According to those in the know over at Suqqu, it is common practice in Japan to switch skincare and make-up seasonally. I’m that way inclined myself – different seasons come with different intensities of light and skincare challenges. And as most pots of product last about three months, it makes perfect sense to try something new and perhaps more suited to the weather when the opportunity presents itself.
In June, I started testing products in earnest for my summer features (keep your eyes peeled for them please – lots of skin/hair of willing and unwilling testers was slathered in the attempt to find the best on the market) and fell in love with the below. Some of them will pop up again over the course of the following months – as you may have gleaned by now, I find it very hard to keep my mouth shut about a delightful potion.
– Maybelline Dream Sun Bronzing Powder with Blush in 09 Golden Tropics, £6.49 here. I generally wear blusher with a little bronzer during warmer months. This mix of the two has really impressed me – not only are the colours suited to my skin, but they are also a bargain.
– Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, £27.50 here. Last week a friend asked me how to eliminate frizz and add moisture to her hair without weighing it down. I told her to buy this. In fact, my answer to most hair woes is always to use Elasticizer as a starting point – it is every bit as good now as it was forty years ago when it was created for Audrey Hepburn. A pre-shampoo treatment, I don’t soak my hair before applying (I despise the feeling of wet hair on my head for hours on end). Instead, I pull water through the ends of my hair with my fingers and then apply this, leaving it on for as long as is feasibly possible.
– Bumble and Bumble Seaweed Shampoo, £17 here. My hair is highlighted (read: damaged) and needs to be washed at least thrice weekly. As most shampoos either strip the moisture from my hair or weigh it down with coating ingredients, I tried this seaweed shampoo on a friend’s recommendation. She was right – it’s the answer to the problem of frequently washing hair without wanting to damage it further. N.B. this lathers slightly less than other shampoos – stick with it; the more moderate lather helps to cleanse the hair without stripping.
– Laura Mercier Longwear Creme Eye Pencil in Espresso, £17 here. I’ve had to marshall my thoughts a little on this one because I am well aware that you may rightly think an eyeliner is an eyeliner, so what makes this one special? Well, I’ve been reaching for it repeatedly because: a) it really is long-wear, not sliding or fading once on (yet it doesn’t drag the eyelid on application); b) it is just the right colour – not as harsh as black, yet still provides a proper line; c) the ‘flatness’ of this colour (no shimmer, no luminescence) means that it enhances eyes without the look of being overly made up.
– Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum, £45 here. A little tube packed with the right stuff for tired, dry eyes. As I fear the eye bloat (which overly thick creams contribute to), a serum is a natural way to rehydrate and address fine lines without augmenting puffiness. I pat two dots of this around my eyes in the evening and try to sleep on my back to wake with smooth skin around my eyes.
– Darphin Nourishing Satin Oil with Red Ginger Essential Oil, £38 here. As an avid fan of the body oil, I know which ones cut the mustard. This one really does and I look forward to smoothing it on nightly. While asleep, it cossets my skin in safflower, sesame and sweet almond oils to restore the lipid barrier. This means I wake with soft, smooth, plump skin. Expensive, but well worth the extra cost if you are as addicted to smooth skin as I.
– Nude Perfect Cleansing Oil, £28 here. When a brand as good as Nude call a product perfect, I am always eager to test. In the case of this cleansing oil, the adjective is warranted. This mineral-free oil (no clogged pores) envelopes skin then emulsifies to remove make-up extremely gently. I use it once to remove make-up and follow with a second cleanse with this oil or another cleanser to ensure my skin is clean without being stripped.
– Korres Lip Butter in Pomegranate, £8 here. Just the right mix of tint and lip-restoring balm, this buttery lip colour comes in lots of shades I use throughout the year, but my darling at the moment is the Pomegranate hue which is just bright enough to enliven a face and just subtle enough to be slicked on sans mirror.
– Rodial Super Acids X-Treme Pore Shrink Cleansing Pads, £38 here. Don’t let the quite frankly terrifying name of these put you off – these comply with my easy does it mantra on exfoliation (and using too harsh an exfoliant will lead to problems all year round, but is a real concern during the summer when stripping the skin leaves it especially vulnerable to pigmentation). I’ve been using these pre-soaked pads that deliver a blend of malic and salicylic acid to remove dead cells, absorb excess oil and pave the way for product to penetrate as my final step in my cleansing routine.
– JASON PowerSmile Whitening All Natural Toothpaste, £4.99 here. My dentist was all horror when I told him I wanted to lay off the fluoride, claiming that without it the acids that weaken teeth may go unchecked and the remineralization of areas where acid damage has occurred would be hampered.
The reason I decided to make the switch to this fluoride-free paste was due to my concern about ingesting a toxin daily (check your toothpaste packet for warnings – fluoride is indeed a nasty toxin, though unlikely to be fatal given the small doses we consume daily). I also didn’t want to be the victim of dental fluorosis (the permanent discolouration of teeth thanks to excess fluoride).
My previous attempts to get on board with organic toothpastes have been unsuccessful thanks to the dubious taste of the pastes. This one, however, is sort of like normal toothpaste – it tastes of mint and leaves teeth properly clean. I am persisting.
– Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Hand Cream, £23 here. My aversion to dry skin on my hands is almost to my detriment – if my skin feels tight, I become agitated and frustrated. As with body oils, I am therefore something of a connoisseur. This has been in my handbag since it launched. It’s scent (natural, uplifting rose), texture (lightweight, yet deeply nourishing thanks to the omega 6 content) and finish (soft, silky hands without grease) just delight me.
– Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum, £48-£68 here. Unsure of the big promises to target damaged cells, I was slightly dubious when I first applied this serum. Yes, it contains some of my favourite skincare ingredients (grape extract to help reduce discolouration, antioxidant vitamin C and a little salicylic acid to help keep skin clear), but I felt confused as to how the different ingredients would understand which cells to treat (a little more reading up cleared up my confusion – peptides are the answer).
Once on, it’s silky and acts almost like a primer on the skin – it isn’t instantly absorbed, but rather forms a fine layer on the skin that appears to plump it slightly. I thought this may aggravate my acne-prone skin but, after a month’s use, it hasn’t. It is also the serum I keep reaching for so, while I’m still unsure as to how the devil it ‘changes your skin’s future,’ it seems to have agreed with my skin and made it look healthier and happier.