Clockwise from top: 'Pretty Honest' by Sali Hughes; Essie Style Cartel; Maybelline Color Drama Lipstick in Light it Up; Benefit Gimme Brow in Medium/Dark; Vichy Thermal Aqualia Serum.
Ren Flash Rinse Facial not pictured because I'm still using up my sample pot.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum tops my list for keeping my face hydrated and calm this winter. It has really rescued my skin - I've had none of the itchy flakiness I usually get in winter. I don't think I've ever taken to a product faster; it instantly became part of my daily routine (smooth a pump of it over face and neck after cleansing) and my skin looks smoother and plumper from it. If face creams feel like they sit on top of your skin, making your makeup look greasy and patchy while your skin feels taught, itchy, tingly, or just unloved, give this a go. It combats the moisture-sucking effects of cold weather and central heating faster than you can say 'Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Serum, please.'
I'm surprised by how much I adore Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, because It's not recommended for sensitive skin. But considering that none of the ingredients are on list of ingredients to avoid, Ren skincare is consistently high quality, and I've used their Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser before, I gave it a go. And it's the best face scrub I've ever used! It combines a gentle physical exfoliant with a chemical exfoliant, and expertly banishes all my winter-y flakiness in about 30 seconds. I err on the side of caution because even though my face sometimes feels like an over-baked croissant, I don't want to accidentally remove any of the skin I'm still using. My skin looks so much brighter and smoother afterwards. My serum and moisturiser can really get to work, my makeup looks better, and I swear I look at least three years younger.
2014 was definitely the year of the lip crayon, with dupes of Clinique's chubby stick and Nars' lip pencils hitting the shelves everywhere. Maybelline Color Drama Lipstick in 'Light It Up' is my current favourite for its beautiful matte pinky-red shade and its versatility. I've used it as a listick, combined it with other reds a lip liner to give a more precise finish, and smudged on as a lip stain. It glides on surprisingly well but has enough 'grip' that it doesn't slide off onto the side of your glass.
Brow products really came into their own last year, with pencils, mascaras, pens, powders, waxes and the occasional brow stencil all aimed at amping up brows. Benefit Gimme Brow mascara in Medium/Dark manages to make my thin, slightly patchy brows look naturally fuller and more defined, and has taken up permanent residence in my makeup bag. Its grey-brown shade looks completely natural - no more choosing between having orange forehead caterpillars or looking like a an extra in a '90's pop video. Horay!
Essie Style Cartel jumped straight to the top of my favourite nail polishes ever. I could stare into its deep inky blue depths for days. Essie has been my favourite brand for a while now - the nail polishes are easy to apply, even for me with my tiny fingernails and cack-handedness, and the shade range is wonderful. I was really impressed by the whole Essie Fall 2014 range, but this shade really stood out for me. I find that a good dark blue nail polish is difficult to find - they either look too bright, streaky and overall quite juvenile. or they're so close to black that you may have just gone with black after all. This shade brings none of those problems. The rich, deep cobalt is a sharp, grown up, arse-kickingly fabulous shade.
You can still buy 'Fall in Line', 'The Perfect Cover Up', 'Partner in Crime' and 'Style Cartel' from the Fall 2014 collection - follow the link above to the Superdrug website. you can get free delivery on orders over £10 - a great excuse to stock up. The other two shades, 'Dressed to Kilt' and 'Take it Outside', can be found on Amazon UK, although I can't verify the sellers.
It would be utterly remiss of me not to mention Sali Hughes' wonderful book 'Pretty Honest'. It's such a joy to read. Sali writes with such insight, charisma and wit. It's a fantastic place to start from if you're interested in makeup or skincare but don't know how to navigate the waters, but it's just as invaluable for seasoned beauty aficionados. Sali guides you through beauty in every context, including the everyday of skincare routines, work makeup, and putting your face on in public, to the special occasions (bridal makeup, having your photograph taken), to the things we don't really like to think about (illness, aging, and botox). It's also very,very funny and extremely well-written. It is the book version of MAC Face and Body - it covers everything.
Thanks for reading!