I’ve had a few reminders that I haven’t done a beauty post for a while so now feels like a good time. This month when we all feel a bit ‘peely wally’ as my Scots friends call it is a great one for refreshing beauty routines – and never forget the power of a free on counter makeover, it’s a great way of learning new techniques and finding products that work for you. Just pick a brand you already like and book in. As you know, I’m constantly testing products that are either sent to me by beauty PRs or that I read good things about and decide to try for myself. When it comes to any kind of skincare or supplement I make a point of using the product until it’s finished to be sure of the outcome and I’ll only tell you about things I would buy again with my own money. Here are the ones that make the cut.
I’ll start with a recap of staple products that I may have covered before but continue to buy on repeat because as far as I’m concerned, nothing can beat them.
I test a lot of very expensive moisturisers and I very rarely find any that are very good. I really like Estée Lauder’s Revitalising Supreme Plus but I’ve been having a bit of a stand-off with them because although they’ve been promoting it as coming in a refillable glass pot, I’ve been unable to find refills on sale anywhere. However I’ve just spotted that you can now buy them here.
In the meantime I find La Roche Posay’s Age Correct to be almost as good at a fraction of the price. It has superb sun protection, hyaluronic acid (for hydration) and niacinamide (to tackle pigmentation) worked into it too. It leaves my skin feeling really bouncy and I buy it repeatedly. The current best offer is here.
One moisturiser that I was really excited about trialling but found utterly underwhelming last year was Augustinas Bader’s The Rich Cream. It has so much hype around it that I just can’t understand, for me it was very average and so at £225 a tube, phenomenally overpriced.
I find a vitamin C antioxidant to be essential and although I’ve trialled lots of different ones, this is the product I always go back to when I’m spending my own money. It’s expensive but in my view it’s worth it because I find it brightens my skin far more than any other. Apparently it’s the particular combination of ingredients that makes it so powerful. It also contains anti-oxidants to combat damage from the sun and pollution. I’ve been using it for so long (about 8 years) that I can’t comment on whether it reduces wrinkles but I do know that it improves the texture of my skin better than any similar product. If I don’t use it for a while I notice. I find a bottle lasts me a full year because you only need to use two or three drops at a time and I apply it after cleansing in the morning, before moisturiser. It’s currently on offer here.
Just before Christmas I ran out of my favourite Skinceuticals retinol and decided to try Medik8 because so many people rave about it – and it’s cheaper. I’m already regretting it, my skin just isn’t as fresh in the mornings. I’m busy slathering the Medik8 over my chest and neck, just to use it up. As a reminder, you apply retinol before moisturiser at night. It works as you sleep to increase skin cell turnover as well as collagen production. It makes a massive difference to midlife skin, it’s the only other skincare product that I really invest in and it’s currently on offer here.
If you’re going to use it for the first time, try it twice a week first before building up to nightly application because you may experience some sensitivity at first as it starts to get to work. And make sure you use SPF the following morning because you have a fresh new complexion that burns easily. If you’d prefer a gentler alternative this micro-dosing one is also excellent but it takes a few weeks longer before you see results.
The product I rediscovered last year that’s now an essential part of my nightly routine is Estée Lauder’s Night Repair. This is one that does deserve the hype in my opinion, I find it works balances the retinol perfectly, restoring any hydration that may have been stripped away. I apply the retinol first, leave it to sink in while I brush my teeth and then follow it up with Night Repair and then night cream (but I don’t have a favourite night cream at the moment).
It’s the one I always come back to, I’ve talked about it lots of times. Quite simply it gives the best ‘your lashes but better’ natural effect and it’s available in brown as well as black. Free gift promotion currently running here.
I use these for both day or night time looks, no faffing around with brushes and blending, one swipe and you’re done. They last all day and I have a new advent calendar shade discovery – dusty mauve which is apparently one of the best selling colours. I thought was going to look awful but actually it really works for my blue-grey eyes. If you’re not sure you can buy a mini here.
As you know my favourite range of nude lipsticks are Charlotte Tilbury’s Happikiss, especially in peach. I have them in lots of pockets for when I’m popping out with Ted or going to the gym.
If you want more colour though I think L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Satin range is hard to beat. You can usually pick them up in the supermarket or there are 43 shades to choose from here. A great way of giving yourself a bit of a treat for less than £4.
The all time best body lotion in my view is this one. It includes all of the Protect & Perfect Magic but for your body rather than your face. It’s supremely moisturising (you can still feel it the day after it’s been applied) and it gets rid of bumpy skin on your arms and legs. It’s one of those desert island products and I buy it in bulk because it often goes out of stock.
I had a few disasters last year trialling tanning drops that made me look either orange or slightly green but never tanned. So I still come back to these – add 3 drops to your moisturiser now and you’ll look subtly healthier next time you catch yourself in the mirror.
Midlife beauty favourites – new Discoveries
Now for the new beauty products I discovered last year and have grown to love.
At home facial device
This is a bigger investment but it’s something I’ve been trialling that I really want to tell you about. It’s the ZIIP nanocurrent beauty device lauded by celebs such as Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston who, when interviewed by Vogue about her beauty routine said, “I have never seen such a result from a little machine like that.” Even so when I was invited to trial it I was still sceptical. It’s controlled by an app and the blurb explains that it uses nanocurrent, microcurrent and direct current technology to send small electrical currents into your skin to stimulate production of collagen and elastin. It also aims to increase circulation, repair tissue and reduce acne.
It looks like a computer mouse and it comes with a gel which you apply to a clean face before you start.
You then go to the app and choose the option for whatever result you want to achieve so it’s a bit like going to a beauty spa and saying, “I want to increase glow,” or, “I want to reduce puffiness around my jowls.” When you’ve decided your phone sends the appropriate programme to the device. You then follow a beautician on the app who does the routine with you, telling you where to put the device and what you should do with it. It buzzes when it’s achieved what it needs to, telling you to move on to the next stage.
Each session takes less than ten minutes and I’m getting into a habit of doing it three times a week in the evenings if I’m watching TV. It took about eight sessions before I started to notice results – I’ve been focusing on reducing puffiness and it helps. I didn’t think it would because you don’t feel anything happening other than the little buzz that tells you to move on but I’m starting to see more definition around the cheekbones, the under eye area and the jawline.
I’ve never been somebody who goes for facials, I find it hard to justify the time or expense and I never relax because I lie there thinking of all the other things I could be doing. So for someone like me this is great – I can see that my skin is starting to have a more nurtured look about it. I love the gel and leave it on after I’ve used it, massaging it into my skin. It isn’t cheap but if you can set it against the cost of any beauty treatments you have then you’ll start to see a cost per wear. I didn’t expect to be covering it on here and you know I wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen results. The reviews on the website are consistently five star from both users and credible press sources. NIKKIZIIP will give you 25% off.
My goodness this is fabulous, it’s a light but nourishing rinse-off balm. I was given a sample when I was restocking with the brilliant Take The Day Off make-up remover and it’s one of those things I really look forward to using every night. It just melts make-up away without stripping my skin, leaving it soft and ready for the retinol and Night Repair that follow. Free gift offer currently available.
I use this milk peel toner first thing in the morning to make sure that my skin is prepped to make the most of the CE Ferulic. Because I’m using Retinol I’m being careful about protecting my skin’s barrier and this is kinder than most exfoliating toners but it still does the job.
I was given a tube of this at the John Lewis press show last September and it really does give results. It’s a retinoid serum with added niacinamide. I have patches of slightly bumpy skin below my eyes at the inner corner and nothing I’ve tried has shifted it until now. I can’t say for sure but I do think it’s helped with some of the fine lines and puffiness too.
My eyebrows are fading and so I’ve been having them dyed as well as shaped at the beauty salon. The colour never seems to last though and it’s really expensive for something that takes about three minutes so I decided to have a go myself at home. This is far better, it comes with a mascara type wand so you only dye the hair, not the skin and it lasts for ages. It’s cheap, quick and easy.
This cream to powder bronzer is another wonder product – when we’re away from home it’s the one thing I refuse to leave behind, even though it’s big. Unlike other bronzers, it gives such a natural looking glow. The problem is that it’s become such a cult product that it’s impossible to buy anywhere, especially in the softest shade which is the one you want right now – in fact it’s the one I use even when I’m tanned, the others are too dark.
However, I’ve tracked down some stock for you if you’re quick. All you have to do is swirl a big brush around the pot and then swoosh it over your face, no special technique required. It’s a creamy consistency in the pot but it dries into a soft powder and it just leaves you glowing as if you’ve had a weekend in St Tropez.
If you have a shiny T-Zone by the end of the day, these Japanese blotting papers are great to have in your handbag. They come with a little case that has a mirror inside, you just pull out a paper and blot the oil away. Another cheap and cheerful hero product with various designs available.
These were out of stock for a long time during lockdown because of component shortages but now they’re back and they’ve been slightly reformulated. I use them every day and last year replaced my usual black with caviar ink which is just a little bit softer. I draw a fine line above my lashes with the ultra-fine brush and then blend it into my eyeshadow. Make sure you tip the pot upside down on your dressing table while you’re using it though so that it doesn’t dry out too quickly.
This is a great alternative to Glossier Cloud Paint, it has a more durable tube so it’s very easy to carry around in your make-up bag. It’s a gel balm blush that you can apply really easily with your fingers. It melts into your skin leaving a slight flush (of the right kind). Ciate is a brand I’m really growing to like, they’re a small, independent British female-led company, PETA certified and cruelty free.
Glossy cheek tint (currently 20% off)
Texturising/ volume shampoo
I have lots of hair products that I don’t rate but I picked this shampoo and conditioner up in a hurry when we were shopping in Newcastle and I find it makes a difference. I have lots of very fine hair and so I don’t need volume but I find it difficult to add texture to stop it falling flat. This works – another good value find.
Cool Girl Superlift Root Spray
This new styling spray does what it promises and also smells amazing, in fact the fragrance is so good that I find I’m buying more and more from the range for that reason alone. I find myself not wanting to wear perfume when I’ve used it, it’s pricey but because you only use it on the roots, a bottle will last for ages.
Being a Hersheson’s customer I jumped on the waiting list for this as soon as it came out but when it arrived, I was really disappointed because it left my hair heavy and greasy. But then as I was leaving the salon and heading to the airport for our Caribbean trip last year, Premlee gave me an almost empty tube to take with me.
The secret, he told me, is only using a tiny bit that you rub through your palms and then smooth in – you can use it on either wet or dry hair. I now realise it works brilliantly to add a bit of texture when my hair’s looking too smooth and soignée. It also did a decent job of combatting the high humidity out there as he said it would. It’s reasonably priced for a salon exclusive too.
And that’s it for my recommendations but before I go, I just want to show you that a few of the 2022 luxury beauty calendars are now on sale. It means they’re really good value, especially if you’re disciplined enough to put them away until next December when they’ll cost twice as much.
Advent Calendars now in the sale
I’m starting with the one that I think is the best, it usually sells out in November so I guess it’s a sign of the times that it now has 50% off!
Selfridges Advent Calendar (half price)
And one that’s more niche but extremely luxurious, also with 50% off.
Acqua Di Parma Advent Calendar (half price)
This is another one that will give you an opportunity to sample highly priced brands, looking at the contents I don’t think it’s quite as good as the first one but it’s still good value at 50% off.
Net a Porter Advent Calendar (half price)
This is just for 12 days but if you’ve ever wanted to try La Mer, now’s your chance. You could use it to count down to a holiday and take some of the luxury products with you.
La Mer 12 Days Advent Calendar (30% off)
People who are very serious about their beauty regime rave about Dr Barbara Sturm, I haven’t tried her products so can’t comment.
Dr Barbara Sturm Advent Calendar (30% off)
Not quite as much of an outlay, this is another twelve day calendar with well sized products.
Bare Minerals 12 Day Calendar (40% off)
And this is great for smaller treats, I can imagine it would be good to buy as a special treat for a daughter and store away until December.
Nuxe Advent Calendar (30% off)
And that’s it for my midlife beauty favourites and new discoveries, I hope I’ve helped you to find a small treat that will lift these dark January days. Life here is busy, as I knew it was going to be but I’ll be back next week with a doing and wearing catch-up. In the meantime tonight’s the last call for anyone who would like to come to the reader lunch in Lancaster next Friday – I’m so looking forward to seeing those of you who can make it.