This Spa Spy, like all creative geniuses, is a sensitive soul, and has the skin type to match. So when Aromatherapy Associates announced their new Inner Strength Range, specifically designed for sensitive types, I jumped at the chance to review it.
We all know that stress equals bad skin, from aging dehydration to breakouts of hives and eczema, which in turn only adds to the original stress: cue vicious circle. Environmental factors such as pollution, heat and cold don’t help. The Inner Strength Range is “designed to rebuild your natural strength and shield your skin from the effects of emotional and environmental stress.” Voila.
I have mild rosacea (redness that can feel raw and itchy) on my cheeks - especially after exercise or bouts of sobbing while striding across windswept moors - and my teenage daughter has stress related eczema breakouts.
We both tested the range to see if it eased our emotional discomfort.
While many AA products are brightly coloured, this range comes in subdued white tubes and pump bottles with pink writing and the Aromatherapy Associates stamp in gold, reflecting the gentle purity of the product. Although understated, the vessels are of a good quality and work perfectly to deliver the exact amount required.
All the products managed to smell fresh and natural without smelling of much at all, which I think is rather clever. Sometimes the mere whiff of over-perfumed unguents makes my poor hyper-anxious skin react in terror. Aromatherapy Associates are one of the few truly holistic brands to recognise the link between mind, body, skin and environment.
Inner Strength Soothing Cleansing Balm
Contains Omega-rich Ximenia and Evening Primrose Oil to support cell renewal and Camomile to minimise redness, this cleanser can be used morning and night to remove skin impurities and make-up.
The clear gel doesn’t feel heavy or greasy and smells faintly of camomile. As per the instructions, we placed a small amount in our hand to warm it up first, then applied to face and neck using circular movements, then rinsed off.
Spa Spy verdict: “I love a cleansing gel anyway rather than the more astringent lotions, and this does indeed feel more soothing than most. I had no redness and it rinsed off easily. Afterwards my skin felt smooth and calm.”
Teenage daughter verdict: “My skin doesn’t feel dry or tight which is usually does after cleansing. It has a lovely spa smell and my skin has felt softer since using it.”
Value for money: We both agreed this is a lot to spend on a cleanser – at least five times the amount – but you only need a very small amount. We have been using it for two months and still have loads left. Plus, our skin loves it so much… It’s a bit like when you’ve travelled first class and are facing the prospect of going economy. Should we upgrade? We say: yes.
Inner Strength Soothing Serum
Contains Arnica and Plant-based prebiotics and comes in a pump bottle. The serum is semi-clear and very light, like egg white. It says you only need one or two drops for the face and neck. My daughter at first treated it like a moisturiser, so I had to explain that a serum is more of a super-active undercoat. Moisturisers lock ingredients in, while serums deliver potent doses of active ingredients. They’re fast absorbing because they don’t contain moisturising lotions.
SS verdict: “I found this instantly soothing and cooling – perfect if you have chapped or sore bits. It reduced my redness and discomfort instantly and my skin drank it in. It wasn’t too oily as many serums are, but my skin still sparkled.”
TD verdict: “I’m not too sure about this one. It felt a bit tacky and dried too quickly. My skin felt a tiny bit tight after.”
Value for money: For a serum, this is pretty good value and for me the soothing coolness and lack of oiliness makes it a good buy. My daughter is not so sure, but perhaps it’s more for redness than dryness.
Inner Strength Skin Recovery Moisturiser
Contains plant based pre-biotics and cotton thistle and like the serum comes in a pump-action bottle, both clear so you can see how much you’ve used. Pre-biotics usually relate to food, but are said to be good for the skin too as they encourage the growth of probiotics (good flora for fighting acne and bad bacteria) and lower the pH balance. The cream is light and white and smells clean and natural, with no particular scent.
SS Verdict: “I prefer my moisturisers a little richer, although that might just be psychosomatic: the idea that richness equates to moisture. This does feel very light and lovely on my skin and leaves a silky sheen even though it’s not remotely oily.”
TD Verdict: “I really like this – it has really helped my eczema and has long lasting results. It makes my skin feel super smooth and not oily at all. I would happily buy this.”
Value for money: TD pointed out a little does go a long way and you do get instant results with this moisturiser. Also there is no need to reapply in the day. It isn’t cheap, but I like the idea of my daughter using natural ingredients to help ease her eczema.
Inner Strength Soothing Repair Mask
This has plant-based prebiotics, Camomile and Sodium hyaluronate from soy which locks moisture in the skin and helps minimise redness. The mask is light and creamy and smells fresh and faintly herby. It is light enough to use two or three times a week. We applied a light layer and left if to dry for 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
SS Verdict: “This feels light on the skin and instantly cooling, which is great if your skin is feeling tender. It turns clear and seems to sink in, but after ten minutes I noticed that it had dried to a very fine, powder-like layer. It came off easily after three splashes of water leaving my skin smooth and soft.”
TD Verdict: “The smell reminds me of fresh air and it feels lovely on my skin. Most masks feel heavy or tingly, but I didn’t feel this at all. After my face felt baby soft. I follow it with the moisturiser and my skin stays lovely and fresh.”
Value for money: It’s not cheap, but a little goes a long way. My daughter was more impressed than I was, as I already have a favourite mask that delivers more dramatic results. This is now hers.
We loved the feel of this range on our sensitive skins, and my daughter especially has noticed a marked improvement through regular use. I like the thought behind the product - the environmental ethics, being against animal testing - and the holistic approach. It was interesting that our favourite products were completely different, showing just how variable the umbrella term "sensitive skin" can be. If it were cheaper I'd buy the whole range, but I feel the serum was the best value for money for me and I would definitely continue using it. My daughter says she would pay for the other three because her skin loves them so much and they've lasted much longer than her normal products: proof of concentrated effectiveness.