Adventures in beauty: Cleansing beyond wipes

2015-07-10 17.50.56

The other day, my friend Becky posted on Instagram that she’d never make a beauty blogger (though she is a beauty and a blogger ho ho) as her beauty routine was essentially wipes and a cheap moisturiser, i.e. pretty low-key. Until recently, mine wasn’t far off that, either. You see, we’re both hardy northern birds, raised in Grimsby by no-nonsense families, trained to have a deep scepticism about fancy pants products and wasting our money – plus we were both blessed with decent skin, which may be the effects of eau de Humber.

But I’m trying to get more use out of my make-up, and I’m very conscious that I don’t want my skin to suffer in the process. I don’t wear make-up everyday, and I don’t intend to-I’m not that sure it’s good for my skin to do so, plus I like the feeling of not wearing any – and I’m also a lazy bugger. From time to time I’ve done the whole cleanse/tone/moisturise thing. I’ve used liquid cleansers and creamy cleansers and always got annoyed and ended up going back to wipes. However, I know that this is a cardinal sin of beauty and upon reading Sali Hughes’s book, Pretty Honest, I thought I should at least give a few of its ideas-and those I’ve been picking up from the blogosphere-a try. So this post is about what happened when I decided to try out one of the most loved products for cleansing: Lush’s Ultrabland.

Ultra-bland comes in two sizes: the big size retails for £11.50, and the small one £7.25. I went for the smaller one-although I’m sure you get less bang for your buck, I didn’t want to risk a big outlay on something I might not get on with.



Now, for those of you, like me, who don’t really know much about cleansing skin, there are lots of different types of cleansers. A cleanser is meant to get rid of your make up, as well as all those nasty impurities, bits of dirt and so on under the skin. There are loads of ways to cleanse: you can get cleansing wipes, which I’m sure were all familiar with; you can get cleansers in a bottle in a creamy form or a liquid form, and then you can get cleansers that you use with hot water and a flannel or cloth-and these come in a variety of formats too, from foaming to cream and probably loads more. There are also oil cleansers, whatever they are! And that’s before we get onto micellar water-a product that is meant to replace a cleanser and toner and is used by lots of people for make-up removal. More on that product in a future post.

Anyway, Guru Sali says that if you use a good cleanser, you shouldn’t need to use a toner or any make-up remover products such as eye make-up remover. So I thought I’d put this to the test with the Ultrabland. Ultrabland is a sort of balmy consistency, with a slightly ‘gritty’ texture, albeit more gentle than your average scrub. You have to use water and a flannel with the product – no wipes or cotton wool here. As Dame Sali thinks flannel cleansing is the only sensible option, I trust this would get a big tick from her.

Sorry for the terrible photography.  I'm working on improving it but taking selfies with my left hand and my rubbish phone is a challenge!  Am moving back to my camera rather than the phone for most things... Anyway, this is the make-up shot, but as you can see, not that much make-up to go at!

Sorry for the terrible photography. I’m working on improving it but taking selfies with my left hand and my rubbish phone is a challenge! Am moving back to my camera rather than the phone for most things… Anyway, this is the make-up shot, but as you can see, not that much make-up to go at!

The pot says that you should use a generous amount, rub it all over your skin, and wash off with the warm water and flannel. As you might imagine, my first thought was “yeah, I bet they want you to use a generous amount so you have to replace the product more often”. I put a finger in and got a small scoop of product, rubbed it thinly over my face and then wiped away with rubbing motions using a cheap flannel soaked in warm water.



For the first experiment, I had a fairly low-key look going on: Garnier BB cream; Soap ad Glory Archery brow pencil; MUR The One blush and I Heart Chocolate Eyeshadows in pale nude colours, Miss Sporty brown eyeliner and Benefit Roller Lash Mascara. Whatever lip product I’d been wearing had already disappeared.

All gone?

This was meant to be a half-and-half shot – you can see shadow on one eye if you look close – the difference was quite pronounced in person, but not on camera.

All gone?

All gone?

I was pretty impressed by what I saw, but it didn’t quite get the whole lot off.

Almost, but not quite.

Almost, but not quite.

I had to give it a wipe over with a pad soaked in micellar water-and then I thought I’d got the lot. However, later, when I went to bed, I discovered more mascara had emerged from the depths and needed a bit of extra removing.

There is eyeliner here, even if you can't see what else!

There is eyeliner here, even if you can’t see what else!

The next two challenges I set the Ultrabland were another face of make-up similar to the first, and the second one with more pronounced eye make up -including a Rimmel kohl pencil that had lasted all day with no sign of moving. These times I used a more generous finger scoop: enough to coat the whole face without spreading it too thinly.

Even more gunk...

Even more gunk…



I did a quick rush over with a micellar water -soaked cotton wool pad to see whether there was any residue, but both times it came back clear-the cleanser had done its job!

As much as it pains me to say it, this is probably a product that is worth investing in-at least if you’re somebody who uses make-up. It makes the skin feel nice, it has an inoffensive and subtle smell and it gets make-up off really effectively-better than any of my eye make up removers, wipes or micellar water. I wouldn’t use it every day-it’s not so much that it’s a problem to use, but using up a flannel each day and having to wash it is a bit of the pain in the arse, and I’m still a bit of a lazy sod. However, when I’m removing make up, for the foreseeable this is going to be my go to product. (Obviously if I’m travelling, wipes all the way!)

The biggest drawback to this product, other than the price, is the flannel aspect. I own a couple of cheap Primark flannels and bought some horrible cheapo pink ones from Superdrug that were on a three for two as well. Each flannel costs no more than a quid-I didn’t exactly want to splurge on something that was only going to get caked in make-up on a regular basis! However, the Superdrug flannels in particular are quite rough on the face, so I might invest in something a little softer (maybe Wilko’s will have something!). The roughness is not the main problem with the flannels, though. Owning only four or five flannels means you need to make sure they get through the wash pretty quickly-this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for me, as I don’t wear make-up everyday and I do a lot of laundry (a load every couple of days usually). Unfortunately, a 40° wash doesn’t seem to do much good at removing the make-up from your flannel. I suspect either a hot wash will be needed, or I will need to do some pre-washing of the flannels before sticking them in the machine. That’s not really the fuss-free lifestyle I’m after-but will see how it goes.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be testing out the value of other skin care stages to see which types of product actually make a difference and which I really don’t feel are necessary (for me. Your mileage, like your skin, may vary). However, don’t be expecting me to splurge out on fancy serums and creams and tonics at this stage-I’m starting with freebies and as cheap as possible products and moving up from there!

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