New Purchases -Aesop

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I’ll be honest with you: I’m a sucker for an Aesop product. I’m not actually sure that they deliver the level of skincare that is promised at their price point: because when I’ve drilled down on their ingredients list there are a few products that make me think ” I’m paying for what?” However – if you like herbaciously scented no nonsense products that are the equivalent of an Aussie bootcamp then who am I to stop you. And hell knows, I keep going back for more. Maybe I wasn’t birched enough as a child. So recently I went on a splurge in Liberty as I wanted to investigate their Fabulous Face Oil, but of course I got completely carried away…

First up is the Resurrection hand wash. .

I can’t tell you how much I love this stuff. The first time I used it, about 6 years ago in a restaurant behind Fenwicks, I smuggled a bottle out in my handbag. I know. I haven’t behaved that way before or since, but the combination of rosemary, mandarin and cedar atlas (basically pine) hits up my central nasal system in a way nothing has before or since. A bottle (500ml) lasts about 4 months, so while being prohibitively expensive, I can just about get away with asking for this for birthdays and Christmas, meaning I only have to shell out for one bottle a year.

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Yes, it contains SLS, so it REALLY shouldn’t be £27, but the liquid is so silky and aromatic and foams gorgeously. It doesn’t feel drying on my already overworked hands, and did I mention it smells heavenly? Surprisingly it’s the lavender notes that hit me first, then the mandarin and orange, rosemary and finally the pine, holding it all together. It smells Nordic, clean, no-nonsense and luxurious all at the same time.

Next up: Purifying facial exfoliant paste

Aesop exfoliating paste

I’m a big fan of Lactic acid -I first became aware of it when I started to use Sunday Riley’s Good Genes and noticed a dramatic improvement in pigmentation marks and all over skin quality. It’s also present in Pixi Glow tonic which may be another reason why I love that too. And I’m guessing that this is the magic ingredient here too.

Aesop exfoliating paste

aesop exfoliating paste spread out

The first thing that hits you is the smell -it is fairly earthy and robust. Personally I really like the smell of rosemary but I know it hasn’t received a huge amount of love in some reviews. There is lavender oil in there too but that doesn’t come through for me. The quartz particles are small but gritty. I gave up on mechanical exfoliants a long time ago (looking at you St Ives), and in the last couple of years have been using acids to get rid of flaky skin, but there is something reassuringly old school about massaging this in and feeling the grit get to work. I don’t go in too hard as I’m wary about my sensitivity issues but I do leave the whole lot on for a minute or so after the initial scrub to give the lactic acid time to kick in.

It’s a bugger to rinse off -if anyone knows how to avoid ALWAYS ending up with a mouthful of grit I’d be eternally grateful. But the end result is amazing. Soft, clean skin that simply drinks up serum and moisturiser afterwards. I don’t use this above once a week in case my face falls off through over stimulation, but as a quick blast when skin feels a bit dull, you can’t beat it.

Next: Fabulous Facial Oil

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During the winter I am ALL ABOUT THE OILS, people. My poor windswept, cold-ravaged florist’s face needs all the help it can get, and man, do I love me an oil that sinks in, smells fabulous and softens my skin until it’s plump and glowing again. I’ve done my time with Clarins Blue Orchid and Santal, which are fabulous for older skins that like a thicker oil, but recently I’ve come round to thinner, dryer oils which seem to pack the same hydrating and calming punch but without leaving a ‘film’ on my skin.

fabulous face oil dropper

Like the Clarins oils it uses an eyedropper to deliver the product so you can control the (tiny) amount that you need. I was particularly interested in its claims to ‘smooth patchy skin’

Fabulous facial oil on skin

It’s a clear, easily spreading lightweight oil that smells incredibly wonderful. The sweet, custard-y, heady scent of ylang ylang is out first, followed by jasmine. That’s just about all I can smell in this, it’s simply a sweet floral smell but frankly that’s enough for me, as they are two of my all time favourite scents. I use it after moisturiser and five small drops are enough for my whole face and neck. The oil absorbs immediately leaving no tacky residue at all and the scent dissipates after about five minutes leaving a slightly herbaceous but not unpleasant echo.

The next morning, my skin always feels great. Plumped, even textured and coloured, my rosacea prone areas seem calmed and are less likely to flare up during the days when I’ve used this the night before. It does seem to smooth out the random patches of dryness I’m prone to on my cheeks, while leaving my T-zone completely balanced. They’re not wrong in calling it fabulous.

And finally! Elemental facial barrier cream

Aesop Elemental barrier cream

So, going from the hyperbole of ‘Fabulous’ to the distinctly unsexy word ‘Barrier’. I don’t hold a lot of truck with ridiculously amped up names, but this one really could do with a bit of oomph. HOWEVER. What caught my eye was the word ‘Elemental’. I spend a lot of my time in cold, windy, skin stripping conditions and am constantly looking to put comforting, emollient creams on my face when it feels knackered and sore.

This cream is rich in castor seed oil, shea butter, glycerin and a mix of other moisturising and essential oils. Copper, Zinc and Bisabolol help strengthen skin, fight inflammation and calm redness. All of which I am perennially interested in in my skincare.

As with any moisturiser that comes packaged in a pot  I’m always slightly annoyed at the possibility of contamination, even though I use scrupulously clean hands to apply it. I will forgive this one not coming in a pump as the formula is pretty thick.

aesop barrier cream

Aesop barrier cream

barrier cream on hand

It has a fairly strong scent; the ginger and cloves come through first, so it’s quite a Christmassy smell, which I don’t mind. It takes a bit of working into the skin -it’s a proper cream rather than a lotion formula and feels slightly waxy, which I guess is the ‘barrier’ element. You don’t need much -a pea sized blob does my face and neck. I found it easy to apply too much and then be left with a slightly tacky feel to my skin which I found unpleasant, but once I cut back and went easy on the application I found that it sunk in beautifully, doesn’t look or feel greasy and gives immediate comfort to tight, uncomfortable skin. Make up goes on smoothly over the top, although I do give this one a bit longer than other moisturisers to sink in before I apply any. I can’t say that I’ve noticed a huge improvement in terms of protection against the environments or calming of redness -I still look like I’ve come back from a day on a trawlerboat most days- and I don’t use it at night because it doesn’t feel like there’s any point. I’ll probably also give this a miss when the weather gets warmer and I switch to lotions for my moisture fix. Maybe I’ve come a little late to this party and would have benefited from starting to use it earlier in the year *gnashes teeth*. However, if your skin is in need of some heavy duty protection, if you work outside a lot or in harsh environments that dry or strip your skin, you could do worse than invest in a jar of this.

Aesop Resurrection Hand Wash £27

Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste £35

Aesop Fabulous Facial Oil £40

Aesop Elemental Facial Barrier Cream £37

All available here

All paid for by me. *looks sadly into empty purse*

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Sunday Riley LUNA Sleeping Night Oil

The beautiful box

The beautiful box

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I absolutely love Sunday Riley products, so I am not unbiased -I would sell my firstborn (if I had one) to the very Devil hisself for the last bottle of Good Genes in the shop. With the UK release date for the much vaunted LUNA sometime in May (I think), I ordered from Sephora in order to get my hands on it stat.

Sephora’s International delivery was incredibly fast -it was with me in 4 days and packaged really sturdily so there was nary a bump or a blemish on the beautiful blue box. I should probably state now that I am not the sort of blog that takes exhaustive pictures of items from every conceivable angle -you won’t be scrolling down and watching me unwrapping items one maddening photo at a time. Having said that -here’s a couple more:

Tightly packaged

Tightly packaged

 

The gorgeous bottle

The gorgeous bottle

The packaging, as you would expect from SR, is absolutely gorgeous. The Lapis Lazuli coloured bottle is cosseted snugly inside the box and the oil is delivered via a dropper. And this is where the magic happens, because this stuff is blue.

On the skin

On the skin

It’s a dark turquoisy bluey green colour, which is due to the Blue Tansy oil. Blue Tansy (I should know this, being a florist) is the ingredient responsible in Luna for healing damaged skin, calming dermatitis and being an all round anti-inflammatory good egg. This was the element I was particularly interested in, as I’ve been struggling with my rosacea over the winter due to working in a freezing (mostly outdoor) environment with little but a fan heater and my own bitter tears for company. My skin has not thanked me and regularly flares up, glowing bright red as soon as I re-enter anything approaching a normally heated room.

The oil does smell fairly pungent -it has a herby, hippyish chamomile aroma tinged with ylang-ylang which triggered something Proustian in my mind that took me back to my childhood garden in the ’70s. It’s not offensive -to me, anyway- but it does linger once you put it on, which is not something I’m particularly fond of in cosmetics, and I imagine that if you actively don’t like the scent you might struggle with it.

Three little drops do my whole face. I find I have to work it into my skin a little -it doesn’t have as much slip as some oils, but for something so expensive I guess the last thing you want is it going everywhere. It doesn’t sink in particularly quickly -there is a sheen to my skin for 20 minutes or so after application. I’ve been using it two to three times a week (face, neck and eye wrinkles) and  my habit has become to use it after cleanse, acid tone and a hydrating mist. I haven’t bothered with a moisturiser afterwards as the amount of various oils in LUNA (Extra Virgin, Chia, Avocado, Grapeseed, Blackberry, Chamomile, Neroli, Sunflower, ylang ylang, Vetiver and Blood Orange) surely mean nothing else water based is getting through.

Ingredients etc

Ingredients etc

Now -does it work?

My skin -apart from the redness and flushing- is usually in reasonably good nick. I wasn’t sure how much transformation I was going to see, given that the overnight product that I have been most impressed with up to now is Liquid Gold, and I thought my quest for an overnight skin rescue had pretty much ended there. I think I thought that after using LUNA I was going to wake up to find choirs of angels singing round my bathroom mirror.

Yeah, not so much.

My skin did look good. But then it looks good after using Liquid Gold, which is a third of the price. At first I was disappointed. There has been so much love for this product that I think I’d deluded myself into thinking that once used, people would have to shield their eyes from my sheer beauteousness in a kind of reverse Medusa effect. But after I scaled back my expectations and actually looked at my skin (and again after a week, and now two weeks later) I can see a definite improvement. I don’t have a massive amount of wrinkles to work on, but that was never my goal with LUNA. I was looking to strengthen my skin, build up its defences and improve my lipid barrier. All of which it seems to have done. My skin feels less reactive, more protected and seems less likely to go haywire in crazily hot and dry  (or cold and dry) environments. The tiny ‘sahara-desert-viewed-from-space’ wrinkled look that my dehydrated skin gets in the winter is relaxed and my skin looks plumper the morning after I’ve used it. I generally follow with a serum for dehydrated skin and a nourishing moisturiser  (-currently Vichy Aqualia and Ole Henrickson’s Nurture Me). And I will continue to use it, because I do love me a luxurious product, even if the smell makes me think of Abigail’s Party.

In summation: Would I buy it again? Hmmmm -ask me next winter. I don’t think I will use this much in the summer when my skin seems to naturally regulate itself better, but for now I would say that it is putting down the foundations for well protected skin. My rosacea is never going to go away, but my skin looks more uniform and less blotchy after a night of LUNA. If you are in your twenties, I would say steer clear. This is fairly heavy duty for skin that should be repairing itself on its own with gay abandon, and I believe the jury is still out on the skin thinning properties of retinol in the long term. If you are in your mid thirties and upwards I would say, crack on. Especially if you are looking for a game changing product and you don’t want to be faffing about with a thousand serums and oils. If you want one product that has the potential to change your skin for the better -LUNA might be it.

**Not to be used during pregnancy or on young children (who would do that??)

Full disclosure: Bought with cold, hard cash.