Time for another archive post, this time about products which tackle the delicate skin on our faces. Fresh face masks not included as they have their own category.
I should make clear that my own skin is dry, very delicate and prone to irritation, so my experiences come from that perspective. Because of this, I haven't used Herbalism
, Dark Angels
or Ocean Salt
and would be best advised not to. If you've used them, please tell me more as I'd love to include your perspectives. I'd also love more reviews of all the products from people with different skin, as I'd like to see what works best for each person.
So, here we go:9 to 5
– yes, I was one of the many Lush customers clamouring for a liquid cleanser. I appreciate the sustainable qualities of solid cleansers, but sometimes a liquid cleanser's part of the need for speed, so I was very pleased to see this appear in 2010. It's so far seemed as good as its word too, giving a light and refreshing cleanse without leaving a greasy film, and the orchid scent is very pleasing while not being too strongly floral. I'll admit, I haven't used it on heavy make-up yet, but as one of only two options for eyes, it's very nice having something a bit less formidable than Ultrabland. Well worth a try, in my opinion. 8/10.Angels On Bare Skin
– this is a great staple product, being gentle enough for delicate skins while also offering a little essential exfoliation by way of its ground almonds. It's not strongly scented but is very pleasant, and small amounts can go quite a long way. After rinsing, my skin feels pleasingly taut and soft. It can be a little fiddly not to lose bits (especially in the shower; don't try and apply it in there!), but it's undeniably effective. Great choice for those with combination skin as it tackles oil & dirt while being gentle enough not to worsen most problems. That said, if my face was particularly sore or flaky, I'd use a non-gritty product instead, probably FF or AM. 8.5/10Aqua Marina
– this is another soft fresh cleanser but it doesn't have the ground-up nuts of Angels or BdN to scrub, which is an interesting choice as this is supposed to be better for oily skin. Seems particularly pleasant when your face has been irritated and needs soothing, so good during the proto-spot phase. Probably best recommended for skin which suffers from both grease and dryness, as it really is very soft and gentle, but the downside of that is that it doesn't quite as long as some other products. Does indeed smell of its inspiration the sea, but not too strongly. 6.5/10Babyface
– only just discontinued this year (and still available Stateside), Babyface was a reasonably long-time Lush staple and one of the earlier solid cleanser bars. It's a peculiar sort of thing which seems as though it shouldn't really work (wipe on grease, remove with warm water? The physics is odd to a layperson like yours truly), but does so better than expected. It never left me with quite the wonderful soft skin that a lot of people raved about and was in fact a little heavy on the residue for my tastes; nevertheless, I can't deny that while I didn't really adore the feel after using it, it had perfectly good results. I wouldn't be going to any great lengths to acquire it but it does have its fans. 5/10Buche De Noel
– very like AOBS but with added seasonal cranberry and brandy inclusions. This is very good stuff, slightly more luxurious in quality than AOBS while no less effective. I think you can smell the booze in it quite strongly, which might be off-putting to some. A seasonal special, this is a reworking of a fresh face mask from Xmas 2009 called Santa's Rice Porridge. It seems we may see BdN return at some point, although it's very hard to be sure. That'd be a good thing, but I can't see it staying all year round as it's an obvious AOBS rival. Not the most delicate face product, somewhere in the middle, but I've had very good results. 8.5/10Coalface
– this is a strong and fairly aggressive cleansing soap designed for oily and problem skin. A good choice for flare-ups unless your skin is also dry and delicate, this tackles the problem of spots below the surface well but it isn't as gentle as many of the other products and is too vigorous for many people; Dark Angels is the loose cleanser recommended if you need something even tougher than Coalface. Good at getting off tough dirt or clearing out blackheads, I can't say I like the liquorice smell of it, although if you do then it's all good. 7/10 (2/10 for me personally).Fresh Farmacy
– if Coalface is too much for your skin, this is what you want. A wonderful product for when your skin is really unhappy, the camomile works beautifully to calm inflammation without drying your face out. I've used this successfully on many occasions when my skin's been sad. I do miss the old version, with its layer of yellow flowers on top which could be popped over a particularly bad patch to act as a poultice. However, new-look FF works just as well, as far as I can make out. Strongly recommended; the only criticism I could make would be that its scent (also used in serum bar Full Of Grace
) isn't very interesting, but that's really a good thing as highly scented products are not always the best idea when one's feeling delicate. It works fine when skin is calmer, too. 9/10Grease Lightning
– really does do what it says on the bottle. I can't say much about this one, except that it's surprisingly effective at getting rid of spots, especially those painful red bumpy proto-spots which hide under the skin and irritate. Can be slightly tricky to get the right amount out with the pump as you really don't need a lot, so be sparing. I was advised by a shop assistant that wiping the area clean with Tea Tree Toning Water before using Grease Lightning, and reapplying GL every couple of hours, was the best way to do it, and having tried that I can agree that it is effective. If you can't use the tea tree, other toners will probably do as well. Not a glamorous product, but bloody useful and not unaffordable either. 8.5/10Mask of Magnaminty
– Lush classify this as a cleanser along with their face products. I find this a bit odd and would usually class it either with the fresh face masks or with the body scrubs; still, it's here for avoidance of doubt. A *very
* enlivening mask, you can really feel the menthol tingling away when you put this on. Cheerfully fresh smell which persists even when it's been opened for a while. Good for both faces and backs, this really shouldn't be used if your skin is sore or flaky, but it's good for tired, greasy or spotty skin. Feels very nice on the body generally, and can indeed be used as a mask everywhere; try it on any rough or bumpy bits. I haven't noticed dramatic improvements in the spotty back department, but it may need to be used regularly for that and, of course, back masks are not every easy to apply to oneself. Refreshing as hell, and it keeps a lot longer than the rest of the face masks, but it's not the thing for when you're feeling delicate as it's quite robust. 6/10Queen Of Hearts
– a soft rose-scented slab, this is a good everyday facial soap. I prefer FF for really unhappy skin, as QOH is ever so slightly drying (a good thing when skin is slightly oily), but it's an excellent all-rounder which is also pretty nifty value for money, as I find a bar lasts a good long time. Sadly, it's only on Retro these days, but it's the sort of product worth making a Retro order for. Very versatile and good for most skins; if you're a rose-lover, this should make you very happy. 9/10Sweet Japanese Girl
– I always much preferred this to Babyface, which is interesting considering that Babyface was the option designed for delicate skin. SJG, while, er, tending towards slightly worrying Orientalism (it was apparently created by a Japanese designer but I'm not sure that matters), was a damn good product. The contours of its 'face' made it very easy to apply around the fiddly T-zone, while the gritty exfoliating particles reduced the level of greasy residue it left behind. It was too scratchy for make-up removal really, but performed very well on light to moderate daily dirt. I hope they bring it back but it seems unlikely. 6.5/10Ultrabland
– surprisingly excellent for removing really heavy make-up without scraping or pulling at the skin, I nevertheless find this far too heavy for everyday use. It's pretty much pure grease, but it works on the slap like magic. It also keeps an incredibly long time, so having a tub around only for occasional use is still worth it. Strongly honey-scented, though (ie unvegan) and quite tricky to get off anything else as very little dissolves it. 8.5/10 for make-up removal, 4/10 for regular use.
Have you used these or any other Lush cleansers? If so, please comment and give us your review for posterity, or post it separately. All input is good.
[NB For reasons of practicality, serum bars will be included with moisturisers, even though they're sui generis
. Hence their non-appearance here.]