Long-term readers could, I am sure, rattle off a list of my favourite Beauty Pie skincare products by heart. Over the years they’ve become staples in my beauty routines – the brilliant balm cleansers, the potent retinol range, the moisturisers that seem to inject near-impossible amounts of hydration into your skin so that it feels swelled with it, almost wobbly, like one of those waterbeds from the eighties. (Here’s looking at you, Japanfusion Power Elixir Moisturiser.)
And I’m never sure which I’m more a fan of: Beauty Pie’s perfectly-pitched formulas, with their potent active ingredients and crowd-pleasing textures, or Beauty Pie’s unique business model, which sees luxury beauty products made at the world’s most premium beauty labs sold direct to the customer, without the usual gigantic mark-up.
The lab-direct pricing alone would be enough of a pull for most (it’s usually up to 75% off a typical retail price) but when the products are so good they instantly become repeat purchases it’s kind of an unbeatable combination. And Beauty Pie are ever-expanding, with haircare and bodycare and home fragrance and now supplements, too.
For me, Beauty Pie as a brand have become synonymous with quality, high-performance and amazing value for money. It’s luxury beauty, made in the “luxury” labs, but because you’re cutting out the retail middleman you’re not paying for insanely expensive packaging and store fit-outs and all the other markups that creep in. You’re getting the contents of the luxury bottle, pot or tube but in a very simple (but I must say incredibly classy!) bottle, pot or tube.
To give you an example (I like doing these – I can’t mention specific brands when I do comparisons so you can just shout them out silently inside your head):
Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm, which is genuinely one of the most gorgeous balms on the planet, has a retail price of £50. This sits it alongside a number of cleansing balms from very well-known premium brands. The Beauty Pie price to members is £19.18, online here.
The aforementioned Japanfusion M3 Power Elixir Moisturiser, which seems to do just miraculous things on dehydrated skin, glossing it and sealing in moisture without any greasiness whatsoever, has a retail value (equivalent luxury face creams) of £70. I would very truly pay full price for this moisturiser if I had to – but Beauty Pie thankfully sell it to members for £15.70, online here. One of the very best moisturisers you can buy, hands down, and it’s just over fifteen quid.
So: the members part, before I get onto a very exciting new launch! You sign up here (use the code RUTHSENTME for £10 off the £59 membership) and this gives you access to the huge range of Beauty Pie products at Beauty Pie prices. If you want to try before you commit, there’s also a 60 day free trial running – here – that can be cancelled at any time before the trial ends.
Potent, effective products without the markups.
Now talking of potent and effective products (behold my smooth segue into the new launch): Beauty Pie have just released their most advanced skincare formula to date – fifteen active ingredients at very concentrated levels, each selected to help tighten and brighten and firm the skin to make it appear more youthful. It’s a veritable cocktail of potency and it’s called:
Not The Cocktail of Youth, which I also quite like as a product name, mainly for its Death Becomes Her vibes!
Designed to firm and tighten and to visibly soften lines it’s formulated for all skin types and is simple to slip into any skincare routine. Beauty Pie say that every ingredient in Youthbomb has been selected for its ability to support the skin in how it reflects light – so we’re talking about ingredients that smooth, brighten and hydrate.
It features the exclusive Biolog-Elastic (TM) Complex, which is one of my favourite beauty industry trade marked formula names to date, it’s like a double-barrelled Klingon surname! There’s also a powerful blend of proteins and peptides, all in a serum that has a weightless, non-sticky feel.
I have to say that the first time I used it I actually felt the tightening effect. Then because I thought I might be imagining things (or perhaps willing them to happen) I decided to test it around the eye area and can absolutely confirm that there’s an immediate sense of de-slackening. It’s a nice touch, because although it’s the long-term effects you want from the ingredients, the instant tightening feel is very optimistic and energising.
It’s easy to fit Youthbomb into a routine, too. It’s not going to react with any of your other actives, so you don’t have to worry that if you apply it before X or after Y you’re going to self-combust as you’re walking to the bus stop. Apply it after cleansing and before your moisturiser – here’s a good morning routine:
Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser (£8.58 here, retail £25)
Super Retinol Eye Cream (£12 here, retail £60)
Youthbomb 360 Radiance Concentrate (£44 here, retail £185)
Super Healthy Skin Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream (£15.90 here – equivalent retail price £100)
Featherlight SPF50 (£12.34 here, retail £35)
The Featherlight SPF50 is excellent, by the way – non-drying, non-greasy, just barely-there sunscreen that sits well beneath makeup. It’s here online. And the Super Healthy Skin Cream is a new discovery for me and might be one to rival the Japanfusion – I’m currently doing a week-long test using Super Healthy on one half of my face and the Japanfusion Power Elixir on the other. I’ll update you.
In summary, I think that the Youthbomb Serum is a very exciting new product. It’s an all-in-one powerhouse that helps to boost everything from radiance to firmness yet it’s foolproof and suits pretty much everyone.
You can slide it into any existing routine and it’s not going to pick fights with your other products – you can even use it alongside retinol (I’d use it afterwards, waiting a bit before applying).
Find more info on the new launch here – the sign-up page for Beauty Pie membership is here and there’s the option of the free 60 day trial or, for the keen, jumping straight in with both feet and becoming an instant bona fide member. (Use RUTHSENTME for the tenner off!)
Are you already a Beauty Pie member? What’s on your repeat buy list?
In an attempt to give all of my Instagram videos a safe and permanent home (ie, at a place I actually own, not a platform I have no control over) I’m slowly getting into the habit of uploading them onto Youtube before embedding them into blog posts here on the website. It’s complex and time-consuming and I think I must have finally lost the plot because the last thing I need is more admin, but it satisfies my need for neatness and order.
God knows I don’t have neatness and order in any other aspect of my life!
Anyway, I’m aware of the fact that some of you only like to come here to read, so I’ll always try and do a little blurb with the videos to soften the blow – I’m doing a bit of website restructuring soon, too, so that should help you recognise video posts and skip them should you want to.
5 New Beauty Launches: April 2022.
Liberty Candle in Faraway Palm, £48 here*. This is a beauty of a candle; it smells like ancient wood and old perfume bottles, a bit like the actual inside of the Liberty store. Gorgeous. There are a few in the range and they would all make excellent presents, if you needed to buy something spendy for someone special.
This is Silk Silk Cream Cleanser, £39.99 here. The absolute surprise find of the month; I had no expectations at all, had never heard of the brand and it’s not even wholly a beauty brand, but the smell and texture of this cleanser is just utterly sublime. I gasped. Gasped I did. It’s like a concentrated version of the Queen of Hungary mist from Omorovicza, scent-wise, and the texture is creamy and nourishing but melts into this silky, slidey sumptuousness that does a great job of makeup removal. Just lovely.
Rare Beauty Positive Light Tinted Moisturiser in 26N, £26 at SpaceNK here*. If you’re after a tinted moisturiser to take you into summer then make sure you watch the video to see this going on. It’s pretty sheer but the finish is robust and non-slippy so it’s great for oilier skin and it has a lovely sheeny luminescence to it without being overtly glowy. If you were very dry I’d moisturise well first, but I think many will welcome a sheer base that doesn’t have the typically dewy finish. It’s in lightweight packaging too, so great for throwing in your makeup bag when you’re on the go.
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Lift and Firm Day Cream, £66 here*. Elizabeth Arden have launched – and relaunched – quite a few products this spring and the Advanced Ceramide moisturisers are just lovely. The day cream without SPF added is my pick of the bunch; it has that nice, springy, gelatinous sort of feel that is fresh-feeling on the skin but really nourishing and satisfyingly hydrating. The Ceramide element here is the important bit to note, because a) they are good for helping to keep the skin barrier functioning in a healthy way and b) Elizabeth Arden have always done Stuff with Ceramides (trademarked) really well.
Elemis Morning Matrix Moisturiser. Oh my giddy aunt I read the price of this incorrectly when I first tried it and completely missed the fact that it costs £125. Wowzer. It’s a beautiful cream with a herbal, invigorating scent and that springy, gelatinous texture again but it’s twice the price of the Elizabeth Arden offering. The selling point with Morning Matrix is that it’s supposed to help protect the skin against the effects of exposure to blue light – laptop screens and phone screens – but I have to admit I’m still a bit cynical about that one on the whole! Nevertheless, if you were after a luxury cream then this is gorgeous.
I’ve just been looking at the original Pro Collagen Marine Cream, the one with the iconic scent that I associated with the word “luxury” all the way through my twenties. That one seems almost a bargain compared with the new Matrix versions – and it’s £89 for 50ml!
Can I just say: I love the way that Elemis do their product shots. With the creams or balms or what have you poking up in a whipped swirl above the edge of the pot. It makes me want to buy everything and it’s as though you can almost feel the product just by looking at it in the photo. It makes them look edible. Very clever. You can find Morning Matrix here*.
Sali Hughes’ Skincare range with Revolution launched this week and it’s a brilliant capsule collection containing everything you really need, nothing you don’t. Two cleansers (one lightweight and splashy, the other sumptuous and massage-y), a serum and a moisturiser, everything packed with hyaluronic acid so that it’s deeply hydrating but not greasy. Making it suitable for everyone. There’s also an exfoliating liquid with a clever blend of six different acids that can be used daily, if you like (it’s gentle enough) and that’s also an essential, because as we know, sloughing off dead skin cells helps all the other bits of the routine work that much more efficiently.
Sali didn’t include a sunscreen as everyone’s needs and preferences are so different and the range was designed to be straightforward and concise and retinol is omitted from the line-up, wisely, because if you want customers to be able to pick up a range and use it with no fuss or skincare knowledge then retinol adds a complication into the mix.
Everything in the range is under £15, vegan and easy to get hold of – Superdrug has it instore and you can get it online at LookFantastic here*.
Hello! It’s been a while. The month-long pause to “write a book and spend quality time with the family” seemed to very quickly and easily turn into a three-and-a-half-month break from the blog that has proved quite difficult to come back from. I was planning a bit of a honey I’m HOME! post at the end of January but that’s still lying in the drafts folder, and life got hectic – we had a wall knocked down (on purpose), then another three walls got knocked down (also on purpose), then we all got Covid (very much not on purpose) – which just about brings you all up to date.
And so a smooth segue from the last post – Festive Favourites – to this post, which is called Early Spring Favourites. At least there’s a seasonal theme. I’ve actually decided to update and upgrade the monthly favourites so that they’re a little more pulled-together, less random. Rather than finding my five favourite things each month, I’m going to wait until some sort of interesting category or motif strikes me; for example it could be my five favourite UK hotels. Or my five favourite recipes of all time. (Ooh! That’s a good one!)
For now, though, let’s get all springtime optimistic with my 5 Early Spring Favourites. I have to admit that the theme here is tenuous and I actually didn’t explain very well in the video how on earth some of the favourites were related to early spring, so hopefully my accompanying write-up will finish off the job. If you’d like to skip straight to the video then feel free – it’s at the bottom of the page.
1. Clinique Even Better Refresh Foundation. A rediscovery after I spent a day sorting my makeup archives, this is the perfect sort of makeup texture for early spring. It’s lightweight and very fresh and glowy, like the effect you’d maybe get from a tinted moisturiser, but it has better lasting power than most tinted moisturisers. Shade-wise I have CN28 but could actually go a smidgen darker, they have a much wider range of shades in their Even Better foundation. You can find this online here*.
2. RAB Thermal Leggings (online here). I did quite an extensive test on three pairs of leggings for my Instagram page (the video is here) and these RAB Power Stretch Pants beat the others hands down. I mean, with a name like Power Stretch Pants how could they not win? At absolutely everything? They sound like an eighties New York stockbroker.
The reason they’re included in Early Spring favourites? Should be self-explanatory if you live in the UK, but for those who aren’t familiar with our temperamental, mostly-disappointing climate, in springtime (or indeed summertime) it can be boiling hot one day and snowing the next. With weeks of grey drizzle either side. And now that turning on the heating is as expensive as staying at The Dorchester it makes sense to layer up.
The RAB Power Pants are made of very thick fabric with a fleece lining; they feel like a dry and cuddly wet suit. Full disclaimer: I don’t think I’ve actually ever donned a wet suit because I only swim or go near water when I absolutely have to and I certainly never fully immerse. But I imagine if there was a cuddly version it would feel like RAB thermal leggings.
3. My new sliding bedroom doors! They have completely transformed the roof terrace outside the bedroom making it a space I want to spend every minute in. On. Just in time for spring. For anyone interested (niche content alert) the doors are SMARTS aluminium Visoglide Plus with 35mm sightlines. (Basically the “frame” you see down the middle is quite slim so that you don’t cut the view too much. Although from this angle you see the depth of the frame on the one on the right, too, so it looks wider. It’s not.)
I could talk about glazing until the cows come home so do hit me up with questions if you have any. Honestly, I’ve had so many experiences with glazing companies – mostly bad – that I am glad to help if I can…
4. Margaret Howell Anglepoise, bought from John Lewis here*. Not remotely related to springtime, is it, but I’ve wanted a proper Anglepoise for years. I like to be able to spotlight whatever I’m doing on my desk and it amuses the geek inside me that I can angle the lamp in so many different ways! Easily pleased.
Anyway, I’ve been waiting for a colour I liked – they often do collaborations – and the Margaret Howell collection had quite retro colours.
5. Oh look, this one is very spring-appropriate: my Liberty nightie. I love it despite the kids laughing at me and asking whether I was off to a ball.
Five and six years old and I’m getting mocked already! I used loyalty points towards this and at time of publishing this it’s in the sale – you can find it here*. I have a real thing for Liberty print nightwear but only allow myself to peek at it when they have a good event on.
This is how I style my mid length hair now that it’s slightly shorter than usual – it sits just below the shoulder. Obviously I use the word style in its very loosest sense because I’m about as wieldy with heated appliances as an elephant would be with a crochet hook, but I’ve just about mastered the art of putting some waves in without burning huge welts in my head and so I thought I’d share.
(It’s incredibly similar in vibe and “technique” to this post here if you’d like to see my version from a few years ago.)
I use the Cloud Nine curling wand (it’s here online*). I like it because it doesn’t have one of those clamps on it, the long section of the tong that can be opened and closed. I hate those because a) they are too taxing on my very basic coordination skills and b) they look (to me) a little bit like the speculum they use when you have a smear test.
So yes, it’s just one long heated round-ended bit of metal, really, and you wind each section of hair around it and hold on until your fingers start to smoulder through the heatproof gloves**.
(**this is not official advice. You’re supposed to hold the hair around for a limited amount of time so that you don’t a) damage your hair and b) singe off all of your fingertips, but I have no idea what that amount of time is. I suppose you just have to experiment…)
There’s an art to the hair-winding. You section off small pieces of hair and then wind all of them away from your face, or maybe it’s supposed to be towards your face… but it should be clear to you by now that I have no idea what I am doing and that I just wing it. Sometimes the hair turns out OK, other times I look slightly deranged for a day or two until the curls drop out. It’s a risky business.
The best part of the whole process is the day after. Delayed gratification. On my bleached, roughened hair, the slept-in curls suddenly go huge and voluminous and I get a lovely, sexy texture that has body and shape but no real discernible curl. So on day 1 I have the full curl, which is fun, on day 2 I have the sexy texture and then it stays sexily textured for around two or three more days, throughout which I add more dry shampoo than you’d think would be possible.
On day five I usually can’t resist the urge to wash it. It starts to feel like old felt. I then give it a day off and start the whole process again. I just think that the curl/wave/texture thing works really well on this length hair. Shorter would actually be even better, but I can’t bear not being able to tie it up so it’s not an option for me anymore. I’ve learned the hard way with that!
So that’s my current mid length hair style. The long fringe bit is annoying – can’t wait for that to grow out! – but it’s relatively easy to tong that bit separately and just ease it into some kind of gentle face-framer or (on energetic days) power quiff.
This wasn’t even supposed to be a written post, I was just going to bung the video up, so please do watch that for a more sensible explanation of how I currently style my hair!
See also: How I Style My Party Hair
Wearing: red Adidas track pants, bought here* and a Boden cashmere jumper from a few years ago.
The eye palette from Chanel’s Holiday 2021 collection has already sold out online so I’m not going to beat around the bush: if you want a special edition Rouge Allure No5 lipstick* or the amazing paper-pulp-packaged No5 perfume* then you’ll have to be quick about it.
You might still find a palette in stores if you hunt far and wide but – sadly – I doubt it. It’s a real collector’s gem with it’s embossed powders and special edition No5 casing. I feel like such a cow even writing about it because what’s the point when nobody can get one?
The line-up of Rouge Allure reds is less of a cruel tease: all shades still in stock at Boots here*. Emblematique is my favourite, very festive and bright, but there’s a red for just about everyone who wants one with the slightly orange-hued Rouge Brulant and the deep, wintery Legendaire. The lipstick has the usual – ultra-sleek – click-and-pull Rouge Allure casing (I wrote about my love of this particular packaging here) and the top has a 5 on it rather than the Chanel logo. The outer cardboard box is also tweaked so that it looks a little like a tiny Chanel No5 package.
And so on to what I personally think is the loveliest Tweak de Chanel for the holiday collection; No5 perfume (or eau de toilette) beautifully encased in not only a special edition outer box but a paper-pulp inner that hugs the glass bottle like a classy, minimalist sarcophagus.
(I just want to point out that the Chanel press office will absolutely love me for using the word sarcophagus in relation to Chanel No5 – you can’t pay for that kind of on-brand coverage.)
Seriously, though, look! I photographed the packaging against the light and as I slowly opened the paper casing the sun shone through the bottle and it was like unveiling some sort of precious gift from the ancient Gods. I half expected angels to start singing.
If you’re a No5 fan then you won’t want to miss this edition – equally, if you know someone special who wears this as their signature scent, it would make a very lovely gift. The label on the bottle is different too, embossed with Gabrielle Chanel’s lucky number.
Which is 5, in case you hadn’t guessed.
If you’re after ideas for Christmas presents then stay tuned for the Christmas Gift Guides – they’re coming very shortly! I know there’s been a bit of a hiatus on those (a two year hiatus, in fact) but I’ve rounded up some juicy morsels for those who are racking their brains and about to resort to buying people gift vouchers. Stay strong, I’m about to make life easier…
I have a new eye makeup tutorial for you with some top tips for creating a foolproof smokey eye. This tutorial is in collaboration with Boots who are running a campaign called “Eyes on the Prize”, encouraging people to try bold new eye looks for the party season. With winter festivities almost upon us it’s time to brush up on our party makeup skills – I know that mine are a little rusty from having not gone to any parties, ever, for the past almost-two-years – and find the eye makeup looks that will suit us and perform perfectly time after time.
Smokey eye makeup tutorials are one of the most-searched beauty things on the whole of the internet and for very good reason: the opportunity for a smokey eye to go horribly wrong lies quietly in wait at every step of the way. Too much shadow underneath the bottom lashline and you look like Alice Cooper, not enough blending out and your liner makes your eyes look like tired and tiny. Blend out too enthusiastically and your smokey eye ends up halfway to your temples, go too heavy with the rest of your makeup and you risk looking as though you’re about to appear in a pantomime.
It’s a beauty minefield and I have to admit that I have searched for smokey eye tutorials on Youtube more than I have ever searched for any singular other thing. (Apart from “big cats in boxes”.) I also know that if anything in my makeup routine is going to malfunction it’ll be the smokey eye step.
Over the past year or so, though, I have been trying to hone my smokey eye skills. Interestingly, this has not involved going “bigger and bolder” with my shadows and liner, or playing with jazzy colours, it has been more a process of evaluation and recalibration. I have been studying past photos and videos where I’ve been really pleased with my smokey eye makeup and trying to work out what it is about certain processes that seem to guarantee a successful smoke.
I’ve taken my conclusions and learnings and applied them to a brand new makeup tutorial – the written version is below and the video is on Instagram here. It’s a very uncomplicated smoked-out eye that’s quick to do but requires a bit of thought and patience, because it’s the building-up of the shadow and liner that creates the softer lines and the slightly elongated shape that lifts the corners of the eyes and stops everything from looking a bit sad and…jaded.
(Fake it until you make it, eh? Haha.)
(To be clear I’m not sad, but definitely feeling jaded this year.)
Here are my top tips for foolproof smokey eye makeup; I have been sticking to these rules and I have to say that I’ve been having a much higher success rate with my eye makeup. You can find a full step-by-step on Instagram here and all of the products shown, including brushes, are available at boots.com.
Always apply a wash of base eyeshadow colour to the lid. I often used to skip this stage, wondering why on earth it would be important to apply a shadow that was almost identical in tone to your own eyelid skin, but there’s method to the madness.
The eye shadow creates a different surface to bare skin – it’s less oily, it’s smoother and it means that other (darker) shadows applied on top seem to blend more easily and with a far superior finish. It’s a really worthwhile step.
Here I’ve applied Deep Chic from the NARS Voyageur “Suede” palette (at Boots here*), which is one of my all time favourite eyeshadow palettes. I can find a use for every one of the six shades and a couple of them (namely Soleil and Jumeirah) can be used alone, blended over the whole lid, for an instantly glamorous look. In around fifteen seconds. It’s also happens to be really petite which makes it much more portable than the majority of palettes and the shadows themselves are densely pigmented and long-wearing.
Use a chunky buffing brush to blend out your darker shadow – it feels clumsy but it saves time and leaves a seamless finish!
Here I’ve placed my darker shadow shade – I’ve used the deepest shade in the palette, Graffiti – in a sort of V shape, going along the outer half of the top lashline and then into the crease. I’ve then used Real Techniques’ excellent Deluxe Crease brush (300, here*) to blend out.
The “darker shade” step is where it can all go a bit wrong. And the placement of the darker shade is also a little dependant on your eye shape, just to add some more trouble to the mix. I like to elongate my eyes slightly and so I tend to pull the shadow upwards and outwards towards the tail end of my eyebrow. A good trick is to follow the curve of your lower lashline – take a look at my Instagram video to see how I create a very small “wing” or “flick” to lift my eyes.
Take the same shadows – base and darker – beneath the lower lashline, building them up in the same way you did the lids. I start with the base using my fluffy brush and then take a smudge brush (Real Techniques again*!) for the darker shadow.
Blending this shadow in means that eyeliner doesn’t look so hard or stark – I find that it really hazes out the lines and is so much more flattering than eyeliner alone. I used a Bare Minerals Mineralist eyeliner (in Graphite and then Copper, I only used both because I can’t see without my glasses and thought the Graphite was black – tip: wear your glasses to read labels!) inside my waterline.
Buy Bare Minerals Mineralist eye liner
It helps to keep your eyes open as much as possible when you’re looking in the mirror to do your eye makeup, rather than closing the one you’re working on. When it comes to creating shadow, your eye looks totally different when the lid is open and that’s how it’s going to be the majority of the time when you’re in your makeup so I find that things turn out better if I try to look at the mirror levelly when I’m blending and adjusting.
I’ve used a great mascara here, to finish off the eyes – Urban Decay’s Perversion (at boots.com here*).
I don’t usually like these large brushes but this one creates really good volume and I love that it’s buildable. You can even go back in ten, twenty minutes later and layer on another coat. It doesn’t go crispy or hard like a lot of mascaras so when you want to add that extra boost it just slips on nicely!
Keep the brows understated for a fresher overall look. I never want my brows to fight with the smokey eye (ding ding, in the red corner!) and so I tend to do minimal grooming.
In this look I’ve forgone any sort of actual brow product and simply sprayed my Benefit brow brush with some Elnett hairspray to comb upwards and fix the hairs in place.
(There are also loads of amazing brow shapers – gels, brow pencils and so on – that will do the above and add volume or colour to the brows. One of my most-used is Benefit’s Gimme Brow, which is here* at Boots.)
You can see that the rest of the makeup is really pretty minimal too. Once you’ve done the building and blending on the eyes (maximum of ten minutes, including mascara, even though it sounds like it would take longer) the skin takes minutes and the lips are just a quick graze-and-pat of a my-lips-but-better shade of lipstick.
I used Dior Forever Skin Glow in shade 2N followed by Fenty bronzer in Private Island and a touch of Benefit’s Galifornia blush.
I lined my lips with a shade very close to my natural one (this is a NYX pencil in Nude Pink) and then grazed my lips lightly with the side of my Bare Minerals lipstick in Grace. No opaque lip colour here, just graze and pat for a “my lips but better” sort of look.
And ta-dah, it’s done. I reckon the eyes, with all of the blending and building up, take me around ten minutes and all of the rest another five. There are faster ways to a smokey eye (crayons that you scribble on and then blend) but I like the depth that this one has to it, it’s slightly more sultry.
Just add very low-cut spangly bodysuit (which raises all kinds of questions about the wisdom of subjecting yourself to gusset fastenings and a garment which basically cuts you in half from the bottom up) and big, textured hair (I tonged mine and sprayed it with the aforementioned L’Oreal Elnett!) and you’re ready to party.
My “current skincare routine” feature is back! In typical Crilly fashion, I stopped doing my seasonal skincare videos and posts because I had bored myself with the same format. My skincare routine, four times a year, documenting any notable product discoveries or weird quirks with my skin – I felt as though I could still be turning out the same quarterly update in twenty years’ time. But it turns out that people like a familiar, regular video format and who am I to argue?
So after a brief hiatus (I missed out spring and summer this year) here’s the autumn skincare routine for 2021, focussing on the fact that my face had a brief meltdown and needed some gentle care and attention. This is why the theme of this feature is really; skincare SOS and creams that aid repair and recovery. I go into this more in my previous post – 3 Best Beauty Buys: SOS Skin Creams – so do take glance at that here for more details, but to summarise: I had a weird stomach bug, woke up afterwards and my skin had gone all strange and bumpy underneath. It was then dry and itchy. It felt rather like I’d overdone it with my retinol but I hadn’t done anything new or extreme.
As I mention in the post SOS Skin Cream post, the best thing to do whenever the proverbial shit hits the fan, face-wise, is to just pare everything right back. Gently cleanse and then moisturise with something that will help strengthen the skin barrier as well as deeply hydrate. Let’s do a deeper dive into the complete routine – it’s quite different to my default one:
My normal default skincare routine –
My SOS skincare routine –
My skin sorted itself out over the course of about a week and a half and now I’m pretty much back to the default routine, having cautiously reintroduced the retinoids every few days. Here are the products I pared back to – all of them great at any time, but especially if you’ve overdone it with your peels or intensive masks or retinol product or all of them at the same time (yikes):
I’ve been using a lot of the Kate Somerville DeliK8 Cleanser, £34 here*. It’s a beautifully soothing cream cleanser that’s great for angsty skin. The whole range is gorgeous but this is a particular treat.
You know that I love Emma Hardie’s Moringa Gel – I did a whole raving love post about it here. It gets my vote as best luxury cleanser because it’s so suited to both dry and oilier skin. Those who don’t get on with essential oils, avoid, but for anyone who wants a sense-tickling cleanse with something light then this is it!
Beauty Pie Hot Oil Cleanser – here* – is sumptuous and luxurious but (if you’re a Beauty Pie member) doesn’t come with the steep price tag. This is an unscented balm that removes every trace of makeup and dirt and I have nothing bad to say about it! You can find out more on Beauty Pie in this video I made recently.
Please refer back to this post for more details on these, but as a quick reference list:
No7 Hydrating Skin Paste (at Boots here*)
I love this “paste” – it’s actually a creamy, lightweight serum. More towards a light moisturiser than a runny, watery kind of serum but great to layer up under other creams and/or your sunscreen for an extra boost of hydration. If you don’t get on with sticky, tacky hyaluronic products then this is a nice change. Comfortable texture, housed in a metal tube like an oil paint (annoying lid), is fresh and cool on application.
Skinceuticals B5 Mask, online here*
I don’t tend to go in for a lot of moisturising masks – most of them just feel like a good, rich night cream except you then inexplicably flannel them off and rinse them down the sink. This one from SkinCeuticals, however, is one of the weirdest (yet effective) I’ve ever tried. It’s feels like what I can only imagine having a melted jellyfish stuck to your face would be like. It’s melted jellyfish in a tube. (It’s not made from jellyfish, calm down.) It almost seems to repel water so when you try to rinse it off it doesn’t just rinse away, you really have to use a washcloth or flannel. Marvellous stuff and the effects are noticeable.
SkinGenerics SPF30 – at Superdrug here
This sunscreen requires its very own post because it’s so groundbreakingly lightweight, but I want to do some comparison tests first with other weightless SPFs. Quite honestly, though, I doubt any will come out topping the Niacinamide + Osmo’city Moisturising Cream SPF30*. It feels like a water gel (nothing like a cream) on application and then simply disappears. No residue, no tackiness, and – equally as important – no feeling of tightness or dryness. It’s as if you haven’t applied anything at all, yet you have. Admittedly if it was SPF50 then it would be absolute perfection, but for those who want something for incidental exposure or who just hate the feel of other sunscreens so much they are willing to drop down to a 30, I can’t imagine you can beat this for invisible look and undetectable feel.
Just as a by-the-by, the retinol products I’ve been using since returning to the default routine are the Skin + Me (ultra powerful!) daily dose Tretinoin (find Skin + Me here) and the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream (find the range here*). Not together, I hasten to add!
Skin + Me Tretinoin
This one is specifically for me – Skin + Me make creams specifically for you once they know your skin type and skin goal. Which is ascertained via online questionnaire, filterless photos and any additional questions from the team. I’ve been doing some AD work with Skin + Me and so have tried them quite extensively – it’s a great idea and they make it very easy to form a simple, massively effective skincare routine. (Use code RUTH2 to get your first month for £3.50 instead of £19.99.)
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream
An old favourite, this is pokey as you like in terms of effectiveness and is hydrating enough that you don’t need to use any separate moisturiser over the top. There’s also a serum and eye cream in this range but I like the cream for its all-in-oneness for lazy nights! Find the whole range here* – at time of writing there are some good discounts going on!
I’ll be back in a couple of months with my winter skincare routine – until then, if you’d like to browse the historic back-catalogue of skincare routines then they are all here.
Something very odd happened to my skin the other week; I haven’t managed to get to the bottom of the cause because it could have been one of so many reasons (we’re on the “school germs carousel of illness” round here) but I have managed to do some pretty extreme SOS face cream testing. Which obviously makes for a great “best beauty buys” post, so… every cloud, etc.
A brief word on what happened to my skin before I dive into the three best SOS face creams I tried: it was suddenly bumpy, one morning – the sort of texture you’d have if you were suffering from breakouts that hadn’t come to a head yet, but all over my face from the cheeks down. Not small raised bumps or spots, but the sort that almost feel like crocodile scales. There was some visible redness. All of this manageable, but then the dryness and itching started.
The dryness and itching felt very much like a reaction to a strong retinoid, but I hadn’t tried or done anything new and so that was unlikely. Anyway, I wasn’t going to spend my week being all Poirot about it – I would obviously take more notice if it happened again or on a regular basis – I just wanted to get my skin back on an even keel.
And so I implemented my SOS Skincare routine, which is just a very pared back version of my usual one, minus the “actives” (no acids, no retinoids, no super-strength antioxidants) and with a gentler approach to cleansing. I tend to use creamier textures, soft washcloths and moisturisers that intensely hydrate as well as aiding skin barrier function.
(If you keep hearing the phrase “skin barrier” and wondering what an earth everyone is banging on about then let me briefly enlighten you with an explanation cobbled together from bits of information from own mind and some basic facts from Wikipedia. The skin barrier is sort of like the brick wall between the outside world and the inside of you. It’s the very outermost layer of the skin, it’s watertight and it protects your skin from – buzz phrase incoming! – external aggressors. “Raaaaah!”
For some reason I’ve always imagined these external aggressors as angry people trying to get into a pub that closed half an hour early with no explanation. They’re all carrying rounders bats and trying to smash the windows. In reality the phrase refers to things like pollution and cigarette smoke and UV rays – anything on the outside that your skin is not so keen on having on the inside.
Anyway, it’s massively important to keep the skin barrier healthy and functioning – if it isn’t, problems can mount up because it all goes a bit haywire. Redness, itchiness, tightness, dehydration, breakouts: an absolute circus of skin concern delights to deal with.)
I’m going to go more into my whole routine in the upcoming Current Skincare Routine: Autumn 2021, because for this post I wanted to focus on the SOS face cream saviours. Great for skin that’s suddenly very sensitive and needs some serious care and attention, they all moisturise deeply and give a helping hand to the skin barrier so that faces that feel as though they’re falling off can piece themselves back together.
The three best beauty buys I’ve picked are all amazing for skin that’s been through the mill – perhaps you’ve overdone it with your retinol products, or you’ve used a glycolic peel too often – and equally effective for bringing life back to dry, flakey skin that is rebelling against the changes in weather. You can watch the video version or scroll on down to keep reading…
1. DR. JART+ Cicapair Cream, at Amazon*
This is the most affordable – and user-friendly – of the three. It’s the lightest in texture and sinks in quickly with no greasy residue. Great beneath makeup, it is instantly soothing on itchy, tight skin and the perfect choice if you want a powerful rescue remedy without the rich texture.
2. Medik8 Ultimate Recovery Intense, at Amazon*
This is far richer and more intense in feel but I think it’s my favourite of the three favourites! The tube is user-friendly with a hinged lid, the cream is easy to apply and not stodgy but gives an instant, satisfying feeling that you’ve been basted with something miraculous. It has been formulated for post-treatment skin so it’s a no-brainer option for those who have overdone it with their peels or have started on a new strength of retinoid.
3. Murad Intense Recovery Cream, at Amazon*
This beauty of a skin repair cream has the firmest, most buttery texture and those with the driest skin (think Jacob’s Cream Cracker dry) will love it. It has the reassuring colour of some sort of 1950s hospital ointment but I do find it slightly annoying scooping it from the jar as it’s so firm, it goes straight under my nails. A non-idiot would find and use one of those plastic spatulas to make life easier but I’m too lazy to rootle through my weird-things-I’ll-never-use-drawer.
Eucerin Aquaphor, at Feel Unique*
If your skin feels rough and dry and vulnerable and you just want to shroud it in the equivalent of a suit of armour then Aquaphor is your friend. It’s slightly less refined than the above options, because it does leave a residue, but quite often that top layer of slick is very comforting, especially if your skin is so tight it feels as though it might crack. (We’re talking quite extreme skin situations today, aren’t we?) You get a 45ml tube of this for £9 – they also do a huge tube – which makes it a great all-rounder rescue cream to keep in the bathroom cabinet.
Welcome back to the If I Could Only Buy One series, in which I give myself a week-long headache trying to decide on my absolute favourite beauty product from a given category. Please do read the disclaimer on the first post if you’re in any doubt as to how this incredibly important and (potentially) historically significant beauty challenge works.
The given category this time is “tinted moisturisers”: a tricky one to navigate in some ways, because it’s such a broadly-used term. Where do you draw the line? When it a tinted moisturiser no longer a tinted moisturiser? When the coverage becomes so opaque that it’s basically a foundation? (IT Cosmetics CC Cream comes to mind.) Or when the pigment level is so low that it just gives the tiniest hint of warmth and glow to the skin? (I bung these into the “complexion enhancer” category.)
For me, a tinted moisturiser is just that: a product that you can apply as you would a face cream, reasonably haphazardly, with no real need for a brush or applicator sponge and that gives enough coverage and colour to make you look less like an old parsnip. I like a tinted moisturiser to be a moisturiser – it should feel as plumptious and look as dewy as my face cream – and I like it to give a real-skin-but-better sort of radiance. Coverage needs to be relatively comprehensive – enough to even out skin tone and knock back dark circles and redness slightly. I’m not expecting coverage miracles from a tinted moisturiser – it’s more about the fresh, glowing finish – but I am expecting to look much, much better than I did before I put it on.
So which one would I buy if I could only buy one for the rest of my life? When I think of the cult favourites over the years – the Laura Mercier and the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, to name a couple – there’s one product that most definitely stands out from the crowd and that is the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser*.
This glossy, hydrating face base is the gold standard of tinted moisturisers; it is glowy, fresh-faced base perfection. Supremely hydrating, my skin feels as moisturised at the end of the day as it did when I first put the tint on – there’s a tangible springiness and dewiness to the finish that simply doesn’t fade as the hours pass by.
In terms of coverage, I’d say it equates to a light-to-medium coverage foundation, somewhere in the realms of Clinique’s Even Better Glow. But with even more glow. It does well over redness at the sides of the nose, it makes a brave start on dark circles and it gives an overall evenness to the skin. It doesn’t mask, not quite, but the coverage is enough to distract. And you can always go over the danger zones with a lightweight concealer. (I find that a very heavy, opaque concealer looks odd over a sheer face base.)
There’s a broad spectrum sunscreen in this formula, SPF30, which is a bonus on days when I’m just nipping out on the school run but not being particularly outdoorsy. (I wouldn’t ever solely rely on the SPF in makeup for being in the sun, mainly because I rarely apply enough product to reach the stated protection level but also because it’s a pain to reapply.)
Sixteen shades, the most beautiful scent (not that scent should matter in a face base, but oddly it adds significantly to the whole application experience for me!) and with added Vitamin C for helping with longer-term brightness, it’s basically faultless. If I had to scrape the fault barrel to find something wrong with it, I’d probably say that people with oily skin might want to steer away slightly. Not because of the rich texture – the formula’s actually oil-free, which flabbergasts me because it has all the plumpy effect of a luxury oil! – but because the finish is so glossy and shiny. It just never feels that comfortable, having shine on top of shine and in my PMT week I tend to avoid tinted moisturisers for this very reason.
But that’s it – a minuscule caveat. Everyone else, knock yourselves out. You can find NARS Pure Radiance Tinted Moisturizer for £33 at Space NK here* and also at Cult Beauty*, LookFantastic* and Selfridges*.
I use the shade “Groenland”, which I think is a new shade, but previously used “Alaska”. If you need help finding your shade without going in-store then the website Findation.com is pretty accurate and brilliant at working out your shade in pretty much any face base currently in production.
The Cheater’s List
Because I couldn’t do this “one thing” decision without namedropping some others:
For those who want similar coverage but less on the outré glow front and plumpy residue, try Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer – one of, if not the, original product in this category. It dries down to a more manageable finish if you don’t like too much dew – find it at SpaceNK here*, £36.
For less coverage but a fresher, lighter feel, Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Gel Cream is unbeatable. The ultimate “slap it on” sort of base, this comes in 20 shades and has a subtle, healthy glow. Find it at Cult Beauty here* – it’s £30.
For similar coverage, slightly less dew but an ethereal, lit-from-within sort of radiance then try Trinny De-Stress Serum, I use the shade “Claire” but I think I could get away with a shade darker for summer. It’s £39 here*.
Disclaimer: Ooph, this “If I Could Only Buy One” series is a risk, isn’t it? Firstly, it’s almost impossible to choose a singular favourite from a given category, even if it’s a category with very little competition. My decision-making process feels marred by the thought of all of my other favourites being left out in the cold – if I don’t mention them then do they even exist? And what if I like three things equally? How does one ever choose?
The second big problem with this series is time: favourites change. Do I keep on coming back to update? Or do I leave the original post and then make a new one with the successor? It’s all very complicated and I feel as though I could be updating and adding to it until I’m seventy, when nobody is even still reading blogs and instead experiencing life through their VR headsets. Who’ll need beauty then? Nobody will leave the house! Food will be in a supplement shake that you drink through a tube connected to the VR headset and sex will be with robots.
But it’s supposed to be fun, so let’s keep it light. There are thousands of products I love and that I’d buy over and over again so if something’s not mentioned it doesn’t mean I’ve changed my mind about it, it just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the game if I then included a load of caveats. (I have actually added a “cheater’s list” to the bottom of the page with a few alternative options. I mean it is, quite literally, cheating at my own game, but I found it impossible to pick without knowing I could leave it there!)
We kick off this series with the one luxury cleanser I’d buy if I could only buy one luxury cleanser for the rest of my life. Many of you will have guessed at the brand for this one, but perhaps not the specific product, so prepare to be mildly surprised.
A winning luxury cleanser, in my opinion, needs to be silky and wonderful to massage in, but easy to remove with no waxy or greasy residue. I want it to have the most glorious smell – a smell that transports me to far-flung and exotic places, and this smell should be heady and “of nature” rather than something that smells a bit like posh aftershave. The texture should be a joy – a rich balm would be the obvious choice here – but I’d also like it to be a cleanser that’s not too faffy to use.
The obvious choice would be Emma Hardie’s Moringa Balm*, written about extensively here and here over the years, but I’m going to turn the tables and blow your minds and actually go for the Moringa Light Cleansing Gel*, fully reviewed here.
And I’ll tell you why. (This was a tough call.) Firstly, the pump-action packing is more convenient than a pot. Secondly I feel as though this is the sort of cleanser you’d use for a quick cleanse as well as a more lengthy, sit-in-a-warm-bath sort of cleanse and thirdly, I actually think that the gel texture is utterly beautiful and – weirdly – slightly more hydrating than the balm. It’s also suitable for all skin types – whereas I think oilier people might balk at the idea of the richer balm – and slightly more cost effective, because I find I pump out less product from the bottle than I’d scoop from the pot.
So same unbelievably lovely scent, same cleansing prowess, but a little more convenient to use.
If you want more of a detailed run-down then read my review post – you can find the supremely luxurious Moringa Light Cleansing Gel here* or in all of the places detailed below, it’s £34, which isn’t horrendously expensive as far as luxury cleansers go! I feel I’ve been distinctly restrained…
Tune in next time for If I Could Only Buy One…Tinted Moisturiser.
The Cheater’s List
Because I couldn’t do this “one thing” decision without namedropping some others:
For a silky balm cleanse with utterly gorgeous Rose scent, the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm, £44 for 100ml here*.
The best-smelling balm cleanser in the world, don’t @ me, but it’s incredibly pricey and so more of a treat, Darphin’s Aromatic Cleansing Balm, £35 for 40ml at SpaceNK here*.
The second best-smelling cleanser in the world and absolutely magical before bedtime – also great for oily/combination skin if you fret about using rich balms – Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Cleanser, £21 here*.