Tuesday, 20 March 2012

More oil than a Greek Chipper...

I am in my 30's now. Fine lines are creeping in, expression lines are starting to develop into wrinkles, some dry patches, some oily patches, MAHOOSIVE hormonal spots all along my jaw and chin (the kind that take ages to settle down) little bumps under my skin that either go away or develop into teeny white heads. Some days, I wake up and my skin feels tighter than a pair of Jonas Brothers trousers. Other days I wake up on the floor, having slid out of bed on account of the oil slick exuding from my face.

My moisturiser needs are covered. I found a routine that is working for me and its fitting in with my budget at the moment. My trusty Boots No7 Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser was coming to an end (again) and I was starting think that it wasn't quite doing enough for me. Balms and oils are nothing new to me. I use them all the time as a serum or to nourish really Saharan patches, but I wasn't sure I was quite ready to overload my skin with oil by adding a balm cleanser.

After discovering the Queen of Clean, Caroline Hirons of http://www.beautymouth.com/ and her Cheat Sheets, I was pretty much sold. She presented a good argument (I also read all the profuse thanks that she got from load of commenters) and I subsequently switched to massage and facecloths (cheap ones from Penneys/Primark) and parted with €9.59 of my Euro bucks for Boots Botanics Face Soothing Cleansing Balm (as I didn't have cash to splash on Emma Hardy) when my Boots cream cleanser was coming to an end.

I have been using this balm for a little more than a month now. A most stressful month, of titanic pain levels (2 hormone related migraines, immediately followed by two awful visits from "the Painters/Aunt Flow/Van Rooyen/La lune"), a moderately healthy diet that went out the window for pain pill popping one, filled with much chocolate scarfing, crisp munching, what-ever-is-easiest-cooks-fastest-kids-eat-without-moaning. I no longer have blood in my veins, its coffee or tea, depending on who is making it (I have been ok with my water intake though, at least 1.5 litres of plain H2O everyday).

And my skin's texture and appearance has actually improved. Its a miracle. No, really. Grease is Good.

On opening the box :

First of all. Toss/donate/relegate-to-the-ktichen the stupid little cloth that comes in the box. It is so stiff, so unprocessed and so natural that it doesn't hold water (it actually repels it) and hasn't a chocolate kettle's hope in hell of removing anything from your face.

In the picture above you can see the top cloth is the one you get with the balm. Its on top of the cloth you get with the Boots No7 Cleanser, and they are both on top of the Liz Earl muslin cloths. Just so you have an idea of how bit the cloth is.

Now, Lets get down to the nitty-gritty. Or rather: the Oily-woily (yeah, I couldn't think of a great word for it). Ingredients include:

Its all natural. You could mix this stuff up yourself, if you had the inclination (I am tempted). Its Organic certified, although I haven't thoroughly checked out this claim. But if its good enough for Mrs Hirons to punt, then its fine by me.

It looks like gritty butter in the tub. But if you close your eyes and smell it before looking at it, you get the lovely, yummy, comforting, delicate scent of rose oil. Take a deep breath. If you like rose scented things, then you will love this. If you don't, hold your breath and give it a go anyway.

I must just state that this stuff is horrible at removing make up. Well , that is not actually correct. It is fantastic at removing make-up. It is an oil. It will dissolve any make-up you put in its path. But getting the resultant gunk off your face is a bit of a mission. Also you are going to want to massage the goodness into your skin, not the make-up. So, remove the worst of your make up first.

I know that many people aren't fond of having to scoop product out of a tub. My fingers are normally clean (I remove my make up first, hence clean fingers) by the time I open the the tub and I use my nail to scoop out about a finger nails worth, or I use a spatula I got with a hair removal kit.

Then I warm it between my fingers, to melt all the not-actually gritty bits together and smooth the resulting warm grease on to my skin. I recommend having warm finders and hands do do this as it goes a bit quicker, if however your are cold fingered, like me, then run your hands under warm water whilst doing make-up removal.

looks like gritty butter

And then the fun/bliss starts.... I massage this into my skin. Its the most peaceful 7 minutes of my day. I enter a zen state. I kick the door shut with my foot, in the face of anyone who deigns to interrupt MY 7 minutes of Mommy Time. The kids copped on quickly. The hubs needed a few sore noses to get it.

I am calm. I am totally immersed in the gorgeous smell. I cleanse and massage and work the balm into my skin. It is grease with a side of oil and a sprinkle of butter but, my skin is loving it!

All melted and warm

I follow the steps as outlined by the Queen of Clean and make all the appropriate noises in the privacy of my bathroom. I start running the hot water and leave the cleanser on my skin as a mini moisture mask boost as I wait for the water to heat up.

The most difficult thing is removing all the balm off your face. This is where the face cloths come into their own, and make muslin cloth look completely inadequate. The muslin just doesn't seem to hold the heat of the water long enough to help remove the balm from my skin. But the face cloths are perfect. POIFECT. They are the right kind of gently rough texture to exfoliate and remove the balm.

Mrs Hirons advocates using running water to rinse as opposed to running a sink full of water. I agree with this. But it only works nicely if you have mixer taps in your bathroom.  I don't. In our house, you either burn the skin off your hands, or your freeze your fingers off. I run both taps and alternate holding the cloth under each, trying to get the temp just right on the cloth. It needs to be on the hot side of warm, not the cool side.

It takes a bit of work to shift all the Balm off my face and neck, but its totally worth it. The time it takes to remove the balm is exfoliation time, I am gentle. I don't rub too hard or scrub at my skin. I just keep working my facecloth in small circular motions and rinsing/heating until I feel like I have removed all the balm.

The first time I used it, I felt my face after and it still felt like I had the balm on my skin, I hadn't rinsed properly and my water hadn't been quite warm enough. So I went back over it one more time and it felt much better.  It does take time to get used to. Skin isn't squeaky clean, rather its softly clean. You haven't stripped any of the natural oils from your skin, you haven't disrupted its natural barrier and you haven't left it unprotected and open to attack from bacteria.

After cleansing, my face feels soft and clean, without feeling stripped and tight. I don't feel the need to rush to put moisturiser on and I find I am not waking up feeling like somebody rubbed a knob of butter all over my t-zone.

And the best bit is that my skin is looking so much better. The dry bits around my nose are looking really good. The oily bits are not as oily, my skin seems to be gravitating towards mostly normal and it doesn't seem as sensitive any more.. Hormonal breakouts have been calmer than a hyperactive 4yr old on ritalin. It hasn't stopped them, but they are not as sore or red and they don't hang on as long.  Lines are not as noticeable. I am having less clogging due to daily gentle face cloth exfoliation and my skin feels comfortable.

I honestly expected my skin to have a purging period.  Maybe it is still coming. It's probably going to happen as soon as this piece is published. But for now it is behaving. It has only been a little more than a month, but I am really loving this. The smell and the texture is gorgeous. It feels really luxurious and almost like a mini spa experience in my own bathroom (if I ignore the shouting and shrieking happening just outside the door).

The only gripe that I have with this, is that the tub doesn't come with a hygienic foil seal. I had to take the first tub I bought back to Boots, because when I went to use it, I discovered some eejit had dug their finger into the balm. So check it before you buy it!

Boots Botanics Face Soothing Cleansing Balm is part of the Boots Botanics range and is available at Boots stores. A 200ml tub costs €9.59


  1. This sounds ba-rilliant! Will give this a go when my Emma Hardie one runs out, I've been using it sparingly so make it last longer hehe Great post!

    1. Would love to try the EH one, Karen, but its a bit spendy for me at the moment. This one fits in nicely, and I like how it smells!

  2. I'm using the No7 Hot cloth cleanser at the moment, and it works, but doesn't seem to be as good as it COULD be, so will definitely try this! I'm a sucker for any positivity...

    1. I was starting to feel the same way about the HCC, but I fell in love with the balm. It takes a bit of getting used to, but its my little ritual now. Can't go to sleep without it!

  3. That stuff looks strangely yum! I love a good balm!

  4. Great review, I really like this stuff too.


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