It can be so hard to keep up with new beauty products and what could be just a passing trend and what should be a staple in your life. Afterall, we all have different tastes, opinions and styles. But above all that no two faces are the same in terms of skin, eyelashes or lips, so it can be difficult to navigate the world of cleansers, moisturisers and makeup. What suits one person may not look great on someone else, or it may have a negative effect on their skin.
For some, a simple cleansing water and light moisturiser may be all that is in their beauty kit, for others it could feature an array of creams, hydrating toners, primers on top of makeup and makeup removers. So, wouldn’t it be easy if there were just a few things that you knew you would benefit you in some way so you could build your own kit and expand on it where you see fit. When you find something that changes the way your face feels and looks, you’ll start to wonder how you ever lived without it.
Well, I have been through so many different products in recent years and I’d say there are only a few that really stick out for me. I have combination to oily skin so that requires some serious care, I travel a lot so different changes in climate have a massive effect on my hair, skin and lips and I, like the rest of us, am not getting any younger, so there are products that just don’t cut the mustard like they used to as my skin ages and my eyelashes and eyebrows start to feel the effects of life. It doesn’t mean that these products will be exactly right for you, but they always serve me well and I never leave home (or the country!) without them.
1. Oil-free Moisturiser
I’ve always had a battle between oily and dry skin and have envied those who go about their daily business with nothing more than a fresh sheen to their cheeks, but I’ve got what I’ve got and it’s up to me to manage it. The issue is how to combat the dry areas without adding excess moisture to the oily ones. It was always a balancing act that required patience and a lot of trips to the bathroom to powder my nose.
But these days there are countless options for women like me who produce extra progesterone – usually due to contraception and hormonal imbalances – and have to deal with shining like a light bulb straight after applying a fresh coat of makeup. It’s frustrating, so I’m very thankful that there are products out there for us.
I always thought that having oily skin meant that adding moisturiser to the mix would just make matters worse and I avoided it for a long time. But then age caught up on me and I realised I needed to do something about these pesky little lines that were starting to appear around my eyes and mouth. Like a lot of others with seriously combination skin, I suffer with an oily T-zone and dryness around the mouth, eyebrows and under the eyes. Luckily, information on offer from dermatologists suggested that moisturiser is not only a good idea but imperative for people with oily skin. I was intrigued.
So, how does this work? Adding moisture to moisture doesn’t equal double moisture? Well, what people like me tend not to account for is that due to the excess oil, we tend to cleanse more, which actually rids the skin of beneficial oils and protective barriers around the skin. So, the good moisture disappears and the bad moisture (oil and sebum) jumps right in its place.
I started with a light oil free moisturiser after cleansing and before bed and felt a dewy glow that I was sure was going to make me end up looking like a greasy fry up by the morning. It actually didn’t. My skin felt shiny sure, but very even. After a few weeks of use, the dryness disappeared from those problematic areas and my sheen looked positive and not dirty or sweaty as I always thought previously. These days, I swear by oil-free moisturisers for my combination skin and once it was incorporated with my beauty routine, I didn’t look back. I tend to cleanse with water and a hydrating facial cleanser and leave my face and neck to completely dry before applying moisturiser. Then let it completely soak in before applying any primers or makeup. Definitely can’t live without it now! But just in case, I always carry blotting papers in my bag with me – yes, I know that’s another product I can’t live without, but at least now I’m not too nervous when I do leave the house without them!
2. Colour Correcting Primer
Primer has been a godsend to many over recent years. It has evolved and extended its purpose for so long now, there’s no doubt it’s a product I cannot live without as I expect many others will agree. Where has the good stuff been hiding all my life? Well, truthfully it has been there in many forms, I just haven’t seen it as I was too busy panicking about my oily skin for too long to want to put any more products on it and make the problem worse.
But still so many people don’t worry about primer and see it as an unnecessary addition to their makeup kit. So, how good is it? Well, in so many ways, the small amount of product in a tiny bottle can make all the difference to your skin tone, your makeup application and how long it stays there.
These days you can get your hands on illuminating primer, colour correcting primer, mattifying primer, long-wearing primer and even pore-minimising primer. There are even primers for different parts of your face. Eye primer tends to really give grip to the extra layer and helps makeup stay firmly in place, all while being super gentle to the skin around your eyes. A good skin primer does both sure, but it can help dramatically change the appearance of makeup on your face too.
I do like a mattifying primer for obvious reasons, but sometimes it can really dry out my face in unwanted places and cause makeup to look a bit cakey so I tend to let my oil-free moisturiser take care of my skin texture and use a colour correcting primer to help even out my skin tone. It would be amazing to lie and say that my skin tone is the same across the board, but in reality, no one has the exact same tones across their face. Colour correcting primer goes beyond this though, they have a tint to them that covers discolorations, red patches or dark patches around the eyes. It doesn’t do the same job concealer does, but it definitely passes for looking natural.
I love colour correcting primer and it is one product I can’t live without as it means I can leave the house with the confidence of wearing makeup even when I haven’t bothered to go through the whole rigmarole of applying it.
3. Eyelash Serum
How good is this product! I never knew about eyelash serum until a couple of years ago. After years of abusing my eyelashes with falsies, bottles of mascara and plenty of eyelash curling to boot, my own eyelashes left something to be desired. When I was young I always had really full and long eyelashes, but I guess time and life got in the way and I just took them for granted. Granted, I’m not exactly old, but you definitely do see the difference in the little things after a few years if you look hard enough.
Well, I looked deeply at my eyelashes and decided there I had to do something about them. There were many options of course, eyelash extensions or a lash lift or even just carry on with my lengthening mascara as normal and fake it through life. But I wanted to do some good to them and feel my own original eyelashes as they once were. So, when I looked into and eyelash serum that also doubles up as an eyelash growth serum, I wondered if it was too good to be true. Was it?
Definitely not. As I said, if you pay attention to the little things, you will start to notice a difference, so once I started paying attention to my lashes I then couldn’t get enough of watching them improve. They felt better, they were stronger, and they looked amazing. Now an eyelash growth serum can’t work miracles overnight, but it can do its bit to help your eyelashes grow faster, stronger and longer as long as you do you bit to help too.
This means cleansing your eyelashes every day and making sure all traces of makeup are gone, doing this as gently as possible with a tough but forgiving cleanser, and not overdoing it with adhesives for false eyelashes. I tried out an eyelash serum by Xlash and was so happy with the results after three weeks that it became a normal part of my beauty routine: cleanse, let dry, apply Xlash Eyelash Serum and go to bed. Simple!
The best part is they don’t fall out like they used to before. I’m leaving them alone and letting the eyelash serum do its thing. Even if you are an avid wearer of eyelash extensions, this stuff is really good for the strength of your follicles and natural eyelashes, which in turn should make your extensions last even longer. This is one beauty product I won’t live without now.
4. Trusty Mascara
Ok, so I know I said I was going to give my eyelashes a bit of a break from the hardships of wearing makeup all the time, but mascara is a girl’s best friend in my opinion. When you have dark eyes, eyebrows and hair, it can be difficult to make your eyes pop without a little help. Yes, I realise people may say that having all those dark features may add to the mystery of the person, but personally, I feel very plain without makeup and like to feel the confidence of knowing I’ve made my eyes a prominent feature.
Mascara does this job perfectly, especially for me anyway. I have large almond shaped eyes that can look a bit downturned on certain days but are easy to bring upward with some clever eyeliner, giving them a great cat-eye shape. But doing this every day isn’t the most convenient, especially when I’m travelling all the time and dealing with extreme temperatures. Sometimes you only get five minutes to be up and ready and a girl has to pick her battles. I chose mascara as my weapon most days as it doesn’t take too long to apply, and you get that pop of jet black to really highlight the eyes. I find the darker I go with mascara, the lighter it makes my eyes look which is a huge bonus for me.
But yes, I do take my eyelash care seriously and now that I’m using my eyelash serum and having breaks from things like mascara and false eyelashes from time to time, I really appreciate the stuff when it comes to applying it. We all have our own methods; I usually go for a volumizing mascara to work on their fullness as opposed to length as the serum is already sorting that out for me. I apply one coat and draw the wand outward and upward to create that ever desirable cat eye shape even without eyeliner and hen go back for a second coat before it has completely dried or it ends up looking quite clumpy.
At the end of each day I use my makeup remover to get rid of all the product and sometimes use a bit of coconut oil to finish the job and leave eyelashes feeling smooth. (But we will get onto coconut oil later!) Then its eyelash serum time and I can happily say my lashes have served me well by the end of the day.
5. Coconut Oil
When people go on about the products they love, it can be hard to relate sometimes. Especially if a) your budget doesn’t allow for fancy products and b) your skin-type, routine or preference doesn’t allow for them to become part of your own. But this is why I saved coconut oil until last. It is accessible to almost anyone, works well in different ways for everyone and is not going to cost you a fortune.
I love coconut oil for many reasons, and I’d love to share them with you. First of all, organic coconut oil is the way to go if you are going to commit to this as a beauty product. The whole point of it is that is it natural and isn’t going to harm your skin with various additives and chemicals. Second of all, you don’t have to limit coconut oil to use for just your skin.
I tend to keep a pot with me at all times as it fixes a lot of things when you’re on the go. As I’m constantly moving about it, it is nice to have one constant that keeps me in check. I have very thick, wavy hair that back in the days before styling and straighteners came along, would frizz at the hint of humidity and never played ball when I wanted it to. Then, after straightening my hair to within an inch of its life, came the dryness. I luckily found coconut oil as a solution and nowadays I apply a small amount to the ends when it is damp and leave it to dry naturally for perfect beachy waves all year round. Gone are my straightening irons and gone is my hairdryer; I know what hair type I have and especially during the summer months, coconut oil is the way to control the dreaded frizz. Not only that, but it keeps it shiny and controllable without feeling greasy. Perfect!
But it took a while for me to see it as a benefit for my skin, especially dealing with oiliness on my face. So, I tend to save it for my body, and the only way I can describe it is that it brings the skin back to life. It’s thick, but not too thick, it softens in your hands making it easy to apply to your skin and the shine lasts for hours. It is especially great for freshly shaved legs, keeping the skin soft and legs looking fantastic!
But then I discovered that coconut oil is a fantastic makeup remover and moisturiser. Who knew?! It literally grabs every bit of makeup, especially on the eyes, like mascara or stubborn eyeliner and leaves the skin around your eyes feeling super soft and hydrated. I don’t tend to rub it all over my face, but it is handy when I’m travelling and don’t have instant access to warm water or soap, and it is gentle enough that it doesn’t make your face feel unclean afterward. Coconut oil hits the spot on many ways. You can even use it to clean your eyelashes, so they are ready for some eyelash serum once all the cakey makeup is gone.
There may be more things I cannot live without, but those are my top 5 beauty products. Here’s hoping you find yours!