It's the never-ending battle... girl has blackheads, girl spends TONNES of money on every spot-banishing product on the market, girl religiously applies product for all of a week before girl discards her extensive daily regime, and then... girl has blackheads.
As someone who has never suffered from "real" spots, you may be thinking I am the wrong person to be advising you on how to achieve that pore-free, airbrushed complexion. But let me tell you this, blackheads have plagued the bridge of my nose since the first swipe of ill-coloured gloopy foundation found its way onto it.
I've tried everything, each overpriced scrub and wash sure to zap those zits, and suck out every remaining drop of moisture from my skin in the process. As someone with combination skin, although my nose may be home to some little pore-invaders, the skin below my cheekbones and down my jawline was approaching the texture of sandpaper in this weather (and don't get me started on my poor poor lips).
The main problem I found with these products is that you become dependent, your body recognises that the oils naturally produced by your skin are no longer there, and produces more to compensate. So as soon as you stop using the products, its grease central, population... your face.
For a while now I have ditched the buffers, scrubbers and soakers altogether and have relied on my ever faithful Dove soap. At 80p a bar it lasts forever and my skin feels clean and smooth, and although my blackheads are no smaller, they're no bigger either. Soap works people.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still a sucker for skincare products, just ones that actually WORK, here are the lucky few that are gracing my bathroom cabinet...
I adore Boots Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Cleansing and Toning Lotion (£3.59, Boots), its a product that I have bought time and time again and it really does the job. After washing my face, I soak a cotton pad with the stuff and wipe it liberally over my forehead and nose. It's tingly, especially if your skin is still damp or has other products on it, so make sure your skin is freshly washed and towel dried. But I like to think that tingly means it must be doing something.
Face wipes face wipes face wipes... please just buy the basics! Aside from removing your makeup theres very little else it can do for you, especially as you quickly proceed to wash any residue off when you wash your face. I use Boots Simply Sensitive Face Wipes because - funnily enough, if you aren't already aware - I have sensitive skin and don't want anything too... chemically (is that a word?), plus they're always on an end-of-aisle offer! (£2.79, Boots).
I love nose pore strips, the somewhat sick pleasure of actually seeing those little blackheads stuck to a strip after you tear it from your nose is sooooo satisfying! I have used Bioré strips (£7.99, Boots) and Boots Tea Tree and Witch Hazel strips (£4.99, Boots) and although the Bioré ones felt slightly more effective, at a saving of £3 the Boots ones still do the job. A word or warning, if you are struggling to remove the strip, WET IT. I spent two days looking like I'd walked into an open kitchen cabinet after ripping off a particularly well-stuck Bioré strip and bruising the bridge of my nose in the process... not the look I was hoping for but hey, I go through this so you don't have to!
So they are my regular favourites... now for some newbies that I HAD TO try!
Nothing beats a lovely bubble bath with a glass of wine, candles and some Real Housewives catchup (of course)! I like to multitask and slap on a face mask to maximise my relaxation experience, a true Bridget Jones moment.
I have never been a fan of over the top face masks that look like they'd give you a spot simply by opening the packet, if I'm going to use a mask it needs to be practical. I usually lean towards anti-spot masks, not because I believe that they will actively banish and spots, I just believe that they cannot possibly create any MORE spots for me.
It's been a while since I treated myself, and when I saw that Boots had released a Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Charcoal Mask (£3.59, Boots, pictured below) I had to try it. As I am sure you can already tell, when I do buy skincare products, I tend to stick to Boots own brand. The essence of tea tree products are the same whether you are spending £4 or £14, tea tree is a natural product that cannot be really be altered in many ways other than by adding a huge... price tag. So keep it simple!
I had heard a lot about the beneficial effects of charcoal, so I gave the mask a go and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. Aside from leaving my skin silky smooth (something I was not expecting considering the drying nature of anti-spot products), I noticed a reduction in both the size and number of visible pores.
This photo is just to show you I wore it... you're welcome. Word of advice, make sure you exit the bath before removing the face mask and wash it off in the sink. I have just spent the past 15 minutes chasing bits of charcoal down towards the plughole!
As it was 3 for 2 I also thought I would try the new Bioré Charcoal Pore Minimiser (£5.99, Boots), I know I know, it's a scrub and a face wash and all the things I stand against (long live the Dove bar soap!!), but I got sucked in by the charcoal and the words "new", "pore" and "minimiser". It is more than I would ever usually pay for a skincare product, but Bioré have been good to me before with their effective pore strips and a part of me will always hold out a scrap of hope for that miracle blackhead eliminator.
Okay so it may not be that miracle I've been waiting for... I still have pores, BUT its the next closest thing right now! I gave it a good scrub over my nose and T-zone with my fingertips, lathered it up, and rinsed. There was that tingle I love, making me feel like something was happening, and it was! My pores were visibly tighter and I must say, I'm impressed. As with the face mask it hasn't dried out the rest of my face, so I can only conclude that it is the wonders of charcoal that prevents over-drying.
If you're on a budget please don't rub your face into your BBQ briquettes... it is not the same thing.
To finish my 3 for 2 haul I picked up a Garnier Skin Naturals moisturiser (pictured above). There is a range of Moisture Match products available to satisfy different skin needs, but I picked up the Skin Naturals Moisture Match Shine Be Gone Mattifying Fresh Cream (£3.99, Boots), what a mouthful! When I first applied the cream, I noticed the slight gritty texture and was preparing myself for disappointment, but I was wrong. The cream is light and non-greasy, after application the grittiness vanishes, and it has an incredible smell which penetrates both your skin and your pillow when you go to sleep, mmmm! Does it mattify? I guess you could say it doesn't ADD shine like many moisturisers, so that's somewhat of a success. It is incredibly hard to find a moisturiser that will give you both "moisturisation" and "mattification" (they'll be in the dictionary in no time!).
So after all that, here is a summary of my current skincare regime...
1) face wipes (nothing fancy)
2) Dove soap, applied with hands, lathered and rinsed off with warm water
2.5) Boots Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Face Mask (once or twice a week)
3) Bioré charcoal pore minimiser, lather and rinse
4) Boots Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Cleanser and Toner, cotton pad over the T-zone
5) Garnier (mouthful) moisturiser
BUT, I have one more secret for you... Revlon recently released their new PhotoReady Prime + Anti-Shine Balm (£9.99, Boots)
It claims to be both a primer and anti-shine "top-up" balm, to combat midday shine. After testing the product regularly over the last couple of weeks, I can safely say it successfully fulfils one of these two jobs. It makes an excellent primer, smoothing my skin and combatting shine (see image). However, due to its solid "balm" nature, the idea of dragging or even spotting this over foundation should scream disaster, and rightly so. The sponge provided successfully removes every remnant of already slipping foundation (well it must be slipping if you're reaching for the anti-shine, right?). If you want my advice, stick to a powder compact and brush to lightly dust a mattifying midday layer.
So yes, it's an alright primer, but then there are other equally good primers on the market (and better... sorry). I have long strived to achieve that illusive all-day foundation perfection, and have tried MANY primers - that should be a post soon - so do I think its good? Yes. Will I buy it again? No.
I would also not recommend this particular type of primer after exfoliation, when your skin is super smooth, adding this just provides the ice skates on which the foundation can glide off the end of your nose. After exfoliation always use a more fluid primer that will penetrate the skin to create the dewy texture for foundation.
In conclusion, be savvy about your skincare, prime with caution, and - if in doubt - always have a bar of Dove in your bathroom and a powder compact in your bag. I am sure many beauticians will be horrified by that comment, but...
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Signing out, EG x