My top 3: FACE MASKS

Sometimes your skin just needs a little bit of extra care. Everyone should know about the basics of cleansing, toning and moisturising but not all of you regularly use a treatment such as a mask. Masks are a great way to target specific skin problems and when used regularly, i.e. once a week, can help manage problem skin. Masks should be used after cleansing and followed by a toner (and if your being really good a serum) and then moisturiser.

I use several different masks once or twice a week if I remember or whenever my skin looks and feels like it needs a boost. They are also great used before a special occasion to give you glowing and perfectly prepped skin. I would highlight, however, to test them first just in case you have a reaction.

Here are my current favourites in no particular order:

AVEDA Deep Cleansing Herbal Clay Masque


For: All skin types

Claims to: Absorb excess oils and draw impurities from the skin

Use: Weekly or as needed after cleansing and exfoliating.

Price: £28 for 125g

Key ingredients:

  • Marshmallow root extract – anti-inflammatory, suitable for sensitive skin, helps to induce phagocytosis (process by which certain cells engulf bacteria and dead tissue), speeds up healing process.
  • Clover flower extract – helps to speed healing process, acne, eczema, rashes and irritation.
  • Hyssop extract – Antiseptic and healing.
  • Kaolin –Type of clay, draws impurities from skin and helps to dry excess oil, reduces production of sebum, high silica content which aids in removing dead skin cells, eliminating toxins and oil, regenerative properties.

I use this when I am suffering with congestion or have a breakout that is irritated and inflamed. It’s also great as a targeted treatment for use on one area (I use it on my nose regularly). I have also used this as a wash off spot treatment.

It is an ultra smooth paste which I find is best applied to dry skin after cleansing. On the website it says to exfoliate before using which it doesn’t say on the bottle. I have yet to try this. I use about a grape size amount for my whole face and spread it on with my middle fingertips. It feels nice and cold, soothing and healing as soon as it goes on. Immediately my face feels relaxed. It has an unusual smell, kind of herby and gardeny (I know that’s not a word). The great thing about this mask is that it stays on for only five minutes so if you are busy and don’t have time to wait for products to work before washing them off this is for you. As it dries, it doesn’t make the skin feel tight or irritated. Sometimes I will leave for 10 minutes because it feels so nice. I then use a flannel and warm water to wipe off and finish by rinsing my face in cold water. Afterwards my skin feels fresh and I can immediately see a difference in the size and appearance of my pores. Any red marks or spots are immediately reduced and calmed. When I use it as a spot treatment, the spots definitely heal quicker than other treatments I have used and appear less inflamed. I have had this tube for ages and still have many uses out of it. I also use this on by back.

I love Aveda as a company. The core of Aveda is the art and science of pure flower and plant essences. Their vision is “connecting beauty, environment and wellbeing”.

TEMPLESPA The Power Breakfast – Nutritious scrub and mask in one.


For: All skin types, combination skin, backs, chests, faces and hands.

Claims to: Polish and brighten, has anti-ageing benefits, dissolves dead skin cells.

Use: 1 minute scrub, 20 minute mask. (It doesn’t say how often to use but I use once a week or when required).

Price: £25 for 85g

Key ingredients:

  • Honey – Healing, antibacterial, anti-ageing, soothing
  • Walnut shell powder – exfoliator (natural and doesn’t break down)
  • Oats – absorb impurities, exfoliate, moisturising
  • Strawberry – helps reduce acne and marks, antioxidant, anti-ageing, removes excess oil, cell regeneration.
  • Papaya, apple and pear – Vitamin C, enhance collagen production, antioxidant, protect cells from free radical damage.
  • Kaolin – Type of clay, draws impurities from skin and helps to dry excess oil, reduces production of sebum, high silica content which aids in removing dead skin cells, eliminating toxins and oil, regenerative properties.

This has a similar effect as the Aveda mask but I normally use this as a substitute if my skin needs resurfacing especially if I have dry flaky patches at that later stage of a breakout or if I am suffering with an oily T zone. My husband also uses this every so often and finds it does wonders for his skin. I wouldn’t use this if I have irritated skin because of the abrasive effect. I cleanse and then apply to wet skin. I use about a grape size amount for my whole face, sometimes a little more. It has a very thick sticky, bitty texture so sometimes I need to apply a little more water to my hands to help it glide on. It smells like citrus juice (kind of like a smoothie). I massage gently all over my face for a minute or so and then leave for however long I have or can be bothered but 20 minutes is recommended. As it dries it feels like a typical clay mask in that I can feel it hardening. I wash off firstly by rinsing with warm water to remove the excess and the bits (there are quite big bits, presumably the oats) then I take a damp flannel and make sure it’s all off  then rinse with cold water. My skin feels really clean and invigorated. All flakes and dry areas of skin are banished. My pores look clearer and skin looks more refined. Yeah!

Templespa are another great company with a similar vision to Aveda using botanical actives and minimising the use of chemicals.

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask


For: All skin types

Claims to: Renew and refine skin, improves skin tone and radiance, minimises pore size, reduces congestion, smooths the appearance of fine lines.

Use: Weekly, leave for 10 minutes.

Price: £32 for 50ml (currently a limited edition of 75ml)

Key ingredients:

  • Glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acid from extracts of pineapple, passion fruit, lemon and grape – exfoliate the skin without the abrasive effect of scrubs, decongest, remove dead skin cells, resurface skin.
  • Omega 3 and 7 from arctic blackcurrent seed oil – Repairs, nourishes and sooths skin.

I use this to help refine my skin texture and when I’m in need of a radiance boost. I used this the night before my wedding to give me glowing skin which it certainly did. It is not recommended to use this on irritated skin but I do use it when I have angry spots and it seems to be ok. After cleansing, I apply about a small marble size amount to my fingertips and massage all over my face and down onto my neck. I apply this to dry skin. It is silky smooth and has an uplifting, fresh scent. When it first goes on it is a little tingly especially on any spots or irritated areas. It doesn’t dry at all and feels comfortable on the face and is slightly warming if anything. I remove it with a warm flannel or sometimes just with warm water. I then splash with cold water. The noticeable effect is that the skin looks smooth and pores refined. I really notice a difference the next day.

Ren, like the other two companies uses plant and mineral derived actives and does not use skin-unfriendly synthetic ingredients. Big thumbs up!

I promise all my posts won’t be quite so lengthy but I like to be thorough.

Please share/like/comment

Hope you found this useful!

Leah 🙂


Analyse Your Skin!

I have always had a little obsession with my skin. Ok, maybe a big obsession seeing as I spend an hour staring at myself every day. Not an hour straight but I recon an hour in total. The evening is my prime inspecting time. I have a bath or shower and then sit within an inch of my mirror in the most revealing and unforgiving light. Having cleansed my face I can now see all the open and closed pores, blackheads and whiteheads. The beauty industry frowns upon what I am about to do but let’s face it, we all do this. A hairpin is my weapon of choice and I squeeze and pop the gunk from my skin in order to achieve the perfection I am looking for (even, clean skin, no blackheads or wink at you in the mirror whiteheads). Needless to say, I normally go to bed covered in red blotches and then wake up looking much the same and so cover up with makeup and so this vicious cycle goes.  I would just like to add that I am not promoting this at all but I have to be honest in what I do.

I envy the people who have that doughy skin without a single blemish. You know the people who say “I just use soap and water”. I also envy those people who can just leave their faces alone and allow the dirt to make a ‘natural exit’ and who can allow a whitehead to wink at them and not be phased. I have tried this and it doesn’t work for me. I just end up feeling self conscious and anxious. If there’s a blocked pore, I have to unblock it…..NOW. Really the only way round this is to prevent them in the first place.

I truly believe that ones skin type depends on several factors and so ones skin care routine should not only be about products. Take a look at your parents and family. The likelihood is that they have similar skin types to you so genetics play a role in skin type. Secondly the amount of water, what you eat or put into your body and the amount of exercise you do definitely play a role. Lastly what you put onto the skin e.g. products or environment. Bearing this in mind, ones skin rarely stays the same and thus I have found it is important to assess and amend ones skin routine, including products, accordingly.

Getting good skin for me is like achieving that babe body. It takes dedication! It was for my wedding in July 2014 that I finally had perfect skin. I have since lapsed in my routine and forgotten about basics hence my current skin condition (spotty). This has made me think about what I did to achieve my best skin again.

My best friend and I always have discussions about our skin. She works at a Lloyds Pharmacy and said that she had changed her skin care after having a skin analysis which revealed what her current skin condition was and what products she should be using. The skin analysis service provided in select Lloyds pharmacies is FREE and uses the Soft Plus machine developed by a manufacturer called Callegari. I believe this machine is also available in certain spas and other such beauty establishments.


Image from Google images

The Soft Plus machine has a number of probes which are in turn placed on different areas of the face or whatever part of the skin is being tested. It tests for hydration, elasticity, sebum, pH, melanin, temperature, phototype and biological skin age. For each test there is an on screen analysis and at the end you are provided with a print out (receipt size) which details your current levels of the above and what they should be. Underneath this is a very detailed treatment recommendation for your skin, not specific marketed products but the type. E.g. it may say to use something with salicylic acid at night. The person performing the analysis can then suggest products suited for you or you can do some research and make your own choice.

I am well aware that these machines are developed with marketing and profit in mind but I truly did not feel any obligation to buy anything….but I did because I wanted to improve my skin. The first time I went (April 2014) it revealed that I had an oily T zone but also dry areas. Combination skin! The worst to deal with! I came away with new products to try and have been using them ever since.


Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel

This is a great wash and makes your skin feel super clean without completely stripping it. I used it as an all in one for removing my makeup and then a second cleanse to deep clean.

Eucerin DermatoCLEAN Clarifying Toner

This gives that extra clean feel without causing any tightening. Contains acids to exfoliate the skin.

 Avene Hydrance Optimale

This also comes in an SPF version. Really lightweight formula. Sinks straight into the skin with no residue.

They worked wonderfully for about a year. Recently, however, maybe the past 6 months, my skin has been congested, bumpy and taking a long time for spots to heal (when I have had a picking sesh). I went and had a micro dermabrasion treatment thinking my skin was really congested. This made a difference but before long my face was back to being yuck! I couldn’t understand as I was using the same products that had transformed my skin for my wedding.

I decided to go for another skin analysis with the Soft Plus. It revealed that my skin was dry. Not just a bit dry, I’m talking desert, old hag dry in all areas. Dry skin?! I was shocked as I thought my skin was oily with all the blackheads. Light bulb! My skin had obviously changed. The products I had been using were completely wrong for my current skin type. I was using products for oily skin and, therefore, stripping and drying out my skin. I came away with shiny new products (yay) and have now been using them for a week.


Korres 3 in 1 Cleansing Emulsion

This is a cleanser, toner and moisturiser. I am normally sceptical of products that claim to have more than one purpose. It has a soft creamy texture and pleasant smell. I rub it al lover my face and massage it in then remove with cotton pads. If I have makeup on I will do this twice and that’s it! Complete skin care! Having always used a wash with water, then toner, this product is completely alien to me. After using my skin feels refreshed and clean, not greasy but moisturised. I’m 1 week in and so far so good! Its also 97.6% natural.

Eucerin Aquaporin Active Light/ Eucerin Aquaporin Active SPF

I then follow with either one of these moisturisers for that extra thirst quench. The light for the night and the SPF for the day. Both feel really nourishing and make my skin feel bouncy, hydrated and fresh.

1 week in and I have noticed that I have less obvious blackheads and my skin has more of a glow. I am still popping stuff out at the end of the day but definitely less in fact last night after inspection I can proudly say I didn’t pick at all and I have woken up this morning with pretty good lookin’ skin! My makeup is also sitting better and blending onto the skin nicely whereas before it would be patchy and look kind of cakey especially if I used powder.

Of course a change in products is not the only factor I need to change about my skin care but from this I have learned that skin analysis is a really important aspect. There are various methods of analysis out there including the Dermalogica face mapping which I have experienced. This is also good but what I like about the Soft Plus is that as a consumer, one can pick and choose  products rather than having the limitation of one brand. It also has a more scientific base to the test rather than relying on a persons visual opinion.

The products I have talked about are not an exhaustive list but are the main ones I use consistently.

Time to add skin analysis to your skin care routine guys! Happy analysing!

Please share if you found this useful or interesting.

See below for links.

Products available from most pharmacies and online.