Marking the coming of spring – always long-awaited, eagerly anticipated and warmly welcomed – I sit at my writing desk and think about the cyclical recurring themes in beauty editorials. Now, seemingly out of nowhere following winter SPF options for Alpine trips, indulgently warming body treatments or evocative autumnal home scents, we are looking again for summer lip colours, back aside the runway for fashion week, and reaching for our passports for a much-needed seasonal getaway.
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I’m thinking of the perfect summer-defining scent for wandering warm olive groves at a spa retreat in The Algarve or Greece, and my ideal capsule holiday makeup bag for a weekend in Paris or Milan. You?
Taking us way back to an event in Spring 2021 for the launch of the skincare brand Wǒ, a perceptive comment by Millie Kendall MBE (co-founder of Brandstand Communications) left me thinking. Looking after beauty PR for some of the best, from The British Beauty Council to Jillian Dempsey, she is an oracle of knowledge. She explained how with years in the industry and access to so many wonderful products, she is always in awe of bloggers sharing their month’s empties (a regular social media feature, showing off products recently finished, along with personal assessments of each), musing, “It’s so rare I fully finish a product, so I know it’s something special when I do”.
In light of this, instead of a discussion on a particular topic or trend, I hereby share instead my season of empties. In a list that reads like The Hungry Caterpillar (except, of course, that this particular grub was ravenous for skincare) I share an honest account of what I am devouring at home.
One overnight mask:
It might be labelled an overnight mask, but I also popped it on this morning before I sat at my desk and completely forgot to wash it off. FYI, my skin was happier because of it.
If you know you are going to have a night of lacklustre sleep, apply this on, over or in place of your night moisturiser before you hit the hay. The main ingredient, Propolis extract, is rich and nutritious, naturally anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, making it the perfect base for an overnight mask to heal, soothe and hydrate.
The overwhelming joy of this product radiates from a rich yet cooling gel that leaves no trace of stickiness. As such, it doesn’t dry into pores, yet is full-bodied enough to have the most weary-looking of complexions looking like you’ve just returned from a spa break.
The frozen strawberry daiq’ on a hot summer day is a crowd-pleaser even for those not big on sweet drinks. Indeed, it’s often the first foray for those dipping a straw into the world of cocktails. If you are new to facial oils, consider this your daiquiri.
Here to allay any dryness, reactivity, or general dullness to your skin you might be experiencing, the naturally present antioxidant ellagic acid helps protect from the environmental irritants we face day-to-day. Cold-pressed strawberry seed oil houses a punchy source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and is satisfyingly viscous but readily absorbed.
A by-product of the juice industry, there’s no overpowering synthetic fruity scent – that’s not Bybi’s all-natural style. Just be sure to send your empty glass bottles back for their circular recycling scheme, ReBYBI, for their sterilisation and reuse.
You know those comforts you reach for when it’s all going wrong? A share bar of Green and Blacks to be consumed in one sitting, unshared. A good book you are exceptionally invested in, or a film you have watched ten times before and know inside out. This small medicinal brown bottle is all of this and more for your skin.
After a previous article on CBD, there are quite a few products that have stayed in my routine, and as a lover of facial oils and most things within the adaptogen area of wellness, this facial oil has also been a solid fixture. I reach for this when my skin is having a moment of discontent, whether dry, dull or congested. After a long day and/or a late night, I know this oil will catch me when I fall from my ideal multi-step skincare regime, providing swift and soothing all-in-one hydration to perk up my complexion.
My favourite thing about this moisturiser? It has the texture of room-temperature butter (but without the associated oiliness), melts into the skin and has the lightest of nostalgic scents that you can’t quite place. My least favourite thing? My pot is empty and I forgot to repurchase it in time to not be left without.
But what exactly is in this pot that makes it so special? A combination of potent antioxidants such as tocopherol and bisabolol work to repair and soothe irritated skin, and capric triglyceride replenishes and hydrates. And, new to the forefront of skincare, we have glycogen, a natural moisturising factor potentially more potent than hyaluronic acid – ideal for smoothing fine lines and hydrating skin. It’s a fabulous all-rounder for all skin types, from dryer skin that needs a boost, to reactive skin that needs a calming touch.
A favourite since I was first introduced to it a few years back, this has been a saviour during nights spent in air-conditioned hotel rooms, hence tearing through the last of the pot with a very calculated level of abandon.
Another tick for Tocopherol on this ingredients list, but with cocoa seed butter and squalane leading the chase for long-lasting hydration. Black truffle aids collagen production and soothes inflammation, whilst luxe ingredients Diamond and Platinum powders protect and physically illuminate, offering a much-enhanced performance for something that at first look might seem merely added for opulence.
When I think back across my all-time favourites, this is a night cream I truly cherish; the jewel in the crown of my skincare collection, eminently revered and respected, and as such, my most mortifying empty.
Its formula 30 contains active ingredients in exacting combinations to urge skin rejuvenation, including a trio of potent botanicals, Benifuuki Extract, Murasaki-Cha Extract and White Mucuna Extract. The list of benefits and scientific applications is extensive, three sizes of phospholipid capsules were created for skin affinity, using a technology that recreates a component naturally found in collagen. The body uses this at the most damaged areas of the skin to repair and restore.
All this, from a texture that is as devastatingly beautiful as it is effective.
This creamy low-foam cleanser is a multi-tasker, apply to dry skin to first remove makeup, or to dampened skin for a refreshing start to your morning. Brimming with skin-restoring Vitamin C sourced from Kent Cherry extract, it joins their namesake Pinot Noir Grape extract – also locally sourced. It’s a veritable feast for the senses, with Hazelnut, Pumpkin seed and Rosehip oils lending a richness to its feel, whilst a delicate awakening scent arises from Ylang-Ylang, Basil, Peppermint and antibacterial Tea-Tree oils.
QMS Medicosmetics – Deep Gentle Cleanser, combined to double cleanse with QMS Medicosmetics – Epigen Pollution Detox Cleansing Gel
Deep Gentle Cleanser is probably one of my most suggested products to clients and models, and for good reason. I can’t recommend milk cleansers enough and strongly feel they don’t always get the airtime they deserve.
This one in particular is so intensely clarifying that even to the naked eye, regular use shows a visual reduction of congestion and redness. This might have something to do with the allantoin in the formula, an ingredient known to help to heal and promote new tissue growth, but all in all, it’s a formula full of hydrating humectants and fatty acids which will always keep your skin balanced, healthy and oh-so-clean.
We have a double whammy of QMS Medicosmetics empties here, with the second of my go-to cleansers. Epigen Pollution Detox is a swift and gentle cleansing gel with AHA mandelic acid and lactobionic acid to gently exfoliate and resurface the skin. A new alternative to AHAs, polyhydroxy acid (PHA) is a more gentle ingredient due to its larger molecular size, making it less penetrating to the skin. Green coffee bean extract and aloe leaf juice further work to keep the skin calm and preserve the skin’s delicate lipid layer balance. It’s perfect alone, but if you’re feeling like you want your skin a little fresher or it’s been a full makeup kind of day, it’s a great follow-up to Deep Gentle Cleanser.
Another tube I turn to when I want something intensely nourishing, this clever little cleanser starts as a rich gel, melts into an oil, and then emulsifies to a milk as it rinses away. Algae-based polysaccharides in the ingredients list generously provide anti-ageing benefits from even skin tone to increased firmness and soothing redness.
I find myself talking about scent regularly across skincare: this is no exception. The subtle fragrance of avocado, olive and sweet almond oils is a delight to indulge in while your skin is absolved of makeup and impurities in one sweep.
No matter how good your regime is, the odd blemish will catch up with you from time to time.
I love overnight treatments to lazily mediate the argument between my skin and anything else going on in my life, and Willowberry provides the answer in one easy step. Gluconolactone and Lactobionic Acid make a duo of polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) offering gentle daily exfoliation, alongside soothing Aloe, Chamomile Water and alkalizing Cucumber extract in a smooth liquid formula that fits seamlessly into your daily routine.
One aspect of beauty I am asked about time and time again is lashes. An area of routine care so easily overlooked, yet as waterproof mascaras get hardier, we run the risk of causing damage to our lashes when removing these enduring products. Even how you sleep can affect your lashes – it’s my favourite party trick whilst doing someone’s makeup to guess on which side they sleep from the way their lashes lie…
Anyhow, how does this relate to this list, you ask? My number one recommendation and one of my most repurchased products over the years has been RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum. Whenever I notice my lashes are looking less than lustrous, it will be because I have slipped on this particular aspect of my routine. To tell a secret, my natural lashes aren’t particularly great – they are sparse and a little short, but with a daily slick of this serum I see about a 30% increase in length and thickness (this is of course anecdotal, but it impresses me nonetheless).
A gentle warning, however: this is not an overnight transformation. Working on each new growing lash, there is a small delay in seeing the effects. When you do, it’s well worth the investment in your time.
It’s at this point you might be thinking this is a very QMS-heavy list. That adage of ‘everything always runs out at the same time’ is mainly because you initially purchased a few things in one hit. That cycle continues perpetually, it’s nothing personal.
This serum is an everyday must along with your SPF. Formulated to directly address environmental damage and reverse it, it works directly with your skin on a cellular level to detoxify and repair, making skin more resilient. Shea and squalane hydrate and smooth skin, and you will notice an overall smoothing effect alongside a little more bounce and a brighter glow overall. It’s another one for the repurchase list.
I love a product that shows you a difference straight away, and this serum is like turning on a lightbulb from within for your skin. Banana-powder-inspired pigments turn up the brightness, giving your skin luminance from the instant it’s applied. Throughout the day, Hyaluronic acid and AHA’s plump and clarify skin, whilst Vitamin C and E in the ingredients list do good work in defence of the skin’s facets, reducing pigmentation and increasing elasticity.
If you’re feeling extra fruity, layer on a few more pumps and let it sit for a while before applying your moisturiser – your skin will thank you for it.
You might be able to tell by now that I am a serum junkie. I love to mix it up, depending on what my skin is up to. With angry skin a continual problem for me at present, I have a few tricks up my sleeve – and Clear Dew is most definitely up there. For angry blemishes, deep-set blackheads or enduring congestion, this nifty serum (paired with the Reduit Spa to seamlessly deliver the potion as a mist) helps you deliver treatment to any area that might be tender, hands-free. The antibacterial and oil-controlling ingredients get to work to reduce current (and future) breakouts and help to allay post-blemish pigmentation too.
It’s always bittersweet coming to the end of a product and contemplating a repurchase. Do I stick with something I love, or is the grass greener elsewhere? In truth, only you will know the level of your desire to stray away and explore something new. But maybe, something from this list might tempt you. Across all the products that I am blessed to try, these are my repeat orders at the buffet.