|Greece, 1990, after a hard day's unprotected sunbathing|
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been searching for ages for a night cream that is within my budget (ideally under £15 in my head), suitable for oily skin and for layering over nocturnally applied serums - should that be sera? - that also feels luxurious and pampering, thick but not too cloying, and which would also crucially be safe for use on the delicate eye area.
I should perhaps backtrack and explain that my eye area has been woefully neglected most of my adult life. Till last Christmas to be exact, by which time I was already 55, and - as I have remarked before - the skincare stable door was firmly closed and the collagen long since bolted. To give you a bit of background (and please feel free to skip this next bit if you know it already), when I was young I was a real sun worshipper - I was actually asked for my passport when taking my finals, albeit in rather un-pc jest. I wore Factor 2 at best till I was about 33, and only switched up to a staggeringly sun-obliterating Factor 8, as it seemed to me, because I was going to Australia for a month, and that was the lowest factor on sale over there.
I should also 'fess up that I didn't moisturise at all till I was in my 40s, mainly because my lodger had told me that L'Oreal cream was made from minced deer's hoohahs, but also because night creams used to migrate into your eyes in those days and sting like hell. I genuinely think that the products themselves have improved no end since the start of what should have been the formative years of my skincare regime, which of course they flagrantly weren't. So there was all of that...and then to add insult to injury, I fell asleep in the sun when I was 41 and both eyelids promptly ballooned and went bright red and twice as angry. If ex-Mr Bonkers hadn't inquired whether I wanted a cup of tea at one point they might well have exploded. And from that day forward I never put my face in the sun again, and took tentative steps towards wearing some kind of moisturiser, some of the time. On some of my face. But it was only last Christmas, as I say, that I really got a complete skincare regime together, which is now pretty much set. Happy to do a post on that some time if it would be of interest to anyone, but it is such a personal / variable thing I assumed it wouldn't, while the products I am featuring here have more general relevance.
|1977, and a rare occasion of not exposing maximum skin to sun|
So, if failing to look after your delicate eye area were a criminal offence, I would surely be sentenced to life without parole - and with my meagre prison earnings I would barely be able to scrape enough funds together to buy a pocket tub of Astral to offset the creeping crepey-ness around my eyes, and other assorted ravages of time.
Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure I can reveal that a pocket tub of Astral was what I was using as my 'comfort layer' at night up until now, following the advice that if you apply serum as well, the main role of a night cream is to soothe and moisturise rather than to deliver extra anti-ageing benefits, though it may do that too. And you can even add a few drops of a facial oil to your moisturiser - thus it was that I occasionally sexed up the Astral with a sample of REN rose oil to give it a more high end scent at least. But Astral, allegedly the go-to emollient of Joanna Lumley, and which certainly seems to have served her well if that is all she's been using ;), is a bit rich for my liking, and has a slightly disconcerting smell of lanolin. I have just checked and it also has 'lanolin alcohol', whatever that is. Who knew that sheep came with integral stills! Anyway, my reading on the beauty blogs suggests that alcohol is not a great thing to put on even the oiliest of skins, so it was probably time to move on...
And it didn't take me long to identify two creams that seemed to fit the bill - one in a Guardian article by beauty wonder guru Sali Hughes, and one I don't rightly remember where, but a beauty blog or news organ of some repute. And as you may have inferred from the title, these are firstly:
Super Facialist Una Brennan Rose Hydrate Peaceful Skin Night Cream (normally £16.99 but I got it on the Boots website for £9.99!)
I was drawn to the Super Facialist cream, which I have no idea how best to abbreviate though it desperately needs contracting!, firstly by the fact that it was created by a skincare expert - albeit a rather elusive one - secondly by the inclusion of a rose scent, which is very natural and realistic, and thirdly by the reference to 'peaceful skin'. Who wouldn't want their skin to be at peace, even if the rest of me struggles to sleep past 5am because of the kitten pummelling my head. Plus my skin really deserves to be at peace after 40 years of such sustained self-abuse.
The feel on my skin of the Super Facialist cream is luxurious, yet light and 'moist'. It smells quite lovely - the rose scent has that faintly metallic twang reminiscent of niche perfumes showcasing the note. It also leaves my skin very soft - the sort of sensation you would expect from a much more expensive product. And crucially I can put it on my eyes, which helps my whole (slightly hooded) upper eye area feel a little less taut and stretched when I wake up.
Oh, this may be one article where I read about the cream, and it mentions the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, rosehip, cucumber and willow, which together are good for hydration and elasticity. The anti-ageing ingredients are a bonus, as I say, given that I mainly rely on serums for that aspect of my nocturnal regime.
Caroline Hirons rates the Super Facialist line generally too, I see, and suspects the brand is some kind of a joint venture with Boots, limiting its appeal to UK-based readers, unfortunately. She describes it as a 'good priced range, and the products are for the most part, good'. And like my friend Gillie in the last post, Caroline Hirons is also not given to insincere blandishments. ;)
Then I also bought this, on the basis that I might get lucky with one out of the two, yet I like it just as much!:
The Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream (£13, and Sali Hughes' top budget recommendation)
Sali Hughes calls this one 'pampering and gently moisturising' and I would agree with that. The texture is denser and the colour faintly pink tinged - unless that is just the reflection off the label - with a subtle and delicate scent that I really like, and predictably couldn't possibly describe. Sali recommends it for 'all but oily skins', and I'd say it is not too rich at all for me. I guess my skin type could best be summed up as:
Combination / acne-prone / dehydrated / mature - and sometimes sensitive!
And though it might not seem that I conducted much research before lighting on these night creams, I have certainly tried and rejected a ton of such products in the past, including all sorts of less well known brands you find in T K Maxx, like Lange and Dr Lewinn, as well as the usual sub-£10 drugstore suspects from Nivea, Garnier, Boots, Aldi et al. Now I did nearly spring for the Olay Regenerist All Night Recovery Cream @ £21 odd, on the basis that I love the Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerist Serum, which I get for less than a tenner by buying bottles with Greek writing on them off Amazon. The associated night cream was also highly rated by Sali Hughes in the same article as The Body Shop one. But most of the many night creams I have tried had an annoyingly cheap / pungent scent, or were too expensive, or felt too rich or sticky or got into my eyes and stung. Which is of course precisely why I didn't wear night cream all those years...
And I have now finally decoded 'avoid contact with eye area', which may have unwittingly put me off a bunch of other possible contenders, because both the above products do in fact urge you to do this. I have decided that they are merely covering their backs, because if anyone's eye area is delicate it would be mine, and trust me when I say that these creams are extremely benign. So what the manufacturers must really mean is 'don't go sticking this in your eye per se', which is an altogether different matter, presupposing high levels of clumsiness and/or very big fingers. The creams certainly don't wander in there of their own accord.
So I would be interested to learn from readers of any more benign night cream recs you might have, ideally in the sub-£15 range (or $21.59 for readers Stateside ;) ). Therein lies the challenge I sense...