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I can’t be the only person whose morning cleansing regime involves smearing a makeup wipe hastily over my eyes and around my face before running to a lecture, can I? To me, making a special effort is when I manage to both brush my hair and do my bra up properly before leaving the house. On mornings when I do have more time, I indulge in Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser, Instant Boost Skin Tonic™, Soothing Eye Lotion, and Skin Repair Moisturiser™, but this involves being sentient in the morning, which is rare. However, in the name of student journalism, I decided to renounce makeup wipes and spend a week making, and wearing, facemasks to break my lacklustre facial cleansing habits. Secretly, I was rather excited at the prospect, as I envisaged women reclining in spas, cucumber over their eyes, with a slick of matte cream massaged into their faces.
Day one began with a little research into natural facemasks. The first article I came across promised some ‘easy’ recipes that I could make at home. My faith in the ease of their recipes dissipated quicker than my vows to wake up before 9am each day, when I discovered that they included ingredients such as kaolin clay, açai powder, polished clam shells, and bee pollen. BEE POLLEN?! Where do they think I live; Holland and Barratt?
I went in search of something more achievable, and quickly found some fruit-based recipes. Living in a house with 9 other students, there is enough decaying food in our kitchen to provide the whole of Lancashire with compost, and it didn’t take a great deal of searching in the kitchen to rescue some overripe bananas surreptitiously hiding behind an unused food processor. Following a recipe, I mixed one with lemon juice and honey until it formed a smooth, greyish paste which looked and smelled like vomit. I unsuccessfully attempted to slather it over my face, and ended up spending 15 minutes with my head reclined as sticky lumps of banana slopped off my chin and into my bra. It was an unsavoury experience, and I didn’t notice the brightening, blemish reducing qualities of the lemon juice, or much cleansing courtesy of the honey. Instead, I looked as though I had leprosy and carried around the mild aroma of baby food for the next 4 hours, and decided to try something fruit-free the next day.
One thing I don’t have a shortage of is tea, and having taken my student loan on an outing to Atkinson’s, I felt inspired to research tealeaf based facemasks (and I’d just blocked the sink with them, so couldn’t pour any more away). One beauty blogger waxed lyrical about the benefits of green tea, so I decided to give it a go. All I had to hand was the remnants of my morning pot of Atkinson’s Fiery Ginger tea, so I set about slapping the leaves onto my face. When, after 10 minutes, I had only succeeded in giving myself a ginger scented beard, I gave up, chucked the rest into the already groaning sink, and hunted down a green tea bag instead. This worked marginally better, but my skin still didn’t feel magically reformed. I’d recommend both for drinking, but leave (or rather, ‘leaf’) them off your face. Sorry.
Day three brought with it an experiment involving kiwis, lemon juice and honey. The results were comparably as disastrous as the banana incident, and while the honey that worked its way into my hair worked wonderfully as hair gel, the lemon juice ruined the kiwi, so I couldn’t even eat it. I didn’t have time to make a mask on day 4, and settled for rigorously scrubbing my face with warm water while looking longingly at the forbidden collection of wipes and bottles adorning my shelf. The following day involved a visit from The Boyfriend, and I was very concerned that he’d feel left out while I dedicated half an hour to smearing food into my face. I decided it was only fair that he join in the experience, and dug up a recipe involving olive oil, honey, sea salt, and lemon juice that would cleanse his face and moisturise his beard. To say he was impressed would be an obscene overstatement; while I applied it for him, he winced as though I were rubbing a dead puppy against his face. I, meanwhile, busied myself with applying the contents of my breakfast to my face. Honey, banana, and oatmeal do not a radiant Charlotte make. If anything, the honey just got stuck in my eyebrows, the banana once again smelt chunderous, and the oatmeal just made a mess on the carpet. Despite his protestations, my compadre looked glorious once he’d scoured the honey out of his beard, and it did make his skin lovely and soft…
By the end of the week, my skin wasn’t showing any vast signs of improvement, and I had very little faith in the power of facemasks. On a whim, I’d bought a bottle of rose water on offer in the supermarket, and my trusty friend Google managed to find a whole host of women who swore by its toning, cleansing, softening, rejuvenating, soothing properties. Mixing it with honey and yogurt, it was much easier to apply than the fruit-based masks. After 15 minutes I washed it off and then applied just the rose water as a cleanser. Almost instantly my skin felt softer, cleaner and tighter than it had done all week, and I smelt like delicate flowers, not rotting fruit – winner! While I’m looking forward to going back to my collection of lotions, potions, and wipes, I will definitely be stocking up on rose water while it’s still on offer, as it genuinely did work wonders. The banana, however, can stay in my breakfast from now on.