You might well point out that I’m a bit late to the party with this particular seasonal makeup update, but apparently we’re in for a little heatwave next week, here in the UK. So there. I refuse to let go of summer! At any rate, why be so rigid about the seasons? I don’t consider it to be Autumn Proper until at least October.
(The meteorological calendar has yesterday, 1st September, down as the start of Autumn, but what does Mr Meteorology know? Although I do prefer that version of events, because if you go by the astronomical calendar then autumn doesn’t end until two days before Christmas. And that just won’t do. The run-up to Christmas must be wintery – Home Alone and frosted windows, not pumpkins and falling leaves!)
Anyway, I’m a spring-summer person through and through and (barely) tolerate the colder half of the year through gritted teeth and about seven layers of knitwear. I basically go into a mild form of hibernation from October until May, where my brain works at half speed and my body stores an inordinate amount of fat.
So what’s in my makeup bag? Here’s a rundown and it’s pretty pared down and straightforward; one of the best tinted moisturisers ever made followed by a couple of insta-glam base products and a slick of something sexy on the eyes.
NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser (here*) has been around for years and, unlike the Laura Mercier classic, hasn’t been tampered with. It’s really very hydrating and has surprisingly full coverage for a tinted moisturiser – watch the video below to see it going on. It’s light and fresh to apply but robust in terms of finish and longevity.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze & Glow Palette (here*) is another cult classic – a sculpting duo that has instant impact, creating razor-sharp cheekbones where before there were none. Even if the whole contouring thing isn’t quite your bag, a light touch with the bronzing shade will give a proper grown-up finish to your face. A hint of chisel. Which sounds a lot less glamorous than intended.
I often skip concealer, but not if my base is sheerer than usual – my current concealer squeeze is the Vanish Airbrush from Hourglass, online here*. It’s creamy and easy to pat in but sticks fast and is virtually opaque, though never cakey or heavy looking. Again, watch the video for a little demo – Hourglass make such brilliant base products, whether you’re after full coverage foundation or lightest touch skin finishing powders.
And now for the off-piste part: lipstick as blush. With the benefit of hindsight perhaps this wasn’t the best lipstick to use as a blusher – it has far too much sheen – but it gives you an idea of how easy it is to finish off a makeup look by matching cheeks to lips. Obviously if you’re going in hard with the lip colour, like a neon orange or something, then perhaps don’t get carried away with the matchy-matchy, but if it’s a neutral with a peach or pink lean, or even a brighter red or purple, just pat a small amount of it onto the cheeks and blend for an instant flush. Most creamier, traditional lipsticks in a bullet will work nicely, just tread carefully with the bright shades.
I used L’Oreal’s Color Riche Shine in 658 (here*) which is a light, warm beige with the most beautiful juicy finish. As I said, not ideal as a blush, but if you’re looking for something wearable and foolproof that sits between a pigmented lipstick and a sheer tinted lip balm, the Color Riche Shine will definitely float your boat. It’s basically YSL’s Volupté Shine but without the fancy golden packaging and the fancy pricetag.
What next? Eyes! Some Trinny Eye2Eye Shadow on the lids (Truth, here*) and then I used my summertime barely-there mascara for low-key lashes, the Suqqu Natural Curl (was here*). It’s very good, but actually it’s been replaced with the Eyelash mascara*, which also seems to be very good. I shall report back with a better review, because that was very lame and noncommittal wasn’t it?
Brows have been shaped all summer long with either Gimme Brow from Benefit (here*) or Glossier’s Boy Brow (here*): I’ve compared these dozens of times in videos and posts and so you’ll probably be able to trot out my line that the Boy Brow is waxier but the Gimme Brow is easier to handle. Both are just excellent and well worth every penny for brows that are just a bit fuller and more shapely – this is about as easy as “doing your brows” gets.
Right. You’ve read my words, now see it all in action. Any questions, leave them in the comments box below.
*UPDATE: If you’re reading this on the 2nd September and considering buying the NARS Tinted Moisturiser, Hourglass Concealer and/or the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Palette, know that Space NK have a mega gift with purchase* running for those spending £175 or over. It’s worth over £250 and includes a full sized Sunday Riley Ceramide Cream, which is one of the richest and buttery moisturiser launches of the year. You can find more info on the gift here*.
My summer skincare routine is here and it’s slightly juicier than usual because a couple of months ago I had to do an almost unprecedented SOS u-turn on my whole beauty routine. I know you’re ready to hear about it. We all love a bit of a disaster.
Actually it wasn’t quite a disaster, but nearly. And anyway it was all the weather’s fault – who knew we’d have a month-long heatwave IN SPRING? There I was, merrily spending all of my time in the garden (from dawn til dusk, almost), not really tweaking my skincare routine to suit my environment because IT WAS STILL SPRING. It simply didn’t occur to me that I should have been shelving all of my usual spring products (that I was using because…it was spring) and adapt a routine more suited to a four week trek through the Sahara. I just don’t really associate my garden with high-high temperatures and dangerous levels of sun exposure (classic Brit mistake, I think) and so although I was always slathered in SPF, something untoward happened: I started getting bits of pigmentation on my upper lip and along my cheekbones.
I realise that was something of an anti-climax for those of you waiting for stories of skin blisters, ice packs and a trip to A&E, but no – just some pesky pigmentation beginning to creep over my face. Which isn’t something that’s ever really happened before. And I was slightly bemused until it occurred to me that I’d been carrying on with my usual retinol-hydrate-retinol-hydrate drill, using a strongish retinoid one night and then giving my skin a real moisture boost the next, without really thinking about what was happening in the daytime.
It’s not like me to overlook this sort of thing, especially when it comes to my face (once a model, always a model: your face is what pays the mortgage) but I have to say that I was a little distracted during lockdown, what with the world ending and supermarket shelves being emptied and the fear of death and also having two small children tearing about the place 24/7 with no relief in sight.
Anyway, as soon as the little freckly patches appeared I did a total 360 on my skincare routine and for the first time used my “big guns” antioxidants twice daily in an attempt to stop the discolouration in its tracks. I pulled back on the retinol, mainly because I can’t cope with thinking about more than one thing at once, and AHAs were temporarily abandoned.
It’s important to note that I didn’t reduce the retinoid usage because of the dark spots – I’m not suggesting that one caused the other – it’s just that it has always been a natural reaction for me to simplify things if I run into any kind of beauty bother. And although I’ve read dozens of articles quoting dermatologists who say that it’s absolutely fine to use retinol during periods of increased sun exposure (aka “summer”), there are others who warn to tread carefully. Who tell you to wear a LOT of sunscreen. (This post by the experts at Medik8 is good.) And if the caveat to using an ingredient is that you need to be really, really careful and slather on your SPF repeatedly and preferably move to a dark cave then it’s my instinct to retreat from it temporarily. I think that I probably play things fairly safe and boring in these days of needle-covered rollers and peels that require fans so that you don’t self-combust and competitive acid percentages and imaginative actives layering. I just really, really don’t enjoy my face falling off.
But back on topic: my antioxidants of choice were from Skinceuticals, a brand well-known for its antioxidant power players. Although their CE Ferulic is perhaps their hero product in this category, I actually chose the Resveratrol BE for nighttime use and the new(ish) Discoloration Defense for the morning. I’ve used the Resveratrol BE before with great results, so it was a natural choice and I’d been meaning to try the Discoloration Defense since its launch, but had never really had any discolouration to test it out on!
(Before I continue, I must say that these serious serums come with a serious price-tag – the Resveratrol BE is £135 here* and the Discoloration Defense is £85 here* – but Skinceuticals always really impress me with their meticulous clinical trials and their ability to formulate ultra-potent stuff without making my skin irritated. And although I have dozens of antioxidants waiting to be tested, I would purchase the Discoloration Defense serum when this one inevitably runs out. Always a good sign. And please note that I have suggested an alternative antioxidant in the product list below.)
So the BE at night at the DD in the morning, although I could have used the DD serum both day and night, which would make the routine a hell of a lot cheaper than adding the Resveratrol in! Did I bring back my skin from the brink? Yes, most certainly. And it looked brighter, more radiant, too. I’ll tell you what I did notice, though, after abandoning my retinol-moisture-retinol habit: my skin didn’t feel quite so bouncy and plumptious and elastic. Glowing, yes. More even-toned, definitely. But there’s a real boing quality to skin that’s loving its retinol products and I must admit I miss it.
Of course the organised person would do antioxidants in the morning, retinol at night and wear a great big hat in the garden. Easier said than done – my hat invariably gets used as a fairy village (filled with soil and weeds and shells), picnic basket (filled with food) and dog’s emergency water bowl in any one day. But once I get into the Antioxidant-Retinol-Hydrate groove this autumn I genuinely think I’ll have hit the skincare sweet spot…
For now, here’s my full skincare routine on video. I’ve also listed the products I’ve been using below, for those who hate video – it’s pretty self-explanatory, but do let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
Curel Foaming Facial Wash*: http://tidd.ly/f83e3054
Inkey List Oat Cleanser*: https://bit.ly/30h50pf
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser*: http://bit.ly/2rjRByY
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum*: https://bit.ly/3bMhLMV
Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield*: https://bit.ly/3jbO2kP
Skinceuticals Resveratrol BE Serum*: https://bit.ly/32o7NQ1
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Eye Cream*: https://bit.ly/3gwo9dg
Toleriane Fluid*: https://bit.ly/30iglW4
Dr Roebucks No Worries Face Cream*: https://bit.ly/2Cj42AD
Retinols (occasional) –
Kate Somerville +Retinol Vita C Serum*: https://bit.ly/2DGHDxw
Murad Retinol Serum*: https://bit.ly/30esN9j
Rich Night Creams –
Lumene Nordic Hydracare Rich Day Cream, £26.90 here*: http://bit.ly/2PQ3aqS
REN Overnight Balm*: https://bit.ly/30jxfn1
Kate Somerville Delik8*: https://bit.ly/3hesvWV
Three Favourite Sunscreens Video: https://youtu.be/f4pzGoALxlU
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35*: https://amzn.to/32sIUTh
Beauty Pie Fruitizyme Five Minute Fix Mask*: https://bit.ly/3j6uCO6
Fancy a quick blast through the beauty things that have wowed me recently? Well buckle up, team, this is going to be quite the ride!
I’m exaggerating, obviously, because it’s just a post about beauty favourites so there are never going to be any significant potholes or humpbacked bridges to throw you out of your proverbial seat. I just feel as though I need an inventive and enticing way to introduce the post because beauty feels so…vanilla after all we’ve been chatting about recently. You know, tick removal and having sex with mermaids. As Mr AMR said to me last week: how do you ever go back to normal content when you’ve written about underwater love with a sequinned penis?
(You can read all about the intricacies of merperson sex here.)
But I take pride in my professionalism and so I’m going to try my hardest to get back to business – exemplary eyeshadows, exclusive perfumes and a conditioner that’ll leave your hair silkier than a mermaid’s. Although NOT a mermaid who’s been in an aqua-aerobical tryst with King Triton.
(In fact why would mermaids even have silky hair? Surely the salt water plays absolute havoc! I bet it’s a full time job just keeping it detangled. You’d be there at your clam shell dressing table all day sorting that mess out and don’t even get me started on the amount of moisturiser you’d need for your shrivelled up skin.)
Anyway, back to the favourites: I’m particularly fond of this little collection. A whisper of lace, a hint of sparkle and a whole bucketful of quality essential oil. Sounds like a recipe for my kind of party!
I don’t even know what I mean by that. Here’s the video, but carry on reading for the full post.
My first favourite of the month: the John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Conditioner, £29 here*. I mentioned a mask from the same range a while back and that’s glorious too, but I actually think that the conditioner pips it to the beauty post. It’s quicker, more convenient and leaves your hair just as smooth and silky as the reconstructor treatment. No residue, easy to rinse off, gorgeous smell. It’s just exemplary.
Then the Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oil, £26 here*. You can’t get better than the original, hero product that this brand makes (confusingly called Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oil); it’s just aromatherapy perfection. One tiny capful of the concentrated oil blend into a warm bath and you’re transformed into whatever improved state the bottle promises – deeply relaxed, perhaps, or lightly revived, depending on which version you choose.
But for those who don’t have a bath, the original is a bit of a faff. You get around the lack of standing water issue by patting a small amount of the oil onto your chest and “inhaling the scent”, but really. It’s a (literal) booby prize in comparison to the real deal, the instant bath-to-spa experience.
And so the new dedicated shower product is a welcome launch – it cleanses and allows you to enjoy the benefits of the aromatherapy blends all at the same time. There are fewer scent versions but the all important and very best one is present – Deep Relax – and for me that’s the only one that matters!
I think my favourite-favourite this month is the beautiful Quentin Monge x Atelier Cologne launch. Atelier Cologne have done quite a few amazing collaborations but this one has really excited me – Quentin Monge produces some of the most recognisable, iconic illustrations in the world and his design for the Clementine California fragrance is so unbelievably cool. This is a proper collector’s item – I can imagine people in 2065 unboxing their pristine Quentin Monge perfumes and making a video for whatever futuristic video platform that exists in 2065.
“GUYS!” they’ll say. “Oh my God, Granny found this awesome box of beauty stuff from the olden days and look at this bottle! I think the woman in the illustration is, like, lying in the sun? Which is weird, but they used to do weird shit back then. LOL. Like go to these places to all eat together, on the same table, in the same room. I think they were called restrooms. Or restaurants. Whatever.”
The fragrance can be bought alone, as a large bottle, or as a very beautiful gift set including a large 100ml bottle, a 30ml bottle and a leather travel pouch. The gift set is £153 at Selfridges here* and the 100ml fragrance is £98 here*. The scent is, as you can probably imagine, very orangey but in a light and sexy way. Incredibly wearable, utterly delicious.
Talking about incredibly wearable and utterly delicious, this month’s favourites round-up includes a wonderful independent lingerie brand called Attollo. Attollo first got in touch with me a couple of years ago when I was talking about annoying bra sizes on Instagram. I kept getting measured in department stores as 30G (I had just stopped breastfeeding, I think!) or 30FF, yet they had very little to offer me in those sizes. It sort of seemed pointless, really, to tell me I was that size. Why give someone a size that isn’t catered for?
So there wasn’t much out there for me at all – a handful of styles I liked – and when Attollo got in touch to say that they actually specialised in small back sizes with large cups I was delighted to see that their bras were dainty, sexy and didn’t have inch-wide rubber backed shoulder straps.
It’s proper treaty underwear – luxury lace, exquisite detailing and flattering longline cuts that make you feel a million dollars. Go and have a meander around on their website – the range is small but everything it needs to be.
Finally, some cream eyeshadows that wowed me and therefore went straight into my permanent makeup bag. Trinny London’s eye2eye cream shadows are well-pigmented, slide on softly and easily but set well and stay on all day. I’ve tried them before and loved them but I usually steer towards the muted neutral tones; a little line-up of terracotta and peachy shades landed on my desk the other week and they instantly struck me as being perfect for late summer. Burnished, sizzling reddish metallics. Vaguely reminiscent of the sun going down on an exotic beach that most of us are too nervous to visit.
I tried Fortitude, a metallic burgundy and Courage which is a deep pinky copper. Both look outrageously good, even splodged on and smudged with a fingertip. You can find them here* – shadows are £18 each and the cream formula makes lids look fresh and sheeny rather than flat and powdery.
Here endeth my monthly favourites sermon – remember that (if you have a spare hundred hours or so) you can scroll back through all of my favourites over the past DECADE by clicking here.
Here are the June favourites, which means that I’m finally getting there with my admin catch-up! I’m going to keep this blurb short and sweet because quite a lot of the video is taken up by a review of some “period pants” and I’m doing a whole other post on those delightful things. And I don’t want to repeat myself. (I’m trying to be very efficient with my time this week because things have been so hectic. The only saving grace is that the weather hasn’t been that brilliant, because there’s nothing I hate more than being trapped inside with my laptop when the sun is shining.)
(Yes I know about those weird box things that you can put your laptop into to shade the screen from the sun, but honestly that would be one step away from wearing knee-pads to do the weeding. I’m just not ready to be that practical.)
So June Favourites; an amazingly light-but-effective neck cream, a powerful eye cream, a hydrating foundation (spoiler alert: you already know about that one, I’m all out of sync here) and some lightly-tinted lip balms that are great for low-low-key makeup days.
Enjoy – I’ll be back with the period pants. Even though the phrase period pants does make me want to be slightly sick in my mouth…
Clinique Triple Pop Lip Balms here*
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Eye Cream here*
Prai Night Cream for Neck and Decollatage here*
Oskia Nutri-Bronze serum here*
Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Radiant Tint here* (sidenote on this: I like the glow, but it’s not the best sunscreen to use under makeup! It’s just the one I’ve been using recently mixed with the Oskia drops.)
On my eyes, the pink tones from the Pat McGrath Golden Opulence palette here*
I completely forgot to post up my May Favourites video and when I gave it a quick once over to see what it was all about, because May feels like a century ago, it was like travelling back through time. Travelling back to an era when I hadn’t hacked off my own hair with paper scissors, when I could still fit into my shorts, when I didn’t have a problem with beard and moustache growth. (See my Instagram page.)
Oh, life seemed so much more carefree, back in May!** You didn’t have to make up excuses not to see people, the doorbell never rang. It was zoom this and zoom that, you could mute yourself and carry on typing emails or you could pretend that turning the camera off was an accident – “oops, sorry everyone, I’m still a dinosaur with these things – can anyone see me?” – so that you could eat lunch during a client meeting.
(**Apart from the obvious health hazards, impending economic disaster and stressful homeschooling situations.)
Now it’s all “let’s meet up for garden drinks” and you have to de-beard yourself and get dressed. I got halfway around Sainsbury’s the other day before I realised that I hadn’t even done up the buttons on my shirt properly and that my baps were proudly presenting themselves in all of their manky-brassiered glory.
It’s a (re)learning curve, this social skills thing.
Anyway, here’s the May Favourites. It’s going to be closely followed by June Favourites in the next couple of days, which will make you feel as though I’m messing with your head, but it has to be done because if it isn’t recorded on here for posterity then it never happened. One day this blog will be an important historical research, mark my words! Few people have kept up an online documentation of their life with such dedication and attention to detail. OK, quite a few have, but apart from them, not many. I’ll be like the Samuel Pepys of the 21st Century, except I’m writing about face creams and social distancing mishaps rather than great fires and plagues. We’re virtually the same guy.
Products mentioned are below – interesting that the Futurist foundation was a favourite, I’d forgotten that I’d popped that in! You can read the full and proper review of it here if you’re interested in more info.
Hush Shorts, £45 here*
Estee Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Foundation, £36 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Bronzer here*
Guerlain Terracotta Nude, £38 here* – I didn’t realise that this only came in one shade. It states “universal” but honestly I don’t know how far that would stretch, it’s pretty subtle on me and I’m fair-medium. Sorry, I should have checked this before posting.
Real Techniques Powder Brush, £8.84*: https://amzn.to/3djqffl Pixi Eye Palette Natural Beauty, £24 here*
Sanctuary Moisture Miracle Body Lotion Extra Rich, £10 here*
Rimmel 60 Seconds Shine Nail Polish, £3.49 here*
Curel Foaming Face Wash, £12.50 here*
My shirt is a really old one from H&M.
Necklace is Jennifer Meyer 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
I’ve just been scrolling back through all of my previous What’s In My Makeup Bag posts and I stumbled across this particular beauty: the Summer 2018 edition. If you don’t want to click through and read it then here’s the gist of the matter, in image form:
Isn’t it nice? Such a lovely lipstick! So cheery and optimistic. I shall have to dig that particular lipstick out – I’ve been wearing my pink-tinged beiges for far too many months. Perhaps it’s time for a coral lipstick favourites video, to lead us into summer?
But for now, we’re still on neutrals and beiges with a hint of rosiness on the cheeks. Low-key springtime, nothing fancy, mainly because most of us are still on lockdown and those who aren’t probably don’t feel very celebratory or adventurous. The focus (for me, at least) is on good skin and trying to look as healthy and fresh as possible – bronzer that disappears into the base, a dusting of sunshine over the top and a dewy finish to lids and lips.
Lids and lips. For some reason saying that makes me feel slightly queasy – I’m not sure whether it’s the lazy, tabloid-style alliteration or the gynaecological implications. Although what would “lids” be, in the lady department? A lash-fringed flap of skin. Hmm. I’ll have to think carefully about that one.
GOD! Can someone please keep me on the straight and narrow? Perhaps I need an editor. To check my behaviour and act as the filter I don’t seem to possess.
“Hello darling. Ok, I’ve just read your latest piece…and…how can I put this? It’s rather crude. I mean, darling, is it quite sensible to talk about the time you slipped in the shower and narrowly missed being penetrated by the mixer tap?”
I like to think that the editor would be called Nigel. No particular reason. But he must chain-smoke French cigarettes and have an office on the Tottenham Court Road and wear a silk kimono. I have it all planned out.
But back to spring makeup. There’s a video and really it’s mandatory you watch it, this time, because I’ve used up all of my word count on pointless drivel so there’s no space to talk about lipstick shades. It’s all covered on film and if you want a cheat’s spoiler list then just scroll down the page a bit.
Take particular note of the double-bronzing manoeuvre; as a first step the cream bronze buffs effortlessly into the foundation, creating a sort of warm, duo-toned base, and then the powder bronzer sits lightly on top looking all dusty and beautiful. I’m doing this a lot at the moment and I like the effect.
I’m wearing the Emanuelle Dress, bought from Hush here*
My five beauty favourites for the month of April – I’ve gone back to them again and again, enjoyed using them all and will be sad when they finally run out. Although if they’re anything like my Medik-8 R-Retinoate I could be waiting a long time, because I just can’t seem to get to the bottom of the bottle!
Which is probably quite fortunate considering its price.
Anyway, here goes with the April Hit List:
L’Oreal Glow Cherie Glow Enhancer Lotion
I’ve compared this before to Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter (see my in-depth review here) but in actual fact it’s much more like her Wonder Glow. Lighter, sheerer, with less in the way of a tint. Regardless, the L’Oreal version is an absolute bargain and brilliant for adding low-key dewy glow before applying foundation or concealer.
You can find it online here* – it’s £9.99.
Anne Semonin Gel Mask
This is a very essential-oily mask with quite a tingle. It’s refreshing, reviving and makes you feel as though your face has had a brisk run along a seashore. Which is a weird concept. It’s forty-five quid but the tube is large. Lovely luxury buy for lacklustre, dull skin – I discovered it postpartum after having my first baby and I’ve recently returned to it after something of a hiatus!
Find it at Anne Semonin here.
Lumene Oleo Rich Serum
Well, this is a surprise favourite – I mentioned the rich cream from this Lumene range a few weeks ago and didn’t think that anything else would be as notably excellent, but the serum is just marvellous. It’s more of a light moisturiser than a serum, in a way, because as well as mega-moisturising glycerin it’s packed with nourishing oils.
In fact, if you’ve always wanted to try a face oil but worry about greasiness, this would be a beautiful way of dipping your proverbial toe. Just apply after cleansing and before moisturiser. It’s online here*.
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum
I’ve been doing lots of stuff out in the garden and (in the UK at least) the sun has been, at times, blazing. As well as a high factor sunscreen I’ve also been upping my antioxidants and pulling out the skintone-brightening big guns. Skinceuticals make quite a few of these “big guns” and the Discoloration Defense Serum is one of the latest launches, promising to dramatically help with dark spots and unevenness of tone. I’ll keep you updated on the results – I use a few drops morning and night before my usual serum.
You can find it (and more detailed info) online here*.
Drunk Elephant WaterFacial Mask
I’ve been using this on my non-retinol nights (current skincare routine seems to be: go in strong with retinol one night, pump face full of moisture the next) and it’s lovely – light and gel-like but not at all sticky. I feel the difference in the morning, let me tell you! I also quite often layer it on over the Lumene serum above for double-whammy effect.
Find the WaterFacial Mask online here*.
All of the above and more are included in this month’s favourite video. Yes, there’s a video! You might be wondering why an earth I’ve taken the time to write it all out as well as filming it: I only exist to serve. And to respond positively and proactively to feedback. So those of you who can’t abide my face/voice/mannerisms can just read my words instead…
Brilliant skincare buys that you can pick up in the supermarket. I won’t dilly-dally about today with silly introductions and off piste distractions because I have limited time: I just hoovered up a load of moths with the Dyson and I don’t want them flying back out of the pipe.
Can that happen? I mean, if the suction isn’t on, can insects climb back out of the hoover? God I hope not. That is the stuff of nightmares, isn’t it? It’s the natural world’s equivalent of that wet-haired girl climbing out of the well in The Ring. You just want to slam a lid down on it and hammer in a few nine inch nails.
Luckily for the insects I empty the Dyson outside, so they are (sort of) freed back out into the wild. Though how long a domesticated, well-fed moth would last in the open I have no idea. Going from a diet of cashmere and merino wool to, I dunno, dandelions. It would be like turfing an aristocrat from his club into the back alley and asking him to fend for himself.
“What? No Lobster Thermidor? And who are you, dare I ask? No, I can absolutely not spare a squid! A … quid? What is this quid you speak of?”
Where was I? Must concentrate. If you’re self-isolating and only getting supermarket deliveries, or if you’re trying to keep deliveries to a minimum, then here are some cracking skincare products you can buy at the supermarket. Both online and instore.
I should add that there are far more options than the ones laid out, but I am working with what I’ve got. Products I use regularly and ones that I’ve previously tested. Once we’re all out of confinement, I promise you that I will continue my much-praised (haha) Supermarket Sweep series. I think I only did ASDA and Sainsbury’s before I got totally distracted.
I’ve concentrated on Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Waitrose here – I’m afraid I’m not so up to speed with Lidl and Aldi – they were on my to-do list but it’s impossible to try stuff at the moment!
Note, also, that I’ve avoided the powerhouse ingredients here; you can get various bits and bobs with vitamin C and retinol, but I haven’t tested them extensively enough to give them a proper thumbs up and so I have kept this post to the basics: cleanse, serum, moisturiser.
The supermarket shelves are awash with cleansing gels and foaming gels and wipes and micellar cleansers: there’s a distinct lack of balm, oil and cream cleansers. But I’ve checked, and pretty much across the board you can find one good, rich, creamy cleanser.
At Sainsbury’s I’d go for the Superfacialist Rose Cleanser (it’s also at Amazon here*) which is just gorgeous. I’m a long-term fan and if Sainsbury’s is your supermarket of choice then you’re in luck, because you also have the delightful Balance Me range.
Pricier than your usual supermarket offering, Balance Me have loads of great products – including a very good vitamin C serum, actually. Which is annoying because I’ve just said I’d avoid the powerhouse ingredients in this post!
Balance Me’s Balm cleanser is a treat – unctious, soft, it melts down to an oil and rinses off clean. It’s £20 at Sainsbury’s or LookFantastic here*.
At Tesco, I like the Cosmeticism Cleansing Cream here and at ASDA I really like the hot cloth polish from NSpa, which I couldn’t find online but sincerely hope they have instore. It’s a great budget cleanser.
At Waitrose, you have about a zillion options. Seriously, they have loads of wonderful brands – my pick would be the Weleda Almond Cleanser, which I’ve reviewed here.
For the serum step I’ve gone for a suit-all crowd-pleaser, good old hyaluronic acid. L’Oreal have a new 1.5% version that has recently launched in the UK, see if you can find it – they definitely have it at Sainsbury’s and at Lookfantastic here*.
The aforementioned Vit C one from Balance Me is great – again, find it at Sainsbury’s, and also online here*.
Olay do a great serum called 3 Point Firming – I tested this extensively a few years ago and it was excellent. Lightweight, non-greasy, plumping, sits well beneath makeup, keep an eye out for it!
My most-used supermarket-available options are below. The Simple moisturisers are a new discovery for me (via Nadine Baggott) and the teeny bottles are deceiving – you get a standard 50ml inside them. Just nifty packaging. I would highly recommend the calming hemp version.
Simple Calming Moisturiser with Hemp, many supermarkets and online at Boots here*.
L’Oreal Revitalift Night Cream-Mask, at Waitrose here* and most supermarkets. I’ve banged on about this one for years and years – it’s my favourite L’Oreal moisturiser and they make a lot. It’s more plumptious and effective than many of the far more expensive “sleep masks” I’ve tried from luxury brands and, with the hyaluronic serum layered beneath, it leaves your face as wibbly and turgid as an overfilled waterbed.
If you’re in a spot dilemma and need something immediately, you could do worse than to throw some Clearasil Rapid Action Pads. I mean you could do a lot better, but we are talking fast fixes here and I’ve tested these out a few times before so I know they don’t burn the bejeezus out of your face. I wouldn’t use them all over, because I find them drying, but use on the spot-prone areas and then just leave them to get to work. They’re saturated in salicylic acid so they help to keep pores clear without being to aggro in the process.
OK, I see a moth head poking out of the pipe (not a euphemism) (would be a strange one) so I must go and empty the dust-catcher. I’ve just realised I did a video on this entire post (amazing that someone could actually forget something so important) and so I’ll paste that in below for your watching pleasure.
Please do leave me your own supermarket skincare heroes in the comments – I will definitely be reinstating my video series and so I need to get testing once I can nip to the shops to research and stock up. Especially give me your Lidl and Aldi recommendations!
It seems a weird time to be filming a beauty favourites video, but what I thought would be even weirder would be for me to have made a big song and a dance last month about my favourites being back in town and then never doing another one! I even made that whole Brokeback Mountain joke about not being able to quit my favourites, etc etc, and so to simply up sticks and leave again wasn’t an option.
Just five favourites, though – it’s not exactly an orgy. Just five things that have really tickled my whistle and that would make a cheery addition to any routine, once things settle down a bit. The handwash favourite is probably the most relevant – very inexpensive, non-drying, good brand that gives back to charity and so on – but I like to think that any of this month’s picks would do a particular service.
A warm and comforting fragrance (it’s like the olfactory equivalent of being hugged in big, safe arms), a cleanser with aromatherapy benefits, an eye cream for tired, staring-at-an-iPhone-screen-twelve-hours-a-day eyes…
I’ll leave you to watch the video in peace. But if you don’t want the video, then – hurrah – a slightly new format for you! Rather than just listing the products below the screen, there’s a mini review. Which makes this more of a blog post than simply a place to announce that there’s a new video in town. Better for those of you who are resolutely video-free? I hope so.
OK, so onto my mini reviews. Some old favourites, here and some new. It’s like a wedding. Except there’s nothing borrowed. Or blue.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Cleanser, £21 here*. If you have combination or oily skin and have always been put off by the idea of cream or oil cleansers, then this could be the one to try. It is rich and creamy, but it actually leaves the skin feeling very refined and ever – ever! – so slightly tightened. So if you hate a residue and want that ultra-clean feeling then this is a gorgeous luxury buy.
Neal’s Yard are experts at sourcing and working with frankincense and it really shows in their frankincense ranges. The cleanser is very scented (with frankincense, obviously!) and I find it to be more of a grounding, de-stressing treatment than anything resembling a mundane cleanse. Top marks, I’ve loved this cleanser for many years.
Soaper Duper Handwashes, online here. Soaper Duper do some of the best handwashes around. Wasn’t ever a beauty category that I imagined raving about, but it’s definitely topical and we’re all (hopefully) washing our hands about a billion times a day. So it’s nice to pick out some good ones. (If you’d like me to test a few and report back then I’m totally up for that – plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast!)
Soaper Duper do their washes in lots of scents – this Tuberose one is fresh and green rather than anything too floral – and they are hooked up with some great charities, including Water Aid. Big bottles, non-drying formula, definitely up there with the best of them.
Kiehl’s Line Reducing Eye Serum*, £41 here. Remember eons ago when I reviewed the Vitamin C face serum from Kiehl’s? Well now there’s one specifically for eyes and it’s just as good as the original. If you want a powerful eye cream that feels gutsy and strong, rather than a “light and fresh gel” or a “cooling cream” then this is the business – it has the same thick and dry texture as the serum, which won’t be for everyone, but really will be for those who want a rich cream that’s grease-free.
You can read my original review on the face serum here – I’ve just seen that it was a favourite back in 2015! How time flies. I think the serum – or concentrate as it was called – has actually been reformulated since then. More potent, if I remember correctly.
Charlotte Tilbury Copper Charge Eye Palette, £40 here*. I have an IGTV waiting to be published on this – very informal, just showing how I apply it and how it looks in different lights. I think that the CT eye quads are all fantastic – good pigment but easy to handle, really blendable and cleverly chosen shades that always look flattering and sexy.
The new Copper Charge palette is part of the new range that promises to make your actual eye colour more intense – so there’s a copper one to make blue eyes bluer, and blue one to make (I think) brown eyes browner, and so on. The coppery one could be dicey, if you are prone to looking a little pink-eyed, but used carefully it really enhances blue eyes. Keep a lookout for the IGTV video – I’ll update here with a link for you once it’s up!
Molton Brown Milk Musk, from £65 here*. Not convinced by the name of this new Molton Brown range, but I think that the scent is outrageously good. It’s warm, it’s cocooning, it’s like throwing yourself into (I imagine) a bed that’s been set-dressed for a Hygge interiors shoot. All natural-hued faux furs and giant knits and cashmere throws and those little flickering tealights scattered around the (wooden) floor.
The scent is warm, faintly exotic and with a musky, tonka bean base. Heady top notes that are really quite sexy and rich and then that warm, comforting base. The eau de toilette is fresher, (not surprisingly) and the parfum is deeper with a lovely little sharp, greenish twist right at the bottom. It’s gorgeous. Another winner from Molton Brown, for me – they seem to be ticking all of my boxes recently because my top fragrance love before this one was their Geranium Nefertum!