Beauty and the beast: Liz Earle Haircare

Excitingly, a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a special event, launching the Liz Earle haircare range.

I don’t need to tell you how much I love Liz Earle skincare (you can read about that here, here and here), but I have to admit to being sceptical about a haircare range. Nothing to do with Liz Earle – more the fact that natural and sulfate-free haircare never tends to do me any favours.

Sulfate in shampoo really only serves to make it froth, but being as we humans are creatures of a tactile nature, if our hair products don’t foam up, we assume they’re crap. Sulfates aren’t great for sensitive skin and scalps [yo, don’t forget you have SKIN on your HEAD], and many people like to avoid them altogether. That said, many sulfate-free products leave coloured hair stripped, and looking dry and dull, so you understand my fear.

The launch itself was rather exciting; a bunch of bloggers, tended to lovingly in the back of the Liz Earle flagship store on the King’s Road. Once preliminary iPhone snaps had been taken, we were told that the products had been six years in the making – with 20,000 Liz Earle customers providing research into what they wanted to see, some writing reams of extra information on the back of the questionnaires. It’s not easy to balance all the brand’s beliefs into a product that works really well – particularly when the brand in question has such a cult following. If this didn’t work as well as Cleanse and Polish, I know I’d be disappointed.

SO, what of the products? There’s one shampoo, and three conditioners; echoing the skincare range. One Cleanse and Polish for all [does that sound like a cultish mantra?], then a relevant moisturiser for your skin type. Now it’s one shampoo for all, one of the three conditioners for your hair type – oily, dry and normal. As someone who earns a living writing about hair products, I have to confess that – again – I was a bit sceptical about that. Could one shampoo really work its magic on my dry, coarse, curly, coloured, heat-treated hair – and on someone with silky, fine, limp hair??

Lo and behold; I was impressed. SURPRISE. The best way to get good results on the shampoo is to follow this sneaky method; get your hair really, really wet. Get your hands wet. Blob some shampoo into your palms, and rub together as if you’re washing your hands. Then lather it on. First thoughts; smells great, and after rinsing, my hair felt normal. Usually post-shampoo, pre-conditioner, my hair feels gross, its coarseness coming in to full effect. I used the conditioner for dry hair, and again, it left my hair feeling good. Honest! Smooth, and I could actually get my hands through – usually even my special ~shower comb~ pulls half my hair out. My hair was left, foreal, shiny, soft and magically healthy looking. Like how clean your face gets after C+P.

It’s definitely best sulfate-free hair range I’ve ever used, and over the course of my holidays in the hot, hot, sun, it’s kept my hair looking genuinely tops – colour included.

You can buy the range here, for a very reasonable £7.50 each. And you can read more about what goes in to the products, here!

Thanks for inviting me Liz Earle HQ (and thank Liz Earle for dropping in and making my day)!

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Beauty and the beast: obsessed with cleansing

Following all the nice comments on my last beauty post, I figured it might be a good idea to bore you with another. If there’s ever anything you want to ask me about, hair and beauty-wise, then feel free to send me an email or leave a comment. It may not come across in my often illiterate ramblings, but it is what I get paid for.

Today I want to share the joy of double cleansing. It’s an ancient practice but barely anyone seems to do it in Europe — and no, using a baby wipe to get your mascara off does not count. I first got in to double cleansing a couple of years ago after one of the International Dermal Institute‘s always  fascinating lectures. Despite knowing it would be perfect for my skin type, I didn’t actually get round to doing it regularly until this year as I’m a lazy fucker. I started in earnest in January and am pleased to report marvelous results. [Short version for the tl;dr crowd: fewer blackheads, zero zits, no greasy goon face.]

Here’s the theory. It’s really simple, but I’m probably going to make it sound tediously complicated. Basically, if you have oily skin or wear facial makeup, your cleanser has to cut through that before it can get to your skin and do the real dirty work. That’s not to say your normal cleanser isn’t working, but it could probably be working better if it didn’t have all that shit to deal with first. My Liz Earle is great at getting makeup off, but the cloth gets coated in a thick layer of fake tan and black mascara before it can really start working in earnest and if you’re short on time it can be easy to look down at the grubby cloth and assume the work is done. Using a pre-cleanser or oil cleanser will get all the makeup and oil off your face so that when you go in for the kill with your actual cleanser, it’s going to get deep down and dirty straight away and really make a difference. Makes sense?

As you probably know, I’m a Liz Earle devotee and using Cleanse & Polish definitely improved my skin by about one million percent, but I was still prone to hormonal breakouts (those ones around the jaw) and blackheads. Since I started double cleansing with oil, I don’t. For real! Coincidence? I don’t know. My hormonal breakouts used to be so predictable. Without getting too disgustingly TMI, gross red spots on the jaw would appear literally down to the hour that my period came. GROSS I KNOW SORRY.

So my technique goes something like this. I use one or two drops of Nude Cleansing Oil and massage it in really thoroughly. Eyes last because who wants to smear black crap all over their face? Nude smells amazing. Secretly I sometimes just sit and smell it to calm myself down. On another fascinating course I did with work I learnt about aromatherapy and jasmine is great for anxiety and stress so… there you go. Anyway, you massage it on to dry skin and then rinse off with warm water. I pat my face dry, then crack out the Liz Earle and cleanse as usual. That probably sounds like it takes ages but the whole thing takes me about three minutes and you only need to do it at night anyway.

I know oily-skinned folk like myself freak out at the concept of using oil to cleanse and I totally get why, but the fear is unfounded. Think back to science class or to those (s)wanky bottles of olive oil where you have two different types sitting on top of each other. ‘Like’ dissolves ‘like’ and one of the best ways to get rid of oil is by using another oil, it’s just a matter of using the right type. I.e., a cleansing oil designed for your face, not a bottle of Bertolli. Excessively stripping oily skin of all its oil with harsh products will only make your body produce more anyway, so being gentle and keeping skin well oiled is actually a smart idea.

Double cleansing with oil has made a huge difference to my skin, got rid of a lot of my blackheads and I can hand on heart tell you that my skin is definitely not made more oily by using it. I hate to say it, but my complexion verges on radiantly healthy these days. I can’t rave about Nude enough, but it’s the only oil cleanser I’ve tried. I know a lot of people have had huge success blending their own, but I’m too lazy to attempt that and have Nude stockpiled so… If the idea of using something called straight-up oil freaks you out too much, there’s always Dermalogica’s best-selling PreCleanse, which you can read about it in more detail here at Beaut.ie.

Anyway, this is just my experience and of course everyone’s skin is different. It’s also worth remembering that as with any skincare, you won’t see results straight away. It usually takes a month for changes to happen, but in some cases it can be much longer. For me, it’s amazing what a difference this one product has made. I haven’t been for a facial in months but I have one coming up and I’m interested to hear what my dermatologist says about my skin condition now. I’ll report back!

You can read more about oil and double cleansing here! and here!.