During London Fashion Week (something I’m not heavily involved in given the state of my highly comfy-looking wardrobe), while most people are lusting over the clothes, I find myself admiring the parade of youthful and dewy complexions on show, along with some of the almost pharmaceutical grade products that carry them through to Paris, hidden in the chaotic dressing rooms backstage.
Here is a round up of my top picks for skincare and makeup in 2018 thus far. One or two were gifted by brands, in which case I have mentioned so in the blurb. However, this is a very personal selection based on what I like to use for my Combination Skin type on a regular basis.
A cleanser for the over-cleansed. The founder of NIOD (+ 9 other brands under the same Deciem umbrella) consistently makes a point of respecting our skin’s natural barrier function; something we seem determined to disrupt via the daily onslaught of strong, foaming, alkaline washes and more.
The skin’s natural pH is around 4.7 and it’s at this slightly acidic pH that the natural balance of oils and flora are happiest – disturb this and all the common woes of acne, irritation and flaky bits arise.
NIOD is gentle, plant-based and non-foaming meaning it doesn’t strip the face of its natural oils. We often crave the foamy-soapy washes for that tight, ‘clean’ feeling. The trade off for healthy, supple, clear skin is that you’re counterintuitively going to have to kiss that habit goodbye.
Best used on a bare face as SS is not intended to remove makeup, for this you should first use their Low Viscosity Cleaning Ester or another oil-based remover on a cotton pad. I like either the ‘Hylamide high-efficiency cleaner’ or the ‘Simple eye makeup remover’ as an oil-free alternative (those with lashes to take care of will understand…).
I actually came across this one via a targeted Instagram ad (I guess they work) and not only is it Korean, but it contains a pleasing array of gentle acids for soft, chemical exfoliation of dead skin cells and surface renewal: AHA, BHA + PHA as well as 2% Niacinamide and Tea Tree extract.
Despite the slightly spammy-sounding marketing (aka ‘the 30 day miracle toner’) they are right in that you’ll see the best results if you incorporate this into a consistent regime over 2-3 months.
As far as physical exfoliation goes, I don’t fancy those high maintenance ‘facial toothbrushes’ such as the Clarisonic. A) you have to change the dirty head every 3 months as it’s hard to keep clean and B) they can be a bit too harsh. Gentle acids are much less aggressive but if you insist on a physical, hand-held device then I like the Foreo vibrating face pad. The silicone material means bacteria do not proliferate in the bristles, there’s no overpriced head piece to change and it can be used over and over again.
One of the better face oils for blemish-prone skin. Multipurpose, as it can be used on the face for acne scarring but is also effective at taming damaged hair – massage a few drops onto the scalp at night and wash it off in the morning.
Many people are afraid to use facial oils for fear of blocked pores. This is different from the type of grease that bacteria feast on and although comedogenicity ratings are not fool-proof, they do give some indication as to the different characteristics of these substances for cosmetic use. As an example, contrary to popular belief, coconut oil is not best placed on the face, whereas Tamanu and Jojoba are well suited.
I’m a big fan of this highly effective brand and would place it on par with Obagi. I first stumbled across Exuviance at Mortar and Milk, a local skin clinic on my road where the founder, Pamela, lives and breathes her work. I have used their salicylic acid wash in the past when going through a bad break out but was offered the mud mask by EBWPR, who work closely with select brands like Exuviance, Oxygenetix and MZ skincare.
As much as I love to sing the praises of NIOD (Deciem), their flavone mud mask was almost painfully strong on my skin and I didn’t enjoy feeling as though it was sucking the life out of my face whilst it dried into a muddy red crust.
The Exuviance charcoal mask is much more soothing, without compromising on its efficacy and contains a generous 23% Active Charcoal, clay and NeoGlucosamine to draw out impurities. A weekly must-have for oily skin. Follow up with a few swipes of the Probiotic Lysate Anti-Pollution essence in the am.
I was given a vial of this gem by Attracta Beauty, who rightly appreciates smaller, boutique brands that hand-source and craft their products lovingly. A price tag justified by its exotic contents, this serum contains the world’s highest-grade organic, cold-pressed base carrier oils, naturally enriched with the scent of 100% pure, wild-harvested essential oils.
‘The fusion of carefully selected plant actives works to rebalance, revitalise and repair the skin immediately upon application, whilst its complex aroma accesses the mind to relieve feelings of anxiety and stress’.
This little bottle of the finest concentrates from nature does indeed feel extremely luxurious and I like that it’s fast absorbing without leaving a trace of oily residue. Best used by placing a few drops in your palms and inhaling the aromatherapy benefits before gently patting onto the face and around the eyes.
An oldie but a goldie. Pure pink sulfur paste for drying out pesky pop-ups, to save you and your face from picking.
Don’t shake the solution – it’s meant to be separated. Use by dipping the end of a cotton bud into the pale sediment at the bottom and apply to a small area. Literally sucks up all the juice from your spots until they shrivel and flake off. Yum.
Very strong so as with Benxoyl Peroxide and other over the counter or prescription grade products (high strength retinol) be very careful when combining or skin becomes very dry, damaged and irritated, making it difficult to heal.
I first discovered this brand when I was invited to their pop up store at 100 Wardour Street. I had fun with the loosely personalised element, whereby you fill out a questionnaire to discover your ‘Dosha’ and subscribe to a range accordingly. Forgoing this, I opted for the ingredients I liked best but it was hard to choose, as they chose well! The 4 headliner actives being Neem, Sandalwood, Tumeric and Rose.
The face oil is 100% natural and comes in a delicate dropper bottle, which can be dripped into foundation over winter to prevent drying, redness and flaking. The carrier oil is jojoba, meaning it’s well tailored for use on the face.
A very gentle topical acid for weekly, chemical exfoliation. This is by far the best value on the market for concentration + price point.
One of the coolest antioxidants available – developed in their own labs, this molecule is self-regenerating so it’s literally the gift that keeps on giving, with long lasting protection from free radical damage throughout the day.
As well as being an eye pleasing luminous, pale green serum, this is a great topical retinoid to use that doesn’t produce the visible drying and peeling side effects associated with prescription strength retinol. The base is a plant-based squalane which is a wonderfully effective moisturiser.
11. ROZEX 0.75%
Prescription-only and extremely effective at reducing the symptoms of rosacea including skin irritation and associated acne. The Celtic genes in me demand this be a permanent resident of the bathroom cabinet.
I was recently introduced to MZ skincare via EBWPR. It prides itself on being a luxurious range dedicated specifically to women, and spearheaded by the very glamorous Dr Maryam Zamani, occuloplastic surgeon and Tatler award-winning entrepreneur.
The Gold 24k face masks are part of a ‘clinically approved, advance skincare range for timeless, youthful and healthy skin’. One small peek at the website is all it takes for you to immediately and completely subscribe to the cult.
An inescapable staple behind the catwalks at London Fashion Week this week. Having been colour matched, I was pleasantly surprised to be labelled ‘almond’ as opposed to ‘beige’, for once. That aside, this foundation is incredibly light weight and breathable, whilst maintaining a flawless level of coverage.
Unlike your face after a 5 minute session with the girl at a department store MAC counter, it isn’t the slightest bit cakey and most importantly, still looks like human skin upon application.
Having tested it in foreign heats during the summer months, and not received a single break out, it’s fair to say I was very pleased with the results; despite being someone who’s always been too scared to lather on much foundation.
I’ve no idea how they manage to formulate such things but being a company that insists on ‘100% natural’, some advanced form of vodoo has lead to the creation of a colour foundation, essentially just using fruit and water.
The Moses of the natural cosmetics industry, 100% pure has a lovely, light texture but unfortunately very little coverage. Great as a hydrating, every-day base and I would even prefer it over tinted moisturiser, but not for a more demanding night out.
I was given a bottle of this product by Suqqu at Selfridges. It has a beautiful, silken texture much like 100% pure, but with the deadly combination of 100% coverage. A very subtle sheen to its surface ensures a 24 hour, dewy glow. The dream.
A mover and a shaker within the sunscreen industry, Supergoop is one of the first effective, all-natural sunscreens to hit the market. Built into its application brush, supergoop mineral screen can be lightly dusted on throughout the day, mattifying and offering a high level of protection from ageing.
You can choose from coloured or clear options, depending on whether or not you require the mid-range degree of coverage. I prefer the coloured option as it prevents layering too many products, the only drawback is that the brush can be a little fiddly, it’s not travel friendly and I wouldn’t use so much of it in winter, as powder alone can be slightly drying.
The liquid gold fluid itself, is even more beautiful than the result. Created with the camera flash in mind, Photography fluid highlighter is a staple for the selfie obsessed generation.
I use this just on my T zone. Absorbs excess sebum under makeup during the day and flawlessly keeps the face looking matt for hours.
Like making a ritual out of lightly dusting crushed gem stones onto your cheeks. Sun-kissed all year round.
Love a two-in-one buy: helps to reduce morning eye puffiness whilst doubling up as an effective under-eye concealer that doesn’t settle in creases as soon as you’re out the door.
‘Made with complicated plant material’, all the benefits of Vaseline, without the Gasoline.
A SpaceNK treasure, one of the best concealers available imo. Mine looks set to last the next 10 years as only the tiniest amount goes such an astronomical distance. Very high coverage but can be slightly drying (the more thick and viscous the foundation, the more drying it tends to be) so I tend to concentrate it on blemish prone areas, as opposed to slathering it all over like a face mask or applying to delicate under eye skin, where it often crinkles.