Monday, 16 March 2015

Dangers Of Buying Professional-Only Products Online

We all like to save a bit of money and given the choice, we'll always look for cheaper alternatives on our favourite clothes, foods, beauty products and services to save ourselves a bit of cash.

However, there are certainly time when you really shouldn't choose the cheaper option, particularly when your health is concerned.

I was shocked recently after being contacted by someone who'd bought a professional-only peel online via an unauthorised reseller. They didn't state which one, however after a quick Google search, I narrowed it down to either StrawberryNET, CosmeticsNow or BloomingWay.

Firstly, I'm purposely not going to state which item they bought, out of fear that someone else will be stupid enough to go buy it but needless to say, the reason it's a "professional-only" peel is because it's a really high strength peel and takes professional qualification and training to apply it safely. It's also not a product that you would use in isolation, but rather as part of series of treatments and home care to build tolerance to such a high strength treatment without damaging the skin. For people familiar with professional peels, this is known as 'prep'.
There are many factors that are taken in to consideration, such as their skin type, vascularity,  Fitzpatrick type etc.
You'd also follow up with a weeks post-peel programme to help soothe the skin and reduce any risk of adverse reaction.

Not only had the girl in question bought the peel but because it came without instructions (why would it? It's not meant to be used without training, therefore the instructions are in the training manual, not of the pot!), they'd gone ahead applied and then through to ask questions afterwards. 4 days later when skin was still very red, very sore and peeling off! Who knows what long term damage she may have caused, potentially destroying the barrier function of the skin and certainly increasing the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (pigmentation following trauma).

To make matters worse, they just so happened to be a therapist themselves so they really should have known better! 

This is beside the point. The point I'm trying to make here is that the unauthorised resellers as mentioned above (there may be others, but those are the ones found on my Google search) are grossly irresponsible for selling this item online. They clearly don't care about the dangers and long term damage they could cause someone by selling said item to the general public. All they're after is profit!

It's also worth pointing out that the majority of these unauthorised resellers are not UK based, but usually places like Hong Kong or America. So should anything go wrong, it's not like you can just visit your therapist or aesthetician for help.

Unlike buying items from an authorised reseller or stockist, which is guaranteed. Buying any item from an unauthorised reseller is risky, because a) there is no guarantee the item is 100% genuine and / or b) there is no guarantee the item is still in date (yes skin care goes off, just like food).

If the item is genuine and in date then 100% guaranteed they haven't obtained the item legitimately or with authorisation from the manufacturers. Manufacturers work really closely with distributors and authorised resellers to ensure their products are being sold, used and applied correctly and safely. After all it's their brand and reputation on the line!
An unauthorised reseller clearly doesn't do any of those things! They've merely obtained a product illegitimately and are looking to sell it on to make a profit.

Buying a cheap moisturiser is one thing and you may not care as to whether it was obtained legitimately or not BUT when it comes to professional-only strength products such as peels, please, PLEASE, I urge you, just don't do it! You could seriously end up damaging yourself and putting the health of your skin at risk.

This is an extreme analogy, but it's the equivalent of buying a dentist kit off the internet and pulling a dodgy tooth out yourself OR buying some Botox off eBay and injecting yourself. You just wouldn't do it so why take risks with your skin? Especially as it could cost you double the amount to fix things after they go wrong OR worse, be left permanently scarred as a result.

In an ideal world, sites like these wouldn't exist but unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world, so it's up to you as consumers to have a little more sense about you and not buy / use products that are meant to be applied by qualified professionals.


Friday, 27 February 2015

SLEEPCLEAN™ - Anti-Acne Pillowcase

Yes, this is a pillowcase. No, I have not suddenly started wiring about soft furnishings.

This is the SLEEPCLEAN™ Pillowcase with acne fighting + antimicrobial properties to help fight acne while you sleep!

As a blogger and also working in the skin care industry, I'm used to seeing new product releases all the time and generally, in terms of skin care, a lot of the products are always very similar and often very uninspiring. However, when I was contacted to trial the SLEEPCLEAN™ Pillowcase I was actually really intrigued, for the first in a long time! 

It fits well with my holistic approach to treating skin i.e. treatment of the person, not just the symptom and considering all factors that could be contributing to skin problems and addressing them all. Often we focus so much on topical application of serums and creams, so the concept of a pillowcase that can help treat acne was really interesting!

How Does The SLEEPCLEAN™ Pillowcase Work?

As our pillowcases accumulate a build up of dead skins cells and oils, bacteria starts to multiple. The SLEEPCLEAN™Pillowcase contains Silver Ions, which are proven and highly effective at inhibiting the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that would otherwise go on to our skin while we sleep, thus preventing breakouts!

Silver Ions also have anti-inflammatory properties, so help to reduce inflammation and redness associated with moderate to severe grades of acne. 

Dermatologists recommend changing your pillowcase every 2-3 days. However due to the antimicrobial properties of the Silver Ions, the SLEEPCLEAN™ only requires washing every 7-10 days. Although personally, I have been washing mine more frequently, for no other reason than I like the feel of freshly washed bed linen!

SLEEPCLEAN™ Pillowcase Test Results & Thoughts!

As far as appearance and texture go, it looks and feels like your average good quality 300 thread count pillowcase, it's very soft and comfortable to sleep.

Results wise, it's a little difficult to comment as I don't have acne anymore. Of course, I do still get the occasional spot like any normal person! Particularly when I'm stressed or maybe a little too busy to take care of myself properly. 

What I do find really interesting however is when I do get a breakout, it's nearly always on my temple area, a typical sign of stress spots and overworked adrenals and / or kidneys. In the whole 5 weeks I've been trailing this product, I haven't had a single spot on my temple area...........I'm also a side sleeper, so the areas of my face that have been in contact with the pillowcase have definitely remained spot-free. I did however get one spot, a matter of days before exhibiting at Professional Beauty but it was slap-bang between my eyebrows!

Would I Recommend SLEEPCLEAN™?

Obviously, it's worth mentioning that bacteria alone is not the root cause of acne so an antimicrobial pillowcase alone is not going to cure your acne! SLEEPCLEAN™ even state on their website that it's designed to be used in conjunction with a good skin care routine. I would add to that professional treatments and a dietary review.
However, if like me, when my acne was at it's worst I would have tried absolutely anything and if you're one of those people and your skin care alone just doesn't seem to be helping, then it's definitely worth giving it a try. 

The SLEEPCLEAN™ effectiveness is guaranteed for a year or 50 washes and retails at $34.99 (so around £22). Although there may be an additional charge for shipping from New York to the UK. 


P.S. Something the brand doesn't mention, which I'm guessing is because the trails have been on acne sufferers only, but I would personally be intrigued to see if it also benefited Rosacea sufferers. Technically because of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it could help reduce inflammation and Demodex mites associated with Rosacea skins. This is ONLY my theory as a skin therapist however, the company make no claim to helping Rosacea so don't complain to them OR me for that matter, if you try and it doesn't help. It's merely a hypothesis based on the benefits on the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of Silver Ions! 

Monday, 9 February 2015

Bespoke Facial Review: No Mud, No Lotus Blog

Lucy from No Mud, No Lotus blog recently wrote a guest post for me to review the John Master Travel Kit. We also discovered we were also relatively local to one another, and following the review Lucy booked in for a bespoke facial with me.

Lucy was also incredibly kind enough to write a review of my treatment. Read what she had to say about it by clicking on the image below or HERE.

A big thank you to Lucy for such lovely feedback on her results and experience. It's comments like these that make me love what I do so much!


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Retinol: Ingredient Focus

Best Retinol Skincare Products Anti Ageing Acne Pigmentation

Being the right side of the 30 (ain't nothing wrong with being over 30), concerned with the early signs of ageing but having oily / problematic skin means that most anti-ageing creams are out of the question because of being too rich to tolerate.

Retinol however, is a fantastic ingredient no matter what your skin type or secondary skin concerns. In fact, Retinol isn't just about lines and wrinkles, it has the ability to correct all sorts of skin conditions and concerns including acne, eczema, pigmentation, photo-damage, enlarged pores, excess oil etc.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A and part of a family of ingredients known as Retinoids. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant which has the ability to protect cells from free radical damage thus preventing collagen breakdown, plus stimulates new collagen production.

I won't go into too much detail but if you want to learn more about Retinol click HERE.

Who Is Retinol For?

Pretty much anyone concerned with lines & wrinkles, pigmentation, acne, enlarged pores, sun damaged skin, excess oil. In fact, there aren't many skin conditions that Retinol wouldn't help with!

How To Use - Retinol 101

How to use Retinol and key things to remember when choosing a product;

  1. Retinol is sensitive to light & air so degrades easily when exposed to oxygen & UV.
  2. It's best to Retinol products at night to protect the vulnerable ingredient from UV exposure.
  3. Vitamin A is a stimulating ingredient so it's essential to use a sunscreen during the day.
  4. Retinol can be irritating so start slowly and build up gently.
  5. It takes 3 days for Retinol to be 'digested' fully by the skin.
  6. If the skin shows any signs of over-stimulation, give the skin a rest day.
  7. Retinol is converted to Retinoic Aicd before it can be utilised by the skin.
  8. Studies show the use of AHA's along side Retinol have been shown to boost the effects [1]

Read more about Retinol to Retinoic Acid conversion in skin.

Best Retinol Skin Care Products

Due to the fact Retinol is such a vulnerable and irritating ingredient, in order to use it in an effective percentage in skin care, it's best to best to choose a product that uses an encapsulated form of Retinol.

This ensure that not only is the ingredient protected but it also helps to deliver it to the deeper layers of skin without causing surface irritation.

All CosMedix Vitamin A product incorporate encapsulation and in my opinion offer superior results without the irritation.

CosMedix Define 

A cream based product that contains 2% encapsulated Retinol plus a combination of 3x AHA's (L-Lactic Acid, L-Malic Acid and L-Tartaric Acid) so it's a remodelling and resurfacing treatment in one.

This is a fantastic product for anyone new to Retinol to start with due to the lower percentage. It also helps to repair skin barrier due to the contents of AHA's and great for preparing the skin to tolerate higher percentage of Retinol.

Define retails at £63.66 for 30ml and is available HERE.

CosMedix Refine

A serum that contains 4% encapsulated Retinol plus amino acids and antioxidants and is extremely effective at increasing cell turnover and stimulating the skin.

This is great for anyone concerned with signs of ageing and / or a more oily / acne skin. Due to it's potency, it's highly recommend to either start on Define first and build up tolerance or start by using once or twice a week and build up slowly.

Refine retails at £54.58 for 15ml and is available HERE.

CosMedix Serum 16

A rich-serum that contains 16% LG-Retinex which is a blend of Retinol, Retinaldehyde and GAG's and is a super-charged anti-ageing serum.

Despite the much higher percentage of Vitamin A, this is actually much easier to tolerate than Refine because the encapsulation process uses a lipid (fat) instead of a protein, so it's slower release. This is best for more dry and ageing skins.

Interesting Fact: studies have shown that 0.5% Retinaldehyde is just as effective as 0.5% Retinoic Acid (Retin-A), except Retinaldehyde is more easily tolerated by the skin and without the localised irritation of Retinoic Acid. [2]

Serum 16 retails at £67.86 for 30ml and is available HERE.


1. Pharmacology of RALGA, a mixture of retinaldehyde and glycolic acid. Tran C1, Kasraee B, Grand D, Carraux P, Didierjean L, Sorg O, Saurat JH. Dermatol. 2005; 210 Suppl 1:6-13.

2. Profilometric evaluation of photodamage after topical retinaldehyde and retinoic acid treatment. Creidi P, Vienne MP, Ochonisky S, Lauze C, Turlier V, Lagarde JM, Dupuy P, J Am Acad. Dermatol. 1998 Dec; 39(6):960-5.

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Best Oil Cleansers

Best Oil Cleansers

To the uninitiated of skin cleansing addicts, cleansing with an oil can be a mind-boggling concept. Especially if you're programmed to think that suds = clean. However, ever since my first experiment with the Oil Cleansing Method, many years ago when my acne was at it's peak, I have been an avid fan of cleansing with oil, they're great for breaking down sunscreens / excess oil / makeup etc so ideal for your evening cleanse or the first step in a 2-step cleansing routine.

Whilst I haven't done the Oil Cleansing Method (or OCM) for many years, I do regularly cleanse my skin with oil. I'm also a bit wary of recommending the OCM simply because there is a lot of trial and error involved and it's best (in my opinion) to buy a read made (and product tested) product. In particular when it comes to cleansing with oils, a product that emulsifies i.e. changes from an oil to a milk when it comes into contact with water. Why? Because they're easier to use and don't require excessive heat or tugging at the skin to remove the oil, so providing the emulsifying agent doesn't irritate the skin (there are many to choose from!), they're much kinder to use overall.

My Top 3 Emulsifying Cleansing Oils

Ranging from around £10 - £40 per 100ml, in order of cost.

DHC - Deep Cleansing Oil

First up is DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. I received a sample of this a couple of years ago in a blogger goodie bag. I actually didn't like it as it broke me out, however I know loads of people absolutely love it, so I wouldn't want to let my personal experience with the product put you off! I have oily, reactive and acne-prone skin so it's not uncommon for me to breakout.

Its a basic Olive Oil based cleansing oil with a herbal scent but it does the job of cleansing and makeup remover really well. Retailing at £21.50 for a huge 200ml it's also affordable and economical.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is available from DHC.

CosMedix Purity Solution

Not surprisingly this is the one I use personally and it's also the one I use in my treatments (as I use CosMedix in my treatments, obviously!). CosMedix Purity Solution is a new addition to the range and one of the latest cleansing oils to hit the market. This has a similar base to the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil but with the addition of Moringa Seed Oil, Kukui Seed Oil, Argan Oil, Safflower Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, D-Tocopherol, Melia Azadirachta Extract, Eggplant Extract and Turmeric Extract, so has a little more oomph to it when it comes to treating the skin as well as cleansing it! 

complex blend of oils with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant plant extracts with a subtle citrus scent. Fantastic for all skin types including sensitive but particularly good for oily & problematic skins. Retails at £28.36 for 100ml.

CosMedix Purity Solution is available from Medico Beauty.

Antonia Burrell Natural Glow Cleansing Oil 

I had the great pleasure of meeting Holistic Facialist Antonia Burrell for brunch in London one morning and she gave me a sample bottle of her Natural Glow Cleansing Oil to try. This was the first 100% natural cleansing oil to emulsify (without using synthetic emulsifying agents). This uses a base of Castor Oil, Sesame Oil and Wheat Germ Oil, plus Tocopherol and a complex blend of 7 essential oils. 

This can only be described as a pleasure to use and it smells fantastic! Retailing at £39.50 for 100ml, it's definitely not the cheapest out of the 3, but it smells and feels very luxurious, like an indulgent treat when you use it.
I can only imagine how lovely it would be to experience this cleanser during one of Antonia's facials! 

Antonia Burrell Natural Glow Cleansing Oil is available from Antonia Burrell.

Now go fourth and enjoy the benefits of washing your face with oil! You'll be surprised at how clean and non-oily it feels!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Rescuing Sensitive Skin

Sensitivity is an issue that literally knows no bounds: it discriminates not by skin type, condition, or age, nor does it take into account any delightful impending events in your social calendar! Sensitive skin tends to arrive like an unwanted relative, at a moment’s notice, without so much as a second glance, and skin that was magnificently resilient for years beforehand can find itself befalling sensitivities. In the simplest of terms, sensitivity is an irritation (external), or an inflammation (internal) of the skin. 

The skin’s dermis grows weaker, and its barrier function consequently becomes compromised, allowing sensitivity triggers to burrow deeper within the skin.  Due to the diminished barrier function, the skin finds it tougher to inhibit moisture from escaping, causing dehydration. Every so often, I find my skin erring towards sensitive, and thank to a lot of testing, trying, and experimentation, I finally have my sensitive skin paraphernalia figured out!

La Roche Posay (and French skincare brands in general) really seems to have sensitive skin figured out to an absolute T. The ranges are extensive, and take into account all skin conditions and types, in conjunction with and sensitivity issues. Their Toleriane Fluid is my go-to for soothing comfort – in fact, it is described as a “soothing protective non-oily emulsion” and to be fair, that is a very accurate description. Definitely more of a lotion texture, this is lightweight and cooling on contact with the skin, and takes down any visible signs of sensitivity within a few moments, whilst also delivering the right amount of moisture. The non-oily element also makes it a fantastic base for make-up. 

Serum-wise, I tend to lean towards Botanics Skin Relief Serum Ultra Calm: slightly thicker than the La Roche Posay, but still ever so lightweight, this is calmness in a bottle. Again, this has a cooling element on contact with the skin, and seems to cocoon it in a softness that relaxes the sensitivities – apparently due to the marshmallow extract. This, again, leaves the skin non-greasy and supple. 

In terms of oils, experimentation has led me to the Nude Pro Genius Oil. Now, to be fair, this is an oil that I can use whether my skin is being sensitive or not, but the Omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 seem to just know what to do for sensitive skin in particular. The ultimate treat for when skin isn’t quite playing ball, I layer this on before bedtime, and wake up to skin that is refreshed, plumped, and less stressed-looking. 

Lastly, a lovely, soft moisturiser – the Vichy Aqualia Thermal: as gentle as water on the skin, and just provides the right amount of weight to lock in all the previous products and goodness into the skin.

I hope you found this useful,
Much love,
Ani x

Twitter: @aasultanas

A big thank you to Ani from 'and laugh at guilded butterflies' for her guest blog post on how she manages her sensitive / sensitised skin. Make sure you check out her blog. If you're new to blogging and would be interested in being featured, please email me at - Andy

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Collagen Boosting 'Ageless' Treatment

As you may be aware, I've been a fan of Collagen Shots for a while now.  Not only do I take them myself but I also recommend them to clients, especially those who are concerned with dry / dehydrated skin and / or lines & wrinkles and loss of structural integrity to the skin i.e. loss of collagen! You can see my original review HERE.

I'm both pleased and proud to announce that I have teamed up with Rejuvenated, the producers of Collagen Shots to bring a new treatment package that supports my philosophy of treating the skin from the inside as well as topically.

I call it the Ageless Package, an intense 28 day system that combines CosMedix Benefit Peel treatments together with a course of Collagen Shots. 

CosMedix Benefit Peel - What is it and how does it work?

The CosMedix Benefit is an acid-free treatment that infuses the skin with Vitamin A + Vitamin C to increased cellular renewal and stimulate collagen production to remodel the dermis. It's great for all skin types and conditions, including Rosacea, Hyper-pigmentation and photo-damage.

Collagen Shots - What are they and how do they work?

An anti-ageing drink that contains 10,000mg of marine collagen with amino acids, Acai Berry, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins B3, B5, B6 & C plus minerals Zinc & Copper to provide the body all the building blocks it needs to produce collagen and hydrate the skin.

Ageless Package - What is it and how does it work?

By combining both of the above treatments together you're giving the skin all that it needs to increase hydration levels, stimulate collagen production, increase cellular renewal and restore structural integrity, both topically and from within.

Both are fantastic within their own right but by combining the two together you get outstanding results and in as a little as 4 weeks!

This treatment is ideal for anyone concerned with dry / dehydrated skin, lines & wrinkles, loss of firmness, sagging skin / loss of structural integrity.

To find out more or to book this treatment please visit at

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