Posted on 2 Comments

Holiday Makeup

Knowing what makeup to bring with you on a sun holiday is always a struggle. Your normal beauty routine never successfully translates in a warmer climate. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are some make up tips and tricks that will have you feeling your best in every holiday snap.

It’s the end of another blissful day in the sun. You’ve showered the sand off and look in the mirror to find you’ve caught the sun. Your UK foundation is now two shades too light and your normal moisturizer is sliding off your face faster than you can put it on. Nightmare, right?! Well, not if you change things up!

Using an oil-free after sun or moisturizer will help take care of your skin after sun exposure without leaving you feeling oily. A personal favorite is an ultra-moisturising after-sun ‘Rescue Balm’ from Clinique, which contains aloe to help soothe sun-exposed skin. It also helps to reduce the look of peeling after sun exposure. It’s suitable for face and body, plus the balm is oil-free and non-acnegenic. Please don’t skip this step in a bid for a matte complexion, as your skin will need a drink after being out in the sun all day. There are several cooling, mattifying gels available to help reduce shine. These can be layered on top of an oil-free moisturizer or after sun. The best I’ve come across is Benefit’s Porefessional Matte Rescue.

That brings me onto the next ‘go to’ product that will make all the difference. Benefit’s Porefessional primer. This product is like poly-filler, making every fine line, pore or blemish instantly smoothed out. This is a great option for every skin type and will also look great when worn alone. It has no colour, so if you are someone who doesn’t wear a lot of foundation, (or none at all whilst on holiday), look no further than this product for your base.

If you are a foundation-lover, you need to make sure that your colour stays matched. This isn’t an easy job; especially when the light you find in hotel rooms is less than adequate. The quick fix for this is liquid foundation and liquid bronzer. Taking a liquid bronzer or a product equivalent will enable you to darken your foundation day by day as your tan deepens in colour. Benefit’s ‘Dew the Hoola’ does a wonderful job of illuminating your skin whilst deepening the colour. This can be mixed in with your foundation, added on top of foundation, or worn alone to give you an instant tan with sheer coverage. Using this with a large synthetic ‘buffing’ brush is the best way for even application.

When it comes to eye shadow, you should either go all-out with an eye shadow base that will lock that powder on or go for a cream shadow that will set and not crease. My recommendations for eye shadow bases are… Smashbox’s 24hr Primer for eye shadow beginners and P Louise Base for intermediate to advanced eye shadow artists. Below is an example of how this product helps your eye shadow application and staying powder.

For cream shadow, you want to make sure it isn’t going to separate and crease in the fold of your eye lid during wear. I don’t recommend using an eye lid primer with a cream eye shadow; they usually have this ‘built in’, which helps with faster application. The best ones I’ve come across are: Benefit’s Creaseless Cream Eye Shadow, (the shade ‘Birthday Suit’ is gorgeous on all skin!!) or Charlotte Tilbury’s Eyes to Mesmerise (The ‘Rose Gold’ shade is beautiful). These cream shadows can be applied quickly with your fourth finger and look effortlessly stunning.





A natural powder contour goes a long way on holiday and is a great way to accentuate your features and define your face shape. A dusting bronzer on the cheekbones, with a nice bright blush on the apples of the cheeks, will add dimension and a pop of colour whilst still not having a lot of makeup on. Personally, I love highlighter and would make myself shimmer as bright as a disco ball everyday if I could, but I know it’s not everyone’s thing! Optional: add some powder or liquid highlighter to your cheekbones, down your nose and on your cupids bow if you want some added sparkle!

My last couples of tips are that waterproof mascara goes without saying if you want to avoid smudging! Take a cooling spray or matte setting spray out with you in your bag in case you get a bit oily; it’s a great idea to cool yourself down. Urban Decay does the best setting sprays! (…and I’ve tried a lot of different setting sprays!) And finally, it wouldn’t hurt to match your lipstick to your outfit for a pop of holiday sass!

Posted on

The Truth About Sun Cream.

Whether you live in Scotland or Singapore, sunscreen needs to be a part of your daily skincare routine. Sunscreen protects against solar radiation, in particular UVA and UVB rays. Other forms of radiation include infrared and high-energy light and some creams will protect against these also. Many people think that they only need to wear sunscreen in the summer, which could not be further from the truth. On cloudy winter days there is still ultraviolet radiation from the sun and up to 80% of ultraviolet light can penetrate clouds.

The two main repercussions of not wearing sunscreen are simple- skin cancer and premature ageing. Ever heard the phrase prevention is better than cure? Well in this case it’s cheaper too! Anti-ageing products don’t come cheap and a very small percentage of them are proven to be effective.

“Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen SPF 50 is my family favourite, as my partner has very sensitive skin.”

When looking for a good sun cream, it’s important to understand what the numerical values mean. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is simply a measure of the ability to protect against UVB radiation. UVB damages the outer layers of the skin, (which we know all too well is called sun burn) and is very painful and uncomfortable… not to mention bad for you. The SPF is a theoretical multiplier of the amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting burnt. So if your unprotected skin starts to go red in 10 minutes in the sun, an SPF 20 will theoretically allow you to stay outdoors for 200 minutes. Understand? So, twenty times the original duration of ten. Factors can contribute to this figure being inaccurate, such as what condition your skin is in, distance from the equator, altitude, time of year and the most common factor- people simply not putting enough on! Then you have to remember that swimming, clothes coming on and off and towels will rub the cream off, so regular re-application has to be maintained.

With that in mind, please read this bit because it’s important! Using an SPF 30 will not provide twice as much protection as using SPF 15, the same as a factor 20 is not twice as good as a factor 10.

  • SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB
  • SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB
  • SPF 50 blocks about 98% of UVB

So as you can see, there is very little difference between an SPF 30 and an SPF 50. There is also no sunscreen that gives 100% protection against the sun. Another common myth about sunscreen is that you won’t get a sun tan if you wear it. This is not true. You will get a tan, and it won’t make a difference if you are wearing factor 15 or factor 50- as we’ve just proven there isn’t much in it. So slap on factor 50 if it does the same thing and enjoy being able to stay out in the sun longer than you could if you had only put a factor 15 on! In essence, the lower the factor, the more you will have to re-apply to stay safe. Some people tan quickly, some don’t. Don’t put yourself at risk to rush something that will come at its own natural pace. (I promise to do a blog post on fake tan very soon!)

SPF also never gives you any indication whether a sunscreen is also offering you protection against UVA. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper than UVB and are the rays typically associated with ageing of the skin. Sunscreens sold in the EU have a ‘star rating’ for UVA or ‘UVA logo’ on the label. It is becoming more common now for sunscreens to contain both UVA & UVB protection so always go for that option where possible. In the UK, whilst UVB levels fluctuate with the seasons, UVA remains relatively static throughout the year. UVA can also penetrate windows so if you spend a lot of time driving or sitting by a window it’s worthwhile wearing sunscreen all year round.

“This is my everyday facial sunscreen, it’s hard-core sun protection but dries quickly.”

Moving on to your face. You want to make sure you are wearing a minimum of SPF 15 with UVA cover, on your face everyday. SPF 15 is fine for those with olive or darker skin types and SPF 30 is suitable for most white, Caucasian skin. Very fair, pale skin could benefit from increasing to an SPF 50. Lots of products such as moisturiser and foundation have SPF added, as you have probably already noticed. However, the truth is that most of us do not use enough of our cosmetic product to achieve the same SPF as a sunscreen alone. Generally living in the UK, combined products are fine to use in the winter, but come summer switching to using a separate sunscreen is a must.

If you regularly exfoliate or you work outdoors, you are definitely better off with a separate, regular sunscreen. If you spend more than twenty minutes a day outside or live nearer the equator, the same applies. If you do exfoliate regularly, always remember to do it at night and not in the morning. If you scrub off all the dead skin cells in the morning, your skin is fresh and more vulnerable to burning and being damaged in the sun.

  • Oily skin types should opt for sunscreens with a matte finish and light gel or fluid texture
  • Dry skin types should opt for rich creams and balms
  • Sensitive skin types might find sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are better than those with chemical filters.

Sunscreen is the last skin care product applied before makeup. Sunscreen goes on AFTER moisturizer. You should use about half a teaspoon of product to your face and neck. This needs to dry for three to five minutes before applying primer or foundation. So slap some on and go and brush your teeth- that’s what I do!

Thanks for reading this blog! Sun protection is something I think is so important to educate our children and ourselves about! I get most of my scientific knowledge and research from what I learnt during my degree and also from reading The Skincare Bible by Dr Anjali Mahto, a UK dermatologist. Please like, share and learn!!

*Due to the nature of today’s blog, here is a ‘no makeup selfie’ with my crew enjoying the sun, with little Esme laying on the cuteness factor 50!!

Posted on 3 Comments

Don’t get fooled!

This week’s blog is all about the terminology that catches us out. Most labels are there to look pretty and entice us to buy the product. But how much of what is written is true? How much of what we read has real meaning or value? And how many products are we buying under false pretenses?

The first thing to remember when shopping for skin care, hair care or makeup is that magazines and advertising have close relationships with PR companies. PR companies work for beauty companies. So, beauty companies pay PR companies lots of money to promote them, therefore most of the quotes you read in the speech bubbles by this ‘expert’, or that ‘celebrity’ are indirectly sponsored. The truth, is rarely posted in big bold letters. The point I am making is, that the ‘experts’ are rarely actually ‘experts’ and this does make it super confusing to ever get sound medical or scientific advice about what you are buying. I recommend to anyone having trouble with their skin, read Dr Anjali Mahto’s book called ‘The Skincare Bible’. She is one of the UK’s leading dermatologists and this book has been my bible whilst learning about skin care over the years. Link below, Amazon £9.76.

Brands take advantage of the fact we don’t understand the long scientific terminology they print on their packaging and therefore usually baffle us. I will reference some quotes that have helped me through the minefield that is the skincare aisle.

“Hypoallergenic: This is a manufacturer claim that a product will cause fewer allergies than others. It is not, however, a legally binding term; there is no minimum industry standard to prove the product causes fewer allergic reactions.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.47.

“Non-comedogenic: The literally means ‘will not block pores’ and is often found on the label of skincare for those with acne or oily skin. If an ingredient is comedogenic, it will encourage blocked pores and the formation of black heads. Traditional gold-standard testing for comedogenicity was carried out on rabbit ears. Chemical ingredients were simply applied to the rabbit’s ears and scientists would look to see if comedones or blackheads developed. Many cosmetic scientists and dermatologists felt it was inaccurate and misleading and many influential dermatologists later discredited its use. The EU has now banned animal testing and comedogenicity test commonly take place on humans.

The main problem with products labelled as ‘non-comedogenic’ is that, yet again, there are no industry standards or regulation… therefore, it can still clog pores.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.48-49.

“Clinically proven: This means it is almost NEVER a robust clinical trial with a sound scientific methodology, an adequate sample size or appropriate statistical analysis.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.49.

“Dermatologically tested: Another term deliberately meant to lead you astray. In the UK, there is NO legal definition of the term. According to the EU guidance, the implication is that a dermatologist has supervised the testing on humans. However, there are no standard tests for the safety of efficacy of cosmetic products.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.49.

“Natural: Some have suggested that ‘natural’ should mean that at least 5% or more of the ingredients are found in nature. It’s definition, however, is not regulated in the US or UK. The biggest mistake I see is that people equate natural skincare with somehow being safer than products lacking the label. Botanicals’, herbs and essential oils can still cause irritation and allergies, and these are commonly documented in scientific literature.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.51.

“Organic: The organic label in skincare is also not regulated in the UK. It loosely means a product with ingredients that are grown without the use of artificial chemicals. The majority of these types of products that are certified organic have non-organic ingredients also. As there is no legal definition and the various certification bodies have different criteria to meet for product labeling, there is no beauty industry standard.

Things are a bit better in the US, where the USDA (United Department of Agriculture) provides guidelines for organic labeling in cosmetics. For a product to be labelled ‘organic’, 95% of its ingredients must be certified; ‘organic-derived’ products need only contain 70%. Ingredients are listed in descending order of their percentage of a products composition.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.51-52. So it’s always important to check the label.

“Some have concerns about having products with ingredients that are pesticide-free. However, there is little evidence to show that pesticides in skincare products can penetrate the skin barrier.”- Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.53.

“Organic and natural skincare products are a choice. Some will prefer to use these as they feel like a healthier lifestyle option, and that’s okay. But remain mindful that they may not be any better for your skin. The label itself may not be the halo you first took it for.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.53.

“Fragrance Free: This should mean exactly what it says on the tin but this is not always the case. The only way to be certain is to check the ingredients list.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.51. Refer to book for list of fragrance ingredients to look out for if your skin reacts to fragrance and also be mindful that essential oils fall under a different category but will also contain fragrance.

“Free from chemicals: Now, this one is definitely a label to ignore. Technically speaking, everything is made from chemicals.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.55.

Ah, we reach my favorite term we are seeing more and more of… “Vegetarian/Vegan: In the UK, there is no legally binding definition of a vegetarian or vegan product and you are very much relying on the manufacturer to not be making unsubstantiated claims. Organisations such as PETA provide a list of animal-derived ingredients to avoid; the Vegetarian Society has several approved products. It can be difficult to be entirely certain whether manufacturing process uses animal-derived agents that do not appear in the final product.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.56.

This also depends on what you are looking for because cruelty-free products are different to vegan/vegetarian products. One is about whether that product has been tested on animals and the other is whether that product contains any ingredients derived from animals. It’s worth remembering also that just because a product hasn’t been tested on animals doesn’t mean that the ingredients haven’t been tested on animals individually.

“Preservative free: Preservatives are an important component of skincare and are added to beauty products to enhance their shelf-life by preventing the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold. Clearly, this is a good thing (and it would be far worse to not have them); smearing germ-contaminated products around the face or near the eyes is likely to lead to infection.” Mahto, A. (n.d.). The Skincare Bible. p.57. For more details on common preservatives see page 57 of the skincare bible.

So, take it from the dermatologist expert and not me. I have done a fair bit of research and can say I have found lots of evidence to back up everything she says in this book. Next time you go to the shops to buy a beauty product and you decide to buy a product that is £150.00 because it’s ‘Clinically tested’ or ‘organic’ make sure you know what you are buying. Also make sure a product isn’t being sold for a fraction of the price with the exact same ingredients on a different aisle!! I frequently go from high end to low end comparing products of all different prices and by doing that you can find some fantastic low budget products! I hope this blog has helped your understanding of label lingo!

As it’s October, here is a slightly more scary selfie from last years halloween!