Friday, 28 March 2014

Skin solutions - Lotions and Potions of the French Pharmacie

If you know me well, you'll know my favourite subject – jewellery. And if you know me super well, then you know my other favourite subject of equal importance is skincare. In all seriousness, I know a French pharmacie better than the French pharmacists and if you don't believe me, have a look at either my credit card statement or my dressing table/skincare filled boxes in my room. I am OBSESSED with it and living in France has only forced me to adopt a somewhat unhealthy love and desire for the latest skin creations, lotions and potions. None of this is helped when all the ladies in the pharmacie have become so well acquainted with you that they constantly give you samples of things specific to your skin which makes you return to buy them all in full size a week later. But trust me, this is an obsession for the sake of a better-looking complexion.

Before coming out here last year, my once beautifully flawless skin took a turn for the absolute worst. Let's hypothetically imagine that you were told you were going to Disneyland and it turns out you were actually being sent to an island where the only inhabitants were cannibals. This fear, horror and utter sadness that you could potentially feel in this situation transcends into the similar feelings I felt when I kept waking up each morning for a month and seeing that my perfect skin was turning into a red, oily and bumpy lump. It's not pretty I know, but over the past year of dire depressing states, desperate tries of every product known to man, I've come to the realization that I'm not the only one who is suffering and there is solace is talking about and taking some drastic action.

In December, I arrived home for Christmas, half happy and half wanting to kill my own face. I know this isn't possible for everyone, but I'm sure you could try to imagine the sorrowful frustration of waking up every morning with cystic acne that was painful, red and no amount of makeup could make better. It was clearly time for an intervention – from none other than my dad. The one who has perfect skin and rarely bothers to put moisturizer on because in his words, 'A simple bit of soap has always done the trick!' If only I had inherited your skin genes my dear father, if only. Anyway, I like to be quite holistic and so does he, so off we went to the Chinese herbalist. This of course would spark some skepticism – Can we really trust these doctors? Are they even doctors? Where's their medical certificate? Let me assure you, they're the real deal. After a quick consultation consisting of this bright eyed and bright skinned Chinese doctor taking my pulse on each wrist BY HAND (none of this modern mechanical bullshit) the diagnosis was her. Apparently my liver function was too high and my kidney function was too low and the ridiculous condition of my skin was the body's way of expelling toxins that it had no other way to get rid of. Now this all sounds quite presumptuous no? Well it isn't. Just you forget what Clean and Clear advertise. Most of the time, an external bodily problem is usually the body's warning sign that something is seriously wrong on the inside. After seven weeks of Chinese herbs (if you are considering this treatment do prepare yourself to drink herb juice that has THE WORST taste in the land) I have noticed a BIG difference. The appearance of my skin is nowhere near perfect but in comparison to last November when I would do anything to stay indoors, it is kilometres better. It is brighter and three quarters less red and moreover I feel one hundred percent better internally. What's the point of looking good on the outside and feeling like a clogged up sewage pipe on the inside?

Previously, I had tried my luck with the usual GP prescriptions, one of which made my skin erupt and the others just did nothing but, to put it frankly, fuck up my insides. Most doctor’s will have a normal prescription route whereby they'll go through every single drug and try their best to make one of them work for you, even if it is temporarily, before they'll consider letting you near a dermatologist. This is not the doctor’s fault; it is just sadly the way of the UK medical system. But if you have any problems regarding skin I would highly suggest you change up your diet and do a little research into the chemistry of your body. Recent studies suggest there is a strong link between skin and food - it doesn't take a genius to work out that it is true. You are what you eat, and even if it doesn't show now it'll surely be waiting to kick you up the arse later in life! So even if you are on medication and it's working why not boost the effects and just be a little healthier and treat your body a bit more like the temple that it is?

Apart from my terrible journey to reclaim my childhood skin, the point of this post was not only to document my woes and triumphs but also to recommend some personal loves which have helped me and other must haves for every girl (and boys if you are metrosexual and care about how you'll look in thirty years time), regardless of your skin type. Luckily most of these products are now available in Boots and specialist shops like SpaceNK in the UK but the all of the products originate from the land of skincare, France. Another brilliant site for discounted French products and other cosmetics is .

1. Bioderma Micellar Water (formerly known as Créaline)

If you don’t already have this, hit yourself. The bioderma micellar is two things, amazing and amazing. Many skincare companies have also brought out their own cleansing/micellar water but this one is unbeatable. I use it daily to ensure my pores are thoroughly cleansed after wearing makeup. And for those who can never be asked to wash their face before bed, this will become, if not already, you cult beauty product. It is even better than a face wash and rids the skin of any nasties that some face washes can’t get rid of. It is perfect for the most sensitive of skin and I have RARELY heard of any reactions to it. Once you start on this, you wont stop! 

Baume lèvres nourrissant Rêve de Miel®Huile sèche pailletée- Huile Prodigieuse® Or Crème Raffermissante Corps NUXE

2. Nuxe Rêve de miel lip balm, Crème Fondant Body Cream and the Huile Prodigieuse OR

Nuxe is another well-loved French brand. It is so luxurious, that you feel like royalty before you’ve even used it. I would say that this brand is perfect for facial skin types that are dry, normal and mature. The three products that I’ve chosen to talk about haven’t left my side for the past 2 years and I don’t think they’re going anywhere too soon either! The rêve de miel lip balm is a cult classic. It is like a pot of golden honey, which smells like lemon curd and is a treat for the lips. It cures any sort of dryness and works wonders overnight. For the day, I prefer the new stick version Nuxe have released, especially if you’re looking for a matte finish or a matte lip primer under a pigmented lipstick or lipstain. The crème fondante cream is just as rich as the balm, but for the body. It is a creamy whip of loveliness, which again treats your body to an intense bout of moisture and hydration. I would also recommend this before you go to bed as it can be quite heavy for the day and the effects are more noticeable the morning after!  Lastly is the infamous Huile Prodigieuse OR. Nuxe do two dry body, face and hair oils – but this is my favourite as it has luminescent particles that leave your skin glowing and iridescent. This is the perfect pick for the girl who prefers a natural and sun kissed look in spring/summer. It can be worn instead of makeup but leave your face/ hair and body flushed with a summer hue and the soft signature scent of Nuxe. A little goes a long way with this product so it is well worth the investment.

3. La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo + and Cicaplast B5 balm

La Roche posay is one my most coveted pharmacie brands. It quite often focuses on skin issues, a few of which many of us will suffer from at least one in his or her life. The most recent product I have been testing is the Effaclar duo +, an upgraded version of the previous Effaclar duo. The formula has been enhanced and claims to work even better than its predecessor. The formulation focuses solely on skin, which suffers from those nasty blackheads and under the skin spots that never surface but make your face look like a page of Braille. It also focuses on complexion correction and the prevention of future imperfections. After a week of using it, I have noticed a gradual difference and a slight reduction in clogged pores. It serves as a brilliant makeup base and at €12/£15 it is a bargain for a prestigious and quality skincare name. The Cicaplast b5 balm is a wonder for skin suffering from irritations, dryness or soreness. It can be used on burns, cuts, sunburn and chapped skin; and even more conveniently, all over the body. It is a wonder formula that is permanently in my skincare favourites and one that I highly recommend. 

4. Cattier clay face mask

This is another brand that I have been blessed to know whilst being in France. To my knowledge, I am unsure of how easy it is to find this in Britain but it is well worth the hunt. Clay masks are numerous in the beauty market, but finding the right one is not always easy because the formula is always different depending on where you go. For me, the green mint clay mask from this brand is brilliant because it soothes, cleanses and mattifies my oily mug. If mint aero ever transformed into a mask, this would be it. Unlike most masks, this one requires you to cake a load on for ten minutes but in those ten minutes you must be sure not to let any patch of your face become dry. What I have noticed is that the mask will dry up quicker around my t-zone and chin and I constantly pat water over the mask to prevent the mask from cracking. It is a good formula which cleans deep into pores, controls oiliness and works best when done in the evening (like Lisa Eldridge, I believe that masks are for every other day and not one day a week) and in the morning your skin is fresh as a daisy in spring. Cattier do four masks in total that cater for different skin types and problems and are well worth a try.

These are only a handful of my pharmacie favourites but I’ll be sure to do posts that are tailored to different skin types in the coming months. If you have any requests do leave a comment in the box below and if you like what you see subscribe to me on bloglovin’, instagram @rougerox and twitter @msrougerox. 

Thank you for reading :)


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Love is beautiful

So I watched this video when it was first released (see below). Then I watched it again today. Some say it’s an odd idea and something of no relevance. They react to it in a negative way, ‘Oh my god. I could never do that’ whilst others silently think, ‘I wish I was one of those people in that video.’

I’m sure all of us have thought about kissing or have actually kissed that cute person they saw on the bus or in a bar. But which one of us thought about the aftermath, the feelings that we’d feel or they would feel? Who even thought about that thought or that kiss, a few seconds after it happened? The video is slightly awkward to watch as each pair build up towards the eagerly anticipated kiss, but when it happens, all sense of uneasiness flutters away and you’re left watching these strangers engage in an activity that bares naked emotion, love and enjoyment to anyone who will watch.

I often talk to my parents about my concern for the growing number of emotionally inept people in society, some of who are people I know. We are human, we should be able to touch our emotion just like we can touch an object. For me, this video was beautiful because it illustrates how powerful raw emotion can be between people that are willing to embrace it. It is unbiased because they are complete and utter strangers and this highlights even more, the sheer trance that some of these people seem to fall under when kissing their stranger.  They enjoy that moment, for some it seems like a few moments, but in the end, something as small as a kiss brought two people together that would’ve otherwise remained complete strangers.

By talking about this, I’m not saying I think it right to go and kiss everyone. You don’t exactly want an angry husband or wife coming to give you a knuckle sandwich. And by entitling this piece ‘Love is beautiful’ I didn’t wish to say that the people in the video are in love. But love comes in different forms, be it friendship, companionship, well wishing, whatever you like. Love is just an emotion like hate but the core of it is positive. So any form is love will always be good, beneficial and wholesome. The beauty of this video confirms that love is present even in the unknown, in every kiss that every stranger shares. The video doesn’t lie, and even if they were actors, a good actor wouldn’t lie in his performance.

In focusing on this video, I would propose that everyone watch it to come back to reality and see people for what they are without all the materialistic add-ons. We’re simply human beings and without emotion, we are truly nothing but a bag of skin and bones.