Beauty and the beast: the products I can’t live without

After I resurrected my New York guide from beyond the grave, a reader got in touch to see if I could work similar magic on my skincare guide. In theory the answer is yes, but I thought maybe it’d be worth doing an updated one instead seeing as I’ve picked up a few new favourites since I wrote that piece. So, here you go with part one. Before we go any further, it’s time for the full disclaimer that I work in beauty so these were all freebies when I first tried them. However, as I’ll endeavour to explain, most of them are things I am now more than happy to pay for because the results are worth it. To me good skincare is something that’s worth paying for. I know lots of people get by just fine with soap and water but when it comes to the moneymaker, I’m happy to spend. Other point to note: my skin is really oily with a tendency for dry cheeks and nose. I get lots of blackheads and my pores are the size of craters.

With that out of the way, here you go:

I am evangelical about cleansing. I wrote about oil cleansing a little while back and I’m pleased to report that my skin has still never looked better. As discussed in that post, I use Nude Cleansing Oil followed by Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. I only use the oil at night to dissolve all the makeup, grime and general shit off my face but Liz, I use morning and night. These two products have transformed my skin completely and I buy them with my own hard-earned pennies happily. I cannot praise them highly enough. On the rare occasions that I can’t be arsed to follow my religious regime, I use Aveda Outer Peace Foaming Cleanser because you can just bung it on in the shower. I also use this if I happen to have particularly greasy skin for whatever reason because foaming cleansers are brilliant at cutting through grease without stripping your skin. As I said, it’s pretty rare for me to deviate from the Nude/Liz routine but if I’m feeling particularly lazy or drunk, I use Simple Kind To Eyes Makeup Remover which is the only makeup remover on the planet which doesn’t irritate my sensitive face. It’s brilliantly effective — and I wear a lot of makeup. If you’re wondering about cleansing wipes… I don’t like them. A wiser person than me (probably Bobbi Brown) once described them as being like fast food; OK for the odd occasion, but bad news in the long term. I do have some in the bathroom (obviously, I’m only human) for when I’m too drunk to even use my Simple, but I always wake up the morning after and pray to Bobbi for forgiveness then do a thorough cleanse. I think they’re Johnson’s baby wipes at the moment.

As a grease ball, exfoliating is really important for me. It’s important for everyone to get rid of dead skin cells and leave your skin glowing, but when you have greasy skin or you exercise and sweat a lot, those dead cells get sort of stuck to your skin leaving a gross, dull finish. Exfoliating is the answer. Like everyone else on the planet, I swear by Dermalogica Microfoliant. Yes, it’s expensive, but it seriously lasts forever and ever and ever. I know people say that about beauty products all the time but seriously now, this stuff is another level. You don’t even make a dent in it after a few months’ bi-weekly use. I also love No7 Total Renewal Micro-Dermabrasion Exfoliator which works better than brands 10x the price. Note; this is a home micro-dermabrasion kit so it will make your face go red as a tomato for a while after use. Use in the evening once a week and behold the results. Love this stuff.

I love masks and after cleansing, they’re probably the most important thing in my skincare regime. I use one of the above twice a week, but which one I go for depends on how my skin happens to be acting. HRH Bobbi points out how important it is to change your skincare with the seasons. This doesn’t mean spending a fortune on new things every time, but just remember your skin will act differently in winter and summer so pay attention to it and learn to identify what it needs. So, here we have Dermalogica Power Recovery Masque which is great for normal, no problem, every day use. It brightens, softens and just leaves your face looking great basically, no nonsense. I talked about Alpha-H Liquid Gold in another post and maintain that it’s great for post-party skin or when you’re just looking like shit, really. Dr Andrew Weil is a legend and his Mega Mushroom Mask for Origins is another brilliant pick-me-up that I particularly like to use at Christmas when you’re eating and drinking badly and your skin’s suffering. It’s a great instant results product, even if it is pricey. I just realised that I didn’t add the Origins Drink Up Overnight Mask to my magnificent collage, oops. I try to use this once a week to rehydrate my skin because even though I try, I don’t drink enough water. When I do, I combat the good results with too much booze and caffeine. This mask sinks in like a moisturiser but works its magic while you sleep for a plumped-up, healthy face in the morning. Top buy! Finally, Repêchage. This is a US skincare brand that I guess you could compare to Elemis in that it’s a spa range that really delivers top results. Their Sea Mud Perfecting Mask is THE SHIT for breakouts and oily complexions. I cannot rave about this mask enough, it’s just… mindblowing. If I ever have spots these days or am just feeling particularly oily, this sorts me out in no time. It’s a proper thick clay mask that dries to a solid finish but lord, how it works.

Unlike some other people, I don’t get that excited about moisturiser. As long as it’s not going to make me any oilier, I’m not too fussy. Boots Protect & Perfect Day Cream is every bit as good as the hype suggests and leaves your skin hydrated all day, genuinely. I can’t comment on its anti-ageing benefits (more on that in a minute) but yeah, it’s a goodie. I’m currently using Origins Make A Difference which does the job fine. Again, I don’t get too evangelical about moisturiser so sorry about the lack of rave reviews… One thing that I can get excited about is Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF50+ which, again, I’ve talked about before. Finally there’s REN Rose Synergy Restoring Facial Serum which is pricey but you only need a little for great results. When it’s winter and I’m suffering my seasonal scabby bits I just use a bit of this at night and as if by magic, they’re gone in the morning. This stuff is incredible and I love it dearly.

Depressing but true; the ageing process begins in earnest in your 20s. If you don’t start looking after your skin now, it’ll show in your 30s… and beyond. I’m not suggesting you follow an entire anti-ageing regime just yet, but it’s important to start using a good moisturiser and eye cream at the very least if you want to look fresh faced for longer. After all, your 20s is the era when you’re most likely to be smoking, drinking, staying up late and otherwise treating your body pretty shoddily. All that bad behaviour will start to show soon, even if it isn’t now… sorry. For the time being, I use a decent moisturiser and Origins GinZing Eye Cream which instantly brightens the under eye area (it’s a sort of luminous glowing crème) and protects in the long term too. You literally need a matchstick dollop of this, so it lasts ages. On my latest tub, I’m still using the stuff stuck to the lid — I’ve not even ventured into the pot yet. The pricey but fabulous Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is, unfortunately, worthy of the hype. I have some stockpiled for future usage but Big Boss Editor swears by it, as does every other beauty person I know. Ho-hum, start saving. I also wanted to make a note here on Lauder’s Idealist Pore Minimising Skin Refiner, which is a great product. Be aware; you cannot change your pores. You can make them look smaller but you can’t, I dunno, get rid of them or make them permanently smaller, no matter what the lotions and potions say. It’s like cellulite; you can make it look better but thus far, it’s just not possible to solve the problem with a cream. Sad face, I know. As a big-pored type, I love this stuff for making the problem a bit easier to deal with and also making my skin feel stupidly silky.

Finally, these are the other bits I can’t live without. Origins (them again) do a great blemish product called Spot Remover which is so potent I’m not sure it can be legal. It stinks, it probably burns holes in your pillow, but yegod, does it ever work. Amazing product. For similar results, Savlon and E45 are never out of my bathroom. Whether it’s dry skin, spots, rashes, gaping wounds… one or other of these will solve it and they’re gentle enough for even my sensitive eye area. Last, but most certainly not least is Guerlain’s Midnight Secret. This pleasingly 80s product has mixed reviews but I can hands up tell you that it works for me. Picture the scene; you stumble in drunk, remove as much slap as you can with your godforsaken baby wipes and blearily smear this on. You wake up fresh faced as a cherub. I don’t know how it works, but it just does. A friend who uses no skincare whatsoever and thinks every cosmetics company on the planet is a scam out to get you once slept over at my house after a particularly boozy party and witnessed me using this. In the morning, she went to Debenhams and handed over the cash for this. I love it but if you’re still wary I’m pretty sure you can get it on StrawberryNet.

OK, that’s your lot for now. What, no toner? No, read this. I’m in their camp. Makeup to follow. To clarify again, most of the products I use were first trialled as freebies but now I’m more than willing to pay for those that work. To me, my skin is really important. It’s badly behaved and I spent years in the doctors trying to deal with my acne. I’d rather pay for good skin than a nice handbag or shoes, so… that’s my reasoning. OK bye!

PS You can get discounts on lots of these products here on BeautyBible as well as on sites like StrawberryNet, LookFantastic and FeelUnique.

9 thoughts on “Beauty and the beast: the products I can’t live without

  1. Thank you for this – I’ve bookmarked it and have been referring back for some time but keep forgetting to comment.

    I suffer with my skin too and your witty advice is fab – also love the oil cleansing post which has been so so helpful.

    Mucho thanks!


  2. This post has made me so happy I am now a Lizzy Earl convert!

    When I first stumbled upon your blog, I read it back to front like a book in one night.
    Hurrah for non pretentious and hilarious blogging.

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