Thursday, 7 November 2013

Bargain Beauty - All About Oils

As I mention in the 'About Me' section of this blog, I've picked up some of my best tips from other bloggers. When it comes to beauty, there's one blogger whose recommendations I really trust: Caroline Hirons. Ms Hirons is a beauty expert of many years' standing who, in her own words, "has an unhealthy obsession for all things skin" and "dislikes brands that want to 'be famous' and aren't entirely truthful to their customers." She's also a trained facialist who has worked across the globe, consulting with leading brands and retailers in the beauty industry. So she kind of knows what she's talking about. Her blog is witty, entertaining and completely honest, and she reviews products from right across the beauty spectrum, from the prestige to the budget. Her no-holds-barred approach to testing the wide variety of products that come her way means you can get an unbiased opinion on the latest beauty must-have, something that is far less likely in a magazine spread where you rarely get a truly honest idea of the real efficacy of a certain product. What this means is you can read Caroline's blog to get a beauty insider's take on expensive products before you part with your hard-earned cash.

Caroline is something of a skincare evangelist and doesn't advocate scrimping on your skincare routine. Her policy is very much based on the principle that you should invest in your skin above things like clothes, bags or shoes, so if  you would happily spend £60 on a new bag but only £1.99 on some wipes for your face, then you can't really complain if your skin lets you down. On that basis, her recommendations are not always cheap and unfortunately some of the products she raves about the most are well out of my price range. But one thing she has turned me onto and which I've noticed have made a difference to my skin are oils - both the types you put in your body and those you apply to your skin. 

Cleansing oil by Una Brennan

Firstly, fish oils. We all know the benefits of Omega 3 for things like concentration (my kids take a supplement for this very reason) but I was unaware just how transformative they can be for stressed, problem skin. On Caroline's recommendation I now take a daily high strength supplement of fish oils which seem to help keep my skin clearer and smoother.You can buy fish oils in all good chemists and supermarkets but the higher strength versions seem harder to find; I use Boots own-brand Max Strength 1300mg capsules which cost £7.49 for 30. According to Caroline's blog, she's had a hugely positive response from sufferers of skin problems including acne, psoriasis and eczema who found taking fish oil helped them keep their skin under control.

Putting oil into my body was one thing but I took a little longer to come round to the idea of putting oil onto my face to clean it. As someone who's prone to breakouts and has sensitive, reactive skin, the concept of applying oil directly onto troublesome pores seemed to contradict all sane skincare advice. However having read Caroline's logical explanations of why oils are good for skin - as long as they are the 'right' sort of oils - I've become a convert. Contrary to what you might think oils are vital in supporting skin tissue, helping to balance skin and ward off spots while keeping skin moisturised and smooth. Conversely things like foaming cleansers or harsh acne treatments just end up stripping the skin, making it produce ever more sebum which in turn leads to more breakouts. As long as you avoid mineral oils and paraffin your skin will thank you for it. 

I was pleased to see Ms Hirons recommend a budget alternative to some of the expensive oils on the market in the shape of the Una Brennan range which you can buy at Boots for under a tenner. Caroline advocates a dual cleanse routine for evenings which might sound a faff but isn't actually too time consuming and really ensures your skin is squeaky clean at the end of the day. The Una Brennan Skin Renew cleansing oil has the added benefit of Vitamin C so I spend some time massaging this in first, then rinse before doing a final cleanse with my trusty Alpha H products. The oil has a delicious smell and seems to have a conditioning effect on skin, leaving it soft with no hint of dryness. Highly recommended.

Lastly, I thought I'd pass on a tip given to me by hairdresser. Thanks to a long-time addiction to hair straighteners and a natural propensity to dryness, my hair is often a frizzy, lack-lustre mess. I'm slowly weaning myself off daily straightener use and in the meantime have been using almond oil on the dry ends the night before a hair-wash, as suggested by my hairdresser. You can buy almond oil in chemists for less than a couple of quid and you only need a teeny amount to help keep dry ends at bay. Massage in and leave to sink in overnight, rinsing out the next day. It really does help tame dry, frizzy locks, for a fraction of the price of products like argan oil or Moroccan oil.  

To read more beauty recommendations and tips visit Caroline Hirons blog here.


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