Another year, another mountain of beauty bounty beckoning us to open our bathroom cabinets and our purses. And while not every launch was a hit (primary coloured mascara anyone?), thanks to groundbreaking technology, innovative formulas and creative collaborations, cosmetics are more user-friendly and effective than ever. Our highlights include Antonia Burrell’s multi-tasking face mask that does everything bar boil the kettle, super-cute roll-on scents in single notes by Diptyque and the cleverly created face-defining Studio 10 make-up collection. And we’ve whittled our other myriad favourites down to ten so you can check off the ‘already-boughts’ and make a list of the ‘must-gets’ before being side-tracked by the new season.
I’ve been somewhat late to the primer party, but having road-tested this one aimed at minimizing large pores, it’s become a staple. Think of it as a fine film that not only stops your foundation from disappearing into your face, but also has an instant airbrushing effect that blurs pores and fades out redness. Worn under a base, the creamy consistency prevents shine from oil, sweat and humidity forming or it can be dotted on over make-up to blot out breakthrough patches. And although the formula’s colour is a chalky white, the primer is transparent once it’s applied, so will work for even the darkest of skin tones.
Thanks to the considerable influence of the Korean cosmetics market, powder-based cleansers are firmly in nascent. Not for taking off make-up, but rather for boosting clarity and luminosity, these fizzing formulas are gentle but effective – as flawless, radiant Asian complexions are a testament to. The star active ingredient is this version from slick paraben and silicone-free NUDE skincare, is vitamin C, extracted from fruits including lemon, lime and Brazilian acerola, while roeship and vanilla also exfoliate. Each grain of powder goes through a special process to coat it with pure, cold-pressed oils that hydrate the skin where other powders can leave it feeling tight. NUDE recommend using it three times a week (think of it as your regular post-cleanse scrub) but I could see a fresher face after one use, making it an instant winner. And who can resist that fizzy fun factor?
It’s been a big year for lip balms going luxury, with brands from By Terry to Chanel to BeneFit offering deluxe treatments to perfect your pout. My favourites though are these tinted treats from Dior that come in a staggering 14 shades. Unlike many other balms, the texture is waxy rather than wet, which gives a semi-gloss sheen than makes the infused colour look luminous. The naturally derived Cristal oil ingredient nourishes and protects lips to repair chaffing as well as prevent further flakiness and, as you would expect from the couture label, the balm comes in a sleek, elegant lipstick case. Try Star for a hint of golden shimmer, Spring for peachy warmth, or Sweetheart for a just-bitten redness.
Clinical studies aside, a quick poll of my friends confirms that we seem to be more insomnia-prone than ever before. So a soporific scent – be it in a body cream or pillow spray – has become a bedside essential for me. I’ve been such a fan of Neal’s Yard Remedies Beauty Sleep Concentrate, a blissful blend of essential oils in a light facial cream, that in true J.Lo/Crème de la Mer fashion, I have happily smoothed over my hands, arms and décolleté too, come nightfall. So my circadian rhythms were overjoyed when NYR launched the Body Butter version, packed with the same ylang ylang, clary sage, patchouli and cypress scent in a rich, nourishing cream that’s also certified organic and softens and it induces sweet slumber.
Longwear and lightweight have long been counterintuitive qualities when it comes to foundation, as formulas struggled to get durability in a format that was sheer. YSL have managed to turn that upside down with their Fusion Foundation, a base that glides on smoothly then transforms from a liquid to a powder as the oils in the fluid evaporate, leaving behind the colour pigments. The finish is velvet, even and radiance-boosting, plus it incorporates ingredients that mattify and others that hydrate, making it ideal for every skin type. The buildable texture means you can customize the amount of coverage too.
You have to have be ultra-organized and have plenty of time on your hands to give a hair treatment the time it needs to really work and I for one don’t have the patience to wait in the bath for 20 minutes in the pursuit of lustrous locks. On the other hand, overnight masks tend to leave a telltale residue behind – until now. Enter the Overnight Ultimate Hair Healer by style maestro Charles Worthington, which sinks into your hair rather than your pillow and makes for salon-worthy softness by morning. Just smooth a few pumps of the lightweight cream through the lengths of your hair (I recommend avoiding your roots and raking it through with your fingers) and wait a few moments for it to absorb. Rinse it off in the morning and hair feels silkier as well as looking smoother and seems to blow dry faster too. A must-have for parched hair everywhere.
With many studies now showing that women see uneven skin tone and pigmentation spots as more ageing than wrinkles, the Holy Grail of skincare has fast become a formula that will create a luminous, even complexion free from redness, age spots and dullness. But as this requires soothing ingredients alongside active ones, it usually takes multiple serums to achieve the benefits – and that’s before you even start thinking about tackling fine lines. However Clinique have managed to merge all these elements into one super-powered serum that cleverly knows where to direct which ingredients and treat every skin niggle at once. So anti-irritants such as red algae and liquorice work alongside brightening grape extract and exfoliating salicylic acid, while whey protein boosts firming collagen production. Genius in a bottle.
If there’s one cosmetic staple that seems capable of reinventing itself repeatedly, it’s mascara. Why? Well, it’s not so much the formula itself, but the wand that applies it. Today, companies such as L’Oreal employ teams whose sole job it is to come up with new designs. However, it was one Mr Max Factor who created the first mascara wand half a century ago. For 2014, the company launched the aptly named Masterpiece Transform with a tapered wand that features shorter bristles to grip each lash individually, coating it with volumising colour at the base, where it matters most. The finish, as make-up artist supremo Pat McGrath called the while road-testing Transform at the AW14 Victoria Beckham show, is ‘natural glamour’.
This power-packed, science-meets-nature gel truly works magic. As well as the cooling benefits you’d expect, Danish skincare wizard Ole’s overnight eye treatment has been reformulated with extra herbal and botanical extracts including menthol and witch hazel to soothe, calm, de-puff and tighten. Tap in on under the eyes then smooth it just above the crease of the eyelid for a lifting and firming effect. The next-day results are fantastic, but used long term, I can see a serious anti-droop effect that makes eyes look younger and more open, as well as encouraging eyeshadow to resist creasing.
Warm, spicy and soft, Marrakesh Intense is a reworking of the unisex original into a scent that’s so much more sophisticated, structured and sexy. Inspired by the city, it conjures up the exotic and evocative ways in which the senses are stimulated – vibrant colours, delicious foods and bustling souks. Think a woody oriental heart with the added sparkle and warmth of jasmine, neroli and bergamot that has an added animalistic quality that makes it blend sensually with your skin. If you like Donna Karan Black Cashmere or Miller Harris Fuilles De Tabac, give this a trial spritz too.