Beauty Favourites

In the past few years I’ve been trying to make more of an effort with my skin care, moving away from the soap-water-moisturiser routine or face wipes *hangs head in shame* I used to use. As I approach *whispers* 35, I’ve noticed a few lines appearing and my skin misbehaving more than usual (with a spell of soul crushing perioral dermatitis) so I’m on a mission to correct and prevent any further damage. Here’s my current skincare cleansing routine and favourite products to use.

CLEANSE

I love a good cleansing balm, more than a lotion or cream. There’s something about the slip of an oily cleanser that melts away make up and is easy to massage in, plus they never leave my skin feeling dry or stripped. I always massage in directly on to my face then wash off with a hot flannel.


Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm – simple, affordable and lasts for ages. Demolishes make up without stinging my eyes or irritating skin.

Tata Harper Nourishing Cleansing Oil – used when I feel like I really need to treat my skin, if only for the price tag! Smells delicious, full of good things.

SPRITZ

I’m calling this stage the Spritz stage as a) toning doesn’t sound quite right, b) spritz is a marvellous word and c) I no longer acid tone as I believe I have a sensitivity to glycolic and other AHA/BHA’s so I’m being super careful to not aggravate my skin any further. I lightly spritz and spray (read as drench) my face to add a layer of hydration. I have an arsenal of these as they are so refreshing to use and much cheaper than any other step in my routine.


Caudalie Grape Water – inexpensive which allows me to be super liberal with it. Instead of allowing precious hydration to evaporate off the skin like most mists do, this is 100% pure grape water which naturally adds moisture and soothes even the most sensitive of skins.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator – smells delicious (like minty marshmallow) and full of loveliness, another nourishing treat for the skin.

La Roche Posay Serozinc – this is my healing mist. Soothes irritated or sensitive skin so well. I’ve used it on my face – for breakouts or rashes – and on my body for prickly heat, cat scratches etc. Hubby uses it to soothe redness after shaving.

January Labs Restorative Tonic Mist – cheapish, light and refreshing with witch hazel to battle blemishes.

May Lindstrom Jasmine Garden – this is crazy expensive so I only use it sparingly but it transports me to a tropical paradise. It surrounds you in jasmine gorgeousness and I feel different after using it – centred, calm and sensual.

EYES

I can’t correct my genetic disposition for dark circles or the crow’s feet I will ultimately get, but I can try to minimise the fine lines around my orbital area with hydration – can you see a theme here?! I much prefer a cream or heavier lotion for my eyes, anything too runny just gets wasted or stings. I’ll admit that I’m less loyal to a particular product when it comes to eyes and have tried various others that I prefer to my current one, but the price is too prohibitive for me currently, so I’ll stick to a beauty hall favourite for now.

Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream  – don’t let the gimmicky plastic ball (meant to cool the eye area and de-puff apparently) put you off, it’s a lovely cream that leaves my eyes feeling brighter and nourished without puffiness.

SERUMS

Spend your money on this part of the routine. Serums are packed with good things that will help to nourish, repair and rejuvenate the skin but these are usually expensive ingredients in expensive formulas. I’d like to be using a few different serums on rotation but with my skin behaving badly, I’m playing it safe and sticking to what I know won’t cause a reaction.


Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum – light yet indulgent, I always feel glowy after using this. My skin looks visibly smoother, plumper and fresh. I am nearly running out and will end up taking scissors to the vacuum packaging!

OILS

I love an oily cleanser but I’m not keen on feeling too oily on my face, although I want the effect of a glowing complexion – I’m not asking for too much, am I?! When taking antibiotic lotion for my perioral dermatitis my skin would be so sore and dry that an oil was the only thing that truly worked. I first started with coconut oil on my hair and body but it would be far too comodegenic for my face.


The Ordinary Squalane Oil – an oxymoron of an oil – it’s light, non greasy and hydrating. It doesn’t make me breakout, you can use it all over and it’s one of the cheapest items in my routine.

MOISTURISER/SPF

If I’m staying indoors or feel like my skin is OK as it is, then I tend to skip moisturising, mainly because my moisture is already in all my previous steps, but if I’m outdoors then SPF is a must, even in cloudy London.


Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 – this is almost like a serum/moisturiser/SPF in one, which makes life so much easier. It leaves a gorgeous finish, not at all chalky and almost like my skin is blurred.

Olay Complete Day Fluid SPF 15  – a classic that works for me, my mum and my grandmother. I’ve used it for years (as does hubby) and it’s a great, cheap basic.

EXTRAS

Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot – regular spots and pimples happen, this is the best thing I’ve used to attack them with a mix of salicylic acid to attack the spot and sodium hyaluronate to hydrate the area so as to not leave a blemish.


Nuxe Reve de Miel – this lipbalm is the best I’ve ever tried, ever. Deliciously scented, like a honey lemon cheesecake (or is it just my cravings popping up?) it’s rich and creamy and makes my lips buttery smooth.

 

This is quite a basic routine, what with my skin having a will of its own plus I’ve run out of other favourites like May Lindstrom’s The Blue Cocoon and worse of all I’m on a buy ban until I get back to City Pharma in September! I’d love to hear about your skincare routines and if you’ve tried any of the products mentioned or can recommend me some new ones, leave a comment on here or on social!

Thanks, Catherine x

Big fig love

If you’ve read my previous post on jams here then you may already know how much I love figs. No, seriously I really, really love them.  

   
And what’s not to love? Succulent, rich parcels of sweet and juicy flesh, figs symbolise the excesses, headiness and pleasures of summer.  I especially associate them with my childhood summer holidays in Portugal; grandma would have a huge bowl of them cooling in the fridge, delicious and refreshing in the heat. Invariably, I would eat them all – though not all in one sitting, not unless I wanted a very bad tummy ache and to spend the rest of the day in the bathroom.

Family members who had fig trees would be visited often. I have a memory of visiting a relative, I think a second cousin or someone related to my maternal side of the family and they had the biggest fig tree I’ve ever seen. My grandpa proceeded to ask if we could help them out with their abundance and we came back with a huge haul, picked fresh that day. Happy memories indeed. 

Nowadays I get my fig fix from my parents fig tree or one of hubby’s lovely colleagues whose fig tree goes into overdrive and for a while I start hassling him as soon as he’s through the front door, “Did you bring anything for me today?!” Like some kind of junkie needing their next hit!! Of course I could buy them in the shop, but the ones available are usually tiny, purple skinned ones that have flown thousands of miles from faraway hot lands and are never as good as the green skinned ones. Plus they cost an absolute fortune – I’ve seen them at £4 for four! – so it’s an addiction that needs to be kept in check. I guess because they’re so limited now I enjoy them even more. 

Not long ago, the last few drops of my absolute favourite perfume (Mark Jacobs Blush) ran out despite me nursing the bottle and only spritzing the teensiest amount on special occasions. It was my perfect scent. That beautiful jasmine combined with tuberose, freesia, honeysuckle and orange blossom. I always thought it smelled quite lily-ish on my skin with a lovely freshness. Light enough for day, but if I sprayed a little more liberally it was heady enough for night. It had been released eons ago and of course now discontinued. The search began for a perfect replacement.

Now, I’m realllllllllly funny (weird, not haha) about scents. I dislike it when people buy new perfumes for me that aren’t ones I already adore or have specifically asked for. Oh goodness, could I sound more ungrateful?! I don’t mean to, it’s just I find my sense of smell is super sensitive. Always has been. I can’t go to a petrol station unless all the car windows are wound up. I’ve experienced migraines and nausea at work when a boss decided to burn a rose scented candle. I can tell when someone is smoking cigarettes even if they’re 50 metres away. It’s a boon – my scent memory has brought me to tears upon entering a room, and a burden – especially when overpowering scents lead to major sinus headaches. Most importantly, perfumes are such a personal choice and what smells a certain way on one person can smell completely different on another.

A trip to SpaceNK for a top up of one of my favourite toners (Rodial’s Dragon Blood toning spritz made from the blood of actual dragons, sort of) led to a wander around the shop and a sniff of the beautiful Diptyque scents. I had mostly heard about Diptyque making beautifully scented candles but I’m not really a huge candle person. The ones I have at home are all gifts because I can’t bear the thought of spending £40+ on something I’m going to burn. That’s ridiculous to me. I may as well set fire to my money! (When did I turn into my mother?!?)

I set about sniffing different bottles, whilst Hubby sprayed tester strips for me to sniff and/or veto. By some miracle we found the perfect replacement. The gorgeous Do Son has a similar white floral and tuberose scent, but is more powerful. I was delighted to finally find a new perfume.

But then the magic happened – I smelled this: 

It made me smile. No, actually it made me laugh. I was happy. I was a happy, laughing loon, happily laughing and sniffing a bottle of Philosykos

You’re going to think I’m a sap but within ten seconds I had tears in my eyes. This delicious, fruity, sensual scent was a step back in time. It was a hot summer’s day stood in a grove of fig trees, with a plate of figs opened and ready to eat. It was happiness in a spray. 

I walked away from the store with my wrist to my nose, trying to defeat the urge to nibble at it. I didn’t realise that this amazing scent had been around since 1996. I mean, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! Why had I never smelt this in my life before?! Not only could I eat my beloved figs, I could smell like one too!

I didn’t purchase then and there because it was going to be my birthday soon (this was back in middle of July) so could finally tell loved ones what I wanted for a gift. Hubby managed to get me the travel sized version (3 x 12ml) of both Philosykos and Do Son which was perfect as I wanted both – I’m a have-your-cake-and-eat-it kinda girl – and I’ve enveloped myself in figgy goodness ever since. If I’m feeling gloomy or blue I just spray Philosykos and feel instantly better. I don’t care if it’s more of a summer scent, I’ll still be in my happy, sunny, fig-induced haze in the depths of winter. If we’re close pals then you’re welcome to have a sniff of my neck if you need cheering up too. 

Please Diptyque, promise me you’ll never ever EVER discontinue this scent. It’s happiness in a bottle and I think everyone should have it.

What’s your absolute favourite scent?

Love, Catherine x

Curiosity killed… in Paris! Part deux

If you’re reading this before reading part one, do that and then settle yourself in.

I left our little tale at the Musee D’Orsay, the stunning museum of art and sculpture on the Left Bank of the Seine and headed off to another pantheon of culture, the Opera Garnier.  

I’ve photographed and walked past this beautiful building a bajillion (ok, maybe four) times before and always wanted to go inside. I had just seen an amazing model of the opera house at the Musee D’Orsay.

Cross section of the Opera Garnier – look at all those rooms!

Look at all the pulleys for the set changes, the depth and levels of the building itself and is that an ornate “green room” behind the stage for the artists to repose in?

I was lucky to find there were no queues and easily bought my ticket from the machine. Stepping through the darkened lobby I started to sing tunes in my head from Phantom of the Opera based on the novel by Gaston Leroux.

So pretty! Now where did that man with the white mask go…?

If you love beautifully ornate and opulent buildings then this place is a must visit. The auditorium was closed to the public as rehearsals were taking place for an upcoming production, but there were little viewing screens that you could look out of.

 

the grand staircase

  

beautiful lights on the staircase

  

some dude ruins the stunning grand foyer!

  

inside one of the interior cupolas

  

a gorgeous ballet costume on display

 

The afternoon was starting to pass quickly and I headed off to my next must-stop, the infamous City Pharma. A recent follower to the gospel of Caroline Hirons (wipes are for bums, not for your face!) there were a few things I was interested in getting. You can’t go more than a street without seeing a glowing green cross. French pharmacies are everywhere and rightly so, they are bastions of know-how in skin care and Parisian women are gorgeous. Based near St Germain des Pres on Rue du Four, I quickly found it by the amount of happy customers rushing out laden with plastic bags of product. It’s a happening spot. Arriving after four pm on a Friday it was HEAVING. Narrow aisles, filled with product, were almost impassable. Many pardon and excusez-moi were said. How many pharmacies do you know that you can’t open boxes, take photos or have security guards on every other aisle?

If you want a deal on your beauty basics, then you have to go. I was on a budget and could have spent a tonne more. (I mean, I actually put stuff back! What craziness is this?!)

This is what I bought:

Total spend of €27.77 and I reckon I saved about £17 on my purchases-definitely worth it! It’ll be my first stop whenever I go back, hopefully earlier in the day to avoid the hordes of women. Oh, and if one of the knowledgeable employees in white coats approaches and asks if you need help, then get them to help you. They know their stuff. I’ll write a separate post on how I get on with my beauty purchases.

My tummy was starting to rumble and hubby was nearly finished for the day at the trade show. We decided to rendezvous at one of our favourite cafes on Ile St Louis. The walk took me down Boulevard St Germain. I was reminded why I really like the buzz on that side of the river, it just feels more friendly. I took in some more sights and waited for my date.

 

I thank Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for knowing about this place 😉

  

spot the three couples

The first time I came to Cafe St Regis I was in serious need of a food pick-me-up and loved the atmosphere within its understated walls. There’s always a cross section of society seated at the tables…last time there was a nun drinking a beer. I love sitting somewhere and hearing different languages being spoken. The mix of locals and tourists keeps service prompt yet leisurely, we are on the continent after all. I recommend this place wholeheartedly!

always a cosy atmosphere

  

I was watching my sugar intake so instead of nutella, I had lemon and sugar!

  
 
You can’t go to France without having a crepe or two. Maybe three. Plus I started my nectar d’abricot addiction, oops! Satiated we made our way back to the hotel feeling happy but knackered. I looked at my health tracker and realised that I had walked 17kms, no wonder! A quick rest up and turnaround for a late dinner at a nearby restaurant brought the day to an exhausted end, ready for the visit to the trade show the following day. 

In the next post… A day at the biggest trade show I’ve ever seen – Maison et Objet.