It’s “neutrals with a hint of pink time”! Yes, that’s right: whilst the whole world of social media experiments with the mandatory seasonal shades of russet and bronze, I’m still stuck in bronzer mode with a little bit of pretty pink to eradicate signs of tiredness and add a bit of youthful flush into the mix.
Here’s what I’m using on my face at the moment; the hero products are the recently rediscovered Dior Forever Skin Glow foundation and the liquid blush from Rare Beauty, which seems to be totally sold out. Some potential alternatives listed below.
Let’s get cracking – if you’d like to watch all of the products in action (and full technicolour) then scroll to the bottom of the page and click play on the video screen.
Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation
They’ve relaunched this foundation a few different times since I first reviewed it here in May 2013. It started off as a velvet finish face base and then it became two different foundations altogether, one with a matte finish and one with a glowier finish. The matte (simply called Forever) is absolutely brilliant for staying power and a massively perfected finish, the sort that looks airbrushed. The Skin Glow looks slightly more natural and real. Flexible.
I use shade 2N but actually it looks better on me mixed with a bit of 2.5N to warm things up. In the depths of winter I’ll probably be 2N proper.
I feel as though you have to work quite quickly with this foundation, it sets fast and then sticks around until you have a proper cleanse with a flannel. The coverage is medium-to-full and it’s easily buildable – I can go in with another little tapped-on layer under the eyes and around the nose and it looks seamless.
Find Dior Forever Skin Glow here* – at Escentual it always seems to be a load cheaper than elsewhere. There’s a reason for this and I can’t remember it, but whatever: it makes it just a little more appealing, price-wise, when it’s £38.25 rather than £45.
Armani Power Fabric Concealer
This concealer deserves its own post; I use it constantly and it’s my default option. It gives a really natural, lightweight look, as though the product melds with the skin and moves with it, but the coverage is still very good. It’s a clever product in that it disguises and detracts without forming a thick, opaque layer.
You still see some of the skin beneath but it makes everything vastly improved. If you tend to wear lighter, sheerer bases and a heavy concealer on top looks odd then this is the product for you. If you can stretch to it. I’d say it’s a good investment if you struggle with concealers that sit in fine lines or look cakey – this blends in quickly and stays looking fresh all day.
You can find Power Fabric online here* – I use shade 5, for reference.
Charlotte Tilbury Cream Bronzer
Is actually called Beautiful Skin Bronzer but I’m lazy. This is very similar to Chanel’s big cream bronzer in the flat jar but comes in more shades and is marginally less orange-toned so slightly more foolproof. By buffing this into freshly-applied foundation you can create a sunkissed look that’s very believable and subtle or build up the colour for a more dramatic look.
It’s excellent stuff. Priced to reflect that. I’ve just realised that this video is erring on the side of pure luxury which wasn’t intentional! Find the cream bronzer here*, I use shade 1.
Rare Beauty Liquid Blush
This is sold out everywhere by the looks of it, but give this link* a try anyway in case you’re reading in a time of good stock! I use Hope, a lovely pink shade and you can see from the video that the amount you need to use each time is minuscule. Truly. I doubt I’ll ever use this up, unless I live to one hundred and twenty.
Good alternatives, though they’re cream rather than liquid; the cream blush from Rare Beauty (same brand, different texture) and also the cream blushes from Trinny London and Beauty Pie. They are all delicious – I apply with a brush for these, too, for a really flawless sort of effect.
If you’re lucky enough to get hold of the liquid blush I use in the video then just dap a dot on each cheek and blend lightly with a fluffy brush rather than a firmer, kabuki one. You don’t want to upset all the makeup beneath the blush, things can get alarmingly patchy very quickly…
NARS Voyageur Palette
This is one of my most-used eye palettes. Possibly the most-used if you exclude the Becca one that’s now discontinued. As in the entire brand, not just the palette. NARS Voyageur in Suede has precisely the shades I want to use on a daily basis and nothing else at all. It’s small and compact and I can bung it in a handbag if I need to an it even slides into one of those stupid small purse-on-a-string bags that are all the rage for people who seemingly never need to cart about an emergency Tampax, car keys or, I don’t know, money.
Find the palatte here* – and if you tap “Voyageur” into the search box then you’ll see plenty of videos where I’m using it. The big fat brush I use to apply the shimmery peach-beige shadow is the Bobbi Brown Blender, here* and the flatter, rounded one for the “fake eyeliner” trick that I do is a Sigma E55 brush, here*.
Brows and Lashes
Nearly there! Brows are groomed and thickened with the perennial favourite, Benefit’s Gimme Brow in shade 1, here*. Lashes are lengthened and volumised with L’Oreal’s Telescopic False Lash mascara (here*) which is as good as any of the luxury offerings out there. If you have fine, flat lashes and big brushes do you no favours then honestly, get involved with the Telescopic. I prefer the one in the matte gold tube (currently seven-ish quid here*) for everyday use but it was in my car and couldn’t be bothered to go and get it.
Clinique Lip Pop
Clinique’s lipsticks are genuinely some of the very best out there. They combine a lip primer to smooth and fill with a beautiful, punchy dose of colour and you can get matte finishes or shinier ones. Peony is, in my opinion, the perfect pretty pink. At time of writing Clinique have these lipsticks for sale at around £17 – find them here*. I doubt anyone would regret the purchase of one of these – they feel like a luxury buy but don’t have the luxury price tag.L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara*: https://amzn.to/3LzaLFW
Some beauty shopping scenarios for you, tick all that apply:
– you’re in need of a skincare restock but don’t know where to begin
– you’ve saved up for a beauty treat but want something that truly delivers on results
– you’re sad that summer is coming to an end and desperate to prolong your sunkissed glow
– you love my Space NK recommendations but would fancy 20% off them, thanks very much
If one or more of the above statements apply to you then fret no more, for I have you covered with my seriously good edit of Ten Seriously Good Space NK Beauty Products. And when I say seriously good, I mean it. These are the products I’ve tested over and over again and that are as near to beauty perfection as you can feasibly get. They’re failsafe, foolproof options that really, truly work and all of them are have become key items in my routine.
So there’s that, the seriously good product edit, and then there’s the fact that Space NK are giving you 20% off anything in it with the code RUTH20. So whether you’re after a makeup bag freshen-up or something new to add into your skincare routine I can almost guarantee you’ll find inspiration here. From the budget cleanser that blows away the rest to a bronzing duo that creates instant, easy glamour, it’s likely you’ll already have a favourite on this list.
It’s British Beauty Week and the theme is The Power of Beauty; all of the products I’ve picked here have that near-magical ability to make you feel suddenly more pulled-together and with it. And God knows that’s what I need, post-summer holidays!
Let’s start with some skincare staples that won’t break the bank, for those who’d like to add something useful and hardworking to their line-up: a great budget cleanser that suits all skin types and a swipe-and-leave exfoliant that’s brilliant for spot-prone skin:
The Ordinary: Squalane Cleanser
If ever there was a “budget” beauty product to buy again and again then this would be it. The texture of the Squalane Cleanser from The Ordinary is beautiful; it’s light and slippery to apply, transforms to an oil for massaging in and breaking down makeup and then rinses off clean. It’s suitable for all skin types – won’t strip away oils, won’t leave a greasy residue – and it’s packaged in a lightweight, travel-friendly tube.
The Squalane in the formula helps to prevent drying, you can use it around and over the eyes and for all of this, it’s five pounds fifty. I’d say ask any questions below but you’d be wasting valuable time because this stuff sells out again and again. Catch it while you can!
Squalane Cleanser is usually £5.50 but is £4.40 with my discount code here
Paula’s Choice: Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve recommended this spot-busting exfoliant over the years. Dozens. It’s an all-time favourite product because it works so well and works in an area of skin concern that typically causes people a lot of misery and bother. Spots, breakouts, pimples, acne. This liquid uses salicylic acid to help clear out pores and is incredible on congested, bumpy skin. It’s easy to use – just wipe over and leave – and simple to incorporate into a skincare routine. Cleanse (use a non-stripping cleanser, like the Squalane one above), Liquid Exfoliant and then a lightweight moisturiser.
The Paula’s Choice 2% BHA has been a staple in my skincare routine for almost ten years: I use it during my PMT week when I often get little hormonal flare-ups or bumps beneath the skin. I love the Skin Perfecting Exfoliant because it’s as gentle as it is effective; it decongests but at the same time it feels soothing and calming. Just what you need on temperamental skin.
Skin Perfecting 2% BHA costs from £8.80 with my RUTH20 discount here (usually starts at £11)
I’ll follow the “skincare staples that don’t break the bank” with a couple of very indulgent treats; an all-in-one moisturiser that sees quick results and a spray-on spa that’s very addictive. Let’s start with the spa:
Emma Hardie: Plump and Glow Hydrating Mist
I’m not a big user of mists, as a rule. It’s a step I cannot fathom. I hate the feeling of being spritzed in the face – it still surprises me even though I’m the one pulling the trigger – and I worry that it’ll get in my hairline.
If there’s one mist I can get on board with and on a very regular basis (think multiple times a day, it’s addictive) then it’s Emma Hardie’s Plump and Glow. Dear Lord this smells incredible. What an absolute treat. Every little misting makes you feel as though you’re entering a parallel universe, one of ultimate luxury and decadence. Spritz on a hot, sweaty day, when you’ve been staring at your laptop for hours and your entire face hurts, and instantly you’re in a swanky spa.
Travelling and want something that will continuously lift your spirits and distract you from the distant odour of the Easyjet warmed foods trolley? Plump and Glow is where it’s at. I’m not even joking. You could be crossing a sulphurous wasteland on the back of a flatulent donkey and this stuff would still make you feel as though you’re being pampered in a Harley Street treatment room by a whisper-voiced, soft-handed aesthetician.
And that’s not even the good part: this is a mist that actually does something. It properly works! You know the slight glossing that you get from some very expensive and very bouncily-hydrating moisturisers? The feeling that your skin has been sort of laminated and the hydration sealed in? This does that. It’s epic. And everyone I’ve recommended it to has commented to the same effect.
Yes it’s very much a luxury item, but if you’re in need of a treat and a pick-me-up then this is one that’ll satisfy multiple times a day. Multiple times an hour, even. It’s amazing I get any work done at all…
Emma Hardie Pump and Glow Hydrating Mist is £33.60 with my discount here (usually £42)
Kate Somerville: Retinol Vitamin C Moisturiser
I’m sometimes asked to recommend an “investment” night cream by friends and followers, something a bit pricier that will feel like a luxury and tick all of the boxes when it comes to results. They want to up their game when it comes to their skincare routine and they want to spend a little more on a “do it all” moisturiser that’s effective, potent and easy to use.
Some people don’t want to have to remember to use a separate serum, and if you start talking to them about antioxidants and retinoids and routines that change from night to night, they completely shut down. (Or, if they’re my friends – you know who you are! – then they laugh.) Because they have no interest in the science or the ingredients, they just want something that works and that works well. So that they can splodge it on at night and then forget all about it.
Well this is one of those creams: Kate Somerville’s Retinol Vitamin C Moisturiser. It’s really powerful stuff (I started off by using this once every three nights and eventually got it to every other night…go easy!) and it satisfies just about every skincare concern. Vitamin C for brightness and for its antioxidant action (helping to protect the skin) and retinol for just about everything else. Lines. Wrinkles. Pigmentation. Loss of firmness. Adult acne. It’s a one-stop solution if you want to look less rumpled and tired – it’s expensive, but the results are really excellent.
Quite often with a powerful retinoid I have to use a separate moisturiser a little while afterwards: not so with this. And I wouldn’t bother with a serum beforehand either, it really is the entire package if you want it to be.
If you’re prepared to pay more for a cream that needs no thought or effort but that still steamrollers your face for you night after night then this is it. I saw a marked difference in brightness and firmness within weeks of using this and the longer-term results are very impressive.
Kate Somerville Retinol Vitamin C is £67.20 (usually £84) here
Perfume is such a personal thing, it would be nigh on impossible to find one that absolutely everyone loves. You’d have to be mad to tell people that a certain scent is universally amazing, but I’m here to tell you just that. About not one, but two different fragrances. Both of them teetering on that sexy unisex ledge, both at once fresh yet musky, clean yet exotic. Feel free to berate me if you disagree…
Jo Loves: Pink Vetiver Fragrance
How to describe Pink Vetiver? Cleanly sexual. I present to you the mental image of a very handsome man in a smart shirt but with the sleeves rolled up and the collar undone. Someone very capable looking (for some reason I always think of a secret agent or a hit man, terrible as I’m sure that is, blame it on the movies) and he is very well-groomed, expensively so, but then slightly relaxed and undone.
Pink Vetiver is crisp, clean cotton and it’s powdery amber with some spice and some warmth, and for me it’s just the softer side of a sexy masculine scent. When I wear it I feel sexy because it has hints of the undone sexy man. But I don’t feel as though I smell like a sexy man. If that makes sense.
The official line is that it has “top notes of pink crushed peppercorn, cardamom and juniper berries and base notes of amber and vetiver. Cumin, ginger and nutmeg inject spicy heat into the enticing aroma.”
You can find Pink Vetiver here – it’s usually £75 for 50ml but £60 with my RUTH20 discount.
Space NK: Rewild Body Wash
Let us continue our brief delve into my treasure chest of glorious scents with one that won’t break the bank: Space NK’s own brand body wash in Rewild. Where did they find the person who put together this fragrance? Because they should hang on tight. I’d wear this as a perfume any day of the week. It again comes under the sexy-man-undone umbrella in that it’s relatively clean and pleasing but with a quite exotic, carnal undertone. Put it this way: I compiled a list of the top five things I’ve ever smelled on Mr AMR (to be published soon) and this was in the top three.
Apparently the notes are mandarin, coconut and sandalwood but I’d say that the notes were:
Top: Beach skin
Middle: James Bond’s still-damp towel
Base: Wooden deck of discrete billionaire’s speedboat
The perfect unisex body wash, this one. And it’s non-drying. And you can refill the 100% recyclable bottles in selected Space NK stores, one of which is the Bath store which pleases me greatly. There’s very little not to love about Rewild.
Find it here – it’s £11.20 with my discount, usually £14
This category is my largest so you can tell where my brain is at. I’m already grieving the summer, one that was so hot and dry, one that was almost entirely swallowed up by continuing home renovations but that nevertheless brought me great joy.
I’m all about prolonging the sunkissed summer glow and here are my failsafe favourites for making that happen. The gradual tan that makes your face look as though it’s on permanent holiday, the supermodel bronzer that adds instant glitz and the world’s most perfectly-formed blush.
Charlotte Tilbury: Filmstar Bronze & Glow
I knew I wanted at least one Tilbury bronzer in this edit and I’ve gone for the option that gives the most dramatic results. Though I am borderline fanatical about the latest cream bronzer launch, it’s the Filmstar Bronze & Glow that is the most transformative, creating supermodel cheekbones and an expensive glow. The bronzer part of this duo is flat and matte and brilliant for easy contouring and the golden highlighter gives just the right amount of glitz. It’s an investment, but few makeup products can pull instant glamour out of the bag like this one.
Filmstar Bronze & Glow is £39.20 after my discount (usually £49), find it here.
Tan-Luxe: The Creme
True story: I was the very first person to buy this at the Space NK store in Bath. I tried it at a friend’s house (not naming any names, but suffice to say she has every product in the world in her bathroom) on a Sunday evening and went to Space NK first thing on the Monday to buy it.
If you’re familiar with the Tan-Luxe drops then you know that they are an effortless way to build up a daily, natural-looking tan. The only thing with drops is that quite often they don’t fit in with my routine – I get in a muddle when I know that I want to apply my retinoid that night, or if I want to use an antioxidant serum. It messes with my mojo.
A cream containing my gradual tan, however? That makes life easy. If I want to use my retinoid then I do, and I wait twenty minutes and then bung The Creme on top. If I want to apply my antioxidant serum then I do just that, then The Creme straight over it.
This is good stuff. It gives you a glow within hours (I always apply at night so that I can wake up looking less like a waxy boiled potato) and the texture of the cream is very rich and very moisturising. If you have dry skin then you will adore this. Oilier skin not so much, but Tan-Luxe have plenty of options for all skin types – my second favourite product is the serum, suitable for just about anyone with a face.
Tan-Luxe The Creme is £31.20 with my RUTH20 discount, here. It’s usually £39.
Ultra Violette: Daydream Screen SPF50 Tinted Veil
If I had to pick a product of the year then it’s likely this would be it. It’s a tinted SPF50 that you can actually apply in enough quantity to get the stated SPF, which is rare. The coverage is sheer but there definitely is coverage and it’s relatively buildable too. Which is great news for those who will want to reapply throughout the day.
There are fifteen shades, the finish is radiant but not in any way greasy and the packaging is easy to use and lightweight to carry. I cannot fault this SPF. It gives the highest broad spectrum protection and, for those who are fine with a lightweight makeup base, no foundation needed on top. I honestly feel as though a big problem has been solved with this product – finally a tinted moisturiser that can be applied in copious quantities without making you look like you’re a melting waxwork.
Daydream Screen is usually £38 but you can buy it here for £30.40 with my discount.
Rare Beauty: Stay Vulnerable Melting Blush
My love for cream blushers knows no bounds but this one is an absolute gem: the Stay Vulnerable Melting Blush from Rare Beauty. The joy starts from the moment you hold the rounded compact in your hand, there’s something incredibly pleasing about the ergonomics. It feels like a precious jewel is going to be inside and, to be honest, we’re not far off that: a nugget of the most gloriously smooth and creamy blush that slides on effortlessly and blends in to create a seamless, natural flush.
You can apply with fingertips but I get the most professional result by using a powder brush, just the same sort you’d apply a powder blusher with. I like the airbrushed finish. But it’s so much more believable and soft when it’s a cream product; it sort of melds with the base and the bronzer to become part of the skin. It’s also highly flattering and, once it’s set (takes mere seconds) it doesn’t slide about as you might fear.
God I love this. Everything about it. The whole user experience is just lovely. I use the shades Nearly Neutral and Nearly Apricot the most, but all are beautiful and entirely buildable for a more intense look if you want it.
Melting Blush is usually £18, but is £14.40 with my RUTH20 discount, find it here
I hope you’ve spotted some bits that you fancy. I’ve tried to strike a balance between things you might want and things you might need. Many of the products straddle both lanes, for want of a more sophisticated phrase.
The exclusive 20% Space NK discount code is valid until midnight on Friday 9th September on all of the products in my edit. Website T&Cs apply.
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