Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Kiehl's: Rare Earth Collection

Shop: KIEHL'S SINCE 1851
Rating: 4.5/5

I had never even heard of Kiehl's. It was only by utter circumstance that I ever encountered the brand.

I was in Venice, early January, when I happened by their shop in San Marco's Square. I was drawn in by the skeleton in the window, the lab coat clad shop assistants and the cabinet of products labelled 'Dermatologist Solutions'. That's it! This veneer of science-y imaging must mean there's some real weight behind their claims! To my surprise, I didn't know just how right I was.

I told the assistant about my troubles and she data scanned my face and found within her the politest way possible to say "Your skin is an utter travesty, darling". She pointed me towards the Rare Earth Collection which is designed for oily skin and oversized pores. She gave me a sachet of the cleaner and a sachet of the face masque and sent me on my considerably merrier way.

I tried both products later that evening. Now, I don't believe in love at first sight, especially when in involves my temperamental skin and very expensive skin care, but I could not have had a more positive experience with these products. I instantly felt their benefits, I instantly fell in love.

I have now purchased the entire Rare Earth Collection (cleanser, tonic, lotion and masque) and use them daily (all but the masque).

Price £18.00 / 150ML
Catagory: CLEANSER 

This is a cleanser that needs to be used with water. It's almost moose-like in texture. I massage and massage this into my face until it's appropriately foamy. It feels just truly wonderful on the skin. I can actually feel how clean my face is becoming with each touch. And after removing all of the product with water, my face feels clean, not the bad squeaky clean, the good soft and supple clean.

It's quite a cooling and fresh product to use. I do squeeze quite a sizeable tube of product into my hand in order to get enough coverage over my face. It's important to be very gentle when washing, I find this product gives softer-feeling skin if you apply it in a softer-feeling way. I concentrate it mostly along my T-zone, massaging in circular motions.

Price £18.00 / 250ML
Catagory: TONER

I was a little confused when the label read 'TONIC', but I understand now that this might just be a nineteenth-century way of saying 'TONER'. 

Oh. My. Goodness. This product is utterly unbelievable. I didn't know what it felt like to be matte until I used this product. It sweeps away every trace of dirt and oil and leaves my skin looking precisely how I have always wanted it to look. But. And this is a big but. 

[These effects are temporary] 

I've had my skin stay matte, and stay put, for about 2-3 hours after use. This isn't to discourage, this is to give this product some credit. This isn't designed to mattify, this is designed to minimise pores. And it handles that a heck of a lot better. 

Without leaving my face feeling tight, this toner managed to firm up and refine my pores. I can visibly and instantly see the difference before and after each use. You're all right, toner.

It's important to shake the bottle well. The Amazonian White Clay (the not-so-secret ingredient) will congregate at the bottom of the bottle, it really needs to be mixed in to take full effect. 

Price £26.00 / 75ML
Catagory: LOTION
URL: http://www.kiehls.co.uk/skin-care/by-category/toners/rare-earth-pore-minimizing-lotion

This product completes the entire Rare Earth Collection. While the toner is still wet, smooth the lotion into the skin then leave it to dry. This completely and entirely does exactly what it says on the tin. My pores have never looked so small, the bigger pores are actually laughing at them now.

This is a light-duty product, that, once dried, can no longer be felt on the skin, but its effects can certainly be quantified. I only use this product in the evening as to not overload my skin during the day. 

It is important to note that this is not a moisturiser and there sadly isn't a Kiehl's moisturiser using that famous Amazonian White Clay. 

Price £21.50 / 125ML
Catagory: FACE MASK

I'm not such a big fan of face masks (or masque, if you'd rather) as I'm a little sceptical about their long-term benefits. Maybe I'm not using the right ones, maybe I'm not using them in the right way. But I used this, and you know what, this is... okay.
This is super soft on skin, in a really non-harsh way. It doesn't even crack because I don't think it can crack. It gently hugs your skin and then delicately glides away when it comes to washing. 

While that's all well and nice, but I don't really notice it doing anything. I feel like I could continue my regime without it and really not know any different. But perseverance is key. Masks are only to be used 1-2 times a week, so maybe this is one for a longer haul.

I will keep my scepticisms aside and push on with this product, hopefully, towards a less-pore-obvious face.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Lush: Grease Lightning

Shop: LUSH

Price £6.40 / 45g


Rating : 4/5

I was initially going to give this product 4.5/5. That is so almost nearly top marks. You know, I like this. I super like this. And it super works. But after 3 weeks of solid use, I came to realise that this is not a solution, this is an investment and therefore plummeted by a whole .5 points. (In hindsight that might be a little unjust)

While I've never really been one for teenage skin - thankfully - I have been one for large, stubborn, under the surface spots.  These only really feature along my neck and jawline and are impossible to remove, as they never break the surface or form a head. Enter, Grease Lightning

I accidentally fell into a spiralling LUSH obsession after receiving three soaps for Christmas. Now, after discovering they also offer skin, hair and make-up products, I cannot leave the stop without a bag full of deliciously fragranced cosmetics. 

Amongst those many cosmetics is the Grease Lightening Spot Treatment. It is one of the only products of this type they seemed to offer, so my hands were pretty much tied into purchasing it...

The product comes out in an oddly non-stick type gel. It has a slick consistency, the kind of texture that never really gets any purchase, it just kind of sits there and gets pushed around a little - meaning, the entire blob can fall from your fingertips in the distance it takes you to move your hand from the pump-action mechanism to your face. 

I massage this product into my jawline to get a full coverage of the problem area. After the product has dried and set, I find that it can flake and peel. This proves extra problematic if it comes into contact with foundation or powder. Making you look both dry and dusty, but hey, at least you don't have acne now.  

It smells. I can't deny that. I don't like the way it smells. I definitely can't deny that. It has a savoury, earthy scent, like falling into the scenery, face first, and then sniffing up, I guess. But it's not a lingering scent, no way.

I've found that the majority of other spot treatments can be very harsh and overbearing to skin. Especially so in sensitive skin. [Chemicals], I guess. This is not like that one bit. This is light and safe and super kind to skin. 

Grease Lightning got to work in quite literally one day. When I woke up the following morning my spots were visibly less red and about half the size. After just half a week, the majority of the spots have disappeared altogether. Two weeks later I gave my neck the all clear, it was good to go. I feel my neck and it doesn't feel like me (having a cylinder wrapped in nice skin resting under my head is a feeling I have to get used to).

I stopped using the product for several days, thinking, "Hey! I'm spot free now, I don't need to treat them any more!" Wrong. They came back and they came back big. It looks like I've bought in now, and I'm staying in.

It's good. It works on me. It is super easy and super effective and I will continue to use this. But I will only continue to use this until something better comes along, unfortunately. 

  • Fast working and effective
  • Kind to skin
  • Leave-on treatment
  • Gel-like consistency makes it difficult to apply
  • Peels off, making skin appear flaky
  • Only a temporary fix
  • [Subjective] Oddly scented

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Bare Some

I have been plagued with terrible skin for as far back as I can remember and in as many unappealing forms as are available. From subsurface blackheads, mirror-like shine to flaky psoriasis, you name it, my skin has been there and bought the t-shirt. And I still suffer through a lot of these issues today.

I had never really taken to doing anything about my qualms. I only started to wear make-up 18 months ago (but does an eyebrow pencil and mascara really even count for all that much?), which is when I endeavoured to target all the problem areas of my face.

I am unfortunate enough to have some alarmingly visible concerns - and without letting a little self-bias take the wheel - are far greater than anyone else I have ever encountered.

A major clincher for me currently is my skin type, which takes three marco forms: oil, grease and shine. And as a subset of this, three micro forms: oversized pores, blackheads and an uneven skin tone. While it is easy to disclose these issues, their gravity is far more difficult to convey. This is taking a rotten effect on my self-esteem. It's become a stress, a worry, a demand for attention. I can squash these taunts with lotions and serums and balms and any other over-typed temporary fix that gets shoved into my Google search, but I can't find the kill switch. There must be a kill switch, right? Right.

I'm going to find one.

From my perspective, trailing the best rated, the over-hyped, the underdogs and anything with the buzzwords matte-finish, shine-free and oil-absorbing slapped across the label is my only futile hope to finally kick this thing into oblivion. It may work or may not work for me and it may work or may not work for you.

This isn't an overnight affair, I'm in this for the long haul. I can't be quick to disregard - though I'm prone to do so if I don't observe immediate results. Some products help over time. Some products are only designed for a temporary fix. Some products are just plain useless. But I can't discover that without benefit of the doubt, patience and will power.

So bring it on cosmetics, show me what you've got!