My day job at Latest in Beauty means that I’m constantly reading about, looking at and testing new beauty products. And I really do believe the LiB mantra that it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the choice on offer. In the last month alone I’ve been introduced to three premium haircare brands, all of them lovely, and the beautiful high end moisturisers I get to test out have made me a bit of a skincare snob, every month or so finding a new ‘miracle’ product that sucks me in! But I also know a lot of it is just clever marketing and a few extra ingredients, and while I love the pricey stuff, I also loving hunting down a cheaper ‘dupe’. As a result, when it comes to my own beauty regime I have quite a mixture of favourites, from £8.50 fragrances to £125 serums. And while I have few old faithfuls, I often change around and use new things as inventive new products are launched. So here are my top ten finds of late (with a couple of very old faves thrown in for good measure). I’ve tried to keep these on the cheaper side, so now £100 products here. The priciest is a £35 cleanser that’ll last you months and months…
I’ve been using this for a month or so and my hair has never looked or felt better. It’s not that it suddenly gives you Rapunzel-like lengths (though my hair did seem to grow very quickly in the last month – perhaps that’s all the wishful thinking?) but massaging it into the roots once or twice a week between shampoo and conditioner will get your hair into really good condition and stimulate the follicles so it has the ability to grow longer and stronger before it falls out. The pink treatment gives amazing shine and softness, and I have definitely noticed more hair growing through – I have little ‘sideburns’ where the sides are growing, an area where my hair has always been a bit finer. The little £8 tub doesn’t last very long, perhaps 6 – 8 treatments max, but it’s often in Boots 3 for £12 deal so you can stock up for a bit cheaper.
Eyeko Graffiti Eyliner Pen £5.50
I got this at random in an Eyeko surprise bag, and having always favoured gel / cake liners, I wasn’t expecting to use it very often. But after playing around a bit, it’s got me hooked on the sharp, defined line you can get from a liquid liner and I’m finding I reach for this quite frequently when I need to quicky ‘do up’ my face. I try not to wear loads of slap to work because my skin is at its best when I don’t mess with it, but this is a good one to chuck in my bag for emergency dolling up! It’s also got great staying power, so great for Summer when smudgier liners can melt off far too quickly.
Pardon my French, but I bloody love this mascara. Every time I wear it, someone asks “are they your own lashes?”. It’s the business for a really wide-eyed, false lash look. And when it comes to mascara, I don’t do subtle. I like drama, or nothing. L’Oreal are the unspoken heroes of the drugstore mascara world (even if the mascaras are over a tenner each). My formerly beloved Maybelline The Falsies, Lash Stiletto and Colossal have languished in the bottom of a drawer since I bought this stuff, which gives me ridiculous length and loads of volume with only a few coats (ok, four) and barely a clump in sight. Seriously, buy this stuff. Buy it now. If you go to Boots and spend £15, you get all kinds of freebies at the mo.
Monu Cleansing Balm £35
Thirty five quid may sound like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a cleanser, but please bear in mind that £35 gets you a tub the size of your head, stuffed to the brim with amazing, gooey, melty, oily goodness. I use this to remove makeup at night. I can’t be doing with messing around with rubbishy lotions and scratchy cotton wool, and I find facial wipes don’t even begin to remove all my mascara. So given the choice I will always go for an oil-based cleanser that ‘melts’ off makeup and makes my skin feel properly clean without being stripped of moisture. To apply this balm, you just scoop up a finger-full, spread it gently over the face and then remove by massaging the face with a muslin cloth soaked in hot water and wrung out. I find it’s fine all around the eye area and I apply it liberally to my lashes, but more sensitive folks may find the perfumes too strong so be careful. It smells absolutely delicious and as you only need a little, a tub lasts ages and ages.
Vita Liberata Sheek Silken Mousse £20.50
I have tried countless fake tans over the last few years, and for me formula is the most important thing. Spray is too messy to apply, lotion takes too long to dry. Wipes – ha! Streak city! Tinted mousse is a dream to work with. It’s easy to apply without missing anywhere, it’s almost impossible to apply too much and it dries really quickly. Though I don’t fake it that often, when I do, it’s always been with St. Tropez mousse, and I never thought another brand would steal its crown. But Vita Liberata has done it. Essentially, the two products are almost identical, but the guide colour is slightly lighter and the end result slightly darker with this baby, which it why it wins out. There’s also an intense version if you like an even deeper tan. Last time I used this (applied with a mitt to avoid orange hands) there were absolutely no streaks or patches. Not even on my feet / ankles. It faded quite evenly too, and the DHA smell is minimal. If the only fake tan you’ve tried is Johnson’s Holiday Skin, it’s time you upgraded. You won’t regret it. I also really like Beautylab Peptide Tanning if I have more time to let it soak in.
Organic Surge Overnight Sensation Cream £7.99
I’ve been spoiled over the last year or so having access to some amazing high-end products through work, and I have a tendency to recommend ridiculous products that no normal person would ever spend £125 on. So this time I’m going to sing the praises of this £7.99 pot of wonder instead. The Organic Surge range is a real hidden gem. Easy enough to find (in larger Boots stores) but often overlooked, it offers really well thought-out products with high quality ingredients at stupidly low prices. This night cream is really gorgeous and a joy to use. If you like rose oil, you will love this. It sinks in beautifully and isn’t too heavy, and my skin feels really soft by morning. I use this after I’ve used the monu cleanser above, for that final boost of essential oils without as many chemical ‘nasties’ as some or more affordable beauty brands.
Inika Cosmetics Kabuki Brush £23.50
I’m a slave to mineral foundation. I love the coverage, the weightless feel and the fact it doesn’t cause breakouts on my skin. I’ve tried various brands and to be honest, most of them are pretty good (though I sway towards Bare Minerals) but when it comes to application, there’s only one brush that’ll do. In fact, I love this kabuku brush so much I now have two. Inika is a reliably great Australian mineral brand that offers a whole range of great colour cosmetics and tools. The foundation is a bit on the shimmery side (see my review here) but the brush is just perfect. Densely-packed but incredibly soft, it’s perfect for buffing without scratching the skin. And it’s synthetic, so it’s ethical too. I also use it to apply Inika’s bronzer, another big winner in my book!
Stila Eye Shadow Compact in Diamond Lil £13
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I think this is the best eyeshadow in the world. Everyone needs a great taupe in their makeup kit and as far as I’m concerned this is the ultimate. I’m onto what I think is my third pan of this now, having hunted it down on eBay when Stila was pulled from the UK a couple of years ago. Now the brand is back, and you can get Diamond Lil in its own little compact. I will be stocking up, because without this, I couldn’t do a good smoky eye, I couldn’t do my standard ‘corporate’ makeup, and I couldn’t do my ‘today I actually bothered to wear makeup’ look. I reach for this at least once a week. It’s the most beautiful, soft, easy to apply shadow in a gorgeous multi-purpose shade. It verges more on the silver than the brown (beauty bloggers call it ‘mushroom’) with lots and lots of shimmer, but no harsh glitter or foil finish. It blends like a dream, lasts ages and looks amazing on just about every skintone. I also absolutely love ‘Golightly’, a shimmery mid-brown.
Boots Essentials Roly Poly £5.36 (also comes in blonde in store)
Right now, in the world of Fash-on, topknots are ‘the thing’. If you go to an event, you are likely to spot at least one willowy girl sporting a dishevelled bun right on the top of her head. Sadly, I have yet to work out how to pull off this look. I look like a complete idiot. So instead, I’ve toned it down a bit to something that’s a bit more ‘me’. My take on the fashion topknot is more of a dishevelled ballerina bun. And for that, to build lots of volume and give me some support, I need a ‘roly poly’. There’s also a version without the popper called a ‘donut’ which is equally as useful, but I find once I’ve put my hair in a ponytail and backcombed it, it’s almost impossible to get a donut ONTO the ponytail. A roly poly you can clip around the base of a backcombed ponytail, then just wrap sections of fuzzy hair over the base and pin then underneath. Et voila, bad hair day hidden, fashiony hairdo achieved. Don’t forget to add half a can of hairspray for hold and ‘texture’ too.
Harajuku Lovers Sunshine Lovers G Fragrance £8.50
I’ve been wearing this super-cute, super-cheap perfume loads recently for the simple fact that it smells just like holidays. There are three perfumes I associate with this scent, and ironically they’re all celeb fragrances (the others are Sean John Unforgivable Woman Black with notes of Pina Colada, and Jennifer Lopez Miami Glow which smells like suntan lotion). This one, from Gwen Stefani’s adorable Harajuku Lovers line mixes coconut with apple, jasmine, mandarin and all kinds of other lovely stuff in a really nice, affordable Summer fragrance. On Sunny days, I always reach for this to make me feel a bit more like I’m on a beach in the Bahamas, rather than a bus in Balham!
Disclosure: Monu, Vita Liberata, Organic Surge, Inika and Harajuku Lovers products were press samples. Others I bought myself.