Skin Solutions: Step 1 – Cleanse

Good Morning everyone! I wanted to introduce to you today a new series of posts we will be doing here at Florence Finds, from a not so new face! Some of you might remember Penny from her music series when FF was a little more active (In fact I’ve known her since the Rock My Wedding Days!) and she recently started a skincare Instagram. I didnt know about her personal skincare mission but she has been dedicating some serious time to sorting her own skin out and in doing so has become quite the guru. I’ve already switched up some of my routine on her advice (clueless newbie over here!) and the good news is she going to be sharing it with you guys on a semi-regular basis here! In between you can catch her on Insta @BrazFace

A post shared by Penny (@brazface) on

Step one: Cleanse

I have always thought my skin type was oily/spot-prone, so it came as a bit of a Scooby-Doo head-tilt moment when a beautician told me that my skin was, in fact, enormously dehydrated. It had become sensitised thanks to the procession of harsh, spot-fighting (some of them GP prescribed) face washes and treatments I had been putting on my hormonal-acne-addled skin. These products occasionally gave me short-term results, but long-term they had been making my problems worse.

I started investigating gentle, more balancing cleansers, triggering a skincare obsession that’s still going strong. My first cleansing oil (from Sanctuary, details below) had such an immediate impact on my poor, neglected skin that I was hooked. My under the skin, cystic spots reduced hugely, and my complexion started to look smoother and more even.

The discovery of double cleansing came next; two cleanses in the evening, first to remove makeup and second to wash the skin beneath. The concept has been around for a long while now and I came late to the party – entirely because I am lazy and the thought of so much as hot cloth cleansing every night sounded like a massive hassle. These days however, I am converted. This more involved routine has yielded such good results that I weirdly enjoy doing it. It’s virtually meditative – plus a good excuse to lock the bathroom door for a bit of peace.

These days I am constantly switching my favourite cleansers in and out of my ever-changing routine and I’m always on the lookout for new things to try. Here are just some of my personal picks (particularly for problem skin like mine), I would love to hear about yours in the comments…

Sanctuary Ultimate Cleansing Oil, £12.
Beautifully easy to use, feels luxuriously hydrating but still gentle enough for sensitive skin.

Superfacialist Vitamin C Skin Renew Cleansing Oil, £10.99.
Cheerfully brightening and invigorating with a seriously citrusy fragrance. A good starter cleansing oil.

Coconut oil, £5 – £8, from any large supermarket or health food shop.
This one may seem unorthodox, but bear with me…I whipped a jar of coconut oil out of the kitchen cupboard and started using it as a pre-cleanse when I ran out of cleanser one time. My skin was being particularly bothersome and reacting to everything. You know what? It calmed my skin down a treat and made my face smell like a Bounty bar. Full marks!

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, £10.
TBS always have some killer deal or other on, so you can often get this for less than a tenner – which is astounding given how good it is. The balm melts on contact with your face, which is very pleasing, and it cleanses thoroughly without stripping.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, £15.
The famous hot cloth cleanser – a classic for all the right reasons. Manages to simultaneously cleanse, soothe and hydrate, all whilst smelling all nice and natural which always makes me feel virtuous!

Elemis Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser, £23.50.
I bought this when my skin was in a particularly stroppy period – so stroppy that I was willing to throw twice as much money at it than usual. I’m happy to say it did the job. It’s a cream cleanser (and I like so few of them so this is high praise!) brilliant for balancing tricky, combination skin.

Penny // @BrazFace

We would love to hear about your cleansing routine – do you double cleanse? And if you have any questions, lets hear them!

Florence’s Favourites: The Sanctuary

I’ve been a long time fan of The Sanctuary products, so when I recieved a box full of ‘Spathroom Essentials’ from The Sanctuary, in the midst of the building site that passes for our patio whilst surveying the kitchen wreckage, I couldn’t have been happier. The products have a really luxurious feel without being mega expensive and do the job too so I couldn’t wait to start using them.

I cannot tell you what a godsend it felt like to have an excuse to pamper instead of clean or DIY or decorate, especially while pregnant!

I particularly loved the 5 day moisture hand lotion. My hands are taking a real beating at the moment and this stuff really works to moisturise and soothe.

If you asked me what my favourite body scrub is, hands down I would have told you it was this one, the Sanctuary Salt Scrub. The smell is divine, (as is that of the body butter,) so paired with the bath soak and a scented candle it sounds like my idea of heaven right now.

And for the face? You know I love a good diy spa sesh, and this thermal detox mask is right up there with the best of them when it comes to keeping breakouts at bay or putting an end to an untimely bout of troublesome skin. The therapists facial oil is hydrating, leaves my skin velvety soft and miraculously not greasy at all.

So guys, do you use Sanctuary products? And do you have any favourites?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All products were provided by The Sanctuary, however as you can see from previous posts I am a long time fan and happy to recommend their products.

PS. Previous Sanctuary posts…
Sanctuary Therapists facial Oil
DIY Pampering pedicure
Beauty: Tried & Liked (Thermal clay mask)

Girl about Town: The Sanctuary Spa

Yay! Victoria is back! We’ve got a suitably glamourous spa review for you this month and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve been or would like to go. That swing isn’t going to entertain itself you know…

In light of Rebecca’s round up of Thermae Spa in Bath, we thought a little review of another famous spa might be interesting, and seeing as the entry restrictions are very gender specific there were none of the, erm, inappropriate spatial awareness issues you guys mentioned, although when I visited Thermae Spa, I could have sworn that I didn’t see a single male. Strange!

In my Christmas stocking last year I found a voucher for a spa day at The Sanctuary, which promptly got packed away in the present-opening melee with all my other Christmas vouchers to be “saved for later”. An indulgent, relaxing treat after all the stress of Christmas, a run of 30th birthday parties, a busy season at work and buying and selling property that I swiftly forgot I had. It was only on packing up our flat half way through March and whinging to anyone that would listen that I needed a chill out did I remember that I had the voucher! I gave the hotline a call and the lady on the other end was possibly one of the most friendly and helpful spa receptionists I’ve ever spoken to. She asked where I was travelling from so she could work out an approximate arrival time so she could structure my day appropriately, without having to make me get up too early or have to rush through my time there. How very considerate!

To that end, I arrived at The Sanctuary Covent Garden Spa at 11am in time for a small introduction at the official-looking check in desk (“Hi and welcome to The Sanctuary, is it your first time here? Can I get you some juice”), a locker tutorial (pretty hi-tech), a few moments to strip (but I chose to keep my bikini on) and snuggle up in my fluffy robe and then little bit of wandering to familiarise myself with the various floors before my first treatment appointment – A full body aromatherapy massage.

I had a little consultation with the therapist who asked various questions about pressure preference, any issues or body concerns (“yes, I’m concerned my body doesn’t look like Rose Huntington-Whiteley’s – can you help?”) and what I was hoping to get out of the massage so we could pick the right oils and focus – loosening of the muscles, de-stress time, re-invigoration or just a snooze? I picked the “de-stress” oils as my body was feeling incredibly tight, and a strong pressure to really ease the knots out of my shoulders. 55 minutes later I was feeling considerably more supple and heavily chastised for scrunching at my desk, not exercising my back muscles enough.

A drink of water and I was back wandering the corridors and floors again and I found myself at the exercise pool. Feeling a bit too “floopy”, to quote Phoebe Buffay, for anything as strenuous as swimming I grabbed a towel and stretched out in the sauna for a bit of heat therapy.

After that I took another wander and settled myself in the Koi Carp Lounge which was full of big scoochie chairs (that’s totally a word), day beds and ginormous wicker arm chairs. I squidged myself in to a chair, ordered a platter of picky bits (feta, olives, hummus, pate, bean dip and pitta) a cocktail that I think was called a Cosmopolitini (pink prosecco with a scoop of cranberry and vodka sorbet), grabbed my book (one of the Song of Ice and Fire series) and snuggled in for an hour of chill time with some yummy food and drink! The area is divided up in to various sections and the clientele was equally split between large groups of assorted ages on hen dos, smaller groups of two or three women on special days out and those on their own, like me, there for a true chill out. Obviously in such a large space with so many females the noise levels could have become a bit rowdy, especially with the introduction of alcohol, but the staff do a good job of maintaining a chilled out vibe, whilst still allowing the larger groups to let their hair down and have fun with their friends. Well, that was how it worked out for me, you guys may have had different experiences? It certainly felt more relaxing and indulgent than the public areas of Thermae Spa, which in my opinion, had the potential to feel a bit public swimming pool at times.

After all that exertion I was ready for my session in the Sleep Retreat which involved, shock horror, more chill time! A curved bed vibrates in waves and sound-proofed headphones played calming, imaginative narrative (“you’re standing in a beautiful garden, in front of a trickling fountain”) intended to send you off in to a restful sleep. It worked for most people in the room, as the soft snores can attest, but unfortunately when someone tells me to “clear my mind of all my thoughts” I start thinking about “what should I be clearing?” which leads me to making lists on my mental whiteboard, rather than wiping it clean. And I giggle. Which is why I quit yoga! It was nice and relaxing though, even if I didn’t sleep. A quick note, remember to get comfortable before the experience begins, not halfway through like me. I forgot that I was wearing my slightly damp bikini bottoms under my robe and it wasn’t very comfy so just as everyone was dropping off to sleep with headphones on and eyes firmly closed, there was me trying to wriggle out of my cossie, under the blanket and my robe without making a scene. I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall, or the security camera monitor, for that little fiasco!

After that, I grabbed a pot of Earl Grey, some magazines (in fancy Sanctuary plastic covers), a blanket and did some advanced-level chillaxing back in the Koi Carp Lounge.

By then I was feeling well and truly rested, so I thought I should do something, erm, productive with my day and almost booked a facial, but I decided I needed a new pair of Converse for my holiday more than I needed a facial scrub, and also all the facial products are available in the dressing rooms, so instead I did a bit of swimming, loitered in the jacuzzi and sweated out all the week’s toxins (which included lots of cachaca after a Rio Carnival reunion) in the steam room before a leisurely shower (with more Sanctuary products), a little bit of pampering with all the skincare products* and I was back at the front desk collecting my free gift and checking out for the day. A quick stop in the ground floor shop for some samples and then a wander back to the Tube, via a sweetshop and a newsagent for magazines and I was set for an evening of sofa surfing.

All in all I had a really lovely day and truly appreciated the chance to enjoy some alone time and to just sit and veg in a cosy robe with a book, some snacks and a drink or two. However, my personal feeling is that the prices are rather high and so if I go back, it will only be if I’m lucky enough to receive another experience as a gift. Otherwise I’ll just stick to massages, facials and nail treatments at my local salon, pootle back home and sit on my couch in my Champneys robe (pilfered from my mum a few years back) with a cuppa (or a glass of, depending on the time!) and there must be an app for Koi carp swimming around in a soothing manner on your iPhone…

And, before you ask, I didn’t use The Swing, I had the urge, but I would have felt like a bit of a berk just swinging on it on my own.

Have you been? What did you think? Are you planning a trip there?

Victoria
x

*I used the samples and the products in my free gift box for about a week afterwards but I had to give up on them as they made my skin freak out. After a few years of skin freak outs, I knew enough to stop asap so I’m glad I didn’t try the facial after all. However, I’ve spoken to a few people who really liked them, and I know Rebecca has reviewed the Miracle Oil on Florence Finds in the past, so don’t let my crazy skin put you off!

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

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