I must admit this is rather an expensive skincare routine when you add it all up, so I’ve called it luxe with good reason. I’ve accumulated these products over time and most were bought when there were discount offers running or came as part of box subscriptions or gifts with purchase. Some products have also gone up in price significantly since I bought them (e.g. May Lindstrom).
As mentioned in my previous post, over time choosing good quality natural skincare products has become more of a priority for me and something I’m willing to spend more money on (within reason!). I share these products as I enjoy using them and find they agree with my skin, and perhaps you will too.
- Twelve Beauty Purifying Cleansing Beauty Cream – this cleanser is formulated to be gentle, with plant extracts and squalene to support the skin barrier. It’s not heavily scent but has a slight herby smell (admittedly not my favourite), but I find it really hydrating and it doesn’t leave my combination skin feeling like its shrivelling if I don’t put anything else on my skin straightaway.
- Amly Silver Rich Facial Mist – this mist is made in Sussex from local mineral-rich spring water, essential oils and hyaluronic acid. The scent is primarily orange blossom, and it’s very refreshing as a morning spritz.
- Twelve Beauty Ideal Moisture Level Serum – this serum arrived as part of a Boxwalla beauty box (highly recommended), having crossed the Atlantic and back to get to me. I
- A’kin Rose de Mai Antioxidant Facial Day Creme – this is the product that made me fall in love with the scent of Rose de Mai. It’s lighter and fresher than other types of rose, and the product itself is really hydrating with high levels of ingredients such as panthenol (vitamin B5), glycerin and some hyaluronic acid. The only downside for me is that is contains sodium hydroxymethylglycinate and phenoxyethanol as part of the preservative system, and I’m now wanting to experimenting with avoiding these as some people report they can be irritating to sensitive skin. However before reading about these ingredients I have used this product for a long time and loved it.
- de Mamiel Pure Calm Cleansing Dew – this thoughtful range is formulated by Annee de Mamiel, a London-based acupuncturist and aromatherapist with a somewhat legendary reputation in some circles. This is a light oil with a beautifully scented and skin-calming essential oil blend. It emulsifies nicely although you do really need to use more pumps than the two stated on the label.
- May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden – this mist has a strong jasmine scent with a slight vanilla undertone, enriched with colloidal silver for its purported anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory action. It may be a bit overwhelming if you’re very sensitive to scents, but if you love jasmine it’s definitely for you.
- May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon – a very considered purchased, although this 50ml pot is actually quite a bit bigger than the standard for face balms and lasts many months. It is naturally a vibrant blue colour thanks to blue tansy oil, which has skin soothing properties. I have found this beautiful to use, but especially if my skin has been sore, red or inflamed.
What are your favourite skincare products to indulge in?
A good night’s sleep can be difficult to achieve, whether it be due to life stress, medication side effects, or whirring mind. Part of the anti-nausea medication protocol on chemotherapy includes high-dose steroids, and I’ve found these in particular can interfere with my ability to sleep well at a time when it’s most need.
When you’re up against the effects of medication sometimes you just have to ride it out, but there are also several natural methods you can try to help you relax and drift off.
- Support melatonin – melatonin is one of the hormones that contributes to good sleep, but exposing our eyes to blue spectrum light (found in sunlight but also produced by digital screens and LED lighting) impairs the body’s production. Avoid using devices such as mobile phones, computers and TV after 9pm and ensure your bedroom is properly dark at night. If you have trouble reducing screen time in the evening, you can now buy amber-toned glasses to filter out the blue light. I struggle with this myself, but I’m working on it.
- Wind down with herbal tea – find a relaxing evening blend that you enjoy. My favourites are Higher Living Sweet Dreams tea and chamomile and spearmint (Heath & Heather for organic, or Twinings in supermarkets).
- Relax with a bath – I find Epsom or Dead Sea salts in the bath particularly good. Westlab Epsom salt (£5.99) is an affordable option and widely available in supermarkets, Boots and online. If you can’t manage a bath for whatever reason (I have a PICC line which makes it difficult), a foot bath is a good alternative.
- Transform your bed into a cloud – it’s really important that your bed is comfortable. If your mattress is a little tired but not yet ready to be replaced, consider a mattress topper. I have the the Luxury Soft As Down mattress topper from Soak & Sleep, and it made a big difference even to a new mattress. I also love their French linen bedsheets, which supposedly help your body to better control temperature and also feel really nice against your skin.
- Try aromatherapy – essentials oil sprays and roll-ons are now part of my before bed routine, although scent is highly personal and you may have to try a few blends to find one you love. I found Neom Tranquility Intensive Deep Sleep Treatment particularly good. At £8 for a small rollerball it may seem expensive, but they use the highest quality oils and I found this little vial lasted about six months using it almost every night. I also enjoy This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (£18), and the Tisserand Sweet Dreams rollerball (£5.95) is another good rollerball if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the Neom one.
- Consider a supplement – magnesium in particular supports the nervous system, but if you’re taking medication do ensure you talk to your doctor first to check it’s safe for you and won’t interact. When choosing a magnesium supplement it’s also a good idea to buy a reputable brand and get some advice from an independent health food shop or supplement company about which type of magnesium to take, as there are quite a few out there. Avoid magnesium oxide as this is poorly absorbed in the intestines, and instead works more as a laxative.
Do you have trouble sleeping? What have you found that helps?
Today I’m sharing some of my favourite things I’ve been enjoying this month.
- Face Theory organic bamboo face cloths – a few weeks ago my skin became super sensitive, I think in reaction to a new cleanser I tried. I quickly swapped to some really gentle products, but found my usual flannels and muslin cloths were just a bit too much for my skin. I spent a few days splashing off my cleansers with water until finding these bamboo face cloths from Face Theory on Amazon. They are so soft and gentle, my skin is now a lot happier.
- Pea shoots – I love the delicate flavour of pea shoots, even though I’d never seen them until a few years ago. They are lovely as part of a salad, but I’ve also been enjoying them alongside eggs at breakfast. I sometimes find other greens like spinach are a bit much for my digestion in the morning, but these seem easier on my system and a good way to include some more veg at breakfast.
- Madeleine Shaw on YouTube – I’ve been catching up with health coach Madeleine Shaw’s videos on YouTube this month. I find them so relaxing to watch, and I really appreciate how positive she is in her outlook.
- Yogi Rose Tea – my absolute favourite herbal tea at the moment. It has a lovely delicate floral taste from the rose, with some subtle warm spices.
- Decleor Aromessence Neroli Hydrating Night Balm – this is such a beautiful calming face balm, and a little goes a long way. Neroli is just one of the essential oils included in this delicious blend, alongside chamomile and basil. I find it really good when my skin is out of sorts, whether a bit dehydrated or threatening a breakout.
What products are you loving at the moment?
Social media can be a bit of a mixed blessing when you’re ill. While it can help you feel more connected to the world when you’re stuck at home, before you know it you can find yourself checking various platforms constantly, which can be incredibly draining. When I noticed myself falling into this trap a few months ago I decided to re-evaluate – to think about what was enriching my life, and what was using up energy without a good return. For me Twitter was a definite drain, particularly around the time of the US elections. Having never been much of a Facebook user I had gradually started checking it more and more, but as a passive consumer and almost a compulsive thing, rather than using it to interact. Your analysis of pros and cons for the social media you use may come out differently, but these are the two I decided to drop cold turkey, and deleted the apps from my phone.
The one social media platform that I have stuck with has been Instagram. I know there is some controversy over the impact it can have on self-esteem, but I really like the visual aspect combined with the stories element and find it gives me input on all sorts of different levels. I did have a good old prune of the people I was following, partly to give me a more concise list so I wasn’t spending endless hours scrolling, but also to minimise food photos (I still follow some accounts that post food but far fewer, as they’re not so great when you have major nausea), get rid of brands that were basically just advertising (even if I loved their products), and in some cases people I didn’t know who were pregnant or had new babies and posted a lot about it (just a bit too hard when you’re coming to terms with losing your own fertility, although it wasn’t a blanket policy towards anyone with kids – ultimately you have to look after yourself and go with what works for you).
There are lots of accounts out there that I love, but I thought I’d share my current top 5 with you, each of which add a little bit to my life each day:
- Bodyposipanda is so full of light, love and positivity, I dare you not to fall in love with her. She’s on a mission to spread body positivity, which includes some beautifully joyful and liberating videos of her dancing in her underwear, alongside regular doses of common sense. Her mermaid hair has also given me ideas for wig goals.
- Inky.diary is a self-taught illustrator who posts the cutest little ink drawings of animals. Irresistible.
- Libertylndngirl is run by writer Sasha Wilkins. She is a former fashion editor turned blogger who posts delicious photos of flowers, food, London life, world travels and a very adorable miniature dachshund called Lettice. I also highly recommend her blog, which I have been reading for years. She posts on such a lovely variety of topics and has a beautiful clear and engaging writing style, it provides such a window onto the world and into a different life.
- Carolinehirons is quite simply the queen of beauty blogging. If you’re at all interested in skincare you need her blog in your life, and her Instagram is full of photos of her daily routines, mini reviews, and her two gorgeous kittens. She is intelligent, knowledgeable and tells it like it is.
- Bymariandrew is an American writer and illustrator who posts wonderful, thoughtful and thought-provoking drawings with concepts and captions that I frequently find resonate with me.
Which social media platforms enrich your life, and which do you find drain you? Who are your Instagram faves?
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Look Good, Feel Better workshop held at the hospital where I go for treatment. Look Good, Feel Better is an international cancer support charity that offers free workshops throughout the UK and in countries around the world. They aim to support peoples’ confidence and offer tips and advice on coping with issues such as skin changes, eyebrow and eyelash loss. You also get a bag of free products to use during the workshop and take home, donated by various companies in the beauty industry.
The workshop I went to was run by a fantastic make-up artist called Brian, along with a team of local make-up artists and beauty therapists who volunteered their time to help run the session. It was such a relaxed and positive atmosphere, so if you’re thinking about going to one yourself I would say go for it.
Some of the most useful tips for me were:
- Be generous with skincare products to avoid dragging the skin when it’s sensitive.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration – your skin can get really dehydrated during treatment, so use products that will hydrate the skin. (Beauty journalist Sali Hughes has a great video explaining skin dehydration here. Although personally I prefer to use more ‘natural’ products than some she recommends, I find her tip to look for products containing the hydrating ingredients hyaluronic acid and/or glycerin really useful).
- Avoid using products too near the eyes, especially if you’ve lost your eyelashes (they help keep things out of your eyes!). Eye cream goes on the orbital bone, not right under the eyes – it will naturally move up a bit to where it’s needed once you apply it. Tap in gently using the ring fingers, then press your fingers either side of the nose and gentle swipe outwards to help encourage fluid drainage and reduce puffiness.
- Eyeliner can help define the eyes if you’ve lost your eyelashes, but don’t put eyeliner in the water line during treatment to minimise infection risk.
- Eyebrows – they guide you through drawing them on in the session, using three points on the brow bone. One of the other attendees also mentioned you can get templates from Amazon and Boots to help guide you with shape. I received a Lancome Sourcils Tint eyebrow pen in my goodie bag which has been great as once it sets it doesn’t rub off, but unfortunately it seems they don’t make them any more.
And one more bonus tip: although I’ve not experienced ‘peach fuzz’ on the face due to treatment, Brian advised using a sponge to dab powder on the face rather than a brush to avoid highlighting the hairs. Good to know!
To find out more about Look Good, Feel Better, watch make-up tutorials, and see if there’s a workshop near you check out their website here.