Tuesday 2 May 2017

Out Of The Ordinary

DECIEM's The Ordinary is no ordinary skincare brand. They have produced an affordable line of skincare products featuring highly effective yet typically overpriced ingredients. Their products are sold at the price they should be sold at which is incredibly refreshing to see in the skincare industry. This is partly thanks to their business model where they've reduced costs to the consumer by having minimalistic packaging & hardly any advertising. I'm a firm believer that good skincare shouldn't cost the earth. It's more important to be informed about ingredients & The Ordinary have made them more accessible than ever. I really wish they could've brought out this product range years ago as it would've saved me hundreds of pounds! They have single-handedly revolutionised the skincare industry & other brands should be worried that their customers are starting to realise they're being ripped off. When The Ordinary first launched last year I picked up five of their serums to try out. I was very careful to test each serum individually so that I could identify any reactions or breakouts & then remove that product from my routine. If you plan on buying any of these serums from The Ordinary I would highly suggest that you do the same.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90 / 30ml)
I started off by testing out this serum as I have used many different formulas of Hyaluronic Acid & have never had a bad reaction to it. Hyaluronic Acid is something that I personally feel that everyone needs to include in their skincare routine. It can hold up to 1000 times it's weight in water which boosts the efficacy of any moisturiser that you put on afterwards. It's ideal for all skin types especially dry & dehydrated skin. The serum itself is a clear viscous liquid comprised of three weights of Hyaluronic Acid as well as a Hyaluronic Acid crosspolymer which provides intense hydration & visibly plumps up the skin. In terms of results I would liken this serum to the Sarah Chapman Intense Hydrating Booster. It feels slightly stickier when first applied but after smoothing on some moisturiser both products work in exactly the same way, making my skin soft, plump & well hydrated. The Ordinary's HA serum is literally 1/10th of the price of Sarah Chapman's offering so I know which one I'll be repurchasing!

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5 / 30ml)
I was very excited about trying this serum in particular as Zinc has worked wonders on my cystic acne & I've heard so many good things about Niacinamide. It can apparently help to reduce blemishes & clear congested skin but it also deals with redness & hyperpigmentation. You do have to be careful about when you apply it as it can interact with Vitamin C. I used it for a few nights & it made my skin look amazing. It was visibly clearer & brighter. Even my boyfriend commented that my skin looked really good & that never happens! However within that first week of use my cheeks had become full of closed comedones. I hadn't added any other new products to my routine or tried a new foundation so I knew it had to be this serum. I extracted them, stopped using the Niacinamide & my skin went back to normal. This is the exact reason why it's so important to make sure you test each serum individually. It's such a shame because the brightening effect was real & immediate but anything that gives me closed comedones is a huge no-no as they are the bane of my life.

Now I'm not entirely sure that it was the ingredient Niacinamide that I had a reaction to. I've used several products that contain Niacinamide without any problems before including La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo & Pixi Glow Mist. When The Ordinary first brought out this serum it contained an ingredient called Carrageenan which can potentially cause breakouts. It's something that I actively avoid in my diet as it can also cause stomach problems. It's a thickening agent found in things like Blue Diamond Almond Milk and unfortunately Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! The serum has now been reformulated so that it doesn't contain Carrageenan so I'm tempted to buy a new bottle but it might just be that the 10% Niacinamide is a little too much for me. Hey, I'm just speculating here! As with all skincare products your mileage may vary so I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that love this serum.

TL;DR: It visibly brightened my skin but gave me closed comedones so I no longer use it.

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (£4.90 / 30ml)
A good Vitamin C serum is something that was definitely missing from my skincare routine. Vitamin C can be such a tricky ingredient to get right as it is very unstable & serums formulated with it tend to be astronomically expensive. So when The Ordinary announced that their Vitamin C serum would be made from L-Ascorbic Acid powder & completely stable due to the absence of water, I was all over it. When I purchased this product it came in a dropper bottle like most of their other serums but it could be quite difficult to dispense the liquid from the pipette. It also made a huge mess & ran all over the top of my bottle. They have since changed it to a tube which is a much better format for this product.

The serum is thick, white & creamy but the biggest downside to this product is the texture. No matter how much you shake it up prior to use, it will still feel very grainy. It almost feels like I'm scrubbing my face with a physical exfoliant. It also stings my skin a tiny bit and if I use too much product, it makes my hands & face smell weird no matter how many times I wash them! After applying my moisturiser, this serum does help my skin to feel super soft & smooth although it does look a bit on the greasy side. I did notice a brightening effect & it has helped to reduce my hyperpigmentation but I don't think I would repurchase this serum as it's just not cosmetically elegant enough & it's not very nice to use. I've since moved on to using the OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum & even though I have to store it in the fridge to keep it away from heat & light, I'm much happier with it.

Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% (£5.80 / 30ml)
Chemical exfoliants are my jam so of course I couldn't resist buying their 10% Lactic Acid. They also do a milder 5% version but as I'm well versed in the world of acids I knew my skin would respond better to the stronger formulation. This is another product with a strange scent, it literally smells like a glass of Pimms & that fragrance really lingers on the skin. It's a good job you use AHAs at night or people would think I'd been drinking at 9am! Apart from that little niggle, this serum works extremely well. It has greatly improved the texture of my skin by refining my pores & smoothing out any bumps. It gives my skin a radiant glow when I wake up & helps to fade post-blemish scarring. I think what makes this acid so good is the inclusion of Tasmanian Pepperberry extract. It helps to reduce any irritation that you normally get when using acids so I find that I can use this peel more often without compromising my skin barrier. I would definitely recommend picking this up or the 5% version if you're not yet accustomed to using AHAs.

Advanced Retinoid 2% (£8 / 30ml)
As I'm in my late 20s now, retinol is an ingredient that has become increasingly more important in my skincare routine. It works to combat not only fine lines & wrinkles but acne & sun damage too, boosting collagen production at the same time. It basically addresses all of my skin concerns in one go. Retinol can be pretty pricey so to find such an effective retinoid at such a low price is absolutely brilliant. This serum is a thin milky liquid that gets absorbed into the skin right away without any stickiness. The formula is really lovely as I didn't experience any dryness, peeling or irritation which are normally things you have to look out for when using retinoids. I've been using it for several months now & I am a huge fan of this product. I tend to alternate between using this & the Lactic Acid serum at night. I hardly get any blemishes now, my skin looks smooth & refined and I'm generally much more confident when it comes to baring my face without makeup. I can't recommend it enough! Be careful not to confuse this product with their Retinol 1%. This 2% serum might sound like the stronger product but it's a retinoid as opposed to pure retinol so it's a lot gentler on the skin & less likely to cause irritation.

Much like the Hyaluronic Acid serum, you could say that this product dupes the effects of another luxury skincare product. I'm talking about Sunday Riley's Luna Oil. Luna is a truly wonderful product but you have to admit that the price is ridiculous & to be honest I kinda regret paying it now. If only The Ordinary had brought out their Advanced Retinoid 2% sooner! I mean if the results were the same would you rather pay £85 for 30ml of product or a mere £8? It just goes to show how overpriced the beauty industry can be & that's why I love The Ordinary.

Overall I was very impressed with the items I picked up from The Ordinary. Not everything worked well for me but I got to try out five serums formulated with highly potent skincare ingredients for less than £30. I don't think there's any other company that offers clinical formulations at such a low price. I have since ordered five more serums from The Ordinary which I will be reviewing shortly as well as their new foundations so stay tuned for that!

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Monday 1 May 2017

April Favourites

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Chantilly
When it comes to base products, NARS are my current go-to brand. It mainly comes down to the fact that they really do cater for my exact skintone. I have never found a better foundation match than Siberia & I have never found a better concealer match than Chantilly. I've been a huge fan of their Radiant Creamy Concealer for quite some time now as it works beautifully as a 'no makeup' makeup product. NARS recently came out with their new Soft Matte Complete Concealer & I absolutely love it too. This concealer provides high coverage with a soft-focus blurring effect. It features a special powder complex which helps the concealer to stay in place without settling into fine lines or emphasising skin texture. I think it works a lot better on skin imperfections than it does under the eyes as it can look a little bit dry in that area. I really like to use this concealer on a MAC 242 brush to carve out my eyebrows & for creating a cut crease eye look.

Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Light
For the longest time I have heard nothing but praise for Kevyn Aucoin's Sculpting Powder in Medium as the ultimate contour product. However I was still never convinced that Medium would be a good shade for me personally. The same goes for those with deeper skintones. Last year they finally expanded the range to include two new shades, Light & Deep. I eagerly purchased the Light version of The Sculpting Powder & was blown away by how natural it looked on my skin. The colour is perfect, it's a cool toned matte brown which truly mimics the appearance of a shadow on the face. A little goes a long way as the powder is quite pigmented but it's also soft & finely milled making it very easy to blend out. I like to apply it with a Morphe M530 brush to carve out my cheekbones & jawline. I also use it with a Charlotte Tilbury Eye Blender Brush to contour my nose. I've never found a contour colour that looks as natural on the nose as this does. If you want a slimmer looking nose it's well worth it for that reason alone!

CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
CosRX are my favourite Korean skincare brand & in my opinion this cleanser is one of their best products. I use this cleanser twice a day, every day with a FOREO Luna Mini 2 & my skin has never been happier. When I started getting into Asian beauty products one thing that often came up was the importance of pH levels. I'm planning on writing a whole post about this subject but basically if a skincare product isn't formulated at the correct pH level, it can have a negative impact on your skin. This cleanser has a pH level of 5.5 which is optimal for cleaning the skin & reducing acne causing bacteria. By lowering the skin's natural pH level, BHA & AHA products will also work better afterwards so it's a win-win situation. The cleanser itself is a lightly foaming clear gel with a tea tree scent. It feels really gentle yet refreshing & doesn't strip my skin of moisture. Another good thing about this cleanser is that it's incredibly inexpensive (I paid £9 for it) & you get tons of product in the tube. I've been using it for an entire year now & only recently had to purchase a new one. It's a brilliant cleanser & a cornerstone of my skincare regimen.

Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow in Kitten Karma
I'm definitely not one to shy away from a bit of glitter. However I'm not really a fan of loose glitters as they can be quite messy & I get a bit paranoid about inadvertently blinding myself! I much prefer to buy products that already have glitter in them as they're infinitely more convenient. For example I love Illamasqua's Broken Gold eye gel & Urban Decay's Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliners. I recently saw these Stila Liquid Glitter Eyeshadows all over YouTube & instantly fell in love. I wanted to buy every single one but when I saw that they cost £23 each I almost fell off my chair. It took me forever to choose which one to get but seeing as Kitten is Stila's signature shade I decided to start off with this colour. This eyeshadow has a rose gold base with tiny gold & silver glitter particles. It looks absolutely stunning & has a glamourous high shine finish. The formula is amazing, it feels so light & smooth on the eyes with virtually no fallout. It's also very long lasting & doesn't crease at all. This is the best liquid eyeshadow I have ever used. I know I shouldn't but I really don't think I can resist buying a few more of these!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel
I have been using MAC's Clear Brow Gel for well over 10 years now but I fancied trying something new as I would often end up with two tails at the end of my eyebrows no matter how much I tried to gel them down. I'm obsessed with Anastasia brow products & rarely use anything other than their Dipbrow Pomade. Having heard so many amazing things about their Clear Brow Gel I decided to give it a go & promptly destashed the MAC version. This gel really does keep every single eyebrow hair in place without looking crispy or feeling crunchy. It's yet another wonderful brow product from Anastasia Beverly Hills & I won't be using anything else for a long time to come.

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