Bumper post this is: as per usual, January and February have been busy both in the beauty world and in my world, in no small part because I’m in a full time gig at the moment as the Acting Beauty Editor at InStyle and have accordingly not had quite as much time to write my findings here. Rest assured that though I’ve been quiet, I’ve still be slathering stuff like there’s no tomorrow to unearth the best buys. Here’s a big fat armful of those I think are worth your knowing about //
Face Stuff / In the morning, I love a foaming cleanser – but not one that strips the skin. Elemis Gentle Foaming Facial Wash is precisely that, containing oils and acids to avoid stripping and to help preserve the acid mantle during the cleansing process. It also makes for a darn good second cleanse in the evening if that’s the way you like to go.
Want more exfoliation and live in the big smoke? Grab Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant – it’s pretty much like Daily Microfoliant in the way it feels and in terms of the extent of exfoliating action, but with the inclusion of charcoal powder to help attract impurities. While I rate this one, I don’t think it should be used daily – I’d crack it out if you’ve had a particularly long day or cycle through the city and want to give your skin a bit of a deeper cleanse. Three times a week is plenty.
On not damaging the barrier of skin, Vichy Idealia Peeling is an interesting number that comes in at a bargain per ml compared with its peers. Containing glycolic acid, thermal water and antioxidants, this is designed to be swiped on after cleansing and chased with your chosen skincare. As a result of using it, skin should become brighter, more even and less prone to breakouts. Don’t forget your neck and chest, too.
In other news, Merumaya Retinol Resurfacing Treatment is a great newbie, combining Vitamin A Palmitate (which becomes retinol once absorbed by the skin and is considered to be the most gentle form by many experts) with hydrating and soothing ingredients. This attention to sensitivity is becoming more and more common now – as the efficacy of retinol in fighting ageing is proven time and again, formulators are looking for ways to stop it from aggravating the skin. I’m using this every other night and my fairly sensitive skin has only peeled slightly around my nose (common in early use of retinol – reduce frequency of use if you find this distressing, though in most cases peeling and reacting only continues for a definite period while skin adjusts) and looks healthier.
Clarins rarely put a foot wrong in skincare and their new Multi-Active Eye is no exception – it’s a lightweight, refreshing eye moisturiser with a cool metal head that can be used to smooth the product on should you wish (I generally don’t bother as I’m always hurrying around come the morning and the moisturiser is perfectly effective without the head). This won’t undo wrinkles, nor will it moisturise the most parched of skins, but if you’ve ‘normal’ skin with fine lines, this is a great morning option.
Body Stuff /
I wasn’t overly impressed by Aesop’s Redemption Body Scrub when I first squeezed it out – it is gel-like in consistency and in my experience this means a less than scrubby scrub. I was wrong; in the gel are fine particles of pumice and bamboo stems and they offer a good and proper exfoliation. Thanks to the fir and pine essential oils, this is also rather refreshing – so much so that my advice would be to save this for summer or for use post-gym when wanting to cool down.
Another surprise: & Other Stories Sardonyx Fire Perfume Oil. While & Other Stories usually get things right, I am a complete and utter perfume snob, and find myself shying away from scents made by large retailers, often looking for more niche finds. I was, again, hugely wrong: this is sweet, yes, but it has tones, intrigue. It is a nice indulgence, and I treat it as such, rolling it on when I want a sugary, warming fix of scent.
Jo Malone = the perfect present. Jo Malone soaps = moreso. Jo Malone soaps wrapped in artist Michael Angove’s prints = oh, stop. I’ll be buying a few of these to have on hand as emergency pressies. While on soap in general, it is enjoying a much-deserved resurgence at the moment so try lathering up with one if you haven’t in a while. It’s quite satisfying indeed.
Make-Up Newbies /
DHC are beloved by make-up artists the world over, and their Double Wear Mascara is always in my bridal make-up kit for two reasons: the wand is tiny so you can get right into the roots, and it only comes off with water and pressure, so oil, sweat and tears (without rubbing) won’t make it slide around. Their new Gel Pencil Eyeliner EX has also made it into my kit as it has the long wear thing down and truly doesn’t budge without an oily make-up remover, though I’d use it for tight lining (along the waterline of the upper lashes) rather than in lieu of a flicky eyeliner as it dries quickly and is fairly hard so makes tracing lines tricky.
The Clinique Crayola collaboration is certainly fun and absolutely has the beauty industry talking, but they’re essentially just the original chubby sticks clothed in a slightly snazzier outfit. Which is not to say they’re not good – chubby sticks are a fantastically quick and foolproof way to add a burst of colour – but rather that the frenzy has been as a result of the novelty and not because the sticks are different to the good old chubbys in performance. You can continue to expect a light, sheer, sheeny wash of colour and some conditioning and moisturising on behalf of the shea butter content.
Max Factor Universal Lip Liner is just a good egg and something I’d recommend for everyone who wears lipstick and struggles to get the outer line just so. It’s a clear lip liner (so will work with any shade) that basically helps to form a seal around the outside of lips to avoid feathering, and will also help with creating a modern lipstick look. For this, apply lipstick to the centre of your lips (don’t swipe the bullet around the outside) and press lips together repeatedly to spread the colour. Next, take this pencil and run it around the outside. The idea is to avoid a heavy line and to instead have the colour graduate from intense at the centre to slightly less so at the edges.
The Primers /
Deserving of their own category, primers are continuing to innovate to push beyond just prepping skin for foundation. Two new buys stand out. DHC Quick Film Smoother, which is a gel/cream that contains a host of ingredients that firm but, crucially, don’t make skin feel tight. I use it when I’m tired and my face feels baggy (this is a new phenomenon I’m exceedingly uncomfortable with) and find it definitely makes things feel smoother and a little more taut.
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Radiance is a different beast, containing hyaluronic acid for a moisture fix, along with tiny bronze pearls to add radiance. I’ve not previously been impressed with this genre of primer, but the addition of skincare ingredients stops this from rendering the skin metallic as so many other ‘glow’ primers do and really helps to bestow luminosity. It is also a great dupe for Tom Ford’s Complexion Enhancing Primers.
Hair Stuff /
Most exciting in this category is the launch of EVERPro Beauty into Superdrug. Here’s what you need to know about them: 1) They make two kinds of colour product – BACK2BLONDE, which conceals dark roots, and ZERO GREY, which is designed to conceal greyness. 2) Each of the two ranges comes in two formats – a spray, which you just mist on roots/patches you want to colour, and a powder with a puff and mirror, which makes precision easy, and is ideal to sling in a handbag for touch ups. 3) None of the products will smudge or run if you’re caught in, say, the rain as they are broken down only by shampoo. 4) They’ve included a clever colour technology that means the three colour options contained in each category covers around 3 shades of hair, so just buy the one closest to your hair colour.
Bb Color Sticks are also a great on-the-go way to touch up dark or grey roots. The crayons are easy to use – just swipe on hair where needed, blend if you’d like to, and get on with your day – there’s a sealant tech in the sticks that stops them from budging until shampooed. They come in five colour options.
Last, but absolutely not least, is Toni & Guy’s new Smooth Definition Mask (available here soon). Packed with keratin to boost and strengthen hair’s health, this is a wunderkind because it only needs to be on for 3-5 minutes, which – unlike masks requiring 20+ minutes – is perfectly manageable when reclining in a bath. They say to use it weekly, but I’ve been popping a scoop on twice weekly and my hair is definitely looking smoother with fewer flyaways.