Darphin Purifying Balm - Spa In A Jar

Friday, 27 April 2012

Having a history of acne and reactive skin I have never believed, even from the mouths of 'industry insiders', that oil formulations and oily skin could co-exist in anything other than a squelchy, hellish union. It was very much a case of tra-la-la experts, talk to the hand 'cos this face ain't listening. To my grease-phobic mind the thought seemed ridiculously counterproductive

However, and it pains me to say it as I hate being wrong, having trialled Darphin Purifying Balm (a press sample) over the past six months I'm seeing method in the madness.

A match made in skincare heaven? Well, oil be damned (couldn't resist)

Since kicking my spot-prone complexion into touch with Alpha-H skin care, I've found I'm able to use richer, treatment products - on occasion - without ill effect. Result. I can't go bonkers and baste my face in oil every night ( now that would just be asking for trouble) but I can enjoy the pampering benefits that balms and the like offer.

You'd be hard pressed nowadays to find a skincare range without a balm of some form in their line, but not all are born equal or have the same uses. For example, many cleansing balms at both the high and low-end of the market contain ingredients likely to unbalance the skin such as petroleum and mineral oils. I try and avoid both of these where possible after having once been told by a dermatologist that they act as 'shrink-wrap,' creating a seal that prevents moisture from entering the epidermis and toxins from exiting = a dry, slick, congested skin. 

But it's not just chemical synthetics that can irritate. Some natural oils such as coconut and wheatgerm also have a high propensity to clog pores. As an aside, did you know that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (derived from coconut oil and used in cosmetics as a cleansing, lathering agent) is highly comedogenic? Food for thought if you use SLS shampoos and get breakouts around the hairline or forehead. I discovered this fact via an enlightening article on Viva Woman. Read the full article here

Anyway, I'm digressing as Darphin Purifying Balm isn't a cleanser and doesn't contain any of the above which translates in the texture; a silky, extremely fine and supple balm that melts as soon as you rub it between your fingertips. This is a luxurious product saturated with skin-conditioning oils in the base - apricot kernal oil, sunflower seed oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil and beeswax - and additional decongestant, purifying and calming oils such as tea tree, sage, thyme, lavender, ylang ylang, balsam copaiba (an anti-inflammatory), geranium and chamomile. 

Six months of once/twice weekly use and
there's still a smidgen left

Unlike a cleansing balm designed to be removed, this balm is applied to the skin at night as a treatment. I use it once or twice a week when my skin's looking dull, peaky or it's a Friday evening and I'm on wine glass number 3 and counting... The smell is aromatherapy spa divine and I 'cup and sniff' - somehow that sounds gross but is in fact gorgeous - every time I melt it in my hands. 

Don't panic if your skin feels really rather oily on application because by morning there will be little, if any, trace. Results-wise how does a smoother, brighter, more balanced complexion with a reduction in open pores grab you? Hell yeah, it grabs me too. 

The only downside to all this marvellousness is, of course, the price. At around £37 for 15ml (I've got bigger lip balms!) it's a lot of dosh for a teeny pot but I would still highly recommend it for any skin type, not just oil-phobics, as you need only use a small amount. Mine has lasted for a good six months. 

Have you used Darphin skincare? I'd love to hear your thoughts. And could you would you mix oily skin with oil?

* Darphin Purifying Balm is available nationwide (check out the store locator here) and at online beauty outlets. 

Ooh La La! Lovely Lilacs (pinks) From Make Up Store

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Sometimes I jump on the idea of a make-up trend and then quickly scuttle away before I've even tried it. You know, you buy something that you think will be a bit different and then in the cold, hard light of day - bottle it.

Colour me (err) lilac - with a touch of tan

So it has been with the colour lilac. Before Christmas (this is how long it's taken me to muster the courage), I spotted a brand I'd never seen before on Carnaby Street called Make Up Store. Inside, it looked a lot like M.A.C and quite a bit like a professional film and theatre make-up shop; rows upon rows of pigment, shimmer and sheen presided over by extremely helpful, colour-confident and immaculately made-up MUA's. I went in and walked out with a caramel blusher, a lilac blusher and a dinky lilac lip gloss pot. I then proceeded to spend £16 on Christian Lacroix notelets in Liberty. What can I say, it had been a nerve-wracking day. I was trying to shop the edge off of it.

Since then lilac has been popping up everywhere. I especially love the lilac lips, cheeks and tan coloured eye-combos showcased recently in a ton of magazine editorials, so decided to finally embrace this most powdery of purple shades. It has to be said that I appear to have used a TOWIE trowel to load on the blusher but I still like the look; fresh and spring-like.

Shade-shifting: in some lights the blush and gloss appear
 less lilac - more pink

Neither of the shades I used on my cheeks (Matt Glory) and lips (Bay) are actually as lilac as they seem in their pans. Instead, they're a cool pink with slightly violet undertones but very lovely nonetheless. The second blusher (Matt Caramel) is a tan hue with a hint of dusky rose/maroon. I've been using it as a cheek contour  - every 10 years I rediscover my cheekbones - and generally as a means of warming up a genetically wan skin tone. It's a useful, versatile shade. 

Considering that there is a lot of powder fall-out from the blushers (the talc high up in the ingredients list is probably responsible for that), I wasn't expecting the quality to be up to much but these are surprisingly good. I chose the matt variety which are so sheer - but buildable as you can see! - that they actually blend very, very evenly. As an aside, a blusher that doesn't apply patchily can only ever be a positive in my book. Being a perfectionist I HATE it when that happens. 

In terms of negatives, the casing is so butter-fingers light that the blushers have ended up skimming the bathroom floor like hockey pucks on more than one occasion. The lids also have an annoying habit of slipping out of their hinges. At £14 for a Blush Colour and £11 for a Lip Gloss Pot it would obviously be highly preferable for these things not to happen, but neither would put me off of buying more from the range because the effects/performance of the make-up itself are - luckily - so good.

Ultimately, I haven't found my perfect lilac shade but I have found a perfect violet/pink blush and a make-up range I will return to. Have you tried Make Up Store? x

Arty & Bella - New Clips On The Block

Thursday, 12 April 2012

There's something about handmade gifts that always appeals to me. The care, attention to detail and the fact that time and effort have been poured into bringing a personal vision to fruition makes buying for others somehow more special. When I saw these beautifully crafted Arty & Bella floral hair clips in a local shop I knew I had the birthdays of all BB's favourite little ladies sorted.

We started with the girls from his baby group. The 'adorables' I've known since they had wispy, newborn chick hair but who now (at a blink-and-you-missed-it 3-years old) have curls, ponytails and fringes that make the cutest canvasses for pretty clips. I split two packs amongst three girls which worked out at £8 a pair, including the shop mark-up, and teamed them with mini Paperchase rucksacks that I bought in the January sales for a bargainous £2 each. I have never been - and will probably never again be - so organised.

Buying handmade also makes me feel, as BB likes to say, 'sharing/caring'. Since becoming a mum I try to support other mum's businesses where I can and take my hat off to all the ingenious, inventive women - like Arty & Bella's Zelda Burborough - who now fall into the WAHM (work at home mum) camp.

Women who, in the wee small hours when their children are asleep or during snatches of time when little ones have been dispatched to nursery, pre-school and school are busy baking, sewing, designing, painting, writing, photographing, product-making and more. In theory it all sounds glossy magazine idyllic but, in practice, getting a business off of the ground and maintaining it from home must sometimes feel like a labour of love. 

So, next time you need to buy a gift why not think about supporting a local, kitchen-table business if you can? Paying it forward might just make someone's day. When I contacted Zelda to ask if I could use a couple of her images for this post she replied by saying 'I spend so much time shut away sewing it's always good to hear that people like what you do!' Buying something (when you can afford to), means you show a home-grown business that you don't just like what they do, you love it.

For more Arty & Bella treats take a look online here. I have my beady-eye on this Jubilee Headband, £20 and these Japanese Liberty Print Hello Kitty Hair Elastics, £4.50. 

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