5 Products That Changed The Way I Think About Beauty
Beauty was the crux that first got me interested in blogging six years ago, but over that time I've definitely been hit by 'beauty industry fatigue'. It's an entirely made-up concept, but it's the only way I can describe feeling drained by the overwhelming number of new releases on offer. Beauty and cosmetics remain a passion of mine, but I've found myself making a conscious decision to remove myself from the side of the industry that promotes everything in excess. It's therefore pretty rare for me to come across a concept or product that really sparks my interest - something that, five years ago, was pretty common.
Every now and again however, something will come along that has the potential to completely alter my approach to beauty. With that in mind, here are five products that have made a real impact in my routine recently.
I never went through a Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse phase. Instead, I pushed straight forward to Revlon's ColorStay. It was, and I imagine still is, a seriously full coverage foundation with the ability to hide just about anything. Blemishes, redness, undereye circles, this stuff did it all. I'd liken it to a more affordable version of Estée Lauder Double Wear, the only problem being that 13-year-old me wasn't quite as well versed in how to adequately prepare the skin for makeup. I'd layer it on using a dry (yes, dry) sponge without as much as a light layer of moisturiser underneath, leading to a seriously caked-on finish that only became more pronounced throughout the day.
My love of full coverage bases stayed with me until my early 20's, in no small part due to the huge hangups I had about my skin. With the benefit of hindsight, I'm able to see just how sticking to heavy foundations was having a detrimental effect, leading me into a viscous cycle of layering makeup over my acne, thus causing more acne to occur. A couple of years ago I made the decision to bite the bullet and go foundation-free for the first time in over 10 years. I experimented with CC and BB creams, before settling on my beloved NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser. It's without a doubt the best base product I've ever used, giving a fresh, healthy finish to the skin while maintaining the illusion that I'm not wearing a base at all. I can't quite put my finger on why my preferences have changed so dramatically, but the ease and comfort of wearing a tinted moisturiser every day certainly has something to do with it.
I'm not the first person whose view of beauty changed upon Glossier's release, and I'm certain I won't be the last. Their mantra of 'skin first, makeup second' and commitment to using cosmetics to enhance natural features rather than mask them was a real eye-opener for me. Admittedly I've long been an advocate of this parred-back approach to makeup, but in a world of Instagram filters and harsh contouring, to see a successful beauty brand celebrating this more effortless definition of beauty felt refreshing.
I've since tried a handful of Glossier products and have found them all to be successful in doing the job I want them to - no frills attached. My first, and still most-loved, product of theirs has to be the iconic Boy Brow. Growing up in the early 00's, I'd always been hugely critical of my naturally full brows, regularly plucking, waxing and - dare I say it - shaving them into razor-thin lines. Taking care of the constant regrowth was a daily chore, yet now I realise I'm incredibly fortunate they grew back at all. Over the years I transitioned from favouring a 'barely-there brow' (yes, there really was such a thing) to almost painting them on with military precision. Now I'd say I've finally found a happy medium, choosing to tint them at home once a month and brush them through with a little Boy Brow each morning. The whole process takes a matter of seconds, but ensures my brows carry that extra definition and hold without looking too 'done'.
I can proudly hold my hands up and admit I've always loved the thought of being tanned. If it was within my budget to indulge in a professional spray tan once a week, I would. Tanned skin has always looked youthful and healthy to me, yet my Welsh routes have all but ensured a natural glow stays out of reach. As such, scary amounts of money have been spent on the latest at-home innovations, each promising a foolproof, seamless tan with no orange undertones. None delivered.
Last year I found myself getting on with the James Read Wash Off Tan, but after a few days decided I was far too attached to those extra 10 minutes in bed to commit to precision application every morning. Even despite my best efforts to embrace my natural skintone, this year's launch of Isle of Paradise tanning products took all of a few days to draw me in. At the moment I'm using 7-8 of the Light Tanning Drops mixed in with my body lotion, and 2-3 drops mixed with my facial moisturiser. Tanning drops are perfect for anyone who longs to look tanned without actually looking like they look tanned. Admittedly a huge contradiction, but I've always favoured appearing delicately sunkissed over trying to fake that I've spent three weeks on a beach in Marbella. They're the first tanning product I've found that genuinely delivers a subtle, natural-looking tan - any that I've used in the past have either been too harsh or completely undetectable on the skin.
I'm a firm believer that some people are naturally gifted in the way of styling hair, while others simply aren't. I myself fall firmly into the latter category. Over the years I've transformed from a cherry red, scene-inspired bob (anyone else use the opening verse of Hadouken!'s That Boy That Girl as style inspiration? No?) to bright blonde hair extensions that I painstakingly bleached my own hair to match. The point is that hair has just never been my forte, and since going back to my natural roots (pun intended) 5 years ago I've done everything in my power to limit the amount of time spent on it. As such, wave spray has been my saviour.
At one point I'd managed to go a couple of years loading my hair up with product (typically mousse, serum and some form of texture cream), before blowdrying and vigorously backcombing every single day. I can't begin to describe the negative impact it ended up having on my hair. Only when a hairdresser set me the challenge of foregoing my usual routine for a week did I finally put down the can of hair mousse - and I haven't looked back since. I still long for extra volume, but find that a spritz of wave spray through the roots and lengths is all that's needed, before letting the hair dry naturally for a rough, tousled finish. OUAI's Wave Spray is undoubtedly my favourite, although I'm still a fan of Bumble & Bumble's Surf Spray and Surf Infusion - the latter being my top choice during the colder months. Using them, I'm able to achieve the relaxed, undone style that I've always longed for but never been quite sure how to achieve. My morning hair routine now also takes all of 3 minutes, and you can't say fairer than that.
I've waxed lyrical about the Skyn Iceland Blemish Dots before, but from experience I actually think blemish dots of all kinds deserve a lot more recognition. We're yet to see an affordable high street brand do these well, which is perhaps why they haven't made much of an impact here in the UK. Even so, branch out a little further and there are some truly great options available on the likes of Amazon and Yes Style. Superdrug also stock one budget-friendly option in their Miss Spa range that do just the same job as the others.
These small, sticky patches are usually coated with the likes of Salicylic Acid or Tea Tree Oil, both of which promise to diminish the appearance of active blemishes in very little time. The patches themselves are small and transparent, meaning they're practically undetectable once applied to the skin. I've always used them overnight, although I have read accounts of people being able to stick one on in the morning and go about their day as usual without anybody noticing. Regardless of how you use them, they make a welcome change from the thick, white lotions that are usually recommended for the treatment of acne and blemishes. Because the dots are soaked in the formula, it also means the affected area of skin is smothered in the good stuff for as many hours as you leave it on for, increasing the chance of treating the pimple in one fail swoop. I've only ever had good results with these and they've changed my attitude to blemish treatments in the best way possible.