Monday, 9 November 2015

Nude by Nature

I'm sorry that it has been quiet on the blog posting for a number of month (well years almost) but I have been struggling my way through a skin condition called perioral dermatitis. It is a rash that mainly effects young women (20 - 40 years old) so some think it is hormonal but I suspect had something to do with the number of products I used on my face over the years. It consists of small raised and bumps around the nose and mouth and also - as my doctor referred to it - had the appearance of being scaly. I will do another post detailing all the remedies I have been using, what has worked and what hasn't, but for the time being one of the major courses of action was to make my skincare routine completely natural and that meant finding a makeup brand that wasn't loaded with the chemicals that are ubiquitous in most makeup brands. As I researched I was shocked and upset by the scarce number of options. People are really concerned about what they put into their body at the moment, with every other Instagram picture being a healthy juice or avocado on toast. But there isn't the same level of interest on what people are putting onto their skin. With the epidermis (our skin) being the largest organ of the human body it is only common sense that we treat it with respect and constant use of chemicals through using makeup is one way that we aren't treating it with the love it deserves. 

During my research I came across Nude by Nature, an Australian brand that promises that their products are “formulated without synthetic ingredients or preservatives like Talc, Silicon, Phthalates, Sulphates, PEGS, Siloxanes, Triclosans, Phenoxyethanol or Parabens.” Parabens and sulphates are one of the key ingredients that dermatologists say to avoid for those people with dermatitis and are found in most cosmetic lines. At the moment Nude by Nature is only available through in the UK but as more people hear about it that is bound to change.  As well as being good for your skin by being packed full of natural goodness, it is also good for your conscience as it 100% cruelty free and PETA certified, another key aspect that is overlooked by many cosmetic brands. One area that shouldn't really factor into our choices when we are buying something is the packaging but lets face it, it always does (I know someone who only buys products for the packaging). Nude by Nature has a luxury feel to it but the prices are still high-street (£18 - £25). The rose gold and cases are so pretty and the whole range feels so well designed and elegant. The compacts are substantial and even though plastic used for tubes it feels matte and sturdy rather than cheap and cheerful. 

The perfecting primer (£22) is silicone free (silicone clogs your pores and is one of the ingredients that creates glare in flash photography) and instead includes vitamin A & E, papaya leaf and recommend for dermatitis green tea. I find some primers can be sticky whereas this glides onto your face and leaves it smooth and moisturised without in any way feeling oily. It provides the perfect base for the luminous sheer liquid foundation (£25) or the radiant loose powder foundation (£25) both of which comes in a range of shades from light to dark and in warm, cool or neutral tones. I am of the super fair variety so can find it difficult to find the right shade for my skin but C1 Ivory matched it entirely and provided the perfect balance between smoothing out my skin tone but not obscuring my freckles. Even though it looks too light in the photo I can assure you the skin on my neck (where you should test foundation for colour) is as white as a ghost. The foundation feels like no other that I have tried, it is sumptuous. It feels more like a luxury face mask than foundation, you can almost feel it nurturing your skin when you apply it. It is lighter than lightweight, it is like being kissed by makeup Gods it feels so divine. It melts into your skin and all day my skin felt taken care of and cared for. 

There are two annoying things about perioral dermatitis that I wanted this make up to be able to help with - (1) that it could pacify and cover the redness around my mouth and nose and (2) that it would moisturise and not emphasis the dry, flakiness that's also a symptom of the rash. Task 1 - The foundation did cover up most of the redness and any that was left over was tackled by the perfecting concealer (£20) I'll admit a small tube but only a tiny amount is needed to blast the last remaining redness and under eye circles that are the bane of any woman over 25. On both counts it did a sterling job and didn't sit in the creases of my eyes like some concealers do after a few hours wear. This has to be down to the shea butter and jojoba oil that is highly moisturising and plumps up the skin. 

Task 2 - Normally transparent powder or powder foundation is the kiss of death for my skin as all it does is highlight the dryness and scales that appear. Not using a finishing powder can mean that your foundation doesn't stay in place as long as you don't get the same mattifying effect so you end up with a shiny forehead. The Nude by Nature translucent powder (£22) didn't accentuate the dryness but actually helped to cover it, possibly because it doesn't contain talk, which drys out the skin. It's honestly like you're brushing on silk to your face. Even after a day of wearing makeup, where usually my forehead would be oily and the lower half of my face visibly dry, my make up looked exactly the same as it did when I applied it in the morning. No dryness and no oiliness, just perfect.

Nude by Nature has got me falling in love. Not only are the products hands down some of the best that I have ever tried but they have provided a way for me to still wear makeup without making my skin breaking out. My face has never felt so nourished and looked after when I have applied make up. For 18 months I have been in a constant cycle of hating my skin because it looks so damaged and sore and applying makeup to cover it up, only for it to get worse. Now I can continue to wear makeup whilst treating the problem as it contains ingredients such as green tea and vitamins. This is a photo of me after a 10 hour work day and there is not one patch of my skin I am unhappy with here, even though if I took the makeup off you would see bumps, redness and uneven texture all round my mouth. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

SodaStream Power

The last time I remember hearing about SodaStream I was a child in the 80’s and my parents used to have one in the kitchen. It was this big and bulky plastic looking machine that took up a corner of the workspace and used to make terrifying noises when it carbonated (if memory serves correctly, not very nice) drinks. So I was surprised when I got an email recently telling me about the new SodaStreamPower and saw the sleek and streamlined design. No longer made out of that orangey plastic that everything in the 80’s was made out, it now looks like a cool gadget that fits in perfectly with a modern kitchen (and the black matches my kitchen perfectly). 

The challenge was to swap coffee, fruit juice and fizzy drinks for two weeks and see what effect it would have on my skin and energy levels. Before I started I calculated that I wasn’t drinking enough water, I should be drinking around 2 litres a day and on a good day I am only normally drinking about 1.3 litres. Like 52% of Brits most of that comes from coffee and tea so I dread to think how much sugar I am consuming through drinks alone.

Day one and I swiftly realised that there is not a hope in hell that I am not going to be able to have a coffee, in fact I think I lasted all of 10 minutes before the alluring smell from the freshly brewed cafeteria my husband had just made breaks me. So I widen the goal posts a bit and decide to limit myself to two cups only, which cuts my coffee intake by half. I also decide to wean myself off two sugars to only one. I’m still standing by not having my usual fizzy drink midway through the day.

My first thoughts on the new SodaStream is that it is really easy to use, simply fill the contained bottle up with cold water and then slide under the nozzle. There are three different levels of carbonation, level one gives it a gentle fizz where level three gives it the same level of fizz as you would get with a can of drink. I have never been one for plain fizzy water so I decide to flavour my drinks throughout the two-week period with frozen lemon and lime slices. Not only does it make the water nice and chilled for the surprisingly hot days we have had recently but also gives a refreshing taste that isn’t over powering.

Unsurprisingly the first few days of my experiment resulted in many more trips to the bathroom but I take this as a good sign that that my body is being flushed of all its toxins. I did get a mild headache for the first few days but think this is down to the reduced amount of caffeine and sugar. My energy levels didn’t dip too much but I certainly felt the effect of not having my afternoon caffeine pick me up, I replaced my midday can of coke with a banana, less exciting but much better for me.

At the weekend I got very excited when I realise that I can replace the tonic from my gin and tonic with the fizzy water and have it taste exactly the same. I also use some of the water in a white wine spritzer and the effect is not that dissimilar to having a prosecco. I also have a play around with the flavourings that you can add to the water; orange slices, cucumber slices, crushed pomegranate seeds, mango pulp. I found that all of these work best frozen and that also means you get to keep the fruit as fresh as possible. I did experiment with banana but there is a reason why you don’t really find many banana flavour drinks - it did not taste good. Obviously you can get a number of different juices from SodaStream in supermarkets; they do a zero range (no sugars or calories) as well as a classics range, which includes cola and Dr Pete. I tried the passion fruits mango from the fruits range and really loved it, the flavour was on par with any canned drink and you can reduce the amount of syrup you use to suit your taste. I can find drinks like Fanta a bit too sweet at times so it is nice to be able to make it to your taste.

Anyway back to the experiment. The first week I didn’t feel too much of a difference, I think this was because my body was still trying to figure out what was going on and readjust to my new routine. By the second week however it was obvious how much better I felt. There was much less of a sense of having to ‘top up’ my energy levels with coffee or caffeine and more of a steady balancing out of energy throughout the day. I even started to sleep better, which helped to contribute to the reduction of dark circles under my eyes, a physical improvement the experiment made. For me the most visible effect was on one of the days near the end of the two weeks when I ended up staying at work much later then planned and broke my coffee limit and didn’t drink nearly as much water as I had been. I ended the day with a severe headache and body aches that saw me go straight to bed after a hot bath.

The experiment has taught me a few things:

1) I drank too much coffee and really needed to cut down so I am keeping up with the two-cup limit and now only have one sugar
2) I didn’t drink enough water for my body to function at its best so will continue to drink the recommended 2 litres a day

3) SodaStream has successfully turned from being a childhood memory to a present day necessity.