As the year is coming to a close, I wanted to dedicate a post to all the products that have made a real difference to my life, most of which I only started using in 2010. This is a rundown of twelve products I can’t believe I ever lived without…
Boots Smooth Skin iPulse IPL
I haven’t had to wax or epilate my underarms or bikini line for over a year and a half thanks to the Boots Smooth Skin iPulse home IPL system (RRP £324.99). It really does work to “permanently reduce hair”. A top-up zapping session might be required every few months to get rid of the few, fine, stray hairs that grow but I am very happy with the results! It has been revolutionary! My last review of Boots Smooth Skin can be found here.
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (£11.50 for 100ml) was my first venture into hot cloth cleansers at the beginning of the year. I have tried a couple of alternatives from The Sanctuary and Soap & Glory but I always go back to Liz Earle because it leaves my skin feeling the most cleansed and detoxed. I buy the pump bottles in bulk because I hate running out. My initial review can be found here.
Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spritzer
|Err… was too lazy to take a photo of my spritzer bottle. This is the “pour” bottle version|
I’m not sure how I ever went without using Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic as a toner. I spritz in onto my cleansed face and then pat the small droplets into my skin with my fingers. It adds an extra layer of hydration which I can then lock in with my moisturiser. This seems to be a hit or miss product with most people but I’m guessing the people who tried but didn’t see the point of this product don’t have dehydrated skin. I also love using the spritzer to refresh my skin during flights or whenever my skin feels sapped by dry air. The 200ml spritzer bottle costs £11.75. I’ve reviewed Liz Earle Instant Boost here and here.
High definition (HD) finishing powder
I use two different HD powders, e.l.f. High Definition Powder (£6) and Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder (£17). Previously I used to use talc-based powders in order to mattify my face and stop it getting shiny, but since moving to talc-free HD powders which contain just silica and silicones, I’ve never looked back. The finish I get with HD powders is much more airbrushed and long-lasting than with talc-based powders. I started out preferring the e.l.f. version because it’s more mattifying, but I find myself using the finer Urban Decay powder more often now because it has a less flattening effect when my skin is a little dry. I reviewed e.l.f. High Definition Powder here and Urban Decay Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder here.
Forest Secrets iRejuvenate
I know I keep going on about the dry air in winter… but seriously, dry air is the bane of my life. It really sucks the life out of my skin. The 2-product Forest Secrets iRejuvenate system helps me get some radiance back. I mix the serum and the oil in my palm before applying. My skin soaks it up readily and instantly looks more hydrated and plumped out. As it doesn’t contain any waxes, it doesn’t just sit on top of the skin, clogging pores and depleting my skin of its natural oils. When I wake up, my skin looks fresh and dewy rather than that morning greasiness I would otherwise have with moisturising creams. Forest Secrets iRejuvenate is pricey at £66 for both the serum and oil but it comes in trial sizes for £5. My review can be found here.
Boots No7 Anti-Dark Spot Facial Sun Protection SPF 30
I used this moisturising 5-star UVA facial sunscreen instead of moisturiser during the summer months this year. As someone who is genetically prone to hyperpigmentation, I need to to use the maximum UVA protection as possible, but other high UVA protection sunscreens are greasy and/or leave a shiny white cast. This sunscreen is the nicest I’ve ever used and I can genuinely say I haven’t had any new freckles since I started using this facial sunscreen. If only I’d discovered it earlier! It costs £10.50 for 50ml. My review can be found here.
Varama Cover Cream
I’ve given up on products that claim to lighten dark circles. Concealer is my only hope. After a lifetime of unsuccessfully using undereye concealers that come with wand applicators, I’m now on the heavy duty camouflage concealers. Varama Cover Cream is excellent. It comes in colours that you can mix to create your perfect shade and doesn’t require powder to set. It’s non-drying, long-lasting and doesn’t crease. Pretty much perfect as an undereye concealer. The coverage is so opaque (especially when patted on in light layers) that my entire face looks lifted after I’ve applied it. Varama Cover Cream costs £17.49 for a 15ml tube which lasts forever (but you will probably need to buy more than one shade for mixing purposes). My review can be found here.
Urban Decay Primer Potion Eyeshadow Base
A staple for most beauty bloggers for keeping eyeshadow intense and locked down, with zero fading or creasing no matter how long the day, but many of my non-blogger friends have still never heard of it. It costs £12 and my tube has lasted a year. I really like this Urban Decay eyeshadow primer, but today I also bought NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base (£18) to try because it’s has a slightly more fluid consistency than Urban Decay Primer Potion so I think it might be faster to spread.
I have come to realise I look better with brown hair than black. Black drains me. Carl at the Aveda Institute in Covent Garden, London does the most amazingly natural highlights. Even when I have two inches of regrowth, the highlights still looks natural and blended in. I also find that the highlights I get from Aveda don’t try my hair out at all because they don’t need to use bleach for the colour I want to lighten my hair to. Pricey at £115 for a half head of highlights but well worth it. My last review is here.
Pantene Aqua Light Lightweight Nourishing Conditioner
I love the Pantene Aqua Light conditioner. I’ve used hundreds of conditioners from cheap to expensive but I’ve never come across a conditioner like this before. It takes seconds to slip through the hair, seconds to rinse out and it conditions without weighing my hair down. This description makes it sound like the conditioner isn’t enough to moisturise my long, slightly dry hair, but on the contrary, it leaves my hair incredibly smooth and swishy. And unlike other traditional Pantene products, it doesn’t irritate my sensitive scalp or leave build-up, even when I’ve been lazy and not washed for hair for days. And the best thing is that it only costs between £3.99 for a massive 400ml bottle. More here.
Liz Earle Botanical Shine Shampoo
Another Liz Earle staple! Like the Pantene Aqua Light Conditioner, I’ve never used a shampoo like this before. It’s SLS-free but foams like a normal shampoo and leaves my hair and scalp feeling 100% clean without stripping. Used prior to Pantene Aqua Light conditioner, I can’t remember the last time I had a bad hair day. It’s very reasonably priced for a premium-branded, non-SLS shampoo at £7.50 for 200ml. My review can be found here.
RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum
I’ve been using RapidLash Enhancing Serum (£39.99) for about 5 weeks and am seeing great results. It really works! My top and bottom lashes are longer and more voluminous. Not so much thicker, but it definitely looks like there are more lashes. I was put off using RapidLash when it first came out because I was worried about the side effects (skin discolouration, hairs growing on cheeks, iris colour change, eye irritation etc) but I caved (as always), and fortunately I haven’t experienced any of these side effects yet.
The difference in lash length is mostly only noticeable when I’m applying mascara. Instead of thinking my usual “*sigh* it looks rubbish but it’ll have to do” after I’ve applied mascara, I’m now thinking “huh my lashes actually look ok today!” which is a massive improvement. The results aren’t as dramatic as the results I’ve seen from photos of people using LiLash (another lash enhancing product) but at least I haven’t had any of the reputed LiLash side effects. I haven’t written a full review yet because I’m waiting to complete a fair 8 weeks trial before I start taking my “after” photos.
What would be on your list of life-changing beauty products?
Disclosure: Some of these products were originally PR samples but all are now being repurchased, repurchased, repurchased.