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Dr Anjali Mahto is a highly respected and renowned medical and cosmetic consultant dermatologist in London, as well as the author of best-selling book The Skincare Bible.

Her chapter about pores is a must-read for everyone.

The biggest myth I hear about pores is that you can change their size. I’ve lost count of how many times on Instagram I see cosmetic doctors, bloggers and glossy magazines, mistakenly reporting that a product or treatment opens pores or shrinks pores. Pores do not have muscles around the outside that they can contract or relax to change their size.

Pores are tiny openings in the skin that house hair follicles, with a sebaceous gland beneath them. These sebaceous glands are responsible for creating the oil that keeps our skin soft and comfortable. Pores are the channel within which this sebum (or oil) travels. WIthout them, skin would quickly become dry and flaky.


Whilst poor size itself can’t be changed. There are a number of methods to help reduce the appearance of size, the scientific evidence is limited and few people have carried out large clinical trials, but there are a number of methods commonly used by cosmetic dermatologist that can make poles less visible.

These are:
☔ Retinoid cream
☔ Chemical peels
☔ Oral medications
☔ Lasers, radio-frequency and ultrasound devices

Please do your own research and speak to your doctor or dermatologist before trying any of these methods. Just by having a good skin care regime and keeping your pores clear and calm will automatically lead you to them appearing as minimised as possible for you. Oh and I urge you to by Anjali’s book, its fab!

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Water-Based Vs. Silicone-Based

Some of the most common problems with foundation include makeup moving around, “sliding off” and separation, especially around the t-zone. It’s probably the most common question I get asked about complexion. I was thinking about all of the advice I give and thought I would collate this in a blog post for those interested.

  • First of all, good complexions are born from good skincare.
    • Good skincare starts with staying hydrated.
      • Good skin is maintained by cleaning your face AM and PM.
        • Skin is altered or problem-solved by specific ingredients.

So after the mini crash course in skincare, there is actually one more thing that can be affecting your complexion. Most people are usually driven to buy primers and foundations because of an advert, a recommendation or a celebrity endorsement. However, understanding how primers and foundations work together could really change the way you select your products. 

  • Water Based Primers + Water Based Foundations = Great for dry skin and sensitive skin. Also good for those who are prone to breakouts.
  • Silicone Based Primers + Silicone Based Foundations = Great for oily skin.
  • Water Based Primers + Silicone Foundations = Will probably look okay straight after application, but throughout the day the two will repel each other, causing your makeup to slide off.
  • Silicone Based Primers + Water Based Foundations = Will cause separation. The primer will create a silicone barrier which repels the water in the foundation not letting it absorb properly into your skin, resulting in unevenness.


Not only should you use a combination that works for your skin type, you should also be pairing them, like for like. Mis-matching brands are fine as long as they both belong to the same category ‘water based’ or ‘silicone based’.  

So, how do we know what’s what? We look at the ingredients!!

-Cone/-methicone and -siloxane words near the top of the list tend to signal a silicone-based product. Although water may be at the top of an ingredient list, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is water based. Products can be silicone based even if water is at the top of the ingredient list because water is what’s needed to make a “liquid product”.

Here is an example of an ingredient list for a silicone based primer: Touch In Sol No Problem Primer

Cyclopentasiloxane, Water, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone, Crosspolymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dipropylene Glycol, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Magnesium Sulfate, Fragance(Parfum), Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Aluminum Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Soluble Collagen, Red 30 Lake (CI 73360), Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.

I’ve made the silicone-based ingredients bold so that you can see the primary ingredients are silicone based, therefore making this a silicone based primer.

Here is an example an ingredient list for a water based primer: MILK Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Water, Glycerin, PEG-150 Distearate, Alcohol Denat., Polyglyceryl-10 Eicosanedioate/Tetradecanedioate, Diglycerin, PVP, Benzyl Alcohol, Sorbitol, Pullulan, Inositol, Betaine, Carbomer, Maltose, Xylitol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Benzophenone-4, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Agave Tequilana Stem Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Niacinamide, Propylene Glycol, Panthenol, Vegetable Amino Acids, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Flower Extract, Prunus Avium Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Benzoic Acid, Yellow 5 (Ci 19140), Blue 1 (Ci 42090), Red 33 (Ci 17200). 

As you can see there aren’t any silicone ingredients on the top of this list (if any) which means it’s a water-based primer.

Here is an example of an ingredient list for a Silicone Based Foundation: NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

Dimethicone, Water, Phenyl Trimethicone, Glycerin, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Ppg-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Boron Nitride, Bis-Butyldimethicone Polyglyceryl-3, Butylene Glycol, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Tocopherol, Sodium Pca, Sodium Lactate, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Peg/Ppg-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Behenic Acid, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Barium Sulfate, Aluminum Dimyristate, Alumina, Tin Oxide, Polysilicone-2, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, [+/- (May Contain): Mica, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Iron Oxides (Ci 77492), Iron Oxides (Ci 77499)].

You can see in bold the primary ingredients are silicone based, making this a silicone based foundation.

Here is an example of an ingredient list for a Water-Based Foundation that is one of my favourites: Too Faced Born This Way Foundation

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Isododecane, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Magnesium Sulfate, Diphenyl Dimethicone, Tribehenin, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Carbonate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Cocos Nucifera Water, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Rhododendron Ferrugineum Extract, Alcohol, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Llyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain (+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

You can see in bold there are some silicone ingredients in there, however they are not the primary ingredients therefore making this foundation a water based foundation.

Water-Based Foundations

Water-based foundations will contain neither oil nor silicone at the top of their ingredient lists. Some water-based foundations may have silicones in them, but the quantity is so small that it isn’t worth mentioning.

If you’re prone to breakouts, a water-based foundation will be the most gentle on your skin. This is also a great option for dry skin because these formulas tend to be nourishing and packed with skin-loving ingredients to help maintain a moisturized look. 

Silicone-Based Foundations

If your foundation is silicone-based, it will (usually) contain ingredients ending in -cone, -methicone and -siloxane as the second or third ingredient. The first ingredient will most likely be water, but that doesn’t mean the foundation is water-based.

These foundations are great for mattifying and controlling shine — it’s like having a primer built into your foundation. Because of their mattifying effect, silicone-based primers are good for oily skin. They prolong the longevity of your makeup and protect your skin from outside elements.

Now that you know the importance of identifying a water-based product from a silicone-based product, you can get to work on pairing your foundations with the right primers. This isn’t to say that a silicone primer could never work with a water based foundation or vice versa, but it’s not recommended and you’ll most likely have better and longer lasting results if your bases are the same.

You may also need to test products out to figure out which work best with your skin type. Once you’ve decided what base will work best for you (water based or silicone based), then you can narrow down your search when choosing a foundation and primer. It may be worth investigating your concealers as well to see if they are lending themselves to one team or another.

I hope this was helpful in solving some of your dreaded makeup complexion problems. I know it’s annoying to have to add another step to your “makeup-buying process” but it’ll be worth it if you’re looking for a makeup application that will look great and last all day. You can always bookmark this page as a reference when you go shopping, that should help too.

Here are some of my favorite Water-Based foundations: 

Here are some Water-Based Primers


Here are some of my favorite Silicone-Based Foundations



Here are some of my favorite Silicone-Based Primers

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Meet Dee!

Hello I’m Dea Desideria, you can call me Dee!

I recently graduated from The Arts University Bournemouth with a BA Hons Degree in Makeup for Media and Performance. 

I first met Beth when I was in my final year of university. She came to a talk about her business as part of a university business workshop. We got connected and have been collaborating since then. 

I’m originally from Indonesia and I came to UK in 2016. I have my own YouTube channel and I have been a content creator since 2015. I’m planning to make the UK my home and become an international make-up artist, specialising in Film and TV. I’m developing my own prosthetic and makeup company called @desired.fx .

I have always loved performing arts. When I was little I joined a performance course that included acting, modelling and dancing. My dream was to become an actress. I performed on the stage and became a dubber when I was in elementary school. That was the first time I did my own makeup. I continued performing as a dancer and traditional dancer until high school.

When I was 15, my parents then asked me what I wanted to do, in the future, as a career.  I found a content creator called Michelle Phan on YouTube. She explored different kinds of looks and she looked very happy. Then I learned about special effect makeup on my own and with my own pocket money bought some supplies.. The industry in Indonesia for special effect makeup is not big. In 2015, I decided to make my own YouTube channel, to practice makeup and to prove to my parents that I really want to make it my career. 

I joined the beauty community in Indonesia, mentoring special effect makeup in one of the events. After my parents saw my effort, they agreed to help me get onto a bridal makeup & hair course. I started my career as a makeup artist at 17 years old. Then I finally got accepted to AUB. 

The next thing I needed to think of is where I wanted to stay after graduation. I want to become an international makeup artist; so during university I collaborated with more than thirty projects! I also became a makeup assistant back in Indonesia for two horror movies, called Blood Lust Beauty and Potato House. 

I decided to find a way to stay longer in the UK and because of covid-19, the idea for my company, DESIRED.FX (instagram: came up. To help the industry come back by little physical contact to the actors.

I learned that we will always learn from our experiences and turn the hardship into opportunity.

I still need to learn and I will learn everyday.

I am currently interning at The Beauty Umbrella as content marketer. I hope the content will be helpful, informative and fun!




more about me:


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Cystic Spots

This is how my skin looks normally.

For anyone who read my last blog, you’ll know I had a bit of a nightmare recently when using Retinol for the first time! After this mis-hap I was left with some pretty nasty spots. Just to be clear, I have never suffered with spots. Not through my teens, not when I’m on my period, never; I have been lucky enough to always have blemish-free skin. 

A week went by and the spots didn’t amount to anything. They didn’t look bigger, they didn’t look smaller and they didn’t ‘come to a head’. In fact the only thing that got worse was the pain and itchiness. They felt way bigger than they looked and they throbbed. I tried not to touch them, however whilst investigating, I realised they were getting bigger but only under the surface of the skin. This is when I started doing some research, I spoke to one of my friends who is a nurse and we diagnosed them as ‘Cystic Spots’. I felt really embarrassed because even though they didn’t look like ‘bad spots’ they were really sore.

According to WebMD “Cystic acne happens when this infection goes deep into your skin, creating a red, tender bump that’s full of pus. It may hurt or itch. If a cyst bursts, the infection can spread, causing more breakouts.”

WebMD say this is the way you treat Cystic spots:

How Is It Treated?

Over-the-counter medicines that work on milder acne often have little effect on cystic acne. A dermatologist will likely recommend one or more of the following:

  • Oral antibiotics help control bacteria and lower inflammation. Sometimes your acne may not respond to antibiotics or you may find they don’t work as well after a few years.
  • Birth-control pills can help some women by regulating their hormones.
  • Prescription-strength creams, lotions, or gels with retinoid, a form of vitamin A, can help unclog your pores and assist the  antibiotics with their job. 
  • Isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane but now available as the brands Claravis, Sotret, Myorisan, Amnesteem, and Absorica) attacks all causes of acne. The recommended dosage for most of these medications is to take a pill once or twice daily for about 5 months. For most people, this clears the skin completely and permanently. If it recurs, you can repeat the treatment. Women should avoid becoming pregnant while taking this drug.
  • Spironolactone is a medication that helps you get rid of unneeded water, but also is effective for cystic acne in women.
  • Injections of steroids into individual cysts can be performed at your doctor’s office.”

 I have never got on with birth control pills and injections seemed like overkill. I decided to try some topical treatments first of all. I started with tea tree oil applying morning and night for about 4 weeks. This definitely reduced the itchiness and inflammation but the spots showed no sign of disappearing.

I then bought an ‘Overnight Targeted Blemish Lotion’ from Revolution Skincare. The description was ‘The Overnight Targeted Blemish Lotion is the ideal treatment to help soothe and clear your breakouts in a hurry. Formulated with spot-fighting Salicylic Acid, Zinc Oxide and Calamine, breakouts are targeted and skin is soothed.’ My thinking was that the Salicylic Acid would help get rid of dead skin cells and build up of dirt, whilst being antibacterial. The Zinc Oxide might draw out any impurities and the Calamine would soothe the skin and irritation. I used this at night for about 3-4 weeks and nothing changed. 

At my wits end, I started asking other people what they were using, searching forums and looking for another solution. My younger sister is 14 and has suffered with acne and had been given some lotion at the doctors, a form of antibiotics. She had the tiniest bit left and offered it for me to try.

Now normally I would always consult my own doctor before using something like this. But due to the fact mine weren’t going to be diagnosed as ‘acne’ I knew it was unlikely I would be prescribed this. Doctors are known for being stubborn when it comes to spot treatment and whilst my face isn’t covered in multiple spots, the few I had were really sore to live with.

Its called “Dalacin T Topical Lotion- Clindamycin Phosphate”, you apply once in the morning and once at night. I started this on Saturday evening (16/11/2019) Within 24 hours the pain and itchiness had subsided. By Tuesday the cystic lumps I could feel beneath my skin had reduced in size. Here we are on Friday and they barely feel like spots at all! I am so impressed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now whilst I can’t tell you where you can buy it, as it has to be prescribed. I can tell you that if you are suffering as much as I was, go to your doctor and make a massive fuss and ask for it! Because I honestly can’t recommend it enough!

The only other over-the-counter product I have been recommended but didn’t get a chance to use was ‘Acnecide’. If you have any personal experiences with this, whether it be good or bad, please share in the comments! It could really help someone else looking for a cure! 

My skin now!

Big shout out to anyone who deals with any type of acne. People don’t realise that it’s not just about how you look but how it makes you feel and how painful and itchy it can be. 

Not only does it look better but there is barely any cyst behind each dot!

If you need any advice on anything mentioned in today’s blog please get in touch via the comments or email in to

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Retinol is the key anti-ageing ingredient everyone is talking about at the moment,  and that is most probably due to the fact that it works! Let’s dive straight in and I will tell you all about retinol including my personal experience with it.

Firstly, let’s cover what Retinol actually is. Topical vitamin A–based drugs called retinoids—the most used and most studied anti-aging compounds— reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin, under the brand name Retin-A, was the first retinoid. It was used as an acne treatment in the 1970s, but researchers later discovered that it also faded actinic keratosis spots, evened the appearance of pigmentation, and sped up the turnover of superficial skin cells.

Retinoids reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin color. Other benefits include; fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin. However, it can take the best part of three to six months of regular use before improvements in wrinkles are apparent—and the best results take six to 12 months of use.

Because retinoids can cause skin dryness and irritation, doctors often recommend using them only every other day at first and then gradually working up to nightly applications gradually. In the same way, as I have said in previous blogs about exfoliant products, you need to wear sunscreen during the day, because retinoids increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

Tretinoin (Retin-A, generic), tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac), and adapalene (Differin) are prescription retinoids. Adapalene is also available over the counter (in a 0.1% formulation versus the 0.3% prescription version). Other retinoids are still currently undergoing clinical trials.

Several over-the-counter products containing retinoids, such as retinol, are available. Because they’re not as strong (and thus less irritating), they are not as effective in reducing wrinkles as tretinoin; but they do improve the appearance of photo-aged skin. Tretinoin can be used with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for additional skin-smoothing effects.

Retinols do not work equally well on everyone – you should definitely not touch the stuff if you suffer from rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis as retinol can make you more vascular – meaning that you will end up with more inflammation and thereby worsening symptoms of whatever it is you are suffering from- however no-where did it tell me this when I had my first experience with Retinol!!!

As I am a self-diagnosed ‘beauty junkie’ I buy a lot of products online. More often or not they send little samples and sachets for me to try; mainly because I spend way over the promotion minimum spend. One day I got a lovely sachet of Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream with 1.0% retinol. Here are the photos of the sachet and what was written on the packet. “Suggest use: Morning or night, apply a pea-size amount or less to clean, dry face, avoiding the eye area.” That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. At this time I didn’t know anything about retinol and one evening I decided to use my sachet…

Whilst I did avoid my eye area… luckily. Unfortunately, I did not use a pea-size amount. I had no idea how strong just 1.0% would be. 

The day after I looked bloody incredible. Best. Skin. Day. Of. My. Life. 

The day after however, my entire face started to peel and. See pictures below. It was painful with red blotches, it was sore and it felt so tight that no amount of moisture cold relieve me. This lasted for around 4-5 days before I started to feel better. Ever since I have been left with cystic spots that I can’t seem to get rid of. I have never had spots in my life, even in my teens, but I seem to have so many sitting under the skin that won’t even come to the surface. They are sore and lumpy and the only thing I can put it down to is the retinol experience. 

This is not an advert for or against retinol, but after I had conducted some research I discovered that many dermatologists don’t advise people who have psoriasis to use retinol. I have psoriasis! There should have been more warnings on the packaging of the sample; I should have researched the ingredients before putting it on my face and I should have only used a pea-size amount. The moral of the story is to do your own research before using a new product or ingredient and to also conduct patch tests to see how your skin reacts.

Let me learn the lessons for you folks!

Retinol can be beneficial for…

  • Anti-aging – As well as targeting wrinkles, retinol visibly brightens dark circles, plumps loose skin, and reduces dullness. 
  • Prevention – Once we reach our twenties our skin starts to produce less collagen so it’s a good time to start using retinol to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and defend against the early signs of aging. 
  • Acne/breakouts – Retinol encourages cell turnover in the lower layers of the skin and reduces the overproduction of sebum, so it stops breakouts from forming by preventing dead skin cells and excess oils from clogging pores. 
  • Scarring/pigmentation – Retinol increases cell production in the base layer of the skin, which in turn helps to stimulate cell turnover in the upper layers. As each layer is renewed, scars and marks from sun damage or breakouts fade and soon disappear.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL and contact me or your dermatologist for more information if you are not sure if retinol is a good suit for your skin needs.

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Normal Skin

‘Normal Skin’ is a term often used for ‘well-balanced’ skin. Yes I’m afraid to tell you guys but it IS a thing! Though very rare, there are some lucky people out there who can breeze through life with fairly ‘normal’ skin.

If this is you then this skin activity will sound familiar… 

  • You get out of the shower and your skin feels a little tight and uncomfortable. You put some moisturiser on and voila it’s back to normal. 
  • You feel a bit oily today, best skip the moisturiser for a couple of days. Voila your skin is back to normal!
  • You rarely get blemishes but if you do they are gone in a couple of days. A ‘normal cycle’ for a spot.
  • That time of the month? No worries, nothing changes.
  • Putting your makeup on is fairly easy and often your foundation gives you an even coverage regardless of the brand. 
  • Winter presents no problem for your skin.
  • Drinking more or less water makes little difference to your skin.
  • Face masks, scrubs and sun cream all leave your skin saying ‘nooooo problem!’

As unfair as it is, this skin type is by far the easiest to maintain. Sound like you? Well all I have to say is… good for you!! 

Doesn’t sound like you? Check out some of our other blogs in the Skin Care category!


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Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is pronounced “hiah-lur-onic” and it was developed to target the effects of dehydration. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally present in the human body. It is found in the highest concentrations in fluids in the eyes and joints. However, the HA ingredient that you find in serums and products is a synthetic version. Hyaluronic acid is most loved for its incredible water retention properties. It has been estimated that hyaluronic acid (HA) can hold up to one thousand times its own weight in water molecules.

As skin ages, it becomes drier as its ability to retain water lessens, which results in loss of firmness and fine lines. Collagen is mainly made of water and this is exactly what keeps skin looking youthful. When applied, hyaluronic acid will rehydrate skin for a plumper appearance and will minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you see a product that says it’s ‘plumping’ this will usually mean it’s hydrating. It’s the hydration that plumps the skin.

Hydration isn’t the only benefit of hyaluronic acid, it also has antioxidant properties to protect your skin from the environment, sun exposure and harsh chemicals.

One of the best things about hyaluronic acid is that it can benefit all skin types. It’s obviously great for dry and mature skin due to its hydrating and anti-aging properties, but it can also help oily complexions. Oily and combination skin types still need hydration and the lightweight formulation of hyaluronic acid is perfect as it feels weightless on the skin, whilst still providing the much-needed moisture.

Hyaluronic acid is also for sensitive and blemish-prone skin as it helps to calm skin, whilst protecting it with its antioxidant properties. It can also be used safely during pregnancy.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s) provoke skin cell turnover to help exfoliate skin for a brighter and more even skin tone. However, these acids can be drying on the skin, so including hyaluronic acid is a great way to enjoy the benefits of AHA/BHA’s without dehydrating the skin.

Hyaluronic acid also works well alongside other anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C which brightens and aids collagen production. This pairing together encourages and protects collagen, whilst hydrating and brightening aging skin. When you’re looking at the ingredients list on a product, keep an eye out for Sodium Hyaluronate. Sodium hyaluronate is a salt derivative of hyaluronic acid with all the same benefits, except it is more easily absorbed. Look for a product containing both sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid for the optimum hydration boost.

Like with any new skincare product, you should start slow with hyaluronic acid, applying it once per day to see how your skin takes to it. If you find your skin is really benefiting from the additional hydration, you should apply it once in the morning and once in the evening. Any water-based products should be applied before heavy oils and creams, all over the face.

The most well-known products with hyaluronic acid in are the products from the Nip & Fab’s Dragons’ Blood Collection. Personally this is the collection I have got on best with. Their concentrated drops can be added to my daily moisturiser, their serum is fast drying and their plumping mask is great to wear overnight. This range rose to fame after being publicly praised by Kylie Jenner.

They say “HYDRATE + PLUMP Providing the ultimate hydration fix for the skin, our Dragon’s Blood Fix range contains sap from the Croton Lechleri tree which acts as a ‘second-skin’ protective shield as well as to soothe the skin. With added hyaluronic acid (the holy grail ingredient for skin hydration) these products provide intense moisture + comfort to dehydrated skin to leave a healthy hydrated plumped glow. Suitable for all skin types. Ideal for those suffering from dehydration, skin sensitivity or redness.”

If you have any questions regarding the ingredient hyaluronic acid drop me a line at

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Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid, pronounced as ‘sally-sillic’, is a beta hydroxy acid. You may have heard this being abbreviated to ‘BHA’ and wondered what the heck it stood for! Another abbreviation you may have heard is ‘AHA’ which stands for ‘Alpha Hydroxy Acids’. 

AHA and BHA are organic acids that are used in skin care. BHA’s like Salicylic acid, are better for oily skin types or acne prone skin. This is due to BHA’s being more soluble in oil than in water. AHA’s are better for treating sun damaged skin and sun spots.

So back to Salicylic acid specifically! I wanted to write a blog about this as it is a key ingredient that is added into a major amount of premium and drugstore skincare at the moment and it could be confusing as to whether you need it or not!

Salicylic acid is a derivative of aspirin and has antibacterial properties. It is mainly used as a non-beaded exfoliant ingredient to unclog pores. It dissolves keratin and regulates skin cells. Due to its ‘stripping power’ it is really important to try and use in the evenings. If you do use it in the morning you will need to use a high SPF to protect your skin throughout the day as you will have just removed your skins first layer of defense which is usually made up by a thin layer of dead skin cells. 

Not only is it a great product for targeting acne prone skin, black heads and white heads, but it can also fade dark spots and discolouration like melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (discolouration left after a spot goes.) If it is only the dark spots that is an issue then AHA’s would target this skin problem better. 

The strength of the ingredient is important to note and gradually building up your usage is critical. Anywhere between 0.5% and 2.0% is safe to use. Overuse can cause mild stinging and skin irritation. Salicylic acid should not be used by pregnant women or women who are breast-feeding.

Hopefully this has helped you understand Salicylic acid and analyse if it is something you feel you need in your skin care regime or not. Here are some products I would recommend.

Nip & Fab have recently released multiple skin care ranges specialising in power ingredients. Their teen range is the Salicylic acid range. They are all cruelty-free products. If you are environmentally conscious maybe avoid the pads and face masks as they are one use only products.


My new favourite versatile skincare range Paula’s Choice have a great collection of BHA products with sample products you can order and try. This is also a cruelty-free company.

The Ordinary have a great skincare range that is cruelty-free with 2% salicylic acid. 

*If you have any skin concerns please speak to a dermatologist before using Salicylic acid.

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Sensitive Skin

Sensitive Skin is a recognised skin type, although surprisingly there is no dermatological definition of what sensitive skin actually is. It is more so defined by individuals experiences and like all things some individuals are affected more seriously than others. Common side effects of sensitive skin include:

  • Sometimes feels hot and itchy after cleansing
  • Flares up easily after using new skincare
  • Is more irritated at certain times in the menstrual cycle
  • Can be oily, combination, dehydrated or dry
  • Can be sporadic 
  • Is prone to being hot with itchy red blotches that get worse if they are touched
  • Sometimes looks angry post-shower
  • Burns fast in the sun 

If you are looking at those symptoms and I’ve hit the nail on the head- then you have sensitive skin. The most important thing to understand about sensitive skin is that each case is different. What works for one ‘sensitive skin sufferer’, might not work for the next. It’s important to spend more time getting to know your skin and what it does and doesn’t respond well to. 

The process of getting to know your skin can be time consuming, but will be rewarding when you find out what pesky ingredient is causing you jip! You need to scale your skincare right back and then introduce ingredients one by one over a long period of time. Ingredients that are most likely to be the culprit, (and are a good place to start), are:

  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulphate
  • Salicylic acid
  • AHAs
  • Alcohol
  • Mineral/palm/paraffin oils
  • Fragrances (very common culprit for sensitivity problems)
  • Parabens
  • Harsh soaps
  • Toners
  • Astringents (ingredients that are designed to make the skin less oily)

There are other reasons someone might have sensitive skin for example eczema or rosacea. For this reason, always consult a dermatologist before trying this method of getting to know your skin. If it is one of these conditions your dermatologist will be more equipped to help you with your skin.

Download the app ‘Think Dirty’. This is an amazing tool where you can scan the barcode of products or search by name and it will give you a break down of all the ingredients in that product and how ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ they are. People also review products on this app and it can be really helpful to have a read through and see what other people with similar skin types say! 

A Skincare Plan for Sensitive Skin


  • Cleanse
  • Hydrating serum if dryness is a problem
  • Moisturiser
  • Sunscreen- opt for sunscreens with zinc or titanium (mineral-based sunscreens) rather than those with chemical filters that have the potential to aggravate sensitive skin.
  • Makeup


  • Cleanse
  • moisturise

Avoid exfoliation altogether as it will aggravate the skin even more. If you have any urgent sensitive skin issues please see your doctor or dermatologist. For any product recommendations please get in touch at 

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Acrylic Nails

I have recently trained and received a qualification in applying, maintaining and removing acrylic nails. Inevitably, conversation regarding Chinese nail salons and their code of practice surfaced whilst on the course. So for the benefit of my readers, I thought I would amalgamate the information I’ve collected, along with some research, to let you know some facts. 

Firstly, for any of you who do not know, acrylic nails are nail extensions that are held on by
a mixture of monomer and powder that combine and solidify on top of the nail. Extensions can be filed to create a variety of nail shapes. With regular maintenance and correct aftercare they will last for months. Acrylic is a porous product which enables you to soak extensions off
using 100% acetone.

There are a large number of acrylic nail shops in the UK, whose workers are predominantly of asian heritage. They are known for being cheaper, quicker and there is one in almost every town in the UK. There have been growing concerns about the materials these salons are using. There are 2 types of acrylic liquid monomer used by nail salons around the world – Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA) and Methyl Methacrylate (MMA).

MMA(Methyl methacrylate) liquid monomer – is a chemical compound that is mainly used in the dental industry for the production of bridges and crowns. It’s a flammable liquid that serves as bone cement – after it solidifies – during joint replacement surgical operations by orthopedic surgeons. MMA also found extensive usage in the production of resins, Plexiglas, and some flooring products.

When used on nails, MMA monomers – composed of tiny molecules – penetrate both the nail plate and skin pores, consequently hardening underneath and sandwiching the natural nails. MMA monomers are extremely hard when they solidify and are significantly more rigid than your natural nail.

When you accidentally jam a fingernail made with Methyl methacrylate, its resistance to breaking is so enormous that your natural nails can rip off completely. This brings about excruciating pain, especially if the breakage occurs near the eponychium. Permanent loss and damage of natural nail, numbness of the fingers, and severe infections are the outcomes of such an occurrence.

MMA is also resistant to solvents, thus it takes an unbearably long time for users to remove MMA acrylic after soaking their fingers in acetone. If you don’t have the luxury of time, the nail technicians will suggest to drill it off. Some nail techs may even decide to forcefully remove the MMA acrylic by forcing the tip of a nail between the enhancement and the natural nail. This can be an agonizing experience that you should not have to go through. What is more, some nail techs don’t care about preserving the natural nail underneath the enhancement product.

MMA cannot stick well without grooves, so nail techs proceed to create them with drills, thus damaging the nail plate in the process while prepping for the enhancement. MMA was not designed to be handled by novices or used outside the confines of a laboratory, but by well-trained professionals within a heavily controlled lab environment. Even though MMA is only dangerous in its liquid state and less dangerous when hardened, it is still not considered safe to use by non-professionals.- UV Hero. (2019). MMA vs EMA Acrylic. Confused? Here’s What You Need to Know!. [online]

A little bit of History

Back in the early 1970’s the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving complaints about injuries caused by nail products containing Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). They began investigating these complaints of fingernail damage and deformity as well as dermatitis. After lots of research and many discussions with medical experts, the FDA filed several lawsuits and injunctions against companies in the US. The FDA made it clear to the public that MMA was not to be used in nail products. Despite internet rumours, MMA is not completely banned  in the US (read about nail products from the FDA site). It is however banned by over 30 states in the US that chose to take action themselves. It is also banned in Canada and New Zealand. MMA is not “banned” in Australia either. Why? Because it “can be used safely in other areas” (eg. dentistry).

Ok, so EMA is Good, MMA is Bad – remember that.

Why do some salons use it?

NSS or unsafe nail salons use MMA because it is much cheaper than the safer alternative EMA. It also sets harder and stronger – which may appear to be a good thing, but it isn’t (see below). They think that it will last longer on your nails.

What MMA really does to you

Exposure to MMA can cause:

  • Irritation
  • Redness and Swelling
  • Skin Sensitisation (tingling or numbness)
  • Respiratory problems or eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • Discolouration of the nails (yellowing)
  • Nail damage or deformities
  • It’s not really known for certain whether or not MMA can cause problems in a human fetus. However, it is known that inhaled MMA can reach an unborn child.

What to be on the lookout for?

    • Unusually low prices – MMA costs about a quarter of the price of EMA and is found in discount salons
    • Nail Technicians wearing masks – certainly not an immediate indication of MMA use (many employees wear masks), but all the clues will start to add up
    • Vague description of brand and products – unlabelled containers and technicians who won’t (or can’t) tell you what they are using. (No recognisable brands such as The Manicure Company, CND or Star.)
    • Much stronger odour – acrylic nails do tend to have a distinctive odour, but MMA has a much stronger and unpleasant fruity odour
    • The acrylic nail turns yellow over time
    • Electric files used on the natural nail – very dangerous and a big warning sign
    • The acrylic nail is very hard and not flexible
    • They will ask you to pay in cash so that there is no record of you attending that nail salon should anything go wrong.

-Polished Beauty. (2019). The Dangers of Cheap Nail Products (MMA) in Cheap Nail Salons. [online] 

“BBC Inside Out has discovered that many budget nail salons are using methyl methacrylate (MMA) which can cause permanent nail damage and severe allergic reactions. 

When reporter Amy Harris visited one nail bar for an undercover manicure she was told they did not use MMA. But when the air sample was tested at the University of Leicester’s laboratories, she discovered MMA had been used.”- BBC News. (2019). How safe is your manicure?. [online]

Legally, only one person needs to be fully qualified in a nail salon if the other people in the salon are ‘training’. They can be in ‘training’ for 1 year before they must get their acrylic nail qualification. Conveniently, once the year is almost up, these unqualified nail technicians then are moved to another franchised nail salon in a different area where the process starts all over again. These workers often don’t get paid fairly for their work, they don’t get to keep their tips and there are rumours that large groups of them are forced to share overcrowded accommodation all in the name of cheap labour. 

If you suspect that you have been exposed to MMA acrylic during your last visit to your local beauty salon, there is no need to fret. The first thing you should do, however, is to remove the nails immediately. If you can’t do it without hurting your natural nails, pay a visit to a reputable salon to get it done for you. Since proper nail maintenance requires getting a fresh set of nails regularly, switch over to EMA-based acrylic nails as soon as possible, and your worries will be over.

*Read on for definitions of the ingredients and processes used in acrylic nails.*

And in short, be aware of the products you are exposing your body to. Do your own research and be educated on MMA and the problems it can cause. Always go to a qualified nail technician who uses branded products from their original packaging. Be aware that some of these nail salons are not what the are cracked up to be!!

The Science

LIQUID (MONOMERS)​ – these are liquids that are used in liquid and powder nail extensions. They ​are a molecule that can mix chemically to other molecules to form a polymer. Monomers consist of one basic molecule, whereas polymers are made up of many monomers. Billions of molecules must react to make just one sculptured nail.

POWDER (POLYMER)​ -​ ​Polymers are very long chains of molecules linked together. Polymers can be liquids but in the nail industry they are usually solids in the form of a powder. The name Polymer comes from two words poly = many, mer = units.

INITIATOR- is an ingredient within a product that will start a reaction in the liquid and powder system. The initiator is present within the polymer (usual Benzyl Peroxide).

CATALYST- is a chemical that speeds up or slows down a chemical reaction. In the instance of applying acrylic nails the catalyst is the heat in the air and the heat in your clients hands.

POLYMERIZATION- is the setting that takes place when a monomer and a polymer are mixed together. To control this reaction an Initiator is needed to start the reaction and a catalyst to control the reaction. – Capital (2019)


BBC News. (2019). How safe is your manicure?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].

Capital (2019). BEGINNERS ACRYLIC NAIL EXTENSIONS. Faceforward Ltd, p.4.

Polished Beauty. (2019). The Dangers of Cheap Nail Products (MMA) in Cheap Nail Salons. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].

UV Hero. (2019). MMA vs EMA Acrylic. Confused? Here’s What You Need to Know!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].