So. That was 2017, huh? Well, I for one am pretty glad that it’s over; although it had its good bits (moving to Edinburgh being the main highlight), it hasn’t been brilliant from a personal point of view and, I think we can (almost) all agree that politically it’s been a bit of a shit-show. Anyhow, it’s a new year and thus time to jump aboard the Blogger Cliché Express, casually throw some fairy lights, and write about my favourite products from the past year, starting with my beloved skin care. I know that these posts are everywhere at the moment but I like reading them to see what things people really reached for the most, even when surrounded by the lure of novelty.
Starting with cleansing, I’m back on the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm wagon. It’s been a favourite for years and is something I always come back to when I need something thorough but calming and gentle. It makes light work of makeup as a first cleanse, but also makes my skin smooth, soft, and even-toned when used second. I also like to slap it on as a mask in the bath, and even as a serum when my skin is really playing up, and it’s multi-purpose-ness (definitely a word) makes it great for travel. The only problem with it is the tub, which is chronically prone to cracking, although the new lid design is a big improvement. It’s currently 10% off in the Feel Unique sale, and the 100ml jar lasts for months.
A lot of toners and mists do little more than feel refreshing, but the Pixi Hydrating Milky Mist really makes a difference to the hydration levels of my skin if it’s feeling tight thanks to its hyaluronic acid and black oat. I’m on my third bottle and the first two had the best spritzes I’ve ever tried; the latest bottle started that way but seems to have become slightly..um..squirtier..so I prefer to spray it into my palm and whack it on that way. It’s irritating but not enough to put me off buying it again when I run out. It’s £18 here.
Serum and oil-wise, there have been two that I’ve used more than any others and which have made an actual difference to my skin. They’re also at each extreme of the price range – one is under £12 and the other is over £150. Eep. The bargainous is The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane, which is the most powerful of their retinoids. It’s actually a light oil which is gradually reducing my pigmentation from old blemishes and making my pores less noticeable, improving the texture of my skin. It comes in three strengths, if you want to start with a less potent version and, whilst not a miracle-worker, is one of the best retinoids I’ve tried with none of the irritation that can occur from more traditional retinols. It’s a rather fabulous £11.90 here.
At the other end of the spectrum is the frankly extortionate Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, a blend of 22 essential oils designed to treat “target every skin complaint you’d care to mention”. I won this back in May from the lovely Ria at Naturia Beauty, and was torn between saving it ‘for best’ and smothering myself in it immediately. I went for the safe middle-ground of using it like a rational human and although I hate myself for saying it, I absolutely love it. Has it changed my skin to that of a new-born angel who bathes in unicorn tears and moonbeams every night? Well, no, admittedly not. But it does eradicate any dry/sore/flaky/bumpy/spotty patches overnight, smells divine, and makes me all glowy. Would I repurchase it? Currently? No. If I won the lottery? Definitely. It’s a twitch-inducing £175 here.
Finally, the ‘extras’: mask, lip balm, and exfoliator. The mask is the Farmacy Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask – Deep Moisture and is one of the only sheet masks that I can stand to wear. It’s a gel, rather than a paper, sheet which means that it actually sticks to your face without migrating downwards every 30 seconds. They’re pricey, but they make a real difference to my skin when it’s feeling dehydrated or just bleugh–particularly good when you’ve been ill. (I’ve read some reviews complaining about it feeling ‘crunchy’, which I can only assume is due to the reviewers leaving on one of the backing sheets…there are two, take both off and you’re left with a gloriously-slimy gel sheet). They’re £8 each or £27 for three here.
The exfoliator is the Aurelia Refine and Polish Miracle Balm, which provides both chemical and manual exfoliation from plant enzymes and rice bran beads, and leaves the skin feeling so very smooth and soft. I like to whack on a thin layer before a shower, leave it for 5-10 minutes, and massage it around with a little water. It emulsifies when wet so it rinses off really easily, and doesn’t contain micro-beads so doesn’t upset the fish/turtles/David Attenborough. The full-size is really spendy but I’ve had the travel size for ages as you only need a tiny bit at a time. 75ml is £57 here and 20ml is £15.50 here.
Last but not least, my lip balm of choice this year has been the Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Care in Bare Pink, mainly because it’s the best lip balm I’ve found in a stick format. It looks like a lipstick but goes on like an almost clear balm which is actually nourishing, rather that just sitting on top of the sore flakey bits. It has a pretty sheen, isn’t sticky, and gives the lips the very slightest hint of a tint (and is also available in two brighter shades). Love it. It’s £25.50 here, and last for bloody ages.
Scroll through and click below for my Honourable Mentions–all brilliant and all well-used this year.