It has been so hot and steamy in London this week that I’m giving myself (and you!) a break from outfit posts. It’s hard to get excited about clothes when you really don’t want them on. Any photos of me this week would show I’m scowling and sweaty, sort of like a mug shot, so I’ve spared you. At the best of times, I’m not a girl who likes summer very much, but this recent heat wave has been paralysing for this snowflake. So, since I’m interrupting our usual programming, I thought it would be a good time to discuss all the shizzle that works when it sizzles.
One of the perks of being a blogger is that I am sent A LOT of beauty products to review. Given that I already purchase an embarrassing amount of makeup and skin care on my own, I have a seriously broad range to choose from and evaluate. I’ve been obsessed with skin care for decades… from my twenties when I fought breakouts and eczema to my forties where I still fight breakouts and eczema! Now, I also have wrinkles to contend with. So, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on breakouts, dehydrated eczema-prone skin, and wrinkles. I’m frequently told that I have good skin, but honestly, I just don’t see it. I think I have the skin version of body dysmorphic disorder… you know where skinny people look in the mirror and see fat? I look at my skin and see every flaw, every red mark from a faded spot, and every thirsty irritated patch from eczema magnified all out of proportion. Plus, I have new age-related things happening on my face all the time, which I discussed here. By the way, those weird bumps on my forehead (apparently it was a virus) and that chin bump (a very deep blocked oil gland) which I showed in that old post have since been removed by my dermatologist.
Right, so here we go. In no particular order, these are the products that I love most right now. Given my skincare obsession, that’s where my main focus will be.
Fresh Soy. This is my favourite cleanser ever. Every time I go away from it, my skin punishes me. I can’t stand that it is so expensive, but I am stuck with it because my skin freaks out when I use anything else. I’ve been using it for many years, and lots of you often ask what I use, so that why I’m mentioning it first.
Ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea. If you have sugar cravings then you have to try these two Indian herbs. I used to be a slave to sugar; ask any old roommate of mine and they’ll tell you that I only ate chocolate ice cream for breakfast, and ate dessert instead of meals. I was a self-confessed sugar ‘ho. It is way too complicated to go into a discussion on adaptagens here, but both of these herbs are adaptogens, which act as regulators for many systems in your body. The two adaptogens that are most effective at killing my sugar cravings are Rhodiola Rosea and Ashwagandha. I read about taking them separately, but never one to do things by halves, I take them together. If you try them, please buy a very good brand, like Solgar, Viridian or Nature’s Plus (I’ve linked to the two exact ones I take above). They’re also excellent for stress, anxiety, and immune system support (along with Holy Basil, which I drink loads of in tea format) so it is hard to go wrong with them. Google adaptagens and see if you think they’re right for you. The only caveat is ashwagandha can stimulate the thyroid, so if you have an overactive thyroid, don’t take this. ALSO! buy Ashwaganda in pill format. Do not be stupid (like me) and think you can hide the powder in a smoothie. It is so bitter, it ruins everything.
Shapeez. What can I say other than this is my biggest product surprise of the year so far. I saw my friend Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb mention this bra in a post a while ago, and I pricked my ears. Catherine, like me, has a lot in the chest department and not all bras work on us; I take her bra recommendations seriously! Shapeez has a non-traditional sizing system, so they recommend you go online and put your measurements into their calculator. I was really skeptical about this, because I measure differently in every brand I try, so I honestly didn’t think this was going to end well. Also, I am a nightmare to fit a bra for because the shoulder straps are always too long, even on the shortest length, so I often have to have them shortened by a tailor. Shapeez have many styles, but because I am so hot-natured I chose this, the coolest looking one (i.e. not built into a full tank top) in their ‘minimising’ category. A few days later, it arrived in the post, and I’ve hardly worn anything else. It takes a little getting used to the pull-over design since it doesn’t have a hook in the back, but I cannot tell you how comfortable this bra is. One of the benefits of it is that the stretchy back part creates a perfect clean line in the back with no strap line, even under a fitted white tee shirt or a thin silk shirt. The style I have doesn’t have any lace nonsense or seams on the front which can show through clothes. I received the nude one to wear under light summer things, but went straight back online and ordered it in black as well. This is an American brand (started by a woman at her kitchen table, so I love supporting her, no pun intended!). It is available on their website, on Amazon and in some retailers. It may not the most seductive bra you will own, but it is the most practical for making your clothes look absolutely amazing. Aside from no seams and strap lines in clothes, for me the best part is the shoulder strap part requires no tailoring. Win!
Even though this thin silk shirt has wrinkles due to the fabric, there is not a single bra strap visible across my back or shoulders!
Better than Sex Mascara. I’m not even going to discuss whether it is better than sex, but it is better than any other mascara! I’ve used Mac False Lashes mascara for years and years, but Mac isn’t a cruelty free brand so I’ve been trying hard to replace them. Vegan and cruelty free makeup is easy to find in superb quality these days, but cruelty-free brands haven’t cracked the code on mascara, until now. Better than Sex is amazing. The blogosphere has been raving about it for ages, so I’m just adding my voice to the din. My tip: In colder weather, I find it clumps a bit on application when it isn’t brand new. I stick the tube in my dressing gown pocket to warm up for a few minutes or store it in the warm cabinet in my bathroom, et le voila, no clumps.
Dr. Roebuck’s Ultimate Hydrating Serum. I’m a serum lover. Creams and lotions have their place (mainly to seal in the serum!) but I find my skin responds very well to serums. This brand sent me their Hydrating Serum and their facial scrub called Polish to try. The Polish is a too mild and gentle for my skin in the summer; I may like it more in winter. However, this Hydrating Serum is now officially a staple in my routine. My skin loves this stuff. It does exactly what it says it does; it hydrates beautifully without creating any oiliness and my skin looks fresh and plumped up. I use this morning and night after cleansing and before moisturising. In the US, this is available at Sephora. In the UK, it is available at Selfridges.
Frame Le Garcon. I’m not a jeans girl; I rarely wear them. I wasn’t built with the patience to try on 40 pairs before I find THE ONES, and I just don’t find denim very comfortable. After I had my son four years ago, I went into a shop and a sales girl recommended I try Frame denim’s Le Garcon jeans. They were expensive, but they’re the only jeans I’ve felt good in (except for Winser’s ones, which are great, but they’re not denim so they don’t really have that casual jeans vibe). Take any jeans recommendations from this non-jeans wearer with a grain of salt, but Frame’s Le Garcon are the best I’ve tried. I’m soon going to buy my second pair because the ones I bought four years ago are now faded and shot. I’ve had them in the Berkeley Square wash, but I think I’ll go for Rosemont next. The slight fading and ‘whiskering’ in the front is really flattering somehow, and the denim is better than other brands. Also, I’m wearing these in my next post, so you’ll be able to see what they look like on someone who is not a model.
Doctor’s Scrub, Goldfaden MD. In summer when my skin is sweaty, oily, dull, and full of makeup and sunscreen, I like to sandblast everything off once or twice a week, after a normal cleanse. I’ve talked about this before on the blog, and if you have lazy skin like mine which needs a LOT of exfoliation for cell turnover, this is a winner. The round ruby crystals are super effective. They almost hurt, but in a good way. You only need a TINY amount. I’ve linked to Amazon because it is $10 cheaper here than anywhere else for some reason, but you can buy it at lots of places. Don’t use this if you have sensitive or thin skin.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream. I’ve had mine for nearly a year and haven’t used it much. I didn’t get the hype. In winter, it just disappeared into my thirsty skin. Now that it is summer, I need moisture but I don’t want to go greasy, and this is perfect for that. It gives your skin a lovely glow under makeup, and is what I use to seal in my Dr. Roebuck’s serum. This line is a perfect example of a current cruelty-free luxe brand that does everything (except mascara) beautifully. This is my perfect summer facial moisturiser.
Delilah Farewell Cream Concealer. I bought every single Delilah product the makeup artist used on my skin in the previous two posts (here and here) from Stoke Park. My skin looked stunning. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to replicate that at home! I’ll keep trying though. I’m so accustomed to the Jane Iredale Glow Time foundation that I’ve been using for years that I don’t know how to work with ‘normal’ foundations anymore. Glow Time is a very highly pigmented full coverage foundation, but since I apply with a kabuki brush over over serum and lotion, it thins out beautifully. I’m missing that almost sparkly sheen that the makeup artist got with the Delilah, though… Anyway, the one product that jumped straight to my daily rotation is their cream concealer. I do one swipe under my eyes, and I instantly look well rested with no subsequent settling into fine lines. I’d describe it as a cross between a highlighter and a concealer, if you get the colour right.
Hermes Cuir d’ange. Despite never being a smoker, I love the combination of leather, tobacco, and smoke when it is used (lightly) in a perfume. Winter perfumes are full of great tobacco and leather scents (like my favourite Molinard Habanita) but in summer, I’m usually a bit stuck on what to wear for perfume. None of my favourites work well at high temperatures. I hate oceanic fragrances, and anything too sweet turns me off. Lavender is a good option, but I tire of single-note scents after an hour. The perfect summer fragrance for me is Hermes’ Cuir d’ange (Angel skin). It has a touch of leather, but lots of beautiful powdery cool notes like heliotrope, violet, and narcissus (maybe a touch of iris?) which suits hot weather. Very late in the day, I pick up a lovely note of something that smells like dry mint leaves. This is a subtle fragrance that stays close to your body; no olfactory assault on the people at the table beside you! I don’t usually LOVE Jean Claude Ellena’s fragrances (the perfumer for Hermes); they’re too sheer and light, like a pastel watercolour, but this one has a bit more presence, and simply smells of summer to me now.
Let me know in the comments if you want anything else covered, or if you have any amazing recent discoveries that I need to know about!
Disclosure: Thank you to Shapeez for sponsoring this post. As usual, all opinions and content are 100% my own, and any product I recommend is something I use, wear, and love. If I don’t like something, it doesn’t make it to the blog. You know how if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all? That.
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