OK, this is how it works: as I potter along doing my beauty research stuff, testing everything in the world from eyewateringly expensive face creams to the cheapest brow gels, I make note of any brilliant bargain beauty finds I come across. Until I have five of them listed: and then I make a video. That’s the general gist of it.
I should do the videos more often than I do but time runs away from me and then something else new and shiny from the beauty labs comes along and you all know how that story ends. With a backlog of amazing products that could get away with being far more expensive than they are – high-performing, slickly-formulated skincare and luxurious-feeling makeup gems – but that aren’t. They are very much cheaper than their luxury equivalents and very often on offer.
In this video we have a lipstick that’s much cheaper than the one I bought from Gucci, a great new shampoo that’s good for those prone to dandruff and three other brilliant beauty buys. It’s an excellent mixed bag of well-priced goodness! Let’s go:
Revlon “Pink in the Afternoon” Lipstick, £7.99 at Amazon here*.
After the Gucci lipstick experiment (here, if you missed it on Instagram) I made it my mission to find the nicest pink lipsticks on the high street. In all honesty I haven’t been hugely successful so far, mostly because when you try to find lipstick testers on the high street they are all missing, or covered in melted lipstick, or they have rolled under the stand. But this pink from Revlon, Pink in the Afternoon, is a very good start indeed. It’s only slightly more muted than the Kimberley Rose from Gucci (here*) but somehow it is infinitely more wearable. Less in your face. Not quite so scary.
It is comfortable to wear with a sheeny finish to start that wears down to an almost powdery pink. I love it. And £7.99? A hell of a lot more palatable than the Gucci version, even if I did get a free (uselessly small) canvas bag from Gucci…
Sali Hughes Placid 5 Acid Daily Exfoliant, currently £9.80 at LookFantastic here*
I’ve always been partial to an acid exfoliant – AHA for glow, BHA for keeping my pores clear and spots at bay. Sali’s 5 Acid Daily Exfoliant covers both bases – glow and clarity – but the best thing about it is its supreme gentleness. You really can use this daily and I have been – every morning as a lazy swipe after my lazy micellar cleanse.
If you have been toying with the idea of introducing an exfoliant into your skincare routine but have been confused about how to use it, when to use it and whether it will play nicely alongside your retinoid addiction, this is an excellent place to start.
L’Oreal Revitalift Clinical SPF50, currently £10 instead of £19.99 at Sainsburys here*
This is a knockout product from L’Oreal; a high protection face sunscreen with a really lightweight, sophisticated feel. It disappears immediately and you can’t feel it once its on the skin, brilliant beneath makeup and easy to cart about. What’s not to love? Excellent for oily skin, dry skin will want a solid moisturiser underneath as this is light on the plumtious front. Currently less than half price at Sainsburys.
Mitchum Cedarwood Stick Deodorant, currently £4.04 here*
Mitchum recently launched a Gel Cream deodorant and though I love the texture, the smell and the efficacy it felt slightly messy to apply. I prefer their cream stick and they do it in the same Cedarwood scent, which is just gorgeous. Slightly green, slightly woody and a far cry from some of the soapy smells that deodorants often have. The cream stick claims 24h hour protection – I never need that much and would shower it off anyway, but it definitely works its magic over the course of a normal day. Though if I partake in a spot of cycling on the Peloton then it is tested to its very limits and there’s definitely some…moistness.
Head & Shoulders Bare Shampoo, currently £6.66 at Boots here*
This feels like a very new lean for Head & Shoulders; a shampoo that looks more premium than anything they’ve made before and with a stripped-back ingredients list. It still contains the signature H&S anti-dandruff agent, so I think it’s as effective as you’d hope it would be, but it feels so gentle on the scalp and my hair wasn’t at all dry or stripped after rinsing. It’s free from sulphated surfectants, silicones and dyes and even the lather feels soft and luxurious. In a blind test I would have had this down as a pricey buy so it’s an absolute steal, especially at the current price.
That’s your lot: now watch the video and hear me say the whole thing all over again…
I think that most of us are now pretty clued up about the fact that sunscreen needs to be a mandatory part of our beauty routines. We’ve long known about the risk of skin cancer but sun exposure is also the leading cause of skin ageing. So if there’s one singular thing we can do to keep skin looking youthful then it’s – drumroll – wearing SPF.
It’s becoming less of a hardship to incorporate sunscreen into a morning routine; there are so many sophisticated formulas with beautiful textures and not all of them cost the earth. Yet there are a few persistent problems with SPF that put people off time and time again. I thought I’d address them one by one and give a few sunscreen recommendations and usage tips. Hopefully, if you find sunscreens problematic, this will bring you some relief.
SPF Problem: Sunscreen Stinging My Eyes
Sunscreen stinging your eyes is a common problem and one experienced nearly every day in my household because my husband insists on applying his SPF by putting it in the palms of his hands, slapping them together like a wrestler going in for the kill and then enthusiastically – some might say violently – rubbing the lotion all over his face, including over his closed eyelids. He then goes outside to do an energetic domestic/light industrial task, such as chainsawing down a dead tree or drilling a hole in the side of the house, and inevitably sweats. Then come the bitter tears of sunscreen-sting.
How can you avoid sunscreen stinging your eyes? Firstly, find a formula that has been specifically formulated to avoid the sting. Mineral sunscreens are a great bet here because they don’t contain the chemical filters that tend to be the culprit for eye-stinging and also from my experience have a more matte finish that’s less likely to melt and move on the skin.
Try Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen SPF50 (at Space NK here*) is a gorgeous high protection sunscreen with a matte finish – absolutely no eye problems with this one! For a cheaper mineral SPF take a look at Hawaiian Tropic’s SPF30 Skin Milk mineral sunscreen – it’s really lightweight and costs about a tenner for a whopping 150ml. You can find it online here*, it’s a great value option.
If you prefer a sunscreen with chemical filters then I’ve tried a lot and can say that Anthelios Ultra with Sensitive Eyes Innovation (online here*) categorically does not sting mine. Maybe its the aforementioned “Sensitive Eyes Innovation”, which locks the oils in the formula into micro-crystals to stop them migrating eyewards. Great as a daily SPF, it’s very moisturising and made for sensitive skin.
You can also try a stick sunscreen (I really like the one from Sun Bum here*) so that you can apply in a more targeted manner, but I find that one of the most helpful tricks is to very lightly powder on top of your sunscreen around the eye area with your normal translucent setting powder. (Max Factor’s Creme Puff* is one of the oldest and still one of the best – it’s also really cheap!)
Just that light dusting of powder can sometimes be enough to stop an oilier sunscreen formula from creeping into the eyes and making them feel as though they’ve been mercilessly set on fire then repeatedly doused with vinegar.
Any other tips for sunscreen application to avoid stinging? Let me know in the comments below. Here’s a little video that basically says everything I’ve mentioned above. Trying to cater for all media-usage tastes, here…
Here’s the skincare routine I’ve been following for most of the season and I have to say that it has kept my face looking quite spectacularly fresh and bouncy, considering the stress levels and overarching sense of fatigue that has dominated the past few months. (And the fact that I’ve been gorging on Mint Magnums with ever-increasing frequency.)
So the tweaks I’ve made seem to have seen me through spring without any significant dramas – though I think it’s also pertinent to note that I’ve been taking my Vitamin D every day, which always makes a huge difference to my skin, hair and nails. (To be more accurate, I took Vitamin D tablets for the first few weeks of lockdown, but when the weather turned glorious and stayed that way, I ended up spending most of my time outdoors and so I haven’t been quite so diligent at taking the supplement. Regardless, I always find the difference remarkable. My default state, in terms of vitamin D levels, seems to be “chronically deficient”.)
Anyway, no more blathering on: here’s my current routine. There’s a product list as long as my arm for this particular update (below the video pane), but not because it’s complex; I just wanted to give a few options for each step – something spendy, something sensible. Favourites old and favourites new.
My Current Skincare Routine: Spring 2020
In a nutshell:
Morning: Cleanse + Antioxidant + Moisturiser/SPF
Evening Night 1: Cleanse + Retinol
Evening Night 2: Cleanse + Hydrating Serum + Rich Moisturiser
My morning routine remains relatively unchanged. In fact I never really do anything funky or different in the morning, mainly because I don’t have the time to spare. Or even the time to think things through properly. As such, it’s usually a cleanser-serum-moisturise situation, although I’ve been outdoors a lot and so you can tag “sunscreen” onto the end of that list.
The cleanser tends to be light and splash-off and I love the Curel Foaming Wash* at the moment. The antioxidant du jour is Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield* and you can find out about my current most-used sunscreens here.
My evening routine alternates between two versions, neither of them very difficult or lengthy. After a thorough cleanse with a balm, usually twice, I’ll either apply my retinol product (see list beneath the video pane) or I’ll go in for the hydration marathon. Well, not really a marathon – just two steps. More of a hydration sprint. In the Dads’ race at school sports day.
The sprint consists of a hydrating serum and then a rich moisturiser, just to get things juicy and plumptious.
That’s it. The odd glycolic peel pad, but not so much at the moment because I’m outside for most of the day, and now and then a face mask, mainly because I’ve started drinking a herbal sleepy tea in the bath before bed and a face mask just feels right.
There’s a lot more in the way of explanation for everything in the video, so you should absolutely watch that. I don’t even waffle, which is nothing short of a miracle, especially as being locked in with two small children has completely melted my mind. Locked in? Locked down!
You can find all my cleanser reviews here
Sunscreen reviews are here
Link to Vitamin C Products featured here