The Better Skin Formula: Natural skincare review

For the launch issue of Natural Mumma magazine, I explored a number of natural skincare products. I selected products that were chemical-free, cruelty-free, natural and effective. For the feature, skincare expert and therapist Claire Robilliard created a bespoke cleansing ritual that was perfect for my skincare needs. I completely fell in love with her products and felt the need to write a more in depth review. 

 

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Photography by Gerard Hughes for Natural Mumma magazine

 

Bespoke skincare 

For those near to London or Brighton, you could visit Claire in person in order for her to analyse your skin and develop your products. I simply sent Claire three photos of my face, makeup free and in good light. The first photo was face on, and the other two showed either side of my face. As well as this, I sent Claire a paragraph about my skin – its needs and how I was looking after it.

“I would say that I have combination skin. It is prone to dryness (especially in the winter months) and I get an oily t-zone. I’m just on my period and I get the occasional spot at this time of the month! I’m 35 next month so my skin is starting to show signs of ageing and fine lines. I eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water but probably have too much coffee and too little sleep! I exercise each morning. I also take care to stay safe in the sun. I’m very busy so I tend to exfoliate/cleanse my face during my morning shower and use micellar water before bed. I use a variety of different moisturisers at the moment. I also use clay based masks before big events/filming/photo shoots etc.”

Claire used this information to quickly put together a beautiful set of cleansing oils and serum that were perfect for my skin type.

The products

Claire uses natural plant oils and aromatherapy oils (both organic and wild-grown) to create the products to suit your needs. They arrive in a beautiful box, with a card guide and a follow-up email with video instructions. Claire’s communication makes you feel supported right through and the video clearly details how to use the products.

The kit comprises of (I’ve identified the specific blends that Claire made especially for me):

A cleansing base: Shea, Flax and Vitamin E

4 cleansing oils: 1 -Argan, Geranium and Spearmint. 2 – Safflower, Geranium and Elemi. 3 – Hazelnut, Palmerosa and Tea Tree. 4 – Poppyseed, Petitgrain and Mandarin.

2 soft bamboo cloths (to lightly slough away skin cells as you removed the oils).

A konjac sponge (to encourage radiance and cell renewal).

50/50 serum: Blackcurrant and Sandalwood.

The ritual 

You simply combine a teaspoon of the cleansing base with a couple of drops of the first oil (and slowly work your way through all of the oils), using your fingertips you gently massage this mixture into your face before removing it using a damp bamboo cloth. Use the cloth to softly buff the skin. Next comes the konjac sponge which adds instant radiance. Finish off with 50/50 serum on dry skin.

I love the idea of a skincare ritual. As I mentioned in my initial paragraph to Claire, my skincare regime had slipped into a speedy routine with little thought. It felt amazing to slow things down. Applying the base and oil to my face each morning and evening, and taking the time and care to massage it in, wasn’t only a great exercise in self care but it also meant that I was getting to know my skin on a much deeper level. Rather than simply applying products and looking for immediate results, The Better Skin Formula teaches you about your skincare and guides you towards long term healthier skin. The routine feels beautifully decadent, the aromas are exquisite and it leaves your skin feeling supple, smooth and with a really healthy glow. There were a couple of evenings where I opted for the easy option and went for the speediness of micellar water instead. However, The Better Skin Formula’s cleansing ritual doesn’t need to take that long.

The results 

I’ve been using Claire’s bespoke cleansing ritual and 50/50 serum for over a month now and am delighted with the results. My skin is much more elastic, there is no dryness and it has a different radiance. I tend to wear a light foundation each day, more for the purpose of illuminating my skin than evening out skin tone and I found that I chose to skip my foundation more this month as the glow I got from using the oils was enough. My skin looks more radiant in photos, which was ideal for this month’s editor’s photo in the magazine!

I love that the products I am using on my skin are natural and free from chemicals, I adore the ritual, the aromas and the results. I am also absolutely convinced that having a passionate professional on hand to offer support and guidance is the best way to embrace skincare. Claire is warm, knowledgeable, friendly and approachable. If your skin is in need of rejuvenation, then I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Claire’s Better Skin Formula.

Top row: Prior to the treatment, after first ritual, end of first week

Second row: After a fortnight, after a month, under makeup (one month in)

You can read Claire’s top tips for better skin in the September issue of Natural magazine magazine. 

How to cure eczema naturally

I’ve always suffered from dry skin (especially on my face), which is often exacerbated by the use of synthetic products. In my book The Natural Baby, I guide you through recipes and solutions for creating natural skincare at home. I believe that limiting the use of chemicals is essential during pregnancy, and natural skincare solutions for babies are imperative. However, I am also passionate about using products on my own skin that are as natural as possible which means creating them myself from scratch or finding the purest natural skincare products out there. As much as I love knocking up my own skincare products, it can be an expensive and time-consuming hobby! The other obvious benefit of buying natural products is that they tend to keep better! Natural skincare products using fresh ingredients have a very short shelf life which is why recently I have found myself opting for bought products.

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During my massage therapy and anatomy and physiology training (and my years of running my own practice) I learnt a great deal about skin conditions such as eczema. I also learnt about the healing properties of natural oils and ingredients and saw for myself how effective they could be. So here is my round up of the simplest, most natural and most effective ways to treat eczema. I’ve also found these solutions to be fantastic on dry skin and other conditions and irritations such as psoriasis.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition that causes redness and itching. In many cases, the skin becomes crusty or scaly and thickens. It is common for blisters to form too. It most commonly presents itself as a dry, itchy rash on the face, in the elbow creases, behind the knees or on the hands and feet. This skin condition usually starts in early childhood (often in the first few months of life), and studies show that it affects around 10% of infants. Most children (75%) who suffer from eczema during their early years find that they grow out of it by their teens. However, many adults who suffered from eczema in childhood find that they still need to take special care of their skin and find that certain synthetic products can cause that horrible itchiness to start up again.

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What to avoid

High street and designer cosmetics are often packed with synthetic and chemical ingredients that have been linked to cancer as well as skin irritation and dryness. For the majority of eczema sufferers, these ingredients make their symptoms worse. Manufacturing products using these ingredients is easier and cheaper, which is why so many businesses opt for these products.

Many over-the-counter eczema treatments may bring temporary relief, but they rarely solve the problem in the long-term. They are frequently crammed with chemical and synthetic nasties which strip our skin of its natural oils and can have a detrimental effect on our health. Even many of the products that are intended for use on sensitive skin are packed full of chemical ingredients. If you can avoid any products that contain parabens, steroids, cortisones and synthetic perfume then your skin will thank you for it. Whether you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, dry skin, sensitive skin or even have normal skin but care about what you put on it, avoiding these sorts of ingredients is imperative.

What is the best clothing material for eczema sufferers?

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When it comes to bedding fabric or clothing, cotton is often the best choice as it is breathable and helps the body to stop overheating. It is worth pre-washing any new clothes or bedding as loose traces of dye can irritate the skin as well as being carcinogenic. If you buy an item that is labelled as being 100% cotton but can only be washed at a low temperature, then it is likely to have been treated with a chemical finish which may cause irritation. Opt for untreated cotton where possible. Always use non-biological washing powder and skip the fabric conditioner (they are usually brimming with chemicals as well as being superfluous!) if you want to add a little fragrance then a few drops of essential oil (I tend to use lavender) added to the powder drawer is a nice touch.

What can trigger eczema?

Air conditioning and central heating can make eczema and dry skin conditions a lot worse. Unfortunately, these things can be unavoidable which is why it is so important to really consider your skincare routine. Eczema can also be triggered by chlorine, your washing powder or cleaning products or even a food allergy. If you suspect that any of these things are making your condition worse then you may consider a food elimination diet or a change in your cleaning products.

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The winter months can dry out our skin, but spring can also be stressful as allergens such as pollen effect so many people. This is why it is so important to take care of yourself all year round. Drink plenty of water, enjoy a balanced diet (with plenty of iron, omega 3, 6 & 9, protein, vitamins and minerals to help your skin stay healthy) and be sure to feed your skin from the outside too.

Natural ingredients

There are some wonderful natural ingredients that can really help relieve the symptoms of eczema. Jojoba oil is a great choice as it is very similar to the sebum that our skin naturally produces. This means that it hydrates the skin without being too greasy or oily. Since I first discovered jojoba oil during my massage training, I have made a concerted effort to add it to my skincare routine – either in the products I buy, the products I make for myself and sometimes I use it all by itself for instant hydration. Nourishing omegas such as sea buckthorn, linseed oil, safflower oil and borage oil are all fantastic ways to soothe and heal your skin.

Finding the right skincare for you

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Finding the right skincare products can feel like a quest for the holy grail, but once you discover a skincare range that works for you it can make a real difference to your self-esteem and your sense of wellbeing. I recently came across a brilliant range of natural skincare products from Salcura that combine all the sorts of natural ingredients that I like to include in my own skincare preparations. I’ve completely fallen in love with the DermaSerum which is beautifully lightweight but makes my skin feel instantly soothed, hydrated and deliciously soft. The Body Cleanser and Facial Cleanser smell divine and I have noticed a real difference in my skin since using them. I am also bowled over by the fact that their products range between 97-99% natural origin which matters a lot to me.

Treating eczema naturally

So in conclusion:

  • Avoid skincare products that contain chemicals and synthetic ingredients

  • Opt for 100% cotton breathable bedding and clothing

  • Consider how chlorine, washing powder and home cleaning products may be effecting your skin

  • Consider the possibility of food intolerances or allergies

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Feed your body from within with a healthy, balanced diet

  • Choose natural skincare products that nourish, soothe and protect the skin