Pinned onto the board above my desk are two pieces of paper. One is covered in little-known words I find thrilling and would like to add to my vocabulary (sample exhibits: echolalia, orgulous, pugnacious, armigulous – expect me to casually toss them alongside other fancy words into a lipstick review soon).
The other is a list of forthcoming beauty launches sectioned into months. Once I’ve tested products and have decided whether they’re good or bad eggs, I mark them and add notes. September’s list couldn’t have looked more markedly different to August – my sheet is covered in ticks and words of praise, and I feel obliged to tell you about each and every one right now so you can run out and buy them pronto //
THE SCENTS / Charlotte Tilbury’s Scent of a Dream is the big ‘un here. It’s a floral chypre, which, if you don’t speak perfume, translates as a bit flowery but mega sexy – think 1930s seductress. I suspect that’s what Charlotte was going for – the bottle would be very much at home on a period dressing table next to crystal bottles filled with roses and arsenic (maybe that’s the influence of my obsession with Agatha Christie at work again…).
The other big launch couldn’t be more different – Jo Malone’s Basil & Neroli scent is fresh, tangy, modern. When I spray it, I feel cleaner and more awake. Were I going to assign one of the newbies to day and one to night, I’d go with Tilbers for the night and the Malone one during the day.
THE SKINCARE /
I’ll start with the innovation. REN Flash Hydro Boost is utterly bizarre because you use it like a face wash – smooth onto skin, add water, massage. Only then you leave it on. There is method in this madness – REN have managed to use water to your skin’s benefit (usually it meddles with the pH level slightly, hence the current vogue for acid toners). The result is the kind of thing you’d expect from something harnessing the power of water – plumpness, a more resilient barrier, hydration etc. Heed the word boost in the name – this won’t take the place of your serum, rather giving you an extra leg up in the hydration department.
Elemis Superfood Oil contains 9 plant oils that are renowned for being packed with antioxidants and fatty acids – basically, the stuff your skin needs to feel – and look – bouncy and healthy. Noteworthy is the addition of broccoli seed oil, which I’ve heard is set to become pretty big news in beauty for its high vitamin C content and calming properties.
I initially didn’t quite know what to make of Perricone MD’s PRE:Empt range because the press release was typical Perricone and read like a medical paper, which made me feel like I needed to swot up a little bit. I swotted and tested and here’s what you need to know in layman’s terms: this range is about preserving, not reversing (an approach of which I’m a huge fan). It does so with the help of patented antioxidants to ward off damage from free radicals and reduce lifestyle inflammation. As this is aimed at 20 and early—30s-somethings, tackling the effects of too much wine and too little sleep is a savvy move. There are four products – an Exfoliating Pore Refiner, Skin Perfecting Serum (my favourite), Brightening Eye Cream and Oil-Free Hydrating balm.
Sheet masks are still going strong – and are often hugely expensive. While I recommend based only on what’s good, I know lots of buys are prohibitively costly and truly try to find things that are more affordable. Garnier Moisture Bomb Tissue Mask is one such find. It’s priced at a mere £1.49 and acts like it costs at least ten times that. Containing hyaluronic acid and pomegranate extract, it will rehydrate and soothe and make skin look all glossy pre/post a big event (this is when I chuck on sheet masks).
Another brilliant buy that I’d expect to be more costly is Melvita’s Nectar Supreme Eye & Lip Contour Cream. In the cream: a blend of royal jelly, a sugar and mineral-rich nectar derived from the Kniphofia flower, and three organic honeys (skin loves honey – try it as a mask if you suffer from irritation and dryness). The sum result is a cream that draws moisture to it, soothes, increases elasticity and nourishes. Also: nice, cooling metal dispenser. Don’t forget to whizz it round your lips.
This weekend gone in the Cotswolds, I was chatting to a woman called June, who, after finding out what I did, asked about make-up. “I can’t bear to put on a primer after moisturiser and serum and my daughter tells me I have to. Do I?”, she asked. I told her that no, she didn’t – nowadays most moisturisers are primers and vice versa – and, besides, there aren’t any rules anymore with these things. If, like June, you like things to be made a little easier, let me point you in the direction of Clinique Pep Start HydroBlur Moisturizer (out tomorrow here). It normalises oil production, moisturises, calms and leaves a little blur that makes foundation slip on nicely – or not. N.B. It feels thick when you smooth it on. Give it a minute, it doesn’t sit on the surface of the skin anywhere near as much as the texture suggests initially, though if you’re keen on total weightlessness, give this a miss.
I am THRILLED by Murad’s latest. The Murad Eye Lift Firming Treatment is a new fangled version of those under eye masks I love so. The genius lies not in the formula (though that’s impressive and contains lots of plumping hyaluronic, soothing oat extract and replenishing vitamin E and zinc), but in the application. Rather than pre-soaking the pads, Murad have separated the treatment fluid and pads to give you more control over how much you use and ultimately more bang for your buck (I counted about 40 in the pack, so that’s 20 eye treatments – presuming you want your eyes to both benefit! – for £45).
If you’re keen on moisturiser, two newbies have impressed me. First, Bioderma Hydrobio Gel-Creme, which is a very lightweight option. Layered over a serum, it offers just enough of a blanket of cooling moisture to hold in moisture without greasiness throughout the day. Caudalie Resveratrol’s Face Lifting Soft Cream is a new addition to their resveratrol range and is an assiduous worker, drip feeding the skin antioxidants for hours after application and padding out furrows. I gave a pot to a friend to test out and she raved about it, saying the velvety finish meant she’d done away with foundation.