My sister’s having her first a baby. It’s my first niece or nephew (surprise babies are the best!). She’s due any minute now, and every time she moves or sighs I leap up screaming ‘are you in labour?!?!!’ Sadly, so far the answer has been ‘no’.
My big sis has always had sensitive skin, and it has become even more so during the pregnancy. Unfortunately, she is also the kind of gal who wouldn’t know her La Mer from her supermarket sorbolene (not that she cares!) and would rather spend her dollars on tending to her sustainable garden, brewing her own cider or preserves, and purchasing fresh market produce. So when I saw that the pregnancy had caused her dermatitis to flare up on her legs, and she was at a loss as to how to manage it, I took up her plight as a personal beauty challenge, did some research and gifted her a couple of essentials, which have turned out to be awesome!
In my search, I set myself strict criteria: the products must target dry and sensitive, be completely cruelty free, be free of common skin irritants (such as alcohol and lanolin), include natural ingredients, and, of course, be a total treat to use. The winners were a salt exfoliating body balm from REN, and a body hydrating cream from Dermalogica. And I threw in a little pillow spray from This Works for baby too
REN Clean Skincare Guerande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm
What they say: A gentle exfoliating body balm which removes dead cells and will leave your skin moisturised, renewed, and glowing. Trace elements from Guerande Sea Salt gently exfoliate and encourage cell renewal, while menthol from peppermint oil and polyphenols from tuscan olive oil cleanse, polish, and moisturise skin leaving it silky and toned.
What I (and my sister) say: Because this is a balm, and not a foaming ‘scrub’, it feels a lot richer and more decadent, and melts beautifully into the skin. You can use this in the shower on moist skin or, for stronger exfoliation, you can massage it into dry skin and then rinse off in the shower. Both my sister and I chose to use it prior to showering, and because it’s so densely packed with nourishing oils, and the exfoliating element is due to natural sea salt, it really gives your skin an immediate moisture boost which doesn’t wash off in the shower, and the salt just melts in when it’s job is done.
Pros: The balm was soft and rich, full of moisturising oils, and the salt crystals were fine and densely packed, so a little went a long way. The effects of the hydration and exfoliation were felt immediately – my skin was really smooth and soft, and bio-oils kept it this way all day. The softness and smoothness lasted for a few days, but to maintain my skin as well as I like to.
Cons: REN doesn’t use any artificial fragrances, which I love. This means the smell of the natural bio-extracts comes through the product, however to be honest and I wasn’t really a fan of the peppermint scent – but it was extremely mild and definitely did not deter me from using the product.
Results: So, did it suit the yummy mummy-to-be? Rich and delicious, this beauty treat ticked all the right boxes. The angry spots of dermatitis on her legs, which were normally dry and flaky were visibly smoothed after using the scrub. I found that the dry skin on the backs of my hands, and the annoying little bumps on the backs of my arms had noticeably softened after only a few uses, but to maintain the condition I reckon I’d have to use it every second day – like most scrubs, it’s not a long-lasting treatment. Nevertheless, I actually loved this product so much I’m going to get it for myself.
Dermalogica Body Hydrating Cream
What they say: Advanced body cream helps tone and smooth all skin conditions. Use after cleansing to help hydrate skin and lock in moisture. Smooth and relieve skin dryness with Lactic Acids and natural hydroxy acid extracts from Sugar Cane and Apple, as Lavender, Patchouli and Orange essential oils combine with Green Tea to help soothe and soften. Non-greasy emulsion absorbs easily and provides immediate hydration results. Formulated without artificial fragrances and colors.
What I (and my sister) say: So my sister started using this cream before she started trying the salt scrub, as we didn’t want her sensitive skin to react to too much irritation. I’d spent ages tracking down this cream, as I am a big fan of using products containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for their skin smoothing properties (I’ve found nothing works better on those stubborn bumps), but needed to find a gentle, natural version. The texture of this is more like a lotion than a cream, so it was great for the coastal climate my sister lives in, and it melts into the skin quickly, leaving no greasy/sticky residue.
Pros: Because Dermalogica products are free from irritants and artificial colours/fragrances, this stuff was soothing and super gentle on my sister’s sensitive skin. It was light and melted in quickly, so a little went a long way, and it didn’t feel heavy or cloying in the heat.
Cons: I know a lot of reviewers comment on the smell, and I have to admit that when I went to buy this stuff the scent was something that made me think twice. At first it does have a bit of a chemical undertone which can be off-putting, but I found once you smooth it on the smell disappears quickly and you only notice a vague whiff of patchouli if you care to smoosh your nose against your skin and inhale. Another ‘con’ which isn’t really a con at all, but is worth mentioning, is that I wouldn’t exactly market this product as a ‘body hydrating cream’. It is more of a skin smoothing lotion. It does contain some nourishing oils which definitely help to soften and moisturise the skin, however if you’re looking for a moisture boost I’d recommend something a bit richer, and keep this baby for it’s smoothing properties.
Results: Wham, bam, thank you-ma’am, this bottle of blue and white works wonders! So my sister started using it on just one section of her dermatitis to see if it made a difference, and in a couple of weeks the redness in that section was almost gone, and it looked like the dermatitis was disappearing. She used it on the rest of her legs and her skin tone and texture improved dramatically – I know that sounds like some marketing phrase but it’s true!
This Works Baby Sleep Pillow Spray
What they say: A safety approved ultra gentle version of our award-winning deep sleep pillow spray to help lull your baby into a peaceful sleep. Expertly blended with relaxing and calming lavender, vetiver, and camomile. Free from parabens, phthalates, sulphates, and synthetic fragrance.
What I (and my sister) say: I’m a big fan of the This Works sleep range as I find it hard to settle at night, and am hugely influenced by scent. I love that this product is specially formulated to be gentle and natural enough for babies. The fragrance is soft and subtle, without disappearing into the sheets immediately. A couple of sprays is enough to just lightly scent the air and make you relaxed.
Results: Well my sister has finally given birth to her beautiful little boy, and like all newborns his sleeping patterns are still being established. She’s just started using the pillow spray, so who knows what difference it’s making at this stage! It does smell delicious though I think a lot of these products work as the user comes to associate the fragrance with rest and relaxation (though of course, certain scents have been proven to be more naturally relaxing than others), so I think that with continued use this little pillow spray will be a lovely little tool for relaxing both mummy and baby.