Fabric of my Life.

Skincare matters.

As I enter the final year of my third decade, with the big 4-0 looming on the horizon, my appreciation for – and experimentation with – skincare is dramatically evolving. 
I spent my teens, twenties and early thirties with only one consideration when it came to my skincare routine: will this product help curb my break-outs, or exacerbate them? When you’ve had terribly spot-prone skin for more than half your life, the relief felt when finally transitioning out of that phase of your life is second to none. I always felt that when it came to traditional beauty standards – far more than achieving an illusive flat stomach ever would – having blemish-free skin (and having the courage to actually leave the house bare-faced) would revolutionise my life. I’m happy to say, I was right. 
There certainly was no miraculous overnight improvement though, my skin has been improving slowly, slowwwly over the past 3-4 years, coinciding most significantly with my move away from London’s hard water system, and around two full years into a dairy-free diet. In fact, the improvements happened so slowly that it wasn’t until I’d not had a active breakout in around eight or nine months that I actually started to consider than my skincare regime might now need an overhaul – catering not to the skin concerns I’d previously been obsessing over (namely sebum production and pore minimisation) and begin to consider ones more aligned to my skin’s current state. It’s a tricky mindset to get out of, when you’ve been focused on acne for so long. My skin was no longer oily or inflamed in places, instead I was beginning to have dry patches appear (previously unheard of!) and fine lines develop for the first time. 
My first foray into a new skincare routine began during the first lockdown of 2020; probably the first time period in my life where I went without make-up for days – even weeks – on end and really let my face breathe. I got used to seeing my ‘real face’ in the mirror and stopped feeling self-conscious being bare-faced around my boyfriend day-in day-out. Living with acne for the majority of your life has far more than a physical toll on your skin; the psychological impact is something I’m only now beginning to piece together and reflect on how much its affected every area of my life. But, back to skincare for now – I’m not quite ready to get all those emotions down on paper just yet. 
I’ve previously shared some lovely skincare brands I’d been experimenting with over the past year (both of which have now become staples in my routine) but lately have had some other wonderful PR samples sent to me for review. It’s one of the unexpected joys of having started my blog (well over a decade ago, long before influencer culture truly took hold) and I’m constantly awed that I get these opportunities to experience new products I wouldn’t otherwise have come across. Choosing new skincare products when your skin has evolved so much can be a real minefield, especially when anti-aging brands are so numerous these days and product lines can feel so complicated. On top of this, skincare pricing can be incredibly daunting, particularly when you have no idea what you really need or whether a specific product formula will be right for you. 

My (current) skin type.

So I wanted to start a series on my blog where I share some of the wonderful products I’ve been sent and give you my honest review and opinions, based on the fact I am a 39 year old white woman with fair skin (prone to sunburn), now with fairly ‘normal’ skin which was previously oily and spot-ridden. I have plenty of discolouration and under-the-surface bumps – particularly around my chin – left over from these years of hormonal breakout activity. Around my eyes I’m developing fine lines and, because I have fairly translucent undereye skin, perpetually have dark circles (no matter how well I typically sleep). I’m beginning to develop a couple of deep-ish forehead lines as well but, on the whole, do not feel that my face looks to be prematurely aging – possibly the only good thing to come from years of excessive oil production is that my skin has been typically well hydrated! I do however find my skin is a lot duller and more prone to dryness than ever before (although I wouldn’t actually call it dry), so brightening and hydrating products are probably the ones I’ve been most surprised to have integrated successfully into my routine in recent years.
If any of that resonates with you then perhaps you will find these reviews helpful, although I want to make it very clear that I am in no way a skincare expert, have no training in the field, and all thoughts and opinions expressed below are based on my personal experience only and trialed over 2 weeks – 6 months (as detailed).
[Edit: I’ve also realised over the course of writing this post that it would be advantageous to share a post of my ‘usual’ skincare routine and the products I regularly reach for as a comparison, so will get that sorted pronto and will link here.]


I’m going to start with the most affordable product range I’ve been testing recently which, I’ll be honest, is not something I would ever have picked up myself. Despite the huge section dedicated to beauty in my local supermarket (which happens to be a Sainsbury’s) its not an area I’ve ever explored because – and I’m aware just how snobby it sounds – how good can supermarket beauty ranges actually be?
So when Sainsbury’s sent me a selection of their My Skin Matters products as part of their Orange Circle influencer outreach for summer 2022 I was skeptical to say the least. I’ve had years of conditioning that buying ‘cheaper’ skincare products in Boots led my skin to break out, while the only brands I found ‘worked’ (i.e. didn’t make my acne much worse) were the pricier department store brands, which led to the common misconception that more expensive equals better quality. Often true, of course, but not always and depends very much on your skin type and concerns.
I’ve been testing the My Skin Matters Exfoliating Facial Toner* (£3.50), Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser with Vitamin C* (£4.00) and Brightening Day Cream with SPF15 and Vitamin C* (£4.00) for a few weeks and must say I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The creamy hot cloth cleanser has been formulated with vitamin C, extracts of acai and goji berry, along with cocoa butter, smells very citrusy out of the bottle (if a little synthetic) and melts nicely onto the skin. It comes with a muslin cloth to help remove make-up and impurities, which for the price is a fantastic addition, although I would say I found the cloth to be a little starchy and rough to begin with when I pulled it over my skin. After a few uses though, it softened up, but is naturally not on a par with other (more expensive) cloths I’ve used before. The cleanser certainly removed all my make-up with ease (fyi, I don’t wear much on a daily basis anymore) and my skin did feel cleansed and refreshed after use – although not as much as when using my usual (pricier) cleanser.
The toner, which contains 5% glycolic acid, doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight but pleasantly refreshed, albeit a little bit tacky to the touch rather than softer and smoother as promised. The brightening day cream is my favourite of the trio, with great consistency and blend, plus a lovely scent. My skin certainly feels soft and smooth after use and, while I can’t speak to its effectiveness since I tend to use a separate (higher) SPF on my face most days, think that its incredible value to have SPF15 built in to such an affordable product.
Would I purchase these products myself? Probably not currently, since I feel formulations I already use are better quality and have a more pronounced effect on more skin, but if I ever needed to cut my monthly budget for skincare products then the My Skin Matters range is certainly one I would consider. My skin didn’t react badly to any of these products, and I feel that the day cream in particular enhanced my skin quality and felt light and fresh enough to wear daily. Aside from the scent though, I’m not sure how active any Vitamin C might be in the formulations and certainly can’t say my skin felt particularly brighter after use.


In comparison, the Obagi Medical Professional-C™ Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask* I’ve been testing over the past several months is a far pricier product (RRP £87.00).
This multifunctioning facial scrub and mask is designed to “deliver a powerful boost of vitamin C to the skin, which reduces hyperpigmentation, fine lines and brightens the complexion, giving you a radiant glow.” Out of the box, it felt like a daunting product to use; a very thick – almost solid – consistency that needs to be scraped out quite forcibly of the jar and warmed between your fingertips (I found the plastic spatula provided wasn’t strong enough) before being patted and gently pulled over your (damp) skin to spread into a thin even layer.
You’re advised to leave it on for 10-15 minutes and during this time I found my skin becoming quite warm and experiencing a mild tingling sensation, as had been indicated might happen on the packaging. I rinsed off the mask after 10 minutes the first time I used it, feeling concerned that my skin might be reacting badly, and found my face to be quite red and blotchy in places and feeling very tight. Within 15 minutes though, both the tightness and blotchiness had dissipated and my skin actually did feel both brighter and smoother, leaving me feeling pretty impressed.
It’s advised that you use this mask 2 to 3 times weekly but I’ve instead been using it just once a week for the past four months, and have found that each time my skin reacts less and less during and after the process, but still retains that brighter look and feel afterwards.
Would I purchase this product myself? I probably would, if it were a little cheaper, as I’m usually loathe to spend more than £50 on a single skincare product – even if it lasts a long time. I’m still not a huge fan of the consistency and find application to be a little clunky and cumbersome given how difficult the mask is to spread evenly on my skin. However, the results are definitely noticable in reducing hyperpigmentation and brightening my skin. I’ve not really found there to be too much effect on fine lines though, however on me these are most noticable around my eyes and I’ve opted not to use this product too close to my eyes because the consistency feels too heavy for such a delicate area.

Carol Joy

I’d not heard of Carol Joy London before I was sent this trio of products, and was impressed to discover that their products are used in some of most prestigious spas and exclusive destinations worldwide. Collagen is a beauty buzzword just now – and for good reason – and something I’ve been keen to incorporate into my routine now that I’m about to hit my forties, so I was delighted to be sent the Carol Joy London Lifting Mask* (£75.00), Collagen Eye Masks* (£80.00/pack of 4) and Pure Collagen Spray* (£100) to review recently.
The Lifting Mask is another product designed to leave skin brighter, firmer and silky-soft, infused with kaolin and rice starch – both known for their ability to control oil and soothe inflammation – to help re-balance and condition skin. It has a light, mousse-like texture and glides onto skin easily to form a thin layer that tightens over the course of ten minutes, without making skin feel too taut or uncomfortable. After removing using a warm flannel my skin felt smoother and the texture more even, particularly around my chin area where most of my imperfections are. There was no obvious reaction on my skin – no blotching or tingling – and I felt looking in the mirror that my skin had a more obvious ‘glow’ to it – pretty impressive! Recommended for use twice weekly I’ve been following this regime for the past month and continue to feel like its making a positive impact on my complexion; softer and more radiant, although I wouldn’t say especially firmer than before. It’s certainly a product I’ll use right through to the end of the jar.
The Collagen Eye Masks were a product I was especially keen to try, given how problematic I’m beginning to find the thin, almost translucent, skin under my eyes becoming. Now available in handy single packs (£25.00), these eye masks are described as “perfect, portable pick-me-up[s].. clinically proven to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.. [and].. visibly boost brightness, restore elasticity, and banish signs of fatigue.” A bold claim if ever I heard one!
You’re supposed to squeeze the liquid chamber to release the Hyaluronic Acid solution and infuse the eye masks in the adjacent chamber, but I found this process to be very fiddly and cumbersome – in the end I just pulled back the film covering the two chambers and gently tipped the liquid across the bridge to wet the masks. Once saturated, they were then super simple to apply to my undereyes, since the masks were very thin and flexible, unlike some I’ve used in the past. They also stayed put throughout the fifteen minutes of the treatment as I got on with my day (they advise sitting back to relax with the masks on, which would definitely be preferable, but sometimes you don’t quite have the time to spare!). Upon removal, I found that the cross-hatched texture of the masks had imprinted upon my delicate undereye area ever so slightly, but thankfully this effect didn’t last long. After gently pressing in any residual liquid I found my undereyes to appear a touch firmer and my fine lines slightly less pronounced. I also then found that my undereye concealer blended in easier, and didn’t crease as noticably into the lines.
The Pure Collagen Spray is a product I’ve found to be both highly useful and completely ridiculous. Described as a ‘handbag essential’ to be sprayed ‘liberally’, it feels like a product that offers the same refreshing effect of traditional facial sprays – cooling, reviving etc – but I really can’t say I’ve seen any of the obvious benefits that the collagen promises to deliver. I’ve kept it on my desk for regular spritzes throughout the day but rather than smoothing and plumping I’ve just found it leaves my face either feeling cool but sticky or, if I spray a little less, not much different at all. I don’t know if that’s just me – as I’ve never really found myself getting along with face sprays – but honestly, aside from feeling slightly refreshed after spraying I’ve not been very impressed with this product.
Would I purchase these products myself?  The Collagen Eye Masks I can see myself re-purchasing for use before a special occasion, but are far too pricy for me to be investing in for regular use sadly. The Lifting Mask I liked as well but since it doesn’t seem to firm my skin, only soften and brighten, I believe I already have face masks which perform that job just as well, and are more afforable for repurchase. As will probably be pretty obvious, I won’t be investing £100 in another can of the Collagen Spray.


Australian brand Alpha H is one I was introduced to through PR gifting last year and have since become a repeat purchaser of, so it was lovely to be sent a sample of one of their newer products, the Hyaluronic 8 Serum* (£38.00), earlier this year. This concentrated serum has been formulated with eight potent ingredients to provide intense, instant, and long-lasting hydration. You apply 2-3 drops each morning to cleansed skin, followed with your preferred daily moisturiser. According to the blurb, the “multi-weighted forms of Hyaluronic Acid ‘flash’ fill to reduce the appearance of fine lines and enhance overall radiance [while].. Primalhyal Ultrafiller binds moisture to plump and protect existing collagen stores.”
I’ve found the serum to be super lightweight and easy to spread, melting easily into my skin without leaving any oily residue. In the past four weeks I’ve been using the product, I’ve found it to be a really lovely formulation that helps to brighten my skin and smooth out the fine lines around my mouth. It also pairs well with the brightening vitamin C daytime moisturiser I’ve been trialling recently (see above).
Would I purchase this product myself? I definitely would, however, my favourite daytime moisturiser is also inflused with hyaluronic acid and is one I intend to return to using, so I’m trying to weigh up how valuable this will be – it seems silly to be doubling up, and I worry that incorporating additional hyaluronic acid into my routine might actually be detrimental to my skin over time. It’s certainly a product I would recommend in conjunction with a different moisturiser though, perhaps a complementary one from the Alpha-H range (I’ve only used their serums to date), and I will certainly keep it in mind if I decide to trial another daily moisturiser and need to add good quality supplementary hyaluronic acid back into my routine.

Revive Collagen

I’ve mentioned I was keen to incorporate collagen into my lifestyle in a more concerted way, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to trial a 30-day supply of Revive Collagen’s Hydrolysed Marine Collagen Drink* with Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera Juice (from £33.99).
Revive Collagen uses Type 1 hydrolysed marine collagen, which is the most plentiful collagen in our bodies, and a key factor in maintaining the elasticity and firmness of skin. Naturally with stevia, sachets can be consumed directly or added to water to dilute. My advice would definitely be to dilute; out of the sachet the consistency feels particularly thick and medicinal, with a very citrus sharp aftertaste. Diluted its much more like lemon squash, and far less tart.
A daily sachet of Revive Collagen claims to be up to 20 times more powerful than typical collagen pills, since the hydrolysed collagen is already broken down for the body to absorb into the bloodstream. This leading to a reported 90-95% absorption rate, vs. 30-40% of a typical tablet. Over the course of my 30-day trial I certainly found that my skin had a smoother texture and felt more hydrated overall (especially my shins, which I usually need to consistently moisturise), while I also noticed my hair didn’t seem to be dropping at quite its usual rate (my boyfriend constantly despairs at the amount of long blonde hairs he finds across the house!). As for the lines on my face, I feel like the fine ones around my eyes might have been reduced a touch, but honestly couldn’t see an improvement in the more furrowed lines of my forehead. Perhaps this might come following a longer trial period.
My biggest gripe though is the packaging for this product: boxes within boxes, and individual collagen sachets that can only be recycled via their own scheme (of which I can find little info on the website, only mention that it exists).
Would I purchase this product myself? Despite feeling like it did make a difference to my skin and hair condition over 30 days, I’m not convinced I can fully endorse a £55/month subscription for Revive, especially given how unnecessarily bulky the packaging is and how difficult it is to recycle the sachets. The taste is definitely palatable enough (after diluting), but price-wise there seem to be several other highly-rated brands offering monthly packages that come in around £25-40, which I’d be keen to trial for comparison.
I’ll keep you posted, and perhaps do a full round-up of collagen products in a few months time – let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in!
Nb. this post contains items which have been sent to me as PR samples, with no obligation to post. I always share my opinion on gifted products (particularly skincare) after a lengthy trial period, so as to provide as honest and informed an opinion as possible. Any PR products mentioned in this post are clearly marked with an asterisk for transparency. Please note, some links are affiliate.

Fabric of my Life is reader-supported.

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you purchase an item using one of these links — at no additional cost to you. If I use affiliate links in a blog post, you’ll see an asterisk (*) next to the link to denote it. Occasionally I am gifted products, with no obligation to feature, and the brand has no editorial control or input as to how they may be featured. Any gifted products featured are denoted with a double asterisk (**). If a post is declared as a Paid Partnership then the brand has required specific (factual) product information to be included and/or specified the type and quantity of images featured. Please note, I only ever feature brands and products on my blog that I genuinely love and would purchase myself, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are always my own. You can read more about my disclosure policies here. Please note: expired links are removed periodically. If a product is no longer linked, it is no longer available. 

Share this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *