At Home Facials For Broke Folks

One of my favourite things to do in the world is to treat myself to a bit of pampering. In an ideal world, this would mean escaping to Gleneagles every other weekend for mango oil showers, facials and massages. Unfortunately, until somebody decides to publish my book and make it into an amazing blockbuster movie, that’s not really an option. But I hate to let a tight budget get in the way of some good me time.

So this is for you, my fellow broke girls. A step by step guide to my super budget at home facial.

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1. Light a gorgeous candle.

This is very important. Also, stick on some chill out music or an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride or something. It’s time to relaaaaax.

2. Cleanse your face.

First, remove any eye makeup. I use a cotton pad soaked in Garnier Micellar Water. Be gentle with your eyes. Scrubbing at them can irritate your eyes and pull out your eyelashes, and tugging at the delicate skin underneath can cause premature wrinkles. Use soft sweeping motions to remove makeup. Then you can cleanse the rest of your face and neck. I have really dry skin, so I like thick, oily cleansers like Lush’s Ultrabalm. I smooth it into my face in circular motions and then wipe clean with a microfibre cloth. Coconut oil also makes a great cleanser but because it’s quite comedogenic, it can block some people’s pores, so listen to your skin on this one. But if it works for you, it leaves skin feeling super soft and clean and helps grow long, fluttery eyelashes.

3. Exfoliate.

Exfoliating removes build up of dead skin cells, allowing product to penetrate more thoroughly and leave your skin fresh and glowing. But be careful, you don’t want to overdo it. Don’t sand your face, you don’t want to take all your skin off, just the dead stuff. I’m still using my resurfastic, a microdermabrasion stick that was gifted to me a few months ago. But soft microfibre cloths also provide good exfoliation without damaging your skin. I picked up a stack of 6 of these for a pound in Savers. Again, use gentle circular motions and rinse.

4. Steam things up.

Fun fact: pores don’t open and close. They’re just little openings in your skin; they don’t have the muscles needed to open and shut. So all the stuff about steaming your face to open your pores and splashing cold water to close them is basically a myth. But steam can loosen all the junk that is hiding in your pores, which makes them appear smaller. Fill a bowl with some boiled water and leave to cool for a few minutes. Seriously, don’t stick your face over freshly boiled water. Steam that temperature will have no hesitation in messing your face right up. Once it’s at an acceptable, non-scalding temperature, cover your head with a towel and hover above the bowl for about ten minutes. Only your face has to hover. No worries if you can’t hover your entire body. If you have a cold, put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil into the water and breath in healing goodness. Be warned, this will get a whole lot of crap out of your lungs. After ten minutes, rinse your face.

5. The mask.

Ah, the most satisfying and instagrammable part of the whole facial: the face mask.

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Everybody loves a bathroom selfie.

I am currently obsessed with the Body Shop’s Warming Mineral Mask, which uses kaolin clay to draw out impurities. Unfortunately, there has been no scientific research that definitively proves kaolin clay has benefits for the skin, but I’m willing to overlook this for how awesome this mask feels on my face. It warms up on your skin and gives the feeling of stepping into a hot bath, but on your face. My skin always looks brighter after I use it, but take any miracle claims with a pinch of salt. If money is super tight, you can make your own face masks using ingredients that you probably already have!

Stuff not to put on your face, even if the internet tells you to:

  • Lemon. Lemon’s spot zapping powers have nothing to do with its antibacterial properties and everything to do with its bleaching abilities. The acids in lemon juice can reduce the appearance of spots by bleaching away some of the redness. They can also give you face burns. Don’t put bleach on your face.
  • Sugar. Sugar is a great scrub ingredient for your body, but is waaaay to rough and jagged for the skin on your face. It will scratch your face right up. And ain’t nobody got time to try and apply makeup on a scratched up base.
  • Bicarbonate soda. Ooooh, I am guilty of this one! I used to use baking soda to exfoliate my face and was thrilled with how smooth it felt afterwards, oblivious to the damage I was doing to my skin. Bicarbonate soda is far too alkaline for use on your skin, as it disrupts your skin’s barrier. And the more you use it, the more damage you do. Yikes.
  • Toothpaste. Don’t put toothpaste on your damn spots. Toothpaste gets rid of spots by drying out your skin, which I’d imagine isn’t really what you’re going for. Also, all that minty fresh menthol can be seriously irritating on your skin.

Stuff you should totally put on your face:

  • Honey. Honey is antibacterial and hugely hydrating, so is a great ingredient in DIY face masks. Just stay away from beehives. And hungry bears.
  • Porridge oats. Oats are an extremely gentle exfoliant, and their healthy fats also help to moisturise and boost your skin’s protective layer.
  • Yoghurt. The lactic acids in yoghurt make for a great chemical exfoliant – perfect if your skin isn’t up to physical exfoliation.
  • Avocado. Okay, if you’re buying avocados, you probably aren’t broke. But in case you just fancied getting hands on with your skin care, avocado’s vitamin A and D content can help to repair damage in the skin, leaving it nourished and comfy.

Leave your mask on for the recommended time and then rinse well.

6. Toning

Swipe a cotton pad soaked in alcohol free toner over your skin. This removes any traces of dirt or face mask, and helps prepare skin to absorb your moisturiser. I use Garnier’s Micellar Water again, because obsessed.

7. Moisturising.

Now that you’ve spent all this time cleaning your face, it’s time to put some niceness back into it again. I’m currently using Inlight’s Organic Night Balm, which I was gifted a sample of, and which I rave about here, but it’s pretty pricey. On my budget days, I use E45 cream. Seriously, I slather my entire body in this stuff and it’s magical.

And you’re done! Sleep on your beautiful clean skin and try not to ruin it the next day by stroking your face incessantly.

Do you have at home spa days, or is this a weird Fiona thing? What do you put in your DIY face masks? Have I missed a vital facial step? Get in touch in the comments or at EscapologistGl!

Build-A-Blog Goodies: Skincare*

Having spent a thoroughly glamorous morning learning the secrets of beauty blogging at Antonia Mariconda’s Build-A-Beauty-Blog event, I spent a thoroughly unglamorous afternoon making my way home in a monsoon. By the time I arrived back at the flat, I looked like this:

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Not ideal.

I was soaked, shivering and definitely ready for a bit of TLC. Fortunately, the goody bags at Antonia’s events are basically legendary, so I had plenty of supplies at my fingertips to play with!

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Excellent point number one. The inclusion of a Glossybox meant that I had a box within a box to open. Seriously guys, there is nothing I love more than opening parcels.

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So then, when inside that box, I found another adorable little parcel, I basically lost it.

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I disapprove of straightening your hair more than once a day, so enjoy my big hair.

I have a whole lot of stuff here to talk about, so in the interests of shorter-than-Moby-Dick length blog posts, and because I don’t like to put makeup back on my skin after facialing it up, today, I’ll be looking at the skincare goodies in my bag!

(Obviously, I won’t be able to tell you about the long term effects of these products because I’m not magic, so I’ll do a follow up post at the end of the month to let you know how my skin is liking them. Follow up posts, woo!)

Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme

exuviance cleanser review

I’ve been having lots of luck with the Lush Ultrabland cleanser I got at Fashion’s Night Out, so it’s going to take a heck of a cleanser to knock that off its perch. The Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme boasts a conditioning ingredient list, including Polyhydroxy Acid, a supposedly gentler chemical exfoliant than our beloved AHA’s. I applied a small pump of the cleansing creme to my face, massaged in for a minute and then removed with a microfibre face cloth. Interesting side note: this cleanser smells exactly like Bailey’s. It actually made me grin when I squirted it onto my hand. I’m not sure what that says about my relationship with Bailey’s, or whether this will put you off, but I liked it. The cleanser took off my makeup without leaving that horrible squeaky clean, my-face-is-three-sizes-too-tight feeling. As someone with seriously dry skin, this is fairly rare and very much appreciated. The cleanser left my face clean, soft and glowy…which is basically everything that I’m looking for on first use.

Resurf.A.Stic Face

resurfastic review

The old school deodorant look of this stick initially put me off, but actually, this is one of my favourite things I tried today. For those of you who still like a bit of physical exfoliation, the resurf.a.stic face combines gentle microdermabrasion with moisturising ingredients. I know there has been a big step away from physical exfoliants in the skincare community, but my skin does pretty well with it. If you have really sensitive skin, or have had a bad reaction to physical exfoliants in the past, I’d maybe give this one a miss. The exfoliation is gentle, but you can feel it. To use, you simply wet this stick and rub it all over your face in circles. This felt pretty weird, I’m not gonna lie. And I could feel little pieces of skin collecting on my face, which was gross, but weirdly satisfying. BUT. When I rinsed the product off and felt my skin, my jaw actually fell open. It felt like I had been bathing in the blood of unicorns. But I hadn’t. I’d been rubbing a deodorant microdermabrasion stick on my face. I’ll keep you posted on whether my skin reacts to this throughout the month, but for now, I’m one very happy, very smooth bunny.

Etre Belle Liplift Peel

How scary does this sound?! But since I was exfoliating my face, I figured I might as well give my lips a go as well. Time to confess to my worst ever beauty habit: I bite my lips. I don’t mean in a cute, Anastasia Steele, aren’t I so sexy way. I mean I will literally gnaw pieces of skin from my lips. I’d love to say I do it when I’m nervous, but I do it all the time. I think I might have mild dermatillomania. This does not leave them in the best state: bleedy, chapped lips are not a good canvas for lipsticks. Despite this, I always thought that lip scrubs were one of those things everyone said you needed, but you don’t really. I am converted. One minute with this scrubby mixture sitting on my lips and they were as smooth as I can remember them being. Big thank you to Glossybox, who included this in their gift bags.

Timeless Truth Bio-Cellulose Apple Stem Cell Collagen Mask

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Anyone with an interest in skincare will have noticed the influx of Korean inspired skincare of late. From double cleansing, to snail gels, to the incorporation of essences and serums, Korean skincare is where it’s at. And sheet masks are no exception. Sheet masks are soaked in skin conditioning ingredients, which are then transferred into your skin. This particular one uses stem cells extracted from apples to help repair damage and moisturise unhappy skin. And if that didn’t convince you, you get to look like this for 20 minutes:

sheet mask review

Quid pro quo, Clarisse.

Scaring the everloving Christ out of your boyfriend is optional, but very much recommended. I put this on my newly scrubbed skin and relaxed with a cup of acai berry tea from Slimming Solutions. I’m not trying to lose weight, so don’t know how good my review of the tea will be, but it tasted yummy, is apparently a superfood and adds to my burgeoning tea collection, so I sipped away on it quite happily. After 20 minutes, I peeled off my mask (so much fun) and massaged the remaining apple serum into my face. Not being a skincare expert, I can’t vouch for the magical properties of the ingredients, but they left my skin looking plump, bouncy and healthy. Lovely. I’m saving the other two for my flight to Australia at the end of the year.

Nuxe Masque Creme Fraiche De Beaute

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This was another Glossybox offering – thanks Glossybox! This mask is a 24 hour moisturising mask from luxury French brand Nuxe. The mask smelled strongly of roses, so if you aren’t a fan of floral scents, I’d skip this one. I enjoyed it though, it made me feel like Mary Pickford. Not enough like Mary Pickford to actually eat a rose, but then, she was a gorgeous movie star, so what do I know? I massaged the mask into my skin and let it sink in for 10 minutes. I really liked the way this mask felt on my skin, it was really cooling and refreshing.

Rajeunir Moisture Serum

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I finished up my facial with a quick squirt of Rajeunir’s moisture serum. I don’t normally put this many products on my face all at the same time, but I was so excited to see all of them there! Although the Rajeunir line is primarily directed at women (and skin-conscious men) over the age of 40, I figured everyone could do with a bit of extra pep in their skin. This rich serum sunk into my skin pretty much immediately – although admittedly, I do have very thirsty skin. It smoothed out, plumped up and softened my skin, and left it looking bright and healthy. I only used a tiny squeeze of this serum, a little really does go a long way!

(Rajeunir have very nicely given my followers a 30% discount until the end of November with the code “escape”. So if you fancy giving it a go, now’s a good time! Click here for the serum.)

At the end of my routine, I was pretty darn impressed with how soft my skin felt. Seriously, I’ve been walking around stroking it, which, ironically, is one way to guarantee bad skin. Keep your hands off your face, people.

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Not looking too bad, for a barefaced girl. Check back in at the end of the month to see which products I’m still loving, and which ones have fallen off the cart. And I’m lazy, so I can guarantee there will be casualties.

Tomorrow, I’ll be tackling the rest of the beauty bag…wish me luck!

What’s you skin holy grail? Have you ever repurchased something you got in a goody bag? Tell me about your skincare routines and please send me sheet mask selfies either in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted these products for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

A Little Slice Of Heaven

Last weekend, I got a little glimpse of how the other half live at the utterly incomparable Gleneagles Hotel. And when I say incomparable, I mean I have literally never seen anything like it in my entire life. The father booked us a little overnighter as part of Sophie’s 18th, and we’ve spent the past month frantically counting down days and scouring our wardrobes for something suitably sophisticated to wear to dinner.

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I think the word you’re looking for is “Unffff”.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The weekend didn’t get off to the greatest start, with every train between Edinburgh and Glasgow cancelled for the entire day. This meant that while the rest of the family chilled out up there, I got to spend an hour on a stupid bus, and then another hour taking in the beautiful scenery of Falkirk.

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Not quite the same. BUT. Gleneagles Hotel then picked me right back up again by having me collected at the station by this baby:

Ermehgerd.

Ermehgerd.

Check that out. And the driver didn’t even openly judge me for taking a photo of his car. The next day was so incredible that even including the horrendous bus ride and 2 hours spent in a Tesco cafe in Falkirk, it would still average out as one of the greatest days I’ve had.

For one thing, mine and Sophie’s room looked like this:

IMG_0226It had a balcony and a fire with a remote control. I just can’t even…

Once we’d stopped jumping around, we immediately settled into the lifestyle.

IMG_2757 IMG_2760And then immediately settled back out of it again when we discovered there were robes.

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Seconds before this picture was taken, I remarked that I looked like Roger Federer.

Seconds before this picture was taken, I remarked that I looked like Roger Federer.

IMG_2771After a couple of glasses of bubbly and a lot of silliness, we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the spa.

I obviously couldn’t take my camera into the spa with me, so I’ll try and paint you a little picture, although I’m not sure I have the words. We were greeted at every turn by relentlessly lovely staff who gave us the grand tour of the spa and its facilities. After the first room, I abandoned all attempts at pretending I wasn’t impressed and openly gawked at the wonders they had in store for us. First, we sampled each of their glorious showers, luxuriating in warm mango and papaya oil, braving the cold peppermint shower and then warming up again in an enormous jet shower. We jumped into a darkened steam room, and watched the twinkling constellations of lights change for a while. Then, we headed for the vitality pool, where warm jets of water pummelled and bubbled away any tiny tensions we had managed to hang onto.

As a treat (as if the whole weekend wasn’t a treat), the three ladies had been booked in for facials as part of our spa experience, so after a brief lounge in the stunning indoor courtyard, we were whisked away to be pampered. I’ve never felt so relaxed in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I dozed off during my facial. In the hands of the very capable Nina, I emerged glowing, softened and utterly chilled out. We were sent to recover in the relaxation room, which was an absolute dreamland of soft beds, fluffy blankets, fruit teas and dimmed lights. However great I’m making this sound, triple it. I could have spent the entire weekend in the spa and emerged a new woman.

Eventually, we dragged our sleepy selves from the spa on the promise of dinner and cocktails. We put on our party dresses and our most sophisticated smiles and high tailed it to the restaurant.

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Oh, just Sophie being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.

Oh, just Sophie being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.

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The food was incredible, the cocktails were even better, and once again, we were treated like royalty all the way. Seriously, why are you even still reading this and not looking up when the next train to Gleneagles is? They’ll send you a car. Because they’re awesome.

Exhausted after a very difficult day of living out our princess fantasies, Sophs and I retired to our room to relax by the fire.

IMG_2811We did intend to go back down to the bar and sample some more of the cocktail menu, but as soon as we sat on that big, cushiony bed, it was game over. Before we knew it, it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast.

Oh breakfast. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…Seriously, I could have devoted an entire blog post to how good the breakfast was. My dad ate five courses. Only my puny stomach stopped me from doing the same. On a side note, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve watched an 18 year old girl demolish an enormous cut of roast ham at 9 o’clock in the morning. A sight to behold.

What's that noise? Oh, just some angels singing.

What’s that noise? Oh, just some angels singing.

After breakfast, we were all in serious need of some fresh air and some exercise to work off the monumental food babies we had accrued. So while Karla went in search of a candle to make her house smell like the spa, Sophs, Kiera and I went to play in the beautiful, sprawling grounds of the hotel.

IMG_2832 IMG_2835 IMG_2839 IMG_2860 IMG_5396As 12 o’clock drew nearer, Sophie and I gave everyone the slip under the guise of packing, to enjoy one final glass of fizz on our balcony.

IMG_2853The day was perfect, and the hotel went above and beyond my expectations in every single way. If you’re looking for some serious luxury in your life, get on the website and book a night here, you won’t regret it.