too keen on putting lemon juice around my eyes. It stings a little if you get it in the tear ducts! The Aromessence serum and night balm are my favourites - and these are the products which I think Decleor do best. I'm quite impressed with the amount of anti-oxidants in the serum, but I'm not entirely sold on the mandarin and citrus oils. Which is only like the whole point of Aromessence "Mandarine". I have at least five serums in my collection to use up before I even consider buying another! The night balm is another thing that I "want" but don't "need". (Have multiple night creams and balms) Yah I have way too much stuff in general. Maybe when I've managed to get a list of ingredients and when my other stuff runs out I'll make a little trip to Decleor...

First of all, Liberty has 10% off this week *runs to Regent Street like maniac* Right. The Serum works out to be around £326/100ml and the Baume around £223/100ml WHICH IS FLIPPING INSANE. Have you seen what a 15ml bottle looks like? It's about the size of a Haribo sour dummy. Complete joke. Once you've mustered up the courage to buy a serum/balm, YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. Decleor = Fantastic.