Empties, Fulls and Re-visits

I’ve saved up a bunch of my empty products (and chucked in some nearly-empties as well) to do this post. It’s all skin care, I’m afraid, because has anyone ever actually finished make-up? Except for foundation, I don’t think I’ve ever used up any single make-up item before…



1. Hadalabo Tamagohada Face Wash Foam :  Repurchase

  • This is a pretty standard face wash. Although it contains AHAs and BHA, the face wash remains relatively mild.

2. Sun Bears Super Suscreen SPF 50+ PA +++: Repurchase

  • I can’t really get away from this sunscreen. I’ve dabbled in a few others since this post, but I always come back to my trusty Sun Bears. While it’s not perfect, it’s the best I’ve found so far because it’s the only alcohol free sunscreen I’ve used that strikes a good balance between high protection and cosmetic elegance. I have a feeling its UVA protection isn’t as high as I’d like (the PA measuring system is very limited, as explained in this post), but it’ll have to do for now. Anyway, I’ve been through countless bottles of this, and, thanks to my dad, have about 8 new ones to get started on.

3. Mandom Barrier Repair Concentrate: Repurchase

  • I actually finished this about a month ago, and I’ve been trying to see if I could do without it. Turns out, I can’t. I’m pretty sure my skin hates me: it’s dry, it’s itchy, and it’s red. I wanted to cut this out because it has so so many ingredients in it. While that hasn’t bothered me before, a few months ago I stopped using some products that were ineffective; they didn’t do anything good to my skin, but nothing bad either – or so I thought. After discontinuing use, skin problems that I had accepted as facts of life (tiny bumps, red patches – mostly inconsequential, but slightly annoying issues) disappeared. While my skin hadn’t been full-on allergic to the products, it evidently had some sensitivities to the ingredients. Since that revelation I’ve been trying to stick to simpler products, hence the cutting out of Mandom Barrier Repair. As you can tell, that was a huge mistake; any tiny improvements in my skin (I haven’t noticed any) will have been completely obliterated by the general crappiness that my skin has sunk into. (Ending a sentence on a preposition – classy.)
  • To sum up: My skin – Mandom Barrier Repair = Frowny face

4. Coconut Oil: Repurchase

  • My hair is so damn shiny. Also it’s fun to bake with.

5. Garden of Wisdom Clearly Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum: Repurchase

  • This is a really simple hyaluronic acid serum; it has very few ingredients, but it works well to hydrate my skin. It’s also much more affordable than number 6.

6. Juju Aquamoist Hyaluronic Acid Essence: Won’t repurchase

  • Like the GoW serum in number 5, the Juju Aquamoist has very few ingredients, so my skin likes it. However, having used 3 full bottles of the stuff, I find that in each one I ‘hit air’ on the pump after only about 2 weeks, and I’m scraping out the bottle with a spatula after 4. I don’t use it excessively – one pump, once a day – so I’m not going to repurchase, because it would just cost too much in the long run. The GoW serum is much more reasonable alternative.

7. La Roche Posay Physiological Micellar Solution: Repurchase

  • An oldie, but a goodie. I’ve got through so many bottles of this make-up remover: it’s simple but effective.



1. Sun Bears Super Sunscreen SPF 50+ PA+++

  • Man it’s lucky Sun Bears is cheap, I’m lousy with the stuff.

2. Garden of Wisdom Light n’ Bright Serum

  • I thought it was about time to start doing something with my, somewhat mottled, skin. This has really good reviews so I’m going to start applying it to one side of my face to see what happens. I’ll report back.

3. Garden of Wisdom Chock Full of Vitamins Serum

  • I’ve been on the hunt for what is, in effect, a multi-vitamin for my skin. I’ve tried a few antioxidant serums so far but haven’t noticed a lot of difference in my skin, so here’s hoping the Chock Full of Vitamins one will do it.



1. Neal’s Yard Palmarosa Facial Wash

  • I used to use this as my regular face wash, and went back to it recently because I forgot to bring my wash bag with me when travelling. I LOVE the smell, but the face wash itself isn’t exactly ground-breaking. It’s resoundingly fine so I’ll probably throw it out or use it as a body wash because I like the smell so much.

2. Avene Skin Recovery Cream

  • I mentioned this in my Skin Rescue post and it’s really been put through its paces recently. Since trying to wean myself off Mandom Barrier Repair, my skin has gone crazy – dry patches all over the place, red irritated patches caused by dehydration, basically painful and sad. I started to the Skin Recovery Cream at night, and in a few days my skin was so much better. A week later, my skin is almost back to normal – it’s still a little angry after the shower, but this cream calms it right down.

3. Shiseido D Program Repair Mist

  • D Program is a Shiseido line that caters to reactive skin, and I used to use this mist a lot when I was in Japan. I’ve recently started using it again because of the hot weather and because of my dry skin. I find that these moisturising mists are never hugely hydrating, but they do some good in that area. Their real strength is in skin refreshing and make-up fixing. Because my skin has been pretty dry recently, most foundations look pretty terrible on top of it. A spray of this mist fixes that and makes foundation look much more natural.
  • This is nice to have, but not exactly a skin care necessity. I’ll most likely keep using this until it runs out, and then maybe buy a cheaper alternative.

    Which products have impressed you recently? And which have been…not so impressive? Have you conducted any skin experiments like I did with the Mandom Barrier Repair? Did they also go disastrously wrong?

Skin Rescue: Top 3 Products for Reactive Skin

So my skin is kind of crazy. On its dating profile it would probably describe itself as ‘quirky’ but we all know that just means psychopath. You wouldn’t want to date my skin (let’s disregard the creepiness that would entail): one day it’s all happy and understanding but the next it goes insane because you looked at it the wrong way. Peh. Anyway so I’ve had to deal with this for a while, and in the process I’ve whittled down my skin-soothing arsenal to 3 products:

Calamine Lotion, Avene Skin Recovery Cream, and Avene Soothing Moisture Mask.

These 3 products are my all-rounders, ready for most skin issues (apart from like…the plague. You should probably see someone about that.).

Calamine Lotion

Calamine Lotion

Calamine Lotion is awesome stuff. It is really cheap and has a multitude of uses:

  • Itches: Calamine lotion is really effective when it comes to relieving itches. During my first week in Japan I was bitten loads of times by mosquitoes – and Japanese mosquitoes leave impressive marks (about the size of a 10p coin)! Calamine lotion soothed the bites instantly and effectively. Calamine also works well on itchy rashes. Incidentally, Calamine lotion doesn’t treat the rashes – so while your rash may have stopped itching, it doesn’t mean it will go away.
  • Blemishes: Calamine lotion contains Zinc Oxide and therefore can make an effective on-the-spot blemish treatment. Many people use it as a mask to absorb oil but this should only really be done by those with super-oily skin; Calamine lotion can be very drying.
  • Sunburn: While I can attest to the effectiveness of Calamine lotion for blemishes and itches, I haven’t been sunburned in years and so I can’t vouch for its sunburn-soothing properties. I have heard, however, of many cases where Calamine lotion has been helpful in soothing sunburn, and hey, if you have it in the house you might as well try it.

The one issue I have with Calamine lotion is its consistency: it is very watery so if you apply a lot of it to an area you need to lie still and wait for it to dry before you do anything. Otherwise it will just run off the area. I think you can get it in cream form though so perhaps when I restock I’ll buy that instead.

Avene Skin Recovery Cream and Soothing Moisture Mask

Avene Skin Recovery Cream

  • Rashes: While Calamine Lotion is effective in soothing itchy rashes, Avene Skin Recovery Cream covers the other types of rash. Sometimes I get rashes from shaving that burn and this recovery cream is really good at treating and soothing them. I also use it on any rashes where there is broken skin – I’m not sure if this is recommended but I have had nothing but good results so far.
  • Moisturiser for sensitive skin: This cream is meant to restore the skin’s ‘natural balance’ so if my skin is a little more dehydrated than usual I often use this instead of my usual moisturiser. Also if my skin is being a little temperamental I prefer to use this to moisturise to minimise the risk of my skin going insane. My skin has been really dry recently but sadly this cream hasn’t been too effective in helping with that. I think that this cream is more useful when your skin is behaving in a different way from usual. Right now my skin is naturally very dry, so this cream doesn’t do much – but when my skin is just having a bad day and acting strangely this cream is the first thing I reach for.

Avene Soothing Moisture Mask

  • Reactive Skin: So my skin had a tantrum a few months ago. It got to the point where some parts of my skin started reacting to water. This reactiveness had some link to how dehydrated my skin was even though my skin didn’t look dehydrated – no flakiness etc.. Either way, using this moisture mask seemed to restore my skin to its normal state and with frequent use its usual defences returned.
  • Dry Patches at the Corners of your Mouth: Sometimes I don’t really use this as a mask, instead I keep it on and use it as a moisturiser. This is especially the case when the corners of my mouth get really dry and cracked. I’m not really sure why this happens – some people say a vitamin B deficiency, some people say toothpaste (?) – but it’s annoying and sometimes kind of painful if you open your mouth too wide. Anyway when I notice the corners of my mouth getting a bit tender I put this on every night just on those areas and I leave it on until morning. It works pretty well as a preventative measure. It’s so-so as a treatment: I find that once those cracks are there they’re very very difficult to get rid of.

Incidentally, this product is not specifically designed for sensitive skin. All Avene products are carefully formulated to some extent to minimise the chance of adverse reactions, but there are a few which are targeted more specifically to sensitive skin (like the Skin Recovery Cream). This mask has fragrance in it so for those who are super-sensitive, you may want to steer clear.

Sudocrem almost made it on this list – I do find it useful as an all-round treatment but I don’t find it as effective as any of the products listed above. Many people swear by Aloe Vera gel (buy the purest version possible) but for me I find it largely ineffective.