Mathew Bose

a PS to part 5…brands recommended by others…

These have been recommended to me by others but I’ve not tried them. Any others you feel worthy of a mention then please let me know – I’d like to add them to the list. Thank you…


Ute Leube founded Amala after spending years making her own skin care products for herself and friends. The company believes in natural completely and that everything we need to be and feel fabulous is found in the beautifying and therapeutic benefits of nature and just needs very careful harnessing. They use precious, powerful plant ingredients that they respectfully resourced from around the world (organic, fair trade, sustainable and grown in their native habitat) and this is reflected in the price I suppose, you might say, but if a thing is worth having…

Amala does have a good social responsibility model if that is important to you and I think it is a brand that is promoting ‘natural’ in the right way – i.e. that these ingredients are expensive because they are hard to come by and so money needs to be paid to acquire them. We have been used to obtaining mass-made synthetic ingredients (and some mass grown natural ingredients such as palm oil) that are not subject to fluctuations in production due to the weather, wars, volcanic eruptions etc., for far too long. So we have come to expect (like food) that there is an unlimited supply at a low price. Real, sustainable, nutritious life actually costs more than that.

Proud of their effectiveness, the Amala website is seemingly transparent about their ethos, methods and they even display their clinical trials. They have a few FAQs about their range here. They don’t have a men’s range and the packaging is a little girly for the ‘butcher’ members of the readership I fear, but if it’s in the shared bathroom cabinet then who’s to say who it really belongs too…

Explore their story and vision at and buy stuff in the UK here and follow them on twitter here.

Living Nature

A friend from New Zealand has insisted I take a look at a brand from her native country called Living Nature.



This multi award winning California based company is very keen on an all natural approach. The pride themselves on being leaders in the development of formulas that not only nourish the skin, protect and rejuvenate it, but also help rid it of,  and protect it against, issues like psoriasis, eczema, blemishes, scarring and age spots. To quote ‘all products have a safe, effective delivery system that is paraben-free, phthalate-free and do not contain sodium lauryl sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil, and artificial colors. Additionally, the entire derma e line is 100% vegan, cruelty-free and manufactured with wind energy’.

They have a wealth of  women’s products but have recently launched a men’s range too. As you all know I’m not an immediate follower of gender specific products but these are packaged in a safe black design for those not in touch with their feminine side…

Check it out here and buy in the UK here.

Mathew Bose

Clarisonic cleansing brush…

It’s no secret that I’m big on exfoliation. Read a previous post about this where I bang on about it here.

It’s also no secret that I’m not really big on fancy products, labels and product hype. However, a friend loves this little gizmo so much that her enthusiasm made me try it.

I have to say right here and now though, that I started discussing products initially on this site but some people cynically assumed that I was being paid or bribed in some way to include these products (don’t judge me by your standards I say to them) SO, I feel I should reiterate that I talk about specific products and brands that I like and do so for that simple reason alone. I like ’em, I use ’em and I write about ’em. End of.


The item in question is from the Clarisonic (Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc.) company as part of their ‘Sonic Cleansing Range’. They’re the same chaps that brought you the sonic toothbrush. The one I use is called the ‘Mia’. Mia is the small ‘travel’ size option and is a pared down device but completely enough for my needs. I’ve had it for a while now so it’s been superseded by other versions etc. (usual story) but the general idea is still the same.

The brand and its devices are, they say, all developed by scientists. Check out the website here Clarisonic for all the technical stuff and current versions available.

Essentially the manufacturers say the difference here is that their brush goes back and forth to flex and work with the skin’s natural elasticity, it sweeps away dead skin cells and the sonic vibrations ensure a deeper and more thorough cleanse and unclogging of pores. As I say check out the technical stuff on their website, but whatever the science the proof is ultimately in the results, right?

I am convinced that the regular use of this sonic brush has benefited my skin hugely. Now, I use the Mia in conjunction with a few other things (which are discussed in related posts) so I accept that it’s a combo thing but nonetheless the Mia is an integral part of the process.

The version of the Mia that I bought came with  mini tube of Clarisonic branded ‘gentle hydro cleanser’ which I have never used simply because I have my favourite face cleansers already and being a creature of some habit…and also I forgot all about it until I came to write this post! The provided cleanser was developed by Robb Akridge phd who was also the co-founder of the company. I feel I must therefore add at this point that Clarisonic was sold to L’Oreal in 2011 so if you have issues with L’Oreal (and there are plenty you could have – not least their animal testing decisions. Although they claim to be ‘cruelty free’ (that doesn’t include their prices and chemical usage I’m assuming…!) they say this: ‘L’Oréal no longer tests on animals any of its products or any of its ingredients, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others. An exception could only be made if regulatory authorities demanded it for safety or regulatory purposes’ (my italics). It’s this final line that gives them away because, for instance, the lucrative Chinese market demands by Chinese law that before products can be sold there  products are tested on animals by Chinese testing facilities within China. As ever we must make informed and personal choices…right?

Anyhoo…the cleanser…maybe the shift to L’Oreal explains this but there was a major reformulation of many Clarisonic products according to a bunch of disgruntled fans of the previous formulas (can’t please everyone..?) but the consensus seems to be that natural has been replaced by synthetic. The upshot is I tried a little of it and I don’t like it. And I certainly don’t think that using every product from a brand’s range is a good way to go. Find specific things that work for you and don’t be swayed by a load of old rhetoric. Often brands have a fab product and then build a load of other stuff around it to complete a ‘range’…but the initial item is the best. Maybe this is so here…

Previously noticeable pores have been significantly reduced and other blockages that sometimes cropped up linked to heat, hair products or general abuse from the elements are now a rarity. Using this as a pre-shave preparation also allows for a closer and smoother shave. As the device is water proof it can be used in the shower as part of any routine to keep your daily ablutions time efficient!

A word about pores though…the size of them is largely hereditary (another thing to blame your parents for) or related to the oil gland within or the hair follicle, so the only way to minimise them is to minimise how noticeable they are. They become evident because they are blocked (and I’m afraid age is a factor too…they sag eventually like everything else) so having a regular exfoliating regime is important. Incidentally, blackheads aren’t dirt as some people suspect but the result of an oxidisation process within an excessively clogged pore and should be extracted by a professional ideally (also prevented by careful and regular exfoliation…it’s all about exfoliation!)

So ultimately I could argue, if I were being contrary (moi?!), that a flannel or any type of face cloth (or even these hands looking at the state of them – where is my Weleda Skin Food when I need it?!?) could do the job also and cost a zillionth of the price. True…but I think cost aside the convenience, clean efficiency and ease of this brush makes it a worthwhile investment…definitely add it to your birthday/Christmas wish list!

Mathew Bose

Part 5 – so which brands/products…?

So, what do we know? Perhaps everything, but more likely bog all…

We’ve thought about individual ingredients that might be contentious, we’ve deliberated over the use of products –  those that stay on the skin, those that get rinsed off. We’ve explored the actual and the practical and studied the science. We’ve learned that skin is an awesome barrier and that the strongly regulated EU ingredients can only do so much, and only on the surface, without the help of (my schoolboy humour’s favourite phrase) penetration enhancers. We have seen that some words like ‘natural’ are at best vague and at worst misleading. We’ve factored in those who use multi products and we’ve given passing wonderment to the men who use the shampoo from their heads to lather and cleanse their multitudinous hairy bits!

SO…let’s dispense with the theory and get to the practical. Who are the brands we should go for? Which are the products? The following are brands that I feel are worth exploring after loads of trawling through websites and following up recommendations. They largely or completely fit the various parameters laid out previously of actually being properly ‘natural’ and having a good company ethos or are harnessing the latest tested science or both.

And, of course, there’s been weeks of testing…on me! Tough gig…and the long term benefits cannot be truly revealed for another ten years or so!

As of the date this is published I’ve only tried the individual products I say I have and I’ve prioritised the anti-ageing stuff as a starting point and cross brand point of reference, but I intend to try other products in the ranges, you can be sure of that! (A separate post is forming regarding shaving and deodorants so more on that anon). If you have recommendations please let me (and the rest of us) know and then between us we can search out the best products. I’m kind of prioritising products for men (as this is how this whole exploration started) but as many brands don’t develop to gender specifics (products for skin not gender) there will be cross over. Differences between men’s skin and women’s are explored here…and here. If the packaging is the issue then guys you’ll have to stick to the men’s ranges or decant the product into something you don’t feel deflates your masculinity…or hide it, or pretend it’s your partner’s or…just deal with it.

Also, bear in mind what we’ve learned that skincare can do little, if anything at all, to change the skin at a structural level, especially in the EU where cosmetic ingredients are regulated to such an extent that if they did make any further alterations, they would be prescription medicines (even in unregulated countries, an ingredient can only penetrate so far). So you could argue that if you want skin plumped up with collagen or hyaluronic acid, go to a cosmetic surgeon and get injections, don’t spend a fortune on a cream that promises the world! After all, if creams alone worked then would we be seeing such a parade of pulled, plumped, filled and stretched types on our televisions…?


If I may be contentious for a moment…I cannot allow a subject like this to be published without a comment on what this says about our society. Surely it’s high time we allowed ourselves and each other to age naturally. Let me be clear this does not mean we shouldn’t make the best of things and protect and even pamper (we absolutely should!) to maintain ourselves in the best condition possible both inside and out. Youth is beautiful and vibrant but it’s not better. It just a stage of our lives. We are all beautiful in our own right until someone else points a finger and says we are not. Just consider cases like Nicole Kidman and Madonna and where do they go from here…

Just for the record I do not use gender specific products and I only go for products that offer a result that I think is a logical probability and not some super power miracle working mumbo jumbo. That’s the beauty industry technical term I gather…! So the following has a slant towards men’s skincare but also includes brands that are trying to give you high quality and effective products with minimal harm to the world and maximum benefit to you.

Green People

This brand have a product for your every male need (skin care that is…!) so I figure try it all. I can vouch for the ‘Active Fix – Repair Serum’ as I absolutely love it. Unlike some serums it spreads and covers really easily and although it goes a little sticky as it settles in (just press it into your face) it then disappears and leaves your skin feeling really good. Smells nice too. Blokey even. I use the ‘Cool Down Moisturiser” too after shaving, again a little goes a long way and it soothes the skin (pressing gently into the skin) and maybe if I catch the sun a little then it’s good for that too…although I never go out with out suncream of course! And they have set me the challenge of trying the ‘natural’ deodorant. Not, I hasten to add, because I’m a big sweaty mess but because I, like many, have come to rely on the usual chemical laden versions and don’t really have a grip on the way the natural works or if it even does. Properly I mean. I haven’t had the nerve to wave a crystal under my arm and set off on a day of meetings yet…so, more on this anon. I love this company’s ethos, I love their attitude and energy. Don’t just take my word for it loads of award giving types agree too.

To quote their website – ‘products are not tested on animals and never contain: Sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, parabens, lanolin, phthalates, propylene glycol, alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol), harsh foaming agents, synthetic fragrances, irritating emulsifiers, PABA-sunscreen, petrochemicals, colourants, urea, DEA, TEA or PEG’S.

The lovely people at Green People have provided this rather good document of FAQ’s for our general education –

Explore and buy at or follow them on twitter here.


Another must try. Weleda have been around for a long old time (since 1921) and have always had a passion for the organic and natural ethos. Theirs is a philosophy based on the anthroposophic medicine principles (a mix of conventional, homeopathic and naturopathic treatments) and aims to work in harmony with the bodies natural processes. The company’s motto is ‘in harmony with nature and the human being’. The company produces skin care ranges for body, face and babies as well as their range of homeopathic medicines. Their men’s range is small and centered around shaving and moisturising. They also have a deodorant. I’ll be doing a review of ‘natural’ deodorants very soon.

I started using the pomegranate range recently and love it. There are  just a few straight forward ingredients in their products and no fancy additives wielding fancy promises and even the packaging is simple and straight forward. Add to this that the Weleda ranges are seriously affordable, especially when compared to some of the other brands offering similar products (usually not even as good).

Their products for the face, for instance, are grouped into age targeted sets. The pomegranate range is for the over 40’s apparently (!) but I like to get ahead of the game…

Check out the whole Weleda glory at and buy men’s stuff here (or in bigger Boots and Waitrose!) Or follow the UK lot on twitter here.

Weleda, like Pai Skincare (see below), seem to have ended up in the lower price bracket and in ‘whole foods’ type stores, compared to newer brands that have been able to capitalise on the trend for ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ (and we all know now that can be a load of old boll…er…smoke and mirrors) and place themselves in more ‘up market’ establishments. Don’t be drawn in by the price tag, price tag (sing it with me)…Weleda is probably better!


Skinesis was founded by Sarah Chapman and what she doesn’t know about skincare and facials is not worth knowing. All pampering aside the key thing is that Sarah bases her products on science. Her lifelong research and trials, and working with her huge client base, has led to the development of a set of multi award winning products. The Age Repair Serum is a light easy single hit product to swipe on and go. This light silky serum is a heavy hitter with concentrated doses of everything you need to protect against environmental damage and dramatically improve the skin. It is designed to boost collagen production, help fight the signs of ageing (fine lines and wrinkles) and even target uneven dark pigmentation!! All this to reveal a firmer, brighter, younger skin (but Sarah expressly recommends a SPF as well…good general advice, I say, or choose a product that has it included like her Dynamic Defence and Dynamic Defence Concentrate. The eye recovery is pretty lush too, smoothing away fine lines and disguising tired eyes with some cutting edge cosmeceutical action! Always a welcome addition to a stressful week! But Overnight Facial is my top pick of her products. ‘A potent cocktail of antioxidants, vitamins, anti-inflammatory omega oils, firming Dermaxyl peptide, our skin-brightening complex, and jasmine and rose’. For any guys put off by scents in products let me tell you that these products settle and the scent isn’t that strong that it detracts from your machismo, and remember, the Overnight Facial is a night time product and I guarantee your partner won’t mind you hopping into bed smelling this divine…! I even believe it’ll have fringe benefits…!

Buy, explore and pamper at or follow Sarah and Skinesis on twitter here.

Pai Skincare

Sarah Brown launched London based Pai in 2007 after her own journey to stop her skin issues led her to research, formulate and create her own products. She says, ‘my goal was to create the cleanest plant-based skin care on the market, with a range of products formulated for people with very sensitive skin.’

The company has a loyal following and is much praised in the press. It is an affordable product range of honest, quality ingredients with minimal processing and no outlandish claims and that’s worth a lot in this business! The products contain no alcohol, artificial fragrances, beeswax, parabens, SLS, phthalates, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol or petrochemicals and are created, blended and tested in their own lab premises.

I’ve got the Echinus and Amaranth Age Confidence Facial Oil. At £46 it’s one of their more expensive items but, depending on your skin type, you only use it a couple of times a week. Containing Squalene (from Amaranth/plants not shark’s livers!) which is championed as a major moisturiser, anti-inflammatory and skin cell regenerative and with a 30 money back guarantee it’s really a no brainer…!

Pai, like Weleda (see above), seem to have ended up in the lower price bracket and in ‘whole foods’ stores, compared to newer brands that have been able to parade themselves in more ‘up market’ establishments. The lesson is clearly one we must learn from Jessie J and don’t get in a schizzle over the price tag! ‘When the sale comes first and the truth comes second…’ Read the labels and do some research!! Okay, Sing it with me people…cha-ching, ba-bling…innit…

Check it out, read Sarah’s ‘Skin Solutions’ blog and buy Pai stuff at or follow Sarah and Pai on twitter here.

Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR)

Anyone roaming around the London’s 80’s scene would have come across Neal’s Yard Remedies in Covent Garden. Along with the original Body Shop it was the pioneer, in my memory, for natural concoctions and made the hitherto available world of Oil of Ulay and Pond’s cold cream seem very boring! (Although cold cream has a long, long standing reputation for being a brilliant and gentle cleanser, encapsulating what the oil dissolves oil cleansing lobbyists would swear by – and Kylie loves it so…) NYR had healthy herbs and teas in jars, like a sweetie shop, and shelves of eye-catching blue bottles filled with wondrous unknown things with gorgeous fragrances. Not much has changed except the expansion and constant innovating and adding to the products.

Like Pai Skincare (see above) they have their own lab in the UK where they develop and concoct their ranges using the latest ‘green-chemistry’ and traditional organic ingredients which they choose because they will not do us or the planet ‘any harm’.

NYR have a men’s range and it is designed to cover all areas of your life. There’s a tincture for increasing your vigour (let’s not be shy lads!) and ways of giving you a glorious shave and keeping your skin in good nick. Nice smells and even a powder to keep any sweaty bits from causing a stink!

I’m a fan of the Invigorating Body Wash, a gentle yet effective all over body wash that smells amazing and doesn’t dry my skin (I’ve got the skin equivalent of a wadi so this is important!) and a little goes a long way. Hoorah. Same with the Calming Aftershave Balm which seems to calm the razor burn and refresh the skin quickly leaving it soft and soothed…smells good too.

Explore their holistic world and buy stuff at or follow them on twitter here.


Another British company where everything is developed and made in this country. Sisters-in-law Tina Steadman and Susannah Jenkins have a unique take on the usual ‘natural’ etc approach as they tie their products into the healing energy of Reiki, Clear Quartz Crystal and the cycles of the moon. Stay with me on this. I’ll admit this isn’t very blokey (although men have cycles too…no, not folding ones, I mean hormonal but that’s another story) but there’s such adoration for the rejuvenating oil that I figure let’s get down with our softer side, smear on some heavenly smelling oils and wake up looking fabulous whatever the moon is or isn’t up to. That’s a step over the gender line anyone can learn to live with surely!

When I first tried the oil in a Whole Foods store I sniffed it first – I always smell things first (make of that what you will) and I recoiled a little because it smelled ‘off’. That smell oil gets when it’s heated and then sits. Well, the shop was red hot under the lights and the product is in clear glass bottles that don’t protect it from such abuse. Irregardless, in the spirit of investigation, I slung some on. I fear I didn’t get the full thrust of the olfactory element – the intended ‘vibrant, mood lifting blend of Neroli and zesty Tangerine’ – but the oil sunk in immediately and really made my skin supple and perky. I now love it…the proper version, not the rancid one…

They have an inexpensive and nifty idea of a trial pack which allows you to test the products for suitability to your skin and whether you even like ’em. I have a feeling you will…

The products each have their own ‘Energy Intention’ so pick a mood and go explore and shop at or follow them on twitter here.

Balance Me

Another multi award winning British brand Balance Me started out on the kitchen table of two sisters, Clare and Rebecca Hopkins, and now along with their third musketeer, Sian Jones, has grown into a beauty product lovers hot favourite.

Like many wholly natural concept brands the access to high quality ingredients, the innovations and technical possibilities now available to them are so hugely improved in recent years and so allows them to employ this cutting edge research and chemistry to its greatest effectiveness to bring a wide range of options for all skin types. Their desire is to restore balance to your skin with their completely naturally active products. They say the following:

‘Our modern products combine high grade essential oils, powerful natural actives and extracts plus sophisticated naturally-derived formulations to ensure we can offer the very best natural skincare solutions to benefit and protect your skin each day.’

…and on the all important issue of preservatives in water based products:

‘The preservative system we use in our 100% natural products is natural source vitamin E and rosemary extract. Our water-based products such as our creams and washes contain Ecocert-approved (a natural and organic certification body) identikit preservative blend of benzyl alcohol and dehydroacetic acid.’

Obviously, as this is largely an anti-ageing exploration I tried the Radiance face Oil (with the same ‘gone off’ issues at the same store as mentioned above – blurgh!). You’re noticing a theme here, I’m sure, and might be concerned about the use of oil on your skin but it is in fact a surprisingly nourishing thing to smooth on and this one sinks in beautifully and stayed ‘present’ and ‘active’ the whole day. There are no elaborate claims of time freezing just lovingly made, easy and affordable ways to treat your skin well.

Explore and buy stuff at and follow them on twitter here.

Dr Hauschka

I’ll admit this is a less guy orientated brand, well, it’s just not that inspiring for blokes, to be honest, but the range is good and their commitment to bio-dynamic farming and new and unique ways of preserving flower oils etc is commendable!! The lady at the head office recommends Radiant You starer kits and a relevant moisturiser for blokes. They don’t think it possible to recommend a single product as their products are all designed to work together and use the traditional cleanse, tone and moisturise system. I don’t really hold with this to be frank as I think toning is over rated (well, my skin isn’t keen to be honest…! Also their products might just have a tad too much alcohol in for my skin hence the drying…) The Rose Day cream is the famous one but the initial rose smell is a bit girly for most men (apparently) and so the Melissa and the Quince might suit better depending on skin type. The people who are at the concession stands in the department stores are there to advise and the Dr Hauschka (Elysia) contact help line is available for advice and information.

Explore and buy stuff at on follow the UK gang on twitter here or call them for advice on 01386791022.


Fundamentally I’m a fan of the Aveda products and their unisex approach (their products are not gender specific) since I worked in an Aveda concept salon years ago. The products are labelled as 98% natural and 2% preservatives. I find that too many essential oils and botanicals break my skin out though (my skin is so common really – it loves chemicals) and although the ethos of Aveda is generally sound (check out their ‘green’ policies here) they are one of the global brands that test on animals ‘when required by law’ so if that is a deal breaker for you then I’m afraid you have to stear clear. The bottom line is they are now owned and operated by Estée Lauder. I have mentioned this kind of situation before when a proudly independent and natural brand is sold on to a global marketing group (one that happens to own some skin care brands) it no longer becomes as appealing to me. The Aveda brilliance that Estée Lauder are now just promoting wasn’t theirs to begin with it, it was developed by an amazing guy called Horst Rechelbacher. He now has a new company called Intelligent Nutrients.

However, the Estée Lauder wrangle aside, the most popular and recommended product for you guys is the Botanical Kinetics range (and cleanser and moisturiser…er..sorry a hydrator. The gel texture of this gives it a less greasy feeling and it absorbs really well) But I’m going to go with the whole unisex product thing and also mention the Tourmaline Exfoliant Cleanser here. It has little exfoliating beads in it which feel really gentle and a little goes a long way which is always nice. The best thing I found was that it didn’t dry my skin out. I find that many times after a cleanse or exfoliate my skin is over dry but this product did not do that. The staff at any of their outlets are hugely knowledgeable and can recommend to you ideal products.

Check it out here and buy stuff at and follow them on twitter in the UK here.

Intelligent Nutrients

Horst’s new products are largely based on a product he developed called Intellimune. It’s a powerful concentrated antioxidant seed blend,cold pressed and used at full potency either in his products or sold as an oral supplement. The company claims that the product is anti-inflammatory, fights free radicals and promotes cellular growth and captivity, all this will definitely help us age beautifully!

Check it out here and buy stuff at and follow the parent company on twitter in the USA (as the UK link doesn’t work!) here.

And finally here’s the beginning of a list (that I hope you all add to) of general sites that stock the kind of stuff that we are discussing in these posts and try to make available as big a range as possible of products free from as many harmful or controversial ingredients as they can: – general site and for the men’s ranges. ‘Conventional toiletries contain a potentially toxic cocktail of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), parabens, petroleum and synthetic fragrance. The organic men products we have are all free from SLS, parabens, mineral oil, propylene glycol, synthetic colour and fragrance and are not tested on animals, so you can feel confident in choosing anything from our range, including men’s skin care.’ – general site and for the men’s ranges ‘At Love Lula we look for natural products that really are that. Beauty products that embrace the spirit of organic and natural living rather than simply play lip service to it. This means that you won’t find any products in our organic apothecary that contain parabens, artificial colours or fragrance, sodium lauryl sulphate or propylene glycol.’ Also vegan approved products. – general site and for the men’s ranges. ‘Opened in 2008, Content is a boutique organic skincare store, naturopathic clinic, beauty salon and website at the forefront of the move towards natural and organic skincare and complementary therapies. Specialising in emerging results-driven niche brands, Content is regarded as London’s leading organic and natural apothecary.’

Mathew Bose

Liz Earle – Brightening Treatment Mask…

I woke up this morning looking like a rat catchers kit bag (dang those Manhattans)…and thought well it’s a good day to try the Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask…silver lining! Hoorah…

I have the luxury of being able to ask the clever girls at the Liz Earle concession in, yes you guessed it, John Lewis, for some application tips. I honestly don’t work for JL…I just like the shop…not the bogs though as they are actually repellant…anyhoo…I digress…
‘The key thing is’, I’m told, ‘apply means smooth on but don’t rub. Apply a layer all over or just on a specific area you want to brighten up, like your cheeks, and feel free to mix and match masks using, for instance, a clay one on the t-zone at the same time.’
N.B: You can use it 1-2 times a week, ‘they’ say but it depends on what else you are using,of course,  because you mustn’t over stress or irritate the skin.
So, I ‘applied’ it kind of all over – I miss out my beard area as it gets a bit awkward trying to smooth product over stubble and anyway that area gets quite ravaged as it is skinned a few times a week by a razor! The instructions say leave it on for 30 seconds to 2 minutes but I got involved in a cup of coffee and got mithered by the dog for attention (she’s so demanding…and loves the taste of skin products…Labradors will actually eat anything!) so didn’t end up taking my (hand) hot cloth to it for a good 5 minutes. It says ‘you will experience a slight tingling sensation. This is normal.’ Fair do’s I did indeed, but its only like a tingly mint feeling (the camphor oil? Linalool?) and not weird or scary!
The muslin cloth is used to ‘gently wipe away’ the mask, so again no rubbing or exfoliation through abrasion just sweeping away the mask and rinsing away all product. A bit of exfoliation happens anyway because the cloth isn’t exactly silky soft which isn’t really a bad thing…you all know how I feel about exfoliation. A friend uses an old muslin nappy which has been washed to oblivion and is ultra soft and gentle…I know, I know…it’s perfectly clean and sanitary I just can’t shift that image you’re visualising right now either…however, her skin is amazing! Damn it…
…but I’m not sold on this hot cloth business I’ll be honest. It’s all a bit faffy face flannely for me but I feel I should try to persevere with it, after all it’s hardly a new concept to use a face cloth and it was the mainstay of many a historical beauty regime let alone a good way to clean yourself…hmmm….I just feel it in my water I’m gonna ditch it. It’s a question of conditioning myself to use it I think…argh another thing to fiddle about with…and then where do I keep it? Where do I dry it? Oh lord it’s a Pandora’s Box of OCD wrangle…
I’ll think about that later…in the meantime it’s time for a ‘brightness’ test! Hmmm, well, even if its just the effect of the warm water I do see a waking up of the skin. The patted dry face feels smooth and clean…okay, and bright!
A few hours later it still does actually. I’ve just been pottering about at home and not out in the skin ravaging London city air, and I didn’t ‘follow with Instant Boost Face Tonic’, as advised on the bottle, so maybe I need to do that for even better results. I would normally have flung a bit of moisturiser on I suppose but wanted to see how long this ‘brightening’ lasted.
So, I’d say its a pretty decent experience all round and it smells lush too. It’s really not suitable for sensitive skin though so be careful and if you’re not sure you know what to do don’t you? Go ask the ladies at JL!! They’ll tell you a thing or two (and you can test everything and wash it all off again in their built in mini sinks!) The starter kit (i.e with the cloth – there’s a brown edged one for the boys or anyone with an aversion to sea-green stitching) is only 14 and a bit quid which is comparably cheaper than other products and packed with these things which you will recognise:
  • Water
  • Aloe Vera leaf juice
  • Witch hazel
  • Silt
  • Sweet Almond oil
  • Camphor oil
  • Fragrance
and these which you may not:
  • Montmorillonite – a type of soft clay
  • PEG-20 stearate – popular synthetic emulsifier to combine oil and water
  • Panthenol – derived from vitamin B5 and used to retain moisture, lubricate and make the skin soft and pliable (it penetrates the skin easily)
  • Ceteraryl ethylhexanoate – another lubricating element
  • Cetearyl alcohol – another emulsifier
  • Citronellol – an oil used to add fragrance (restricted to low doses)
  • Hexyl cinnamal – another fragrance additive (restricted to low doses)
  • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde – a popular synthetic long lasting fragrance that easily penetrates the skin (restricted to low doses)
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional – another synthetic fragrance (restricted to low doses)
  • Linalool – naturally occuring chemical found in loads of herbs and other plants too but it can be a cause of irritation, even eczema, in sensitive skin
  • Lactic Acid – naturally occurring AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) in milk, but synthetic in many products, used to help shed the surface of the skin
  • Potassium sorbate – common preservative
  • Phenoxyethanol –  A paraben alternative as an anti-bacterial and preservative but there’s a bit of argey-bargey over it’s safety. I see that under 1% is considered okay but many products (like this one) don’t list amounts.
  • Methylparaben – E218 – antimicrobial to prevent fungal growth.
  • Butylparaben – another antimicrobial
  • Ethylparaben – E214 – again an anti-fungal
  • Propylparaben – E216 – another anti-fungal and preservative
  • Isobutylparaben – another preservative to extend the shelf life but less commonly used
  • Sodium methylparaben – widely used antiseptic
  • Sodium propylparaben – another widely used antiseptic
The Great Paraben Debate:
Hmmm…I mentioned parabens in a post earlier and just how contentious the issue is. The concerns are largely about allergic reactions, breast cancer and imbalance of hormones as many parabens are said to mimic estrogen in the body; and due to the huge amount of them used in a vast array of food stuffs and products this has led to fears of dangerous levels of build up. BUT the conclusive facts have remained a mystery to me even though I’ve read a whole heap of stuff on the subject. So read up and be thorough but don’t be alarmist! The beauty business is a vast money maker for many different companies and so it’s important to be aware who is saying what and why. Also consider that until any research is conclusive (about lots of ingredients actually in many things) there are people who eat unhealthy stuff, smoke and carry on and seem to live for eons, my point being that some people will react to these things and some people simply wont. There’s a whole range of parabens in this product but in tiny doses so that’s an important factor too.  I don’t claim to know the answers but I think we need to arm ourselves, as ever, with information…so we shall keep our wits about us and keep investigating…

Mathew Bose

EVE LOM Rescue Mask Trial

Ok I’ll level with you. I’m obsessed with face stuff. Packs, masks, scrubs the whole shebang. So there’ll be a fair amount of this here I reckon.

I think the simple matter of cleaning and exfoliating your skin is the key to keeping it fresher, healthier and looking younger. Skipping this part of your regime is like skipping a meal, yeah, you can get away with it but ultimately its unhealthy and you will pay for it at some point! Be warned!

So I’m gonna start with my current most adored product, Eve Lom’s Rescue Mask. Even though Ms Lom herself seems a little sneery about men going thru all this saying, “I’m sorry but with all due respect, just shave, don’t smell, have a nicely ironed shirt. That’s a man.” Get her…

(Discussions about the differences between men and women’s skin and the related products are here and here)

At £35 for 50ml tube and £55 for 100ml jar it ain’t cheap but does last quite a long time. Most people I know you try it, love it…but there are some serious naysayers and they raise a few points regarding chemicals and the like that are always worth a listen and a bit of thinking about. As with everything in life we should just accept what we are told. I believe, especially, when it come to your health you should always, always do a little investigation. So here’s mine. Make of it what you will, but most of all make your own mind up.

I love all the clean white packaging and the minimalist writing (I’m so shallow) but pale grey writing on bright white paper for the instructions is a no-no. Glasses needed and an even brighter light to squint and decipher. I’ll warrant a large percent if the people buying this product aren’t slips of things with sparkly 20-20 vision but people like me of a certain age (!) who just want to be able to read the friggin instructions and get on with it. After all, the sleek, stark designer packaging has already won me over (shallow, see?) I already bought the product so now I just need to read how to use it, right?!? FYI tilt the instruction paper away from yourself and towards a bright light like a daylit window and it illuminates it something lovely! Anyhoo…it says this on the package:

‘Use as a regular weekly deep cleanse or as an emergency mask when your skin needs extra attention. Helps to reduce blotchy skin, and helps to minimise irritated and erupted conditions. At the same time enhances cleansing and exfoliation.’

Great! I’d agree. If you need to give our face a pick-me-up after a night of debauchery or just bad temper maybe? Or drinking or lack of sleep? Or over work or sadness? Then this will save you!

A trip to John Lewis is never wasted I say!! The more than fabulous lady at Eve Lom gave me a full and thorough going over! Hello vicar… She made a good point (good from her point of view, anyway) which is that I should try the mask as part of the process that EL suggest to truly test it’s merit. I agree under these circumstances of trialing and reviewing, BUT I do think that products should stand alone too, as not all of us want to use a single range and I think many of our routines and product choices have grown organically from trial and error. We like what we like however open we are to new things; the tried and trusted is our mainstay. But nonetheless in the spirit of fairness I’ll give the mask a go in conjunction with the recommended (legendary) cleanser and seven (seven?!?) step routine. Anyway the divine EL lady gave me the cleanser as a sample (complete with its own mini muslin cloth!) so it’d be churlish of me not to try it.

For EL it’s all about a seven step routine of pressure and the like – all outlined on the afore mentioned, impossible to read instructions. Quite jolly once you get into the swing of it and I like the idea that I might ‘drain my congested areas and eliminate toxins.’ Sounds terribly useful…!

The cleanser makes me nervous though as it’s basically a load of oils, clove (to purify), eucalyptus (to drain away toxins), hop (to tone) and chamomile (to soften and condition) and a mineral oil that I assume it’s all suspended in, and as I’m prone to a bit of greasiness it seems illogical to smear even more on my face. This is why the hot water and muslin cloth element is important. It’s this procedure that will minimize the residue of any oils. I have to say the cleanser did make my face feel good and really clean and not remotely oily (it is designed to completely rid your face of make up so had an easier job with my make up free face. What?!? No, the day for night cover up does not count! BUT I didn’t apply any nighttime moisturizer as I was nervous of the multiple grease possibilities. My face was far from dry in the morning so I think that may have been a wise move.

(The cleanser also has a fistful of parabens in it. These currently contentious preserving chemicals are discussed here)

So, back to the mask…the following night I used the cleanser again (seven steps need planning – it’s not for the impatient and time inefficient – but it is your health and dewy youthfulness we are safeguarding here so what is a few minutes effort worth to you?) and then applied the Rescue Mask. I then went to watch an episode of Modern family and, frankly forgot about it. When it dries out it is no longer working so no harm done except for the ‘face-dandruff’ that I was dropping everywhere! The lady at the John Lewis EL counter said I should I rub the dry mask off for extra exfoliation so I did that (I’m very biddable). And the results are in…the texture of the skin is smooth and soft, a brighter, more glowing colour is present (could just be from the rubbing and warm water?!) and everything looks chirpier and fresher, positively bursting with youthful healthiness! Hoorah.

Even the next morning it still seems pretty damn good!

Here are the ingredients and a brief poke about into what the flip they mean for our faces:

Kaolin – sometimes called China Clay is a silicate mineral used in a vast array of everyday items like paper, toothpaste, light bulbs, ceramics, paint, cosmetics and to control diarrhea. It’s been a staple, stable basis for face masks for ages due to its excellent absorbent qualities that draw out the oil and impurities. There is no serious research on the clay, so, is it safe to assume that the hundreds of years it’s been in use at least point to it being okay? Hmmm…

Water – well…

Glycerin – used in many beauty products to create a smoother texture, soften the skin and attract water. It naturally attracts water so can be useful in keeping moisture in the skin and pulling it from the deeper layers to the surface. A mixed blessing I’d say. A little sounds good but too much can over dry the skin to the point of blisters even!

Denatured Alcohol – is a form of ethanol (basic alcohol) that is liquid at room temperature and evaporates very, very quickly! Therefore useful in hair products like hairspray and I suppose used here to cause the mask to ‘dry out’ on the skin. (Unlike ‘fatty alcohols’ that are solid at room temperature and are not drying but used to emulsify oils into water and condition skin and hair.)

Honey – is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic (but only truly if it has not been pasteurized or treated). For skin – It produces hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water and that is a mild antiseptic – great for minor cuts and the like. It hunts down free radicals, holds in moisture and has a mild AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) in it, which is an acid that breaks down the chemical bonds holding the skins (dead) cells together making them easier to scrub and wash away. I’m guessing that’s why it’s included here…for all the above!

Sweet Almond Oil – generally considered a very useful and very safe ingredient in beauty treatments due to its rich vitamin content (A, B1, B2, B6 and especially E). It’s easily absorbed so it’s moisturizing and nourishing qualities are especially lauded. If true, all very good for the anti-ageing process!

Seed Meal – essentially ground up seeds. Which seeds it doesn’t say…

Phenoxyethanol – ooh now we are getting into the nitty gritty! I mentioned parabens ealier and this I reckon has been added as an alternative. Therefore I assume it’s here as an anti-bacterial (also anti mould and yeast) and preserver. It’s just about everywhere in products these days but there’s a lot of arguing over its safety too. So read up! I see that under 1% is considered okay but many products (like this one) don’t list amounts.

Camphor – it cools and disinfects and is used in moth repellent, Asian sweets, fireworks, embalming and is a mild anesthetic and antibacterial (think Vicks VapoRub). It’s used to soothe irritated or red skin, and it has a nice smell (if you like that sort of thing). I think it causes the slight ‘heat’ ‘menthol’ feeling as it’s rubbed into the skin and…er…it’s a little bit poisonous so don’t eat it!

Magnesium Aluminum Silicate – this is a mineral derived from clay and is often used, and considered safe, in beauty products as a thickener and filler. It’s large molecular structure means it doesn’t get absorbed into the skin (but do have a look at the wrangle regarding the dangers of Aluminum and other ‘heavy’ metals found in the products around us).

Calcium Chloride – similar to table salt (Sodium Chloride – see below) this ‘salt’ is used in food to preserve its texture and shape. It’s also used in sports drinks as an electrolyte and on the roads to stop the snow or ice sticking! In beauty products, and therefore I suppose here, it is used as an astringent (constricts the pores) and thickener.

Magnesium Chloride – is also used in de-icing the streets! Is there a correlation here?! And as a thickener in beauty products. Magnesium can be absorbed into the body through the skin so if, like me, you leave the mask on for a good half an hour are we getting vital magnesium as a by-product? Questions, questions…

Sodium Chloride – basically table salt to you and me, is used in SO many things. In beauty products it’s, again, often used as a texturising element and maybe here it binds and scrubs too. (I love a salt scrub!!)

Ethylhexylglycerin – is a preservative and conditioning agent therefore a handy paraben alternative maybe? It’s a relatively new chemical and there’s very little data on its safety. Again, see the great paraben war for more information…

Aluminum Chlorohydrate – is an aluminum based salt. Its primary use is as the anti-wetness protection element in antiperspirants. Hmmm…so it’ll tighten and tingle my face skin….? It is also used to clean water by making its impurities come together so maybe that’s its use here…?

Allantoin – is said to have a healing effect on skin. Skin that is sore, chapped, burnt, erupted and generally irritated! It encourages it to form new and healthy tissue and soothes and moisturizes as it goes. Subsequently it’s in loads of products from anti-acne and shaving to hair care, deodorants and foot creams.

Well, that’s something to think about isn’t it? I wonder sometimes if a little information is more dangerous than none. And regardless of the whole ‘products designed for women or specifically for men’ wrangle I’ll continue using this product, no doubt, but it does mean that now I’m a tad more armed with some knowledge of what’s what within this product I’m smearing directly on to my most sensitive skin (face that is…oh stop…) AND if a new study proves or claims that there are issues to consider regarding any of the above ingredients, at least I’ll know it applies to me and I’ll think on!