I’ve been sunscreen testing again and these are my current five SPF favourites. I’m pretty picky when it comes to sunscreen for the face – I like a lightweight feel and a traceless finish – but thankfully formulations have improved massively over the past few years and there are so many excellent versions to choose from.
I’m a big fan of the high protection lightweight SPF fluids such as Anthelios from La Roche-Posay (you can find the incredible new UVMune 400 Fluid online here*), Beauty Pie Featherlight UV (£12.50 to members here* – use affiliate code RUTHSENTME for money off membership if you’re a new sign-up) and Bondi Sands Hydra SPF50+ (online here*); but my current favourites all have a really fresh, gel-like feel on application. Almost cooling. I also think that I keep coming back to them again and again because I don’t really need to use a moisturiser underneath them, which is actually something I forgot to mention in the video below. They’re all intensely hydrating and sit well directly beneath makeup and won’t leave a white cast on the skin.
A quick note on SPF: three of my favourites are SPF30, which offer less protection than SPF50. I realise that for some that might be a dealbreaker, but when it comes to sunscreen, especially for the face, I think it’s important to find a texture that you enjoy applying and that works well within your routine and lifestyle. If you absolutely detest your sun protection and dread applying it then you’re a) probably not going to apply enough to reach the stated protection and b) possibly going to skip applications when you’re feeling lazy. Find an SPF for the face that you love and it just becomes part of your morning beauty line-up. If it’s an SPF50 then all the better.
Let’s get cracking with the “best sunscreens for face if you hate using sunscreens on your face” feature.
Skin Generics Niacinamide + Osmo City SPF30, £32.95 at Superdrug*
This is the most weightless facial SPF I’ve ever tried. It really feels just like water jelly. It’s lighter even than something like Clinique’s Moisture Surge. Completely disappears on the skin. Feels satisfyingly cool on a hot day. It is quite heavily fragranced and comes in a glass jar – which isn’t ideal for travelling – but the texture is simply supreme.
Murad Essential-C Day Moisture SPF30, currently £51 instead of £60 at FeelUnique*
If you’re after the same fresh feel but more of a comforting cream than a gel texture then Murad’s Day Moisture is just beautiful. For me it’s the ideal daily-use day cream: sophisticated moisturisation and antioxidant protection with a broad spectrum SPF30. This is also perfumed but smells slightly orangey and optimistic. It’s more expensive than the rest of the facial sunscreens on this page but it’s Murad, so I always feel I’m getting the appropriate results for the extra spend. The formulation is beautiful – deeply hydrating but no grease left on the skin.
La Roche-Posay HyaluB5 Aquagel SPF30, currently on sale (£25 instead of £34.50) at FeelUnique*
The gel-lest feeling gel SPF after Skin Generics, La Roche-Posay’s HyaluB5 is also delightfully cool on application but has a twist to the tale: as you glide it over the skin it becomes a sort of gel-gloss with long-lasting hydration that feels somehow sealed in. For those with dehydrated skin it’s an absolute dream. If I was very oily then I’d probably go for the Skin Generics just because it feels so fresh and weightless but the Hyalu pips it to the post in terms of packaging. Much more convenient in a pump!
Paula’s Choice Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid, £35 but in the sale at Paula’s Choice here*
This brilliant SPF50 from Paula’s Choice might just be my new favourite overall sunscreen for the face. It’s as light and fresh to apply as the Murad but has the benefit of higher protection. (It’s also half the price.) No residue after application yet it manages to feel very moisturising and sits quietly underneath any makeup you decide to plonk on top. It’s just such a good all-rounder. Expect to hear more on this one.
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50, £34 at SpaceNK*
This SPF from Australian Brand Ultra Violette has been “trending” which means, apparently, that lots of people are talking about it. For good reason: it offers very high protection in a formula that goes on like silk and then completely disappears. Australians do sunscreen like nobody else, you’re almost guaranteed to get a well though-out formula and this is no exception. It has perhaps slightly more sheen than the others at first but quickly dries to a satin finish. I’d say it’s very slightly suited to drier skin rather than oily but Ultra Violette also do a mattifying version that’s mineral* (there’s is zinc-only) if you prefer a physical sunblock.
Do you have any favourite sunscreens for the face you’d like to suggest I try? Let me know in the comments, please. I’ve found some excellent products through the comment section here on the blog!
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?
A while ago I wrote about three of the best SOS moisturiser creams I’d been trying (pictured above). These were soothing, repairing moisturisers that I’d tested out in an attempt to get my skin back on an even keel. (You can read the post here – that particular ailment episode seems a million years ago now, what with constant school bugs and colds and viruses!)
Two of the SOS repair creams I recommended in the previous round-up were on the pricier side and I promised to take a look at some more keenly priced versions. Here I have three of the best inexpensive face creams for rescuing skin that’s dry and sensitive – whether it’s down to changes in the weather or overly-enthusiastic application of skin peels and retinoids.
Signs that your skin might need a bit of extra TLC? It feels tighter than usual, dryer than usual and has perhaps started to itch or to flake. You might see some redness or it might just be that it feels rough and irritated. Sometimes mine feels as though there are tiny annoying hairs stuck to it; quite a lot of the time it’s because my cat has walked over and rubbed his tail all over my face, but now and then, when on close inspection I see there’s nothing there, I know that my skin is in an angsty mood.
I have a bit more info on what I do in times of facial hardship in this skin routine post here – mainly involving “keeping things simple” and “avoiding strong exfoliating ingredients” but I do find that a week or so using potent skin barrier creams in place of my usual moisturisers works a treat.
And so, my top three beauty buys: (more) affordable SOS moisture creams. The first two are ceramide heavy (ceramides are the fatty acids that essentially make up the outer layers of skin, helping to form a nice strong barrier against the outside world) and the third takes a slightly different route to skin nirvana but all apply beautifully are deeply moisturising and have a non-greasy finish.
Curel Intensive Moisture Facial Cream, £19.50 here*. This cream with lightweight texture, but a deeply nourishing action is heaven in a pot. I have nothing bad to say about it. Dreamily fresh and cool to apply but with a surprising richness as it’s massaged in, it is an excellent all-rounder for those who want a face cream with added repair benefits. Brilliant for very dry, very sensitive skin, but it’s not at all greasy so those with combination skin will also find it pretty comfortable.
Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream, £30 here*. Slightly pricier but still offering exceptional value for money, Dr Jart’s Ceramidin Cream acts like a shield over your skin to help prevent moisture loss, keeping it hydrated and happy. It feels almost medicinal, like an ointment, but that makes me warm to it even more!
I often layer these creams over my go-to serum for stressed-skin days: the Toleriane Dermallergo, £28 here*.
This is a clear fluid that’s been formulated for the most sensitive of skin and it has an instant calming effect. It contains an ingredient developed by La Roche-Posay called Neurosensine which immediately relieves signs of sensitive skin including the aforementioned itchiness and tightness and gives a powerful hydration boost.
The third cream I’ve been testing out is from the same Dermallergo range:
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermallergo Cream, £18.50 here*. There’s a fluid version as well (same price here*) for those who prefer a lighter texture or who have oily or combination skin but the cream is gloriously soothing and gives a long-lasting feeling of comfort. And joy.
(Comfort-and-joy, good ti-i-dings of comfort and joy!)
Just getting into carol-singing mode, don’t mind me.
Let me know if you have any surefire rescue creams of your own, add them to the comments section below and I’ll give them a try. I like the three I’ve picked out in this post because they all work so well as regular, everyday face creams as well as SOS versions – non-greasy, well-behaved beneath makeup and not so pricey that you’re stingy with the amount you apply…
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.
My five favourite beauty, fashion and lifestyle products this month include some boots for stomping in, a dress for vamping in and a face cream that moisturises so deeply it’s slightly unnerving. Watch the video below if you fancy listening to me chatting through my favourites or carry on reading for the quiet, work-skive-friendly version.
I kickstart my favourites this month with a really exciting one for me, because I loved this product and brand so much that I’ve actually invested in the company. (Hence the AD disclaimer.) The product is a very high-quality supplement called Heights and it has been specifically formulated to support the brain – braincare, if you will. Now I know that the issue of supplements divides people and so if you’re not a taker then please feel free to scroll on down to just below where there’s a picture of me wearing a dress and looking sultry/dead behind the eyes.
I’m pretty selective about the vitamins/supplements I take and well aware of the noise around the fact that so many of them are – quite frankly – shite, but I’ve also had some noticeable health successes (for want of a better phrase) when I’ve consistently taken certain vitamins and supplements that have been recommended to me.
You could argue that it’s coincidental and obviously it’s anecdotal, because I haven’t been part of any trials or studies, but off the top of my head: my recurring cystitis is massively alleviated when I’m consistently taking D-Mannose, I don’t get my awful mouth ulcers so much when I take Vitamin B12 and making sure I keep up my Vitamin D intake is a priority for me since 2014 when I was tested and shown to be drastically deficient. (All of these were recommended to me by doctors or consultants both privately and through the NHS.)
I think that I’m healthily cynical about the vitamins industry as a whole but feel as though I’ve had enough positive experiences with good quality ones to be open to trying something new. And I loved that the Heights Smart Supplement targeted the brain and the health of the actual organ itself, which wasn’t something I’d thought of before. The capsules (you take two a day, anytime, and they’re fine on an empty stomach) contain all of the Vitamin D I need to take, the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin B12 and then a careful selection of highest quality vitamins and minerals that help to support the brain.
If you’d like to give them a try then I have a 25% discount code for the monthly plan – use code RUTH25. It works out cheaper the longer the plan you subscribe for, but I did a few months first to see how I got on. Please do let me know what you think if you try them, I find the whole concept so interesting – you can read more about Braincare here.
Next favourites on my list this month: two fashion items. Stompy boots and vixen dress. I have some events coming up for work and wanted a dress that was noticeable (cue bold print) but not too blousy (enter stage left the long sleeves and high neck). There’s something slightly gothic about this Reiss dress* and I really like the autumnal colours in the print. I would never usually go for a high neck but I think that it works so well with the gathering over the chest and across the back – I think it’s really flattering.
Stompy combat boots aren’t perhaps the natural pairing for a printed maxi dress, but I’ve been experimenting with ways of getting more use out of evening/occasion dresses and going down the “Lily Allen circa 2006” route seems to be quite a successful one. Fancy flouncy dresses with trainers. Pretty maxi dresses with hard boots. There’s a proper blog post coming out imminently, but for now, behold the “Stomper” (aptly named) boots from Russel & Bromley:
They’re so beautifully made. Expensive, but worth every penny in terms of build quality and the fact that somehow they still manage to look quite dainty. Initially I was vexed by the laces up the front, because nobody has time for laces, but they’re actually dummy ones and the boots have zips down the sides. Marvellous.
You can find the Stomper boots online here.
Two beauty products now. The Jo Loves Fragrance Paintbrush in Pink Vetiver has been in the favourites before, more for the scent itself than the scent delivery system, but after a few little nights away here and there I’ve noted that the paintbrush is actually quite a nice way of applying perfume. It seems more luxurious than a rollerball – slightly cooling, and the brushstroke is sensuous – and there’s something a bit more enticing about softly stroking a fragrance on. It’s great for travelling with as it’s lighter and sturdier than a glass bottle and handy if you’re in a crowded train or plane and don’t want to spritz perfume on everyone within a five metre radius.
The Paintbrush is here* online and is £40 for 7ml for the initial packaging. Yikes! That’s £5.70 per ml. However the refill set is £35 for 21ml which is much more purse-friendly at £1.66 per ml. For comparison’s sake, the 100ml fragrance in a bottle is £1.15 per ml. I don’t think that the extra is too horrendous considering how convenient the brush is, especially for travel!
You can find the Jo Loves Pink Vetiver range here*. Pink Vetiver is absolutely gorgeous, by the way. I can highly recommend it as an autumnal fragrance that still has sparks of a summer evening. It’s spicy and slightly exotic with a sort of musky masculinity – pink peppercorn, ginger, vetiver and cardamom. Really quite addictive.
Last on my favourites list but absolutely not least: the new Triple Hyaluronic Acid Deep Moisture Miracle Cream from Beauty Pie (online here*). This cream promises deep hydration and boy does it deliver. It’s not quite so dramatic as the Supreme Cream (renamed Power Elixir Moisturiser, here*) but the lightweight gel cream packs an amazing punch in terms of hydration and the effects are noticeably long-lasting. If you’re after a heavyweight moisturiser with a lightweight texture and no greasy residue then this is your bag – suitable for all skin types, it’s perfect for plumping out those crepey lines of dehydration.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Beauty Pie membership system then read my post here; you subscribe to a certain plan and then have a spending allowance. The products are one price for the non-member and another, much lower, price for members. For this cream, the £60 equivalent price (they compare the product to similar luxury products on the market) is brought down to £15.57 for members. Add on membership and postage and you still have a very high-end face cream for significantly less than you’d pay elsewhere.
That’s the idea. It makes more sense once you get your head around it and Beauty Pie’s skincare is so consistently good that it is worth getting your head around it!
If you use the code RUTHSENTME* then you can get an extra £50 spending allowance on sign-up, so make sure you get your bonus if you take the plunge. Some of my most-used favourites are in this post but I would absolutely, unreservedly recommend the new Hot Oil Double Cleansing Balm, here* online.
That’s my favourites done and dusted for this month – I’m toying with the idea of moving this feature into the middle of the month so that the title still feels relevant and timely. What do you think? I sometimes think that once the month has moved on I don’t want to read anything about the previous one. It’s like going backwards. Let me know your thoughts!
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*.
Three beauty heroes, an excellent cookbook and one of the best presents I’ve ever been given: how much better could a monthly favourites video be?
Here’s a quick rundown of the first four items on the list but you’ll have to watch the video to see the fifth. It’s so cute. I do have a tearful moment at one point…
My first beauty love this month is Le Labo’s cult fragrance Santal 33. It’s spicy, warm, woody, leathery (but a hint of expensive leather, not a male stripper’s oud-soaked leather thong type leather) and just so incredibly sexy. I’ll never do it justice with words, so give it a try next time you pass a stockist. Or if you ever see a gift with purchase that has it in then nab one – the little 15ml sample I have was either from a gift or the Liberty calendar and its RRP is £58! You can find it at Liberty or Cult Beauty here*.
Next on the list, Murad’s incredible Intense Recovery Cream, online here*. It’s almost medicinal in its colour and texture, it feels like the sort of thing you’d use in extreme situations, but it’s absolutely gorgeous on very dry or overcooked skin. And by overcooked I mean too many acids, too much retinol, too much piling on of everything willy-nilly. This is instant relief and you notice a difference overnight. Standalone post coming up, I’m sure.
La Roche-Posay have launched a really lovely facial sunscreen. They are champions when it comes to good sunscreens but this one is a departure from the light and milky Anthelios: the Hyalu B5 Aquagel SPF30 is part of the intensely hydrating Hyalu range and it really, really leaves skin properly quenched. Or drenched. Whatever the term would be. It’s unbelievably lightweight, fresh in feel and I can imagine it’ll be a huge hit, especially for those with oily/combination skin who want a light touch but still require a load of moisture. Find it here at Boots*.
Last mention before you watch the end of the video (I know you’ll skip to it, it’s fine): Table Manners by Jessie and Lennie Ware. It’s such a good recipe book – I’ve cooked two things already and have a dozen or so more bookmarked. The photos are a delight, I love the little anecdotes on every page and you can really tell that the two of them (mother and daughter) love to cook and love to eat. Find it online here*.
My skincare routine for what shall forevermore be known as The Winter of Discontent. Obviously, in true Crilly style, I am posting this just as we pip over into springtime, but as I’ve said before, this is more of a journal post recording my skincare routine rather than anything that’s responding to seasonal changes or trends. I like to look back on them. And, in the future, when everyone is Googling stuff from their Google glasses as they lounge about on floating hoverboards in their Martian villas, they will be able to access these posts and use them as historical documents.
“Look what shit they were chatting back in 2021, Brian! Arguing about scotch eggs and the EU when all that time the planet was about to implode! Ha ha ha!”
This skincare routine could really be subtitled The Retinol/Moisturiser See-Saw. I’ve been working my way up to some stronger retinoids (I really want to try the Crystal Retinal 10 and 20 from Medik8!) but every time I get too overly confident my skin revolts and starts going all itchy and tight on me. And yes I know there’s often a period of discomfort before you get to all the good stuff, like a smooth and shiny-glowy face that can be seen from the moon, I just can’t be doing with it. I’m the sort of person who feels cross all day if a gusset is too seamy, so having an itchy face is just not tenable.
What I do, therefore, is absolutely lard my face in between retinoid applications. (Hence the retinol moisturiser see-saw.) I find the strongest, most emollient balms and creams I can and slather them on and massage them in as though I’m one of those outrageously expensive turkeys you can get from the farm shop. I massage and pummel and when it has all soaked in I massage over another layer.
And “layer” is another key word this season; I’m usually one for keeping things very simple, with a cleanse, a serum and a moisturiser (the retinoid or whatever active I’m using would slot into one of those categories, whether it was an antioxidant serum in the morning or an all-in-one retinol+whatever moisturiser at night); this winter I’ve been adding in the odd extra coating of something just to try and banish the tight feeling.
One very good discovery (and I’m not usually one for mists or spritzes, unless it’s Emma Hardie’s one* or the LRP Toleriane 8 here*) is the Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator (here*) which is brilliant for boosting the effects of whatever is piled on over the top.
Then it’s a serum (antioxidant in the morning, something hydrating at night, unless it’s a retinol night in which case straight on with that after cleansing) and a moisturiser to seal it all in. I’ve even been known to add a drop or two of oil into my moisturiser, though I forgot to mention that in the video!
The easiest way for me to show you the current skincare routine is to put it below in a list form. So here it is – beneath that you have a video with full explanation and whole joyous minutes of waffle.
I use a quick micellar water sweep-over! Naughty but all I can be arsed with – currently using this*: https://bit.ly/2MkViiy
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum*: https://bit.ly/2MgaIos
SkinGredients Skin Protein: https://skingredients.co.uk/products/skin-protein-vitamin-a-serum
Arden Great 8 (discontinued?!): https://www.amodelrecommends.com/the-fresh-summer-sunscreen-that-feels-barely-there/
Some other favourite sunscreens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4pzGoALxlU&t=161s
Dermalogica Active Clay Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/3r0uQcS
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/2ZM9UKV
BeautyPie Cleansing Balm*: https://bit.ly/2NXoRY5
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator*: https://bit.ly/2ZOqZnI
Emma Hardie Pump and Glow Spritz*: https://bit.ly/3qV225G
LRP Toleriane 8 Spray*: https://bit.ly/3aPTNT6
Murad Retinol Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/2ZLWlLt
Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/2ZYeCak
Kiehl’s Powerful Line Reducing Eye Serum*: https://bit.ly/3gwo9dg
Retinol (once every two or three days)
Murad Night Cream*: https://bit.ly/3khXnZj
Kate Somerville Retinol VitaC Serum*: https://bit.ly/3klOluf
Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 and 6*: https://bit.ly/2ZK5btl
Rich Night Moisturiser
Weleda Skin Food Light*: https://bit.ly/3aQ0lRG
Lumene Night Balm here
REN Evercalm Overnight Balm*: https://bit.ly/2ZKgOQL
Darphin 8 Flower Necar Oil-Cream*: https://bit.ly/3klfYU9
I still have a few posts to catch up on from the end of last year – drafted but not quite finished – but this one on blemish busters is, I feel, very relevant. Mask-induced spots, or “maskne” as the marketing world coined it, seems to be an ongoing issue for some people, especially those who have to wear proper protective face gear for long periods of time.
I can’t imagine it’s the sort of widespread problem that some brands would like us to think it is – “OH MY GOD MASKNE IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD, BEWARE MASKNE!” – but I suppose that facial skin that is kept covered, possibly slightly hot and sweaty, for any lengthy part of the day is likely to rise up and revolt in the end. Even for those who just occasionally need to don a cloth mask, there’s a feeling of clammy clogginess to the mouth, nose and chin area once the fabric comes off. This might not result in breakouts – there might equally be some dryness or flakiness or, indeed, no apparent change at all – but if you do feel clammy and cloggy then the below may help.
So, three best beauty buys for helping with breakouts, all at different price-points. I actually have a few more bits and pieces to add to this post since I first drafted it (and filmed the accompanying video) last Autumn; you can see those at the bottom of the post. In general, salicylic acid is a good ingredient to look out for if you feel as though you need a good cleaning-out of the pores, just go steady if you find that your skin is on the dry side and follow up with a decent moisturiser. If you’re scared of adding oil to the problem then I really rate the oil-free Toleriane Fluid (here*), it has been a staple in my beauty line-up for many years.
Right, here are the first three of my best buys:
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, from £10 online here*: I’ve done a more in-depth review of this here but in a nutshell, this is a wipe-on-and-leave exfoliant that is brilliant at keeping pores clear without feeling harsh or aggressive. I use it once a day (in the morning, usually) during my PMT week to help curb any breakouts and I never feel that it dries my skin, but there are different versions and formats here* if you’re worried and want to check out alternatives from the same range.
The Ordinary Salicylic 2% Masque, £9 here* (stock coming shortly, it’s always selling out!): this is a brilliant deep-treatment mask that works quickly and effectively to cleanse and purify but isn’t eye-wateringly tingly. You know the masks that make you feel as though your face is on fire? It’s not one of those. You may feel a bit of a warm tickle but it’s nothing like some of those power-player “active” clay masks I’ve tested over the last few years. You need a fan pointed at your face to get through the whole ten minutes!
Not with this one, no fan/cold compress required. I use it as an occasional PMT-week treat when things seem to be getting a bit angsty (salicylic can be quite soothing, despite its spot-busting status) but you could use it once or twice a week if you are oily or spot-prone.
Here’s one for more a more targeted, on-the-spot solution: Kate Somerville EradiKate, £52 online here*. I’ve tried a lot of spot treatments but this works for me quickly and without any major side effects – no flaking or peeling where I’ve been applying and reapplying. Probably because this has actually been formulated as an all-over lotion and not a targeted treatment, so it’s far more forgiving, but it’s so pokey that I can’t bring myself to use it all over!
At any rate, I tend to get very localised breakouts and not very often so it would be utter madness to cover my whole face in this. Anyway, it’s salicylic plus retinol in a lightweight cream – if you’ve previously tried the proper Kate Somerville EradiKate, with the pink lotion you dip into, this is nothing like that.
If you do want something for all over the face but not so spendy then I still think that the Effaclar Duo+ from La Roche-Posay is excellent (it’s here* online, £17) and they’ve recently introduced a new serum (here*) that promises a more concentrated formula combining salicylic with LHA and glycolic acid. I haven’t had the opportunity to test this out properly yet so please let me know in the comments if you have tried it and what you thought!
I’m going to also add the Active Clay Cleanser from Dermalogica (£35 here*) onto my blemish-busting list because it’s a low-key version of the Salicylic Masque mentioned above. I used this every day for about a month and my skin didn’t ever feel tight or dried out, just really very clean. I’d leave it on for a minute or two, because it just felt as though I should, and it’s now most definitely a cleanser I like to have lined up along the side of my bath for my nightly ablutions.
There’s a video to go alongside this post, it’s in the IGTV section of my Instagram page and you can reach it via this link. Enjoy!
This isn’t my first time at the rodeo when it comes to writing about Murad’s brilliant Retinol Youth Renewal range. I covered the relaunch at around this time last year (you can read that post here if you fancy) and it’s one of the ranges I refer to by default when people ask me for retinol recommendations. The main reason being that it’s powerful stuff, offering up proper, visible results, yet it seems to be tolerated by all but the most sensitive skin.
I mean you still have to go slow and steady with the range – it tingles, it goes straight to work, it’s not messing around – but if you’re sensible and don’t try to go from Total Retinol Virgin to Nightly Retinol Fiend in the space of a fortnight you’ll be A-OK. My preference, if I haven’t used retinol products for a while, is to start off with every four nights for a couple of weeks, move to every three nights for another couple and then stick to every other night for the duration of however long I manage to keep it up for. (I tend to back off a little during the warmer months.) This tends to keep any dryness or itchiness at bay – if I go straight in with all beauty guns a-blazing then you can guarantee that my face will be falling off by week two!
I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum here and the fact that it’s a total game-changer when it comes to using retinol around the eyes. If the rest of the range (a face serum, a sumptuous, buttery night cream) has been sensitively formulated then this eye serum takes things one step further. Not only can it be taken all around the eyes, including the lids, it includes non-greasy moisturisers to provide lightweight hydration for up to twenty-four hours. I love the fact that it’s safe to be used on the lids – every year my eyelids are more and more wrinkly and it would be nice to nip that in the bud for a while, before they start to resemble little testicles.
My eyes are notorious when it comes to overreacting to strong ingredients yet they have no problem with the Murad eye serum even when used nightly. Now you might not be an eye cream sort of person, preferring to use your usual face cream or treatment all over instead. What I will say about strong retinol products is that I find they are sometimes a bit…enthusiastic…to take up to the eye area. Many a time have I woken up to see my little red “burn” patch has reappeared beneath my right eye – a relic from my modelling years when someone changed my eye makeup fourteen times in eight hours and basically took the top eight thousand layers of skin off – and so I try to be careful and relatively discerning when it comes to treating the eye area.
And so, in conclusion, if you are looking to invest in a results-driven eye treatment that has been specifically formulated for the eye area then Youth Renewal Eye Serum is a fine place to start. It is an investment – the eye serum is £72, night cream is £70 – but the firming and plumping benefits are noticeable.
Murad use a three-pronged approach to delivering the retinol, with an “instant”, fast-acting retinoid, a slower release retinol and an ingredient to sort of “prep” the skin for the retinol so it’s a pretty sophisticated formula with a gentle, non-aggressive touch. Powerful enough for tackling the established lines and wrinkles and loss of firmness but also great for preventative measures too.
You can find the whole Youth Renewal range online here – if you use the code RUTH25 then you get 25% off*!
*excludes winter sale items, kits and new product launches.
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