Wednesday, 17 February 2021

REVIEW: Garnier Ultimate Blends Repairing Hair Food Papaya Range

REVIEW: Garnier Ultimate Blends Repairing Hair Food Papaya Range
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
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As a wise woman once said: "Hair is everything, Anthony!" It was Fleabag, so she wasn't *that * wise, But our favourite 'free-spirited, sexually liberated millennial' has a point. While hair isn't everything, it's not nothing either. For me it really is the difference between a good day and a bad day, when my hair looks bad, my mood follows. I know that's incredibly shallow but I'm definitely not alone in this.

Gif via

I believe it was the great Lady Gaga - if you don't think Lady Gaga is great then I'm sorry, I can't help you - who sang: "I am my hair!" Now, I'll say it again, hair isn't everything, and it's certainly not an entire identity, but for me it's an important part of who I am. 

My hair is one of my defining features. It's literally in my blog name: Lauren with the Red HAIR. My mass of unruly curls, both its texture - curly - and  colour - red - are markers that identify me. People use it to explain who I am: "Oh yeah Lauren, she has red hair" or "You know Lauren, she's got curly hair." It's my signifier. It's what I'm known for. If I ever pulled an early Guardians of the Galaxy-era Karen Gillan and shaved the lot off - not going to happen, I'd look like Matt Lucas -  people would still use my hair, or lack of, to identify me: "Lauren, the bald girl" or "Lauren, she's got no hair". Isn't it weird? 

I've got sidetracked, but wow! Hair as identity... what a concept! Anyway my point was I'm very particular about the products I use on my hair. 

Enter the Garnier Ultimate Blends Repairing Hair Food range, Garnier's new-ish hair care range targeting damaged hair. The three-piece collection features a shampoo, conditioner and, it's hero product, a multi-use deep conditioning treatment. I've been using the shampoo and conditioner for a couple of months now, since lockdown 2.0, and the hair mask has been a firm favourite since it was launched in 2019. 

First of all let's address the packaging of the shampoo and conditioner bottles, which are still plastic but are made from 50% recycled materials and are themselves 100% recyclable. While it's not perfect - plastic packaging is terrible for the environment - it's definitely an encouraging step. It's really hard to get a global corporation, such as L'Oreal which owns Garnier, to make changes like this. So the fact that they have is great. Hopefully, it's not just lip service and will inspire more companies to follow suit. 

Now the packaging for the hair mask is a bit of a different story in that it's not made from any recycled plastics and it's not widely recycled, although it is accepted by some council recycling schemes.  Garnier has also partnered with Teracycle to keep more beauty products out of landfill, which again is really encouraging. The packaging itself is a sturdy round pot with a lid, which I think would be easy enough to reuse or upcycle. I'd even argue that due to the packaging this product would be a good candidate for a refill initiative.  

Designed to repair damaged hair, which I definitely have, the Garnier Ultimate Blends Repairing Hair Food Papaya range boasts vegan formulas that are free from silicones, giving them a more natural feel on the hair. The products are made with 98% naturally-derived ingredients, such as sunflower seed oil, coconut oil and papaya extract. All three are designed to target signs of damage, particularly breakage and split ends, while nourishing and conditioning the hair. 

So lets start with the shampoo, a very good place to start. The Repairing Hair Food Papaya & Coconut Shampoo boasts a lightweight formula that effectively cleanses the hair without being too harsh or stripping. It only mildly foams, which means it's SLS content is on the lower side. This makes it great for colour- or heat-treated hair, which tends to be on the drier side and needs to have moisture put back into it. I've been using it for a couple of months now and have noticed that my hair feels softer and more nourished. 

The Repairing Hair Food Papaya Conditioner also has lightweight formula, with a really thin, almost watery texture that feels quite weird at first. It's actually really clever, although it does take some getting used to, as the light texture means it absorbs into the hair quickly, making washing my hair less of a faff.  It also really packs a punch in the hydration stakes, detangles the hair, which in turn prevents breakage and leaves the hair healthy-looking and moisturised. 

The real star of the show is the 3-in-1 Hair Mask Treatment for Damaged Hair, I've been waxing lyrical about this mask for nearly two years. It is that good! The multi-use treatment can be used as a conditioner, an intense treatment or a leave-in conditioner. Personally, I like to use it as a leave in conditioner as its lightweight formula conditions and tames my mad second day hair without weighing it down or making it look greasy. 

It contains papaya and alma extracts to leave the hair nourished, while also reducing the appearance of split ends. The mask even claims to reduce up to half your split ends after just one use. Although that hasn't been my experience but maybe I just have a lot of split ends.  

It has, however, made a noticeable improvement to the condition of my hair leaving it soft, smooth and strong instead of dry, frazzled and fragile. It also smells incredible AND it's incredibly affordable. I've loved this for two years for a reason guys!

Overall, the whole range is really good, especially at the price point. So if you're a fellow hair abuser and you're looking for something cheap and cheerful to mitigate the damage you could do a lot worse that the Garnier Ultimate Blends Repairing Hair Food Papaya range. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Lockdown 3.0 Skincare Picks

Lockdown 3.0 Skincare Picks
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
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Here in the UK we are in the midst of our third lockdown. You read that right, THIRD! While lockdown is necessary and vital and really important, it's also fucking hard. It is. The novelty wore off some time ago. Now we're all just collectively finding things to get us through the never ending days. Is it 4pm on Monday 11 January or 5am on Friday 5th February? Who knows? Time is no longer a concept I subscribe to. Nor is non-elasticated waist bands... what even are jeans? So that's where I'm at mentally, slap bang in the middle of an existential crisis. 

My original point - before things got just that bit too dark for comfort, that's Lockdown Lauren for you - was that anything that makes lockdown feel just that bit more bearable has to be a good thing, right? Regardless of what it is. For me it's The Masked Singer, the Cadbury orange bunnies and also my skincare routine.  

In the before times, some 76 years ago, skincare was something I loved and did everyday but only enjoyed sometimes. I'd regret it if I didn't do it but more often than not it felt like a mission. Especially at night time. I mean how bad is falling asleep with winged liner on really? It turns out its pretty bad, don't do it. 

However in these current Corona-times, my skincare routine has become a source of daily joy. It gives me some structure to my day and makes me feel like I'm doing something to take care of myself. Even if that something is slapping some very expensive moisturiser into my parched chops. Dryness has been a big issue for me this winter, but I'll get to that. 

Experimenting with my skincare in lockdown 3.0 has also given me the chance to shop my skincare stash and come up with some real gems that would've otherwise stayed forgotten in the back of my beauty drawers. Here are some of my picks from the past couple of months. 

Aromatherapy Associates Anti-Ageing Overnight Repair Mask - Described as a 'deeply nourishing anti-ageing face mask', this AA mask is a leave-on treatment that acts as an overnight facial. Its formulated with rose and frankincense essential oils to rejuvenate tired skin, while strawberry seed extracts restore moisture levels and leave the skin with a plump, healthy appearance. Millet seed and rice germ oils, to nourish and protect the skin from external aggressors and environmental damage, complete the lineup.  

It offers a rich, hydrating texture that feels really lovely on dry skin, while the essential oils make it smell incredible!  

I've been using it a couple of times a week since Christmas and it has made such a difference to my parched skin. My skin is softer, more hydrated and just looks so much better. In my experience the mask is particularly good when paired with a facial oil, I've been using it over the Elemis Superfood Facial Oil and I just love the combination. 

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid -  The Inkey List is a brand I've been dying to try for sometime now.  Like The Ordinary, which it has been compared to many times, The Inkey List aims to deliver straightforward and effective skin care at a low price point and without all the beauty jargon. 

I decided to start off with the Hyaluronic Acid Serum because, like I said, dryness has been an issue for me recently, and it is insanely good. Truthfully, I've never experienced a product that has made such an immediate difference to my skin. 

Formulated with 2% hyaluronic acid, this wonder serum is capable of holding more than 1000 times its weight in water and works as a 'moisture magnet' drawing water particles from the atmosphere into the skin. In my experience it works best when applied to still damp skin to lock in moisture. It has worked an absolute miracle on my parched chops. Thanks to this serum my skin is noticeably softer and smoother, plump looking and oh so hydrated. I've even found that it's increased the efficacy of my other products, which is really impressive.

Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturiser* -  Now I'm not the kind of person who saves things for best, especially when it comes to skincare because I just don't see the point. I never have. But I was saving this. It just felt too fancy for little ol' me to be using everyday. Then a global pandemic happened and put an awful lot of things into perspective. And now my feelings are simply this: If I'm going to be stuck indoors for another year I'm going to use the fancy shit, damnit! 

This innovative gel moisturiser is designed to boost hydration for combination, oily and uneven skin types. It features Gel Water Technology, which offers multiple hydration and anti-oxidant sources in its formula. Key ingredients include: tremella mushroom, marsh samphire and chia seed water. 

Offering 'ultra-light' hydration, it boasts a lightweight gel texture that feels so good on the skin, and leaves it feeling fresh, hydrated and comfortable. I've been using it sparingly, because it's super expensive and I don't just have £104 to spend on moisturiser, but it is lovely and I'm a really big fan. 

The cherry on top of this delicious moisturiser is the packaging, which is sustainable, completely recyclable and also completely gorgeous.

Comfort Zone Remedy Serum* - Fun fact this was the first beauty product I was ever gifted, way back in 2017 when I first started working as a beauty journalist. I'd never quite got round to using it, even though I finished - and loved -  it's sister product Comfort Zone Remedy Defense Cream many moons ago. Wasn't that fact fun? Anyway...

The Remedy Serum is a fast-absorbing and fast-acting serum designed to soothe and protect sensitive and reactive skin. It contains 93% naturally-derived ingredients, including Marvel of Peru and Mexican hyssop flowers to leave the skin calm and comfortable. While Alpha Glucan Oligosaccharide, a prebiotic extracted from natural sugar, protects from external aggressors and free radicals. 

I've been using this product for a couple of weeks now and I like it. Its really soothing and feels really comforting and light on the skin.  My skin isn't particularly reactive but it does let me know when I used something it doesn't agree with and, so far, it's responded really well to this. 

Garnier Ambre Solaria Sensitive Advanced Face UV Face Fluid SPF 50+ - And of course I had to mention a sunscreen, I am the Sunscreen Queen after all, or was it SPF Fiend? Anyway the point still stands, I love sunscreen. It's been a while since I've tried a new SPF having been pretty committed to the Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30* for quite some time now. But then I ran out. Because you'd better believe that, even with no place to go, I've still been slapping on the SPF like there's no tomorrow. And it's 2021, there might not be!   

Enter Garnier's new(ish) and much talked of UV Face Fluid, an ultra-light weight SPF containing hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to provide skincare benefits as well as sun and broad spectrum protection. If you're worried about photo-ageing then you definitely want this bad boy in your corner. 

A nifty little multi-tasker, this hard working SPF also offers protection from pollution and oxidative stress AND it's factor 50! It literally can't get better. Oh wait it can! It's non-comedogenic meaning it doesn't clog pores or break you out. It's also fast absorbing, doesn't leave a greasy residue or white cast on the skin AND it makes a great base for makeup.  Add to that a FANTASTIC price point, it's £8, and you have a damn near perfect product. I LOVE it! 

What are your lockdown skincare picks? 

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

The Hand Sanitiser that Won't Destroy Your Hands (and the Moisturiser that Will Fix it if it Does)

The Hand Sanitiser that Won't Destroy Your Hands (and the Moisturiser that Will Fix it if it Does)
Wednesday, 3 February 2021
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COVID-19 is still very much a thing. Especially here in the UK where things seem to be going from bad to worse. Remember when we thought this would be over in just a couple of weeks? Let's all laugh/sob uncontrollably together! I really wanted to start this post off more positively, but considering everything it doesn't really feel possible. So let's just get into it. 

While we're still in the grips of COVID hand sanitiser is still very much part of our daily routines. It's more important than ever to make sure we're doing whatever we can to keep ourselves and others safe, and that includes keeping our hands clean. 

Being a compulsive hand washer and hand sanitiser user  - I've suffered with OCD for most of my adult life - I consider myself something of a hand sanitiser connoisseur, as glib as that is to say. I was carrying around bottles of the stuff long before COVID made that a necessity. And from my research (and by research I mean being myself) I can tell you that hand sanitiser, while VITAL and NECESSARY, can be something of a hand ruiner. While it's great for killing germs and everyone should be carrying round a bottle of it, it doesn't half dry out your paws, especially if you have eczema or drier skin and a tendency to wash your hands a little too much anyway. BUT there is an answer folks! A hand sanitiser that doesn't destroy your hands exists. I've found it and being the giving sort I'm here to tell you about it. 

Forming part of the Natural Defence hand collection, Neal's Yard Organic Defence Hand Spray (£5.75)   contains 70% alcohol and kills 99.9% of bacteria to keep hands clean and fresh while out and about, even though out and about isn't really a thing anymore. 

I first came across the Organic Defence Hand Spray during the Great Hand Sanitiser Shortage of 2020. It popped up on Instagram feed and I, being desperate for hand sanitiser at the time, snapped it up. Since then I've used it pretty much every day and can honestly say it's the best hand sanitiser I've ever used, and like I said I've used a lot!

Available as both a spray and a rub - I've tried both and they're essentially the same thing but with a different bottle top - the Organic Defence Hand Spray is made from naturally-derived ingredients and has a very light liquid texture rather than the gel formulations we're used to. It dries down almost instantly and doesn't leave a sticky residue in its wake. 

It also smells incredible and is formulated with a 'purifying blend of essential oils' including witch hazel, niaouli and lemongrass. 

It's also the most environmentally-friendly hand sanitiser I've come across, with refills that come in glass bottles and a vegan-approved formula, making it more eco-conscious than your average bottle of hand sanitiser. 

The best part of all is that you wouldn't expect what is essentially an alcohol spray to be so kind to the skin, but of all the hand sanitisers I've tried this is the least drying and most gentle on my poor, long suffering mitts. 

Having said that it isn't perfect, it's probably as close to perfect as a hand sanitiser can get while still being effective, but due to its high alcohol content it can still have a drying effect especially if you're not taking care of your hands between uses.  

Enter Aveeno Skin Relief (£5.27, on offer) AKA the best moisturiser I've ever used on my hands. 

Designed to revive very dry skin (ahem), Skin Relief is a fast acting lotion that leaves the skin comfortable and restored. It has a very light weight texture - I've mentioned before how much I hate claggy, greasy hand creams - that absorbs quickly to soothe and nourish very sore, very dry skin. 

Its formulated with shea butter to lock in moisture, while a pre-biotic triple oat complex rebalances the skin's micro-biome, leaving my poor hands moisturised and healthy looking. 

I can honestly say it is the best moisturiser I've ever used. For the first time in a long time my hands are smooth and nourished instead of sore, dry and bleeding. 

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