Lifestyle

BeWater Elements Glass Bottle

BeWater are a wonderful little company who specialise in the creation of crystal-infused water bottles. They carry both BPA-free Tritan plastic bottles and glass bottles, and each one contains a chamber full of various crystals inside.

Since I purchased my first bottle from BeWater, my drinking-related waste has dropped considerably. I take it with me everywhere I go, so that I always have access to water and don’t need to buy single-use plastic drinks bottles. It has slotted so well into my life that it’s barely noticeable. Except that BeWater bottles ARE noticeable because they are so beautiful. The BeWater team sent me their Elements glass bottle to review, and just look at how lovely it is…

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It really is gorgeous, isn’t it?

The general idea is that the plastic bottles are ideal for taking out and about with you, whilst the heavier and arguably more fragile glass bottles are perfect for keeping at home or on your desk. And now that I have both types of BeWater bottle, I can say that this system works nicely.

So, onto the bottle itself.

Obviously, appearance is a huge factor with these bottles. They are stunning, and far more attractive than your standard water bottle! Friends and family who have seen my two bottles are always keen to talk about them; they’re certainly a conversation piece.

The Elements bottle is filled with amethyst, rose quartz, fossilised wood, chalcedony, and ocean agate. BeWater say that Elements “is a beautiful all-rounder. Each of the stones matches one of the elements used in Chinese Medicine and when all of these elements are in balance and flowing freely in your body, wellness and vitality result!”

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Which leads me on to the question that everyone asks about my bottles: “do the crystals actually do anything?”

I suppose the answer to that question depends on what you believe about crystals themselves. Personally, I love the idea of crystals affecting and improving our mental states and environments. That’s not to say I believe that they can do this, (empirical evidence about crystals is rather hard to find), but I’m very open-minded about them.

BeWater say that “gemstones have the amazing property that they absorb energy from light, heat and pressure and convert it into electric energy – each emitting a unique frequency. The gemstones in bewater bottles transfer their energy information to the water in the bottle, changing and improving the water’s structure and its oxygen and pH levels.”

And clearly, crystals like quartz do do something. When you pass an electrical current through the quartz in a watch, for example, it oscillates at a very precise frequency, creating the electric pulses which power the watch. So far be it from me to deny the efficacy of these bottles.

I can’t really tell you if these bottles have improved the structure or pH of the water I’m drinking, because I’m not sure how to test those claims. What I can tell you is that plain old tap water tastes really nice from this bottle, and it stays cooler a lot longer.

So basically, if you’re a fan of crystal healing, this a wonderful bottle for you. And even if you don’t believe in crystals, we should all believe in saving the planet. Using a reusable water bottle is a great way to contribute to the cause, and with a BeWater bottle you can do it in style.

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When it comes to practicality, the glass bottles are very easy to clean. Both the lid and the base unscrew, allowing you to the remove the crystal chamber attached to the base. You can uncrew the chamber too, allowing you to swap it out for a different crystal combination. BeWater sell these interchangable chambers seperately, which I think is a great idea.

In fact, the only minor gripe I have with this bottle is that, when filling up, water can sometimes run down the outside of the bottle and collect in the rim of the base, as it doesn’t quite sit flush to the glass. Then, when drinking and tilting the bottle, the accumulated dribbles can then drop out onto my lap! I suppose this will just teach me to take greater care when filling it up.

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Finally, onto price.

For a Tritan plastic bottle with crystal chamber, you’ll be paying between £21.95 and £24.95, depending on the crystals you choose.

For a glass bottle, they’re between £24.95 and £29.95.

This certainly situates them at the more expensive end of the reusable water bottle scale, but you’re paying for quality. Crystals don’t come cheaply, and all BeWater crystals are A grade and ethically sourced, which is importand to me. Ultimately, you’re buying a beautifully crafted bottle which will stand the test of time, and which you will use again and again. Considering the amount of use I have gotten from my two bottles already, I’d say that’s pretty cost effective.

I’d like to say a big thank you to BeWater for providing this bottle for my review, and for creating such eye-catching and lovely bottles. You can see their full range by visiting their website, here: www.bewater.com.

Annie xx

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Skincare

Klairs Mid-day Blue Sun Lotion Review

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: for the love of all things holy, WEAR YOUR GODDAMNED SUNSCREEN.

We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. Never before has it been easier to learn about topics which interest us at the click of a button. So really, you have no excuse if you’re still ‘in the dark’ about the dangers of excess, unprotected sun exposure.

Sorry if that sounds a little harsh, but I honestly still can’t believe that in 2018 I’m still seeing people upload photos of extreme sunburn, saying, “oops, I guess I caught the sun a little today!” No shit. Each and every time you burn your skin in the sun, you are doing irreparable damage to your skin cells, which can eventually lead to skin cancer.

And no, it’s not “too cold to get burnt” or “the sun isn’t strong enough to burn today.” You can get sunburn when skiing for Christ’s sake. It’s not the heat of the sun that burns your skin, it’s the invisible UVA and UVB rays which do so, and funnily enough UVA rays can still penetrate clouds.

UVA rays are the ones which can cause premature skin aging and wrinkling, whilst UVB rays are the ones which play a key role in the development of skin cancer. So, even if in autumn and winter you’re not necessarily being exposed to strong UVB rays, you are definitely still exposed to photoaging UVA rays.

So, in short, if you want to lessen your risk of premature skin aging and skin cancer, you should be wearing a broad spectrum sun screen on your face every day of the year. Don’t forget your hands, too; they’re often overlooked but are usually exposed as much as your face.

Luckily for you, I’ve found an everyday facial sunscreen which is non-greasy and now a staple in my skincare regime.

Klairs Mid-day Blue Sun Lotion, SPF 40 PA++

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Provided by the lovely people at Skinsider Cosmetics, a UK-based K-beauty company, I am pleased to now offer my review of this sunscreen.

Firstly, how broad is the spectrum of protection offered by Mid-day Blue? The two ratings you’re looking for are the SPF rating and the PA rating. SPF indicates the level of protection from UVB rays while PA indicates the level of protection from UVA rays.

Mid-day Blue claims to have a SPF of 40 which is very high, blocking around 98% of UVB rays. It has a PA++ rating, which is a medium protection level (PA ratings are either +, ++, or +++, with three being the highest level of protection.) PA++ is ideal for normal skin exposed to medium UV radiation, which makes it perfect for an everyday sunscreen for a UK resident. If you’re going on holiday to a country where the UV index is high, you might want to invest in a separate sunscreen with a higher PA rating.

In terms of efficacy and feel on the skin, I find it to be great in both areas. I have worn Mid-day Blue every day for approximately two months, a period which coincided with the ridiculous heat wave! Not once did my skin burn, despite being an avid horse rider who spends a lot of time outside.

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On the skin it feels moisturising but quickly dries to a smooth finish without any greasiness. The only complaint I have about Mid-day Blue is that, due to the faint blue colour of the lotion, it does leave a blueish cast on my pale skin. After a while this becomes less noticeable and if I apply foundation over the top it isn’t visible at all. However, it is something to consider if your skin is darker than mine. Klairs say that the light cast is to brighten the skin, which I suppose it does, but not everybody wants this feature.

One final thing to add about the lotion is that it is fragrance free, making it perfect for sensitive skin! It does contain lavender oil which gives it the most beautiful scent, but it doesn’t featuring an irritating and unecessary perfumes.

Price wise, the Klairs Mid-day Blue Sun Lotion can be purchased from Skinsider Cosmetics for £18.50 for 100ml, here. Considering I used to buy the Soap & Glory facial SPF lotion which is £15 for 30ml, I think this a really excellent price.

Skinsider Cosmetics is really worth looking at if you’re into your Korean beauty products like I am! They stock some of the best K-beauty brands out there, and are always wonderful helpful with any questions you may have.

I would like to thank the Skinsider team for providing this sun lotion, and for helping me discover my new favourite SPF!

Annie xx

Skincare

Blossom Jeju Sleeping Mask Review with Skinsider Cosmetics

When I talk about sleeping masks, I don’t mean the pink fluffy eye covers that girls supposedly wear at sleepovers, I’m talking about the last step of a Korean skincare routine.  These gels and creams frequently contain occlusive ingredients which act as a physical barrier, stopping previous layers of products from evaporating off your skin. And when you think about it, this is a pretty vital step, especially when it comes to Korean cosmetics. Meticulously applied layers of toner, essence, ampoule, serum, lotion, and night cream can all slide away if a sleeping mask isn’t placed over the top to lock everything down. At least that’s my logic, anyway.

However, finding the right sleeping mask can be tricky. I’ve had rocky experiences with some popular, ‘Holy Grail’ type masks which other K-beauty lovers swear by. I think I have worked out that my skin really doesn’t like Butylene Glycol, as any time I use a product containing it, I get lots of little red bumps all over my face. Therefore, when Skinsider offered to send me the Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Blooming Vitamin Sleeping Mask (aaand breathe), I was pleased to see that Butylene Glycol didn’t appear in the ingredients list.

Skinsider Blossom Jeju Sleeping Mask Review

Skinsider Cosmetics are a UK-based online retailer of Korean beauty and skincare products. Korean cosmetics can be tricky to get hold of in the UK, especially if you’re looking for premium, less well-known brands. This is where Skinsider really excel. Founder Karolina handpicks every single product that they stock, and her mission is to help everyone improve their skin with K-beauty. When I told her about my skin concerns, (general dryness and dullness), she suggested this sleeping mask from Blossom Jeju. I have been testing it for about 6 weeks now, which has given me a really good understanding of the product, and a clear appreciation of how well it works on my skin!

The Review:

Blossom Jeju’s Pink Camellia Sleeping Mask is a thin and glossy gel, containing hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3. Before I began my testing and reviewing phase, I wrote down my initial expectations and thoughts about the product. I hoped that it would have a softening, hydrating effect on my skin, and that it would improve the feel of my skin each morning. The first time I applied it, it felt pleasantly cooling and spread very easily over the rest of the products on my face. It dried down to a comfortable, tacky layer, and I slept without issue.

Skinsider Blossom Jeju Sleeping Mask Open

One of my favourite things about this sleeping mask is that you can still feel it in the morning. It’s not still wet, but once I hop into the shower and splash water on my face, you can feel this gel layer washing away! That’s something I never experienced with other sleeping masks, and it reassures me that this one is actually doing what it promises.

In terms of efficacy, I really feel like it’s doing a fabulous job at keeping my skin plump and hydrated. I use a lot of ceramides and moisturising factors in my skincare regime, and using this over the top has been helping all those layers stay in place. Also, the inclusion of hyaluronic acid in this sleeping mask means that my skin is being hydrated by the mask, too! So it’s doubly beneficial.

It also contains a huge army of antioxidant-rich ingredients. Camellia flower, vitamin B3, licorice root, blueberry, apple, and beetroot extracts are all packed into this adorable pink pot. It feels like I’m giving my skin a hipster smoothie every night!

Skinsider Blossom Jeju Sleeping Mask

Lastly, and not that this has anything to do with the product itself, but I should mention how lovely the packaging is. Nothing has been spared with this pot; from the glass base, to the pink metallic lid, and the beautiful floral design on the side, this truly is a product that stands out in the bathroom. It feels luxurious and premium, which it is.

All in all, I am so pleased that I was introduced to the Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Sleeping Mask. I have always wanted to find my Holy Grail sleeping mask, but I kept being disappointed. Until I met this one, that is. It suits my dry and congested right down to the ground; hydrating and soothing and not clogging. It definitely helps keep my skin moisturised and calm, and that is exactly what I hoped it would do!

If you want to take a look at this mask in greater detail, check it out on the Skinsider website here. And in general, if you’re interested in learning more about Korean skincare, or are already a die hard K-beauty fan, then Skinsider is a great place to go. They stock some of my favourite Korean brands like Dr. G, Blossom Jeju and Klairs, and you can search for products by skin concern to really tailor your search.

Have you ever tried a sleeping mask? Let me know in the comments!

Annie xxx

Skincare

Klairs Supple Preparation Toner Review with Buttermilk Skincare

In the UK, and indeed in much of the ‘Western’ world, our ideas about toners leave a little to be desired.

Ask any English person who has a vague interest in skincare: “What is the function of a toner?” and they will think for a bit, and say: “erm… don’t they sort of remove all traces of your cleanser and, like, tighten pores and stuff? I don’t know, they don’t really do much for me.”

In all honesty, this has always been more or less my impression of toners. I’ve tried a fair few, and at best they seem like glorified bottles of cucumber water, and at worst they sting and leave my skin feeling stripped. Also, I’ve always found warm water and a flannel to be the best method of melting and removing cleansers; I don’t need an additional product to do that for me.

This is precisely why I am glad of two things: 1) that Asian Beauty toners actually do something, and 2) that the wonderful people at Buttermilk Skincare introduced me to the Klairs Supple Preparation Toner. 

Buttermilk Skincare Klairs Supple Toner

To quickly surmise, Asian toners, unlike Western ones, aren’t some wishy-washy, “take it or leave it” step in a skincare routine: they are considered a vital step. More often than not they act as a moisturising layer which preps your skin for the rest of your routine. Like that first splash of water on your face in the morning, Asian toners are supposed to give you a refreshed and comfortable feeling after cleansing.

As a UK resident, Asian skincare products aren’t all that easy to get hold of. However, there are a few excellent companies popping up in good old Blighty which have the express intention of bringing Korean beauty to us island dwellers. One of these brands is Buttermilk Skincare. CEO Jenna Holmes wanted to deliver some Asian skincare expertise to the UK, and set up Buttermilk to do exactly that. Their website also contains one of the best break-downs of the famous 10-Step Korean skincare regime, which I have linked here.

So, on to the review!

After discussing my skin concerns with Jenna, she advised that I try the Klairs Supple Preparation Toner. It’s a cult favourite in the Asian Beauty world, so I was really excited to try it.

Buttermilk Skincare Klairs Supple Toner Review

Before I test a product, I always write down my expectations so I can look back and see if those expectations were met. For the Klairs toner, I was looking for something super hydrating, and also soothing, because I can be prone to little acne bumps now and then.

I then document my first impressions after the very first time I use the product. For starters, this toner smells amazing. It’s a really nice blend of lavender and citrus, which suits me down to the ground. However, if fragrance isn’t your thing, I’ve recently seen that Klairs will be releasing an unscented version of this toner too! I also noted that it left my skin with a sort of comforting ‘film’. I mean this in the best possible way; it didn’t just apply and then disappear, I could definitely feel it settling into/onto my skin and it felt lovely.

Buttermilk Skincare Klairs Supple Toner view

As you can see, the bottle has a tiny little hole in the opening, so the perfect amount of product comes our each time. I can’t understand why so many toners come in bottles with huge gaping necks: I want to tone my skin, not waste tonnes of product and drown! I just apply it to a cotton pad and sweep over my face and neck after cleansing.

And the verdict? Well, since my initial usage, I have been using this toner every day for over a month. And I have to say, I will never look twice at a Western toner ever again. This wonderful liquid has really complimented the rest of my hydrating skincare routine. It filled a missing gap; hydrating after my double cleanse and prepping before my BHA liquid. One of the many benefits of this toner is that it balances the pH of your skin, and I believe that this is why my skincare routine has felt more effective overall recently. It’s no secret that products work better when your skin’s pH is balanced, so it stands to reason that the Klairs toner improves the efficacy of all subsequent essences and lotions and creams.

Buttermilk Skincare Klairs Supple Toner Directions

All in all – I am so impressed! If Asian toners or Asian Beauty in general is of interest to you, I’d really recommend taking a look at the Buttermilk website here. Jenna really knows her stuff, and she writes helpful hints and tips about every single product. The Klairs toner retails for £17.20 for 180ml, which, considering how little you use at a time, is good value to me.

Have you tried a hydrating toner? Do you prefer them to Western toners? Let me know!

Annie xxx

Skincare

Ishtar Skinlights: Brighten-Up Fluid & Ultralase Face Wash Review

I love Reddit. It is one of my internet guilty-pleasures because it has the cutest cat videos, the funniest stories, and a community for literally everything. Want to see GIFs of happy cows? There’s a subreddit for that. Think videos of toddlers falling over are the height of comedy? They’ve got you covered. Obsess over all things to do with skincare? Well, Reddit is a goldmine for beauty lovers. In fact, Reddit is where I was first introduced to the brand Ishtar Skinlights

Ishtar had written a post in an Asian beauty subreddit, asking for budding skincare junkies to review their products. To cut a long story, I registered my interest, and was very kindly sent two products for consideration: the Brighten-Up Pigment Correcting Fluid and the Ultralase Cleanse Mandelic Gluconic Acid Face Wash. I had divulged my skincare concerns (mild Post Inflammatory Erythema, congestion, general dullness), and these were the products chosen for me. I really liked how helpful and knowledgeable the ladies at Ishtar were during this process, and I feel that these products are very well suited to my skin.

Ishtar Skinlights Face Wash and Lotion review

I was particularly excited to try the mandelic acid face wash, because mandelic acid is so hard to find! In a nutshell, mandelic acid is an AHA which is stronger than glycolic acid, but less irritating. It has been proven to be very effective against adult acne, so I was very keen to give it a go. It’s worth mentioning at this point that Ishtar are in fact the only brand in the UK who offer organic, treatment strength mandelic acid products, so have a look at their range if it is something you would like to try.

I have been using these products very frequently over the past month, and I now feel confident in my opinions of both. Review time!

Ultralase Cleanse Mandelic Gluconic Acid Face Wash:

Ultralase Face Wash Ishtar

Prior to use, this face wash had already impressed me. It features a 12% blend of mandelic (AHA) and gluconic (PHA) acids, with a skin-friendly pH of 3.5. I love it when brands state the pH’s of their products, because it’s an important consideration for us hardcore skincare fans. Sure, it’s fine to have all manner of fancy ingredients in your product, but if it has the wrong pH level, it won’t do diddly squat to my face.

After doing a little reading about this cleanser, I wrote down my expectations of, and ideal results from, Ultralase. I wanted prolonged use to specifically help with congestion on my chin and jaw, and generally make my skin feel smoother. An overall reduction in breakouts and redness would be great, too.

Ultralase and I got off to a bit of a rocky start. The first time I used it, (applied to damp skin and removed with a warm flannel), it made my skin very red for about thirty minutes! I was a little shocked; I knew mandelic acid was strong, but I was worried it was maybe a little too strong for me in reality! However, it didn’t sting at all, there was no pain, and the redness subsided. Afterwards, I was pleased to see that my skin looked very happy indeed! It was gorgeously soft and very, very smooth. It felt neither tight nor over-exfoliated, and overall it looked very even.

After about a month of frequent use (probably 3-4 times a week), I am happy to report that I really enjoy using this face wash. It has never made my skin red again, and it has made a noticeable difference to my chin congestion. It slowly got rid of a few stubborn closed-comedones which had been hanging around, and the sebaceous filaments on my chin look so tiny and clean now! I had never really thought about using acids in the cleansing section of my skincare routine, but now I think it’s a permanent fixture. I have started cleansing with this AHA/PHA wash, and then applying my BHA liquid afterwards. It’s a no-shit combination of surface and deep exfoliation, and I love it!

Have a look at Ultralase here. Oh, that’s one last thing I should mention; I think it’s great value for money. It’s £12.95 for 100ml (in a hygienic pump tube!), and you only use a tiny amount at a time.

Brighten-Up Pigment Correcting Fluid

Brighten Up Fluid

So, I will admit: I was initially more excited about the face wash than about the Brighten-Up Fluid. I was so keen to get my hands on my mandelic-goodness that I somewhat underestimated the powers of this lotion.

I WAS AN IDIOT!

This sneaky little bottle has given me the best skin of my adult life, no questions asked. I’ll go into more detail in due course, but I just thought you should know that you’re about to read about my new favourite skincare product.

Brighten-Up is touted as a dark-spot corrector. The combination of niacinamide and Chromabright are supposedly a hyperpigmentation-and-breakout-busting duo, which will sound attractive to anyone who has ever experienced acne.

Brighten Up Fluid Ishtar

My expectations of this fluid, if all went well, were as follows: it should ease the redness and Post Inflammatory Erythema on my cheeks, and smooth out my skin tone.

My first impressions were good: it has a very light and unusual watery-mousse texture, and it feels soothing. Also, a little unexpectedly, it felt mattifying, too.

The upshot of this is that it gave my skin this gorgeous demi-matte, glass-like look, and it felt super plump and healthy. And ever since then, my opinion of this unassuming lotion has kept getting better and better. The redness in my cheeks is non-existent. Every last red dot that my BHA-related purge left behind has finally buggered off, and I haven’t had a single acne spot since I have been using it. I actually forgot to pack this for my most recent skiing holiday, and my skin went to shit without it. On returning home and slathering my face in it once more, everything went back to normal. Lesson learned: never be without Brighten-Up ever again!

You can have a closer look at the Brighten-Up Fluid here. At £21 it’s not the cheapest lotion I’ve ever used, but hell, I wouldn’t expect it to be a fiver; it’s a bloody miracle worker.

Verdict:

All in all, if you hadn’t twigged already, I’m a little obsessed with Ishtar Skinlights. Their website states that they create products which are: ‘treatment strength, designed to make a visible difference, and contain active ingredients that are proven to work.’ And clearly, that’s the truth. I’m tired of skincare brands making bullshit claims or acting insane on social media, so it’s wholly refreshing to meet a brand with a simple but powerful range which just gets the job done. Lovely staff, too.

‘Til next time!

Annie xxx

Skincare

The Purger’s Tale: A Story of One Girl’s Battle Against a BHA Blemish-fest

Before we begin, I want to draw a clear distinction between ‘purging’ and simply breaking out. A few years it ago, it seemed to be common practice for skincare sales assistants and beauty magazines to perpetuate the myth that, if your skin breaks out after using a new product, this is perfectly normal. Your skin is just getting used to the new product. Your skin is purging.

By and large, that was total bullshit. It was a ploy to make you buy more products in an attempt to power-through this ‘purging’ stage, only to finally resign yourself to the fact that your skin was, in fact, just reacting badly and breaking out.

We eventually got wise to this, but in response, the idea of ‘purging’ seemed to become such a heinous scam that we ruled it out all together.

The fact is that purging is a real thing, but it only occurs when you start using a product that specifically alters your skin cell turnover rate, like hydroxy acids and such. If your beloved moisturiser or toner has been giving you pimples, or your usually pristine forehead is suddenly plagued by redness, it’s time to step away.

The product in question which led to my purge was the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. In hindsight, it has done wonders for my skin. Eventually. But I wanted to talk about my purging experience, in an attempt to offer some support if you have gone through a purge, are currently purging, or are anticipating a purge in the coming weeks. (BTW this won’t be a picture-heavy post. For obvious reasons I wasn’t taking many photos when my face looked like a petri-dish. Buckle up.)

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Ok so, when I first got into Asian beauty at the beginning of November 2017, I kept seeing this COSRX liquid being mentioned as a great weapon against blackheads and sebaceous filaments (those pores that look like blackheads but just. won’t. squeeze). This piqued my interest as I’ve always had SFs on my nose and chin, and I thought it was high time I gave them the boot.

I ordered it, applied it a couple of times a week, and MY GOD, I was amazed. Seemingly overnight my SFs were just gone from my chin and much less noticeable on my nose.

Well. I was proud as punch, thinking I had found a god amongst products and my skin had been cosmically promoted to ‘Shiny Peach’ status.

I happily slathered it on most nights, and by this time it was late November and I was feeling rather smug about my baby-bum-face.

Record Scratch.

Then I woke up one morning in early December with a small but very un-peachy lump on my right cheek, and I started to panic. Over the next two days, said lump had developed into an ugly acne pimple and it had apparently invited a few friends over to join in the fun.

Klairs BB Z Bare
This is nothing compared to how bad it got, but this is the only good quality photo I took during the very beginning of the purge. Notice how large the pores on my cheek look, and obviously the baby acne lumps

Distraught, I looked to the r/asianbeauty subreddit for some guidance, and I was semi-consoled by the fact that it sounded like I was starting to purge, as opposed to having a breakout. The general consensus was that if you have recently started using an active, and are developing spots in the normal places, it’s a purge. I always get hormonal acne on my cheeks and chin, so it stood to reason that this was, indeed, a dreaded purge. The BHA was simply speeding up the inevitable, by drawing hidden gunk up to the surface a lot quicker.

Around the 15th of December, my right cheek had 8 acne pimples of varying size, and a few had cropped up on my chin, too. Joy.

By the 20th, my right cheek was beginning to clear, but suddenly my left cheek decided it wanted in on the acne action. And to make matters worse, the previous photoshop effect this liquid had had on my sebaceous filaments had vanished, and they were back with a vengeance.

I wish this was the pinnacle of my purge, but dear reader, it got even worse from here.

On the 23rd of December, my period arrived! It was the Christmas present that just kept on giving. A smattering, nay, a veritable festive dusting of blackheads, whiteheads, and hormonal lumps appeared on my cheeks, chin and hairline.

But, as instructed by various r/asianbeauty members, I had persevered all the while with my frequent applications of BHA. At various points I wanted to toss the blasted liquid on the fire for ruining my face, but a little chorus AB voices within me told me to stick it out.

And FINALLY, after a month’s worth of purge-y bullshit, things are finally looking up.

Aside from some PIH and usual redness, all the acne lumps are gone, and my chin is relatively blackhead free once more. My pores generally look more refined, and the fine lines on my forehead are a lot less noticeable.

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My face post-purge. Much smoother, more even, and no acne!

All in all, I’m glad I started this BHA liquid, because the post-purge results are really worth it. However, I will always remember Christmas 2017 as ‘That Time My Face Looked Like A Very Non-Tasty Pizza’.

Have you ever gone through an actives-induced purge? How long did it last?

I bought my bottle of COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid from Asian Beauty Plus; a brilliant UK retailer of Asian beauty products. You can use the code ‘ANNIEAGAIN’ for 20% off all orders.

Beauty, Skincare

Klairs Illuminating Supple BB Cream Review

Let me just preface this review by saying I wasn’t intending on writing it. I was in need of a light base product, and after seeing Viola Holmgren from Killer Colours (who has a very similar skin type and colour to me) review it here, I thought I’d give it a go. Well, I fell in love with it straight away, so a review was suddenly on the cards.

z Klairs BB Cream

It’s a Korean product but it’s available through Amazon Prime for around £20 for those of us in the UK. I tested it out as soon as it arrived and I was so impressed with what I saw, I ran and got my camera to take some before and after shots.

The results you see below are my totally bare face vs. my face after applying a thin layer with clean fingers:

As you can see, the difference is huge. Bearing in mind I’m not even wearing moisturiser or primer, the Klairs BB cream has covered the redness on my cheeks and blurred my larger pores with the efficacy of a medium coverage foundation. In fact, when I was taking these photos after applying the BB cream, I kept thinking my camera wasn’t focusing properly. It was, I just think this stuff does a very good job of blurring your skin. Also, it’s doesn’t mask the texture of my skin, which is a big plus for me, because I don’t like resembling a plastered wall.

z Klairs BB Swatch

It leans to the neutral/yellow side of the skin colour spectrum, which is fairly common with Korean brands. It adds a hint of warmth to my complexion and all in all it’s a pretty spot on colour match. The one thing that irks me about this BB cream is that it claims it adapts to all skin colours which, just, no. It won’t. And I probably wouldn’t recommend this to anyone with paler skin than me, but it’s definitely flexible enough to cater to the neutral fair/medium crowd with great results.

On the skin it’s virtually undetectable. It’s so light you can barely feel it and it really does look like skin. There isn’t a hint of that every-so-slightly powdery or cakey look that I experience with most foundations with decent coverage. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like it melts away into your skin. It also feels nice and hydrating which will be down to the high levels of hyaluronic acid. Because of this, I don’t think it would suit particularly oily skin as it might exacerbate shine.

Things I love about Klairs BB Cream:

  • beautiful coverage with a weightless feel
  • hygienic tube packaging
  • doesn’t have the usual grey cast of most BB creams
  • purse friendly (around £20 for 40ml)
  • it matches my pale-ass skintone
  • it’s got broad spectrum SPF40
  • makes me look all glowy
  • it doesn’t settle into my under-eye lines

Things I don’t love about Klairs BB Cream:

  • “suitable for any skin type and tone”

All in all, I am really impressed. I don’t like to speak too soon, but I think this could well be a new Holy Grail product for me! It’s just the perfect daytime base for when foundation would be too much, but nothing would be too little. Love it!

Annie xx

 

Lifestyle

Melia May Candles Review

Autumn is absolutely my favourite time of year. It’s the season in which my birthday falls, and I really love the feeling of weather turning; rain, wind, darker nights, I love it all! Autumn also marks the return of my candle and wax melt obsession. There’s nothing I love more than having a cosy evening inside on a cold night, drinking tea and being surrounded by candles.

A few weeks ago, I came across a new name in the world of wax: Melia May Candles. Owned by the lovely Millie, this online candle and melts retailer has the ‘Instagrammable packaging’ thing nailed. I was sent a beautifully wrapped parcel full of her autumnal-scented goodies, and I wanted to review them so that you could see how lovely they are!

Melia May

Inside my package, I found:

  • a Pumpkin Pie Soy Wax Candle
  • Pomegranate Cider Wax Melts
  • Bakewell Tart Wax Melts
  • Pumpkin Pecan Waffles Wax Melts
  • Bubblegum Wax Melts, and
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte Wax Melts

The autumn baby in me is positively squealing with joy.

At this point, it’s important to mention that all of Millie’s products are made solely from soy wax. I’ve always preferred soy wax to paraffin wax for a few reasons: I find it gives a stronger scent, it’s much more environmentally friendly as it’s biodegradable, and it generally produces a higher grade product. This is one of the main reasons I stopped buying Yankee melts, because they use cheap paraffin and they just don’t smell strong enough for me. However…

Melia May Soy Wax Melts

… when it comes to the strength of Melia May Candles, I was seriously impressed by how strongly her wax is scented. As soon as I opened the box I was hit by the most gorgeous, sweet smell, so I knew I was in for a treat:

Pumpkin Pie Soy Candle

Melia May Pumpkin Pie Candle

This beauty is my favourite product from Melia May Candles. It’s got everything you could possibly want in an autumnal candle, from the chic minimalist packaging to the delicious scent of pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. It comes in a sturdy glass jar and just feels so luxurious. I can’t wait to light this one on a dark and stormy night.

Wax Melts

Melia May Wax Melts

I was also sent five bags of Millie’s heart-shaped wax melts, each with its own pretty colour and beautiful fragrance.

  • BrownPumpkin Spice Latte – now, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I can definitely get on board with these melts. They smell so creamy and comforting, with the perfect amount of spiciness.
  • CoralPomegranate Cider – these are lush. They have the freshest scent of all the melts I received, with a lovely blend of crisp apple and juicy pomegranate.
  • PinkBakewell Tart – mouthwateringly sweet, these smell exactly like the maraschino cherries that go into retro cocktails.
  • OrangePumpkin Pecan Waffles – holy crap, these are amazing. They really do have that nutty, bakery smell that you’d expect from real life pumpkin waffles! I will definitely be melting these on Halloween.
  • BlueBubblegum – another retro classic, these sweet sparkly hearts are giving me flashbacks to buying Hubba Bubba from the newsagents when I was younger. So lovely.

Melia May Candles and Melts

Not surprisingly, most of the Melia May Candles autumn collection has sold out on her website! It’s so nice to see a new company doing so well from the get go. There’s going to be a restock very shortly, so keep your eyes peeled! You can find Millie’s website here.

So with that, I’m off to go close my curtains against the rain outside, and I think that Pumpkin Pie candle needs to be lit…

Annie xx

Fashion

Nüwa Jewellery Moonstone Ring

When it comes to jewellery, there are two main considerations for me. I only wear silver, and I wear a LOT of rings.

I’m also a big fan of unique, witchy style pieces. So when the lovely Eve from Nüwa Jewellery contacted me to ask if I’d like to review one of her moonstone rings, I jumped at the chance.

I had been following the Nüwa Instagram page for a while and I loved the look of her gothic inspired pieces. The Nüwa style fits my aesthetic perfectly so I’m thrilled to own such a stunning ring from her collection.



The central moonstone is the most gorgeous, ghostly white. I love how it’s not a solid colour; it’s milky and translucent with a swirly, smoky effect.

Sterling silver rope detailing surrounds the main stone, and then intricate shapework lays either side. I love how it’s elegant without being too dainty, and it really does look unique.



Eve carries various different styles and sizes on her website. This ring was a size K and it fits perfectly on the middle finger of my left hand, and she helped me find the right size.



As well as beautiful moonstones, Nüwa Jewellery also stocks pieces with skull embellishments, crescent moons, garnets, blood stones… anything and everything to satisfy your inner witch!

Go check out her gorgeous website at www.nuwa.co.uk, and get your dark, autumnal fix over on her Instagram page (@nuwa_jewellery).

Thank you so much Eve; it was so generous of you to send me one of your rings, and it’s now a firm favourite of mine!

Annie xx

Skincare

Fushi Really Good Vitamin E Oil

Excitingly, this blog post marks the first skincare review on my new blog! I am going to be reviewing Fushi’s Really Good Vitamin E Oil, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most exciting beauty products I have used in a long time.

I have been sent this lovely bottle by the equally lovely folk at Fushi. Initially I was intrigued by the impressive-sounding accolades on the packaging, such as “contains plant derived ɑ, ß, γ & d tocopherols’ and “antioxidant properties 30,000 IU/g”.

 However, I very quickly realised that I had no idea what any of it meant. I thought vitamin E was a simple concept. Oh, how wrong I was.

Therefore, in order to review it effectively, I have conducted some prior research into the science behind the oil, and I then follow up with my own experiences after two weeks of testing. Hold onto your hats, because this is about to get chemical. If you want to skip to the results just scroll past the accidental essay! But if you’re interested in just how deep the vitamin E rabbit hole goes, read on…

The Science

Essentially, there are two main elements to the formulation of Fushi’s Really Good Vitamin E Oil that lead me to believe it is one of the best vitamin E oils on the market. These elements also explain why the 50ml bottle retails for £20, when seemingly identical products can be found for £5 or £10 elsewhere.

1. The vitamin E content is entirely natural.

Fushi’s Really Good Vitamin E Oil features naturally derived vitamin E from olive oil and soya beans. This is important because synthetic vitamin E sources (frequently listed as dl-alpha-tocopherol) are much less effective than natural sources (d-alpha-tocopherol).

With most vitamins there is little difference between natural and synthetic forms. However, with Vitamin E this is simply not the case. At best, synthetic vitamin E is roughly three times less bioactive than natural vitamin E, which means it is three times less effective for your body. At worst, synthetic vitamin E can react with chemicals found in other makeup and skincare products and even sunlight, which can lead to the formation of dangerous compounds. Some studies have even linked it to cancer.

It’s concerning, therefore, that fully synthetic vitamin E is the most inexpensive, and thus most commonly sold, variation. If you check the ingredients lists of many products which claim to feature vitamin E, many simply list ‘alpha tocopherol’ or ‘alpha tocopheryl acetate’ without including the crucial ‘d’ (natural) or ‘dl’ (synthetic) suffix. Therefore it’s often impossible to tell whether you are using natural or synthetic vitamin E.

However, Fushi clearly list that their vitamin E sources are from d-alpha-tocopherol and ‘mixed tocopherols’, which leads me nicely onto my next point…

2. The vitamin E content comes from mixed tocopherol sources.

So, until I started writing this post, I assumed that ‘vitamin E’ was just one single substance. As it turns out, natural vitamin E actually exists in eight distinct forms; four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Each form has different potency and is used differently by the body.

On their ingredients list, Fushi state that their oil features all four of the E tocopherols: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Most vitamin E products include only the alpha form. It’s a well-documented and effective antioxidant, but certain antioxidants are only effective against certain free radicals.

Therefore, if you’re looking for the most effective vitamin E products, it’s important to find a potent blend of all four tocopherols on the ingredients list. Beta and delta tocopherols target different free radicals, whilst gamma tocopherol has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, as well as reversing damage done by UVB radiation to some extent.

Fushi Really Good Vitamin E Oil
The packaging gives you clear information regarding the exact types of natural vitamin that are included. By all accounts, it’s a comprehensive blend of all the good stuff!

It’s also worth noting a few other things before we continue. There’s a rather important but somewhat unexplained number on the bottle: 30,000 IU/g. I’ve done even more vitamin E sleuthing and found out that this essentially means that there are 30,000 International Units of alpha-tocopherol in this oil. 1 International Unit is equivalent to 0.67 mg of d-alpha-tocopherol, meaning that there is roughly 20,100mg, or 20.1g, of alpha-tocopherol in this bottle. This seems to be quite a lot, as many other vitamin E oils on the market at listed with 5,000 – 15,000 IU.

In conclusion, all of these elements suggest to me that when you buy a bottle of Fushi’s Really Good Vitamin E oil, you really are getting a lot of good quality vitamin E for your money. From what I have seen, if you’re spending a lot less on a vitamin E product, the likelihood is that it is made with synthetic matter. And even if you spy an all-natural vitamin E product, they usually only contain alpha-tocopherol and neglect the beta, gamma and delta forms. If you want true efficacy from a vitamin E skincare product, it needs to be 100% natural and it should ideally include mixed tocopherols. Fair play, Fushi, fair play. You get what you pay for.

I had no idea that vitamin E could be such a complex ingredient, but here we are. Every day is a school day, and I certainly feel like I’ve just written an essay for an A-level chemistry class rather than a beauty blog. But with people taking more and more interest in the contents of our cosmetics, I think it’s important to spend some time figuring out what we’re actually putting on our faces.

It has taken me the better part of an afternoon to compile all this information, and I feel much better informed as a result. I’ve also found it really enjoyable to piece together snippets of data to get a better idea of just how technically excellent this oil is.

The Results

And this is all well and good, but does it actually work? Does the scientific prowess of this oil yield comparatively good results?

Well in short: yes.

During the two week testing period of the Really Good oil, I’ve come to realise that a real, natural, effective blend of vitamin E sources is a bloody effective skincare tool. I am a full convert. And I’m actually quite surprised by this revelation, because prior to testing this oil, I was under the impression that vitamin E was somewhat overhyped. It seems to have had its moment in the skincare spotlight and then shuffled away, a little bit bland and a little bit underwhelming. A lot of drugstore ‘vitamin E’ creams and oils hover around the 3-star review mark: not terrible, but not mind blowing.

And I’ve realised the reason for this is because the majority of these products are all using synthetic vitamin E which, as I previously discovered, is at least three times less effective than the natural stuff. I’ve just checked my daily A-Z supplements and found that their source of vitamin E is synthetic. Those blue bear hair supplement things that seem to be constantly stuffed into celebrities mouths use synthetic vitamin E. And an old bottle of vitamin E shampoo which I found in the bathroom suspiciously doesn’t state whether it uses natural or synthetic sources, so my educated guess is the latter.

And I get it: synthetic vitamin E is cheaper to produce, has a longer shelf life, and therefore makes products containing it cheaper and more attractive to consumers. But all of that is for nought because it doesn’t make the blindest bit of difference to your skin. You’re buying the vitamin E name but not the vitamin E results.

The good news is that Fushi’s oil really DOES make a difference. For the past two weeks I have been applying it religiously and exclusively morning and night. I have forgone my other lotions and potions, masks and serums, all in the name of good research. I have just been cleansing with an organic balm to take off my makeup and then applying a few drops of the Really Good oil. I’ve noticed three major changes since using it, and they are:

  • A noticeable reduction in my horizontal forehead lines
  • Firmer and healthier feeling skin on my face
  • Improved appearance of hands and cuticles

1. A noticeable reduction in my horizontal forehead lines.

As a twenty three year old woman with slightly dry skin, it isn’t unusual that I have some light lining on my forehead. But that doesn’t mean I’m pleased about it. I’ve tried lots of different peels and masks which claim to reduce the appearance of lines but they rarely have long lasting effects, so I didn’t really expect an oil to help much either.

However, I am really quite shocked and pleased to report that I have noticed a significant reduction in the appearance of said lines over the past two weeks. I’d say they are half as noticeable as they were before, and that’s a hugely important outcome for me. I can deal with spots, I can deal with random discolouration, but the appearance of permanent lines on my forehead has been my least favourite part of growing older. I’m genuinely thrilled that the Really Good oil seems to be constantly diminishing them.

2. Firmer and healthier feeling skin on my face.

It just so happens that the two week testing period coincided with the two week period prior to… my period. Normally, my skin gets quite congested and sad looking during this time, and there’s not normally a great deal I can do about it. But, hand on heart, my skin currently looks better than it usually does on ‘good skin days’. That’s quite an achievement.

I’ve got less blackheads than normal, my skin has a much more even colour, and it feels firmer. I hadn’t ever thought that my facial skin wasn’t firm, but it definitely feels comfortably tighter and like it has less ‘wiggle room’ than before.

I have also noticed that my skin doesn’t feel ‘scaly’ in the mornings. That sounds grim, but sometimes when I wake up and hop in the shower I feel like my skin needs a good scrub. I haven’t exfoliated in the classical sense (other than using a cloth to take off my cleanser every night) during the past fortnight, and my yet skin feels awesome. I could happily not scrub or not mask for another week, whereas normally I feel like I need to.

3. Improved appearance of hands and cuticles.

This was a surprise result for me, but it looks like the daily application of vitamin E oil has been doing good things for my hands. They’re naturally quite heavily lined which I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about, but they look and feel smoother than before. My cuticles also look really nice and the few hangnails I had when I started testing have all disappeared.

Also, on the second day of this research fortnight I was cutting up some vegetables and accidently sliced into my finger, right next to the nail and quite deeply. It bled constantly for about two days but as soon as it started to heal, I started to rub the oil onto the cut. Now, I don’t frequently nearly lose a finger so I can’t necessarily say that this cut healed faster than it would have done otherwise, but it certainly seems to have healed very quickly and neatly.

 

Aside from these obvious benefits, there are some more elements which I really like about this oil. Firstly, it smells incredibly good. One of the listed ingredients is sweet orange oil which would explain why my face smells like a delicious citrusy biscuit after applying.

The consistency is also very nice. It’s definitely a thick, viscous oil so it can be a little challenging to spread at first. I dot around seven drops onto my palm and then pat it onto my forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and neck, and then massage in. Initially I was intending to use this as a night oil as I thought it might be too heavy for morning moisturising, but it settles down to a really plush, velvety finish and sits really nicely under makeup so I find it’s fine for daytime use too. Another added bonus is the fact that the bottle is made of glass, which will prolong the efficacy of the product.

The bottom line is I really, really like Fushi’s Really Good Vitamin E Oil. At the start of this fortnight I was none the wiser regarding the intricacies of vitamin E and how the majority of us are buying ineffective, synthetic versions of the oil. I can honestly say that this natural, plant-based oil is the first product to significantly change the appearance of my skin in terms of line reduction and general improvement. From now on, I don’t think I’ll ever be without it.

The key lesson I have learnt is that natural vitamin E is an incredible beauty tool, but you have to do your research and really know what you’re buying. Otherwise, you’ll probably be disappointed with the results. You can expect to pay more for oils such as this one, simply because they have been crafted with care and with efficacy in mind, rather than just being stuffed with useless fillers. And honestly, this £20 bottle has been more effective than some insta-famous creams I have tried with much higher price tags.

More than anything, I like how unassuming it is. It’s humble. It doesn’t brag about the science or rely on bogus claims; it just tells you it’s really good, and it really is.

To have a look at the Really Good oil, click here, and to see the rest of Fushi’s ethical and natural beauty range, click here.

Thank you Fushi for providing me with such a fab product to review and for inspiring me to learn so much about vitamin E.

Annie xx