I’ve been procrastinating over this post a little as very few of my stand out products of 2014 are particularly new or ‘exciting’. Last year was almost entirely about trying (and often failing) to fit everything in and, in terms of skincare, getting my newly turbulent skin under control.
As a result, my favourites are the true, reliable workhorses of my makeup bag and greatest skincare heroes when it came to calming and healing my skin.
NUDE Perfect Cleanse Nourishing Oil
I love cleansing oils for speedy makeup removal, but NUDE’s remains the best I’ve come across. It has almost no scent, is the perfect texture to break down easily with water and never irritates my eyes or skin. The price point can feel a little steep for daily use, but I’ve not found anything that leaves my face feeling quite as clean or balanced post-cleanse.
Garnier Cleansing Water
When I don’t fancy smearing liquid liner around my face, panda-style, by breaking it down with a cleansing oil, Garnier’s micellar water has become a firm favourite. It’s cheaper, gentler, less fragranced and (I find) more effective than Bioderma and other micellars I’ve tried.
Suti Purity Balm*
I have a lot of time for this brand (co-founder Suzannah’s facials are pure magic) but the Purity Balm, with calendula, chamomile and lavender, is a particular favourite. Facial oils are great, but I love the process of warming a little of this balm between my palms before massaging it in for a few minutes. I like to be liberal with this in the evening (usually before a hair wash morning as it can migrate a bit) to let it really sink into my face. It leaves my skin feeling comforted, speeds up the healing of old blemishes and soothes any dry patches.
Pai Copaiba & Zinc Perfect Balance Serum*
Trust Pai to finally come up with a blemish treatment that calms, clears and prevents blemishes without excessively drying the skin…or leaving behind an angry rash five times the size of the original spot. This super lightweight serum (it smells like slightly sour buttermilk to me – but not unpleasant) sits nicely under makeup during the day to keep my skin soothed and balanced. It can also be dotted on as a targeted treatment, but don’t expect the overnight drying action of harsher products; instead it calms inflammation and helps the skin to heal more cleanly and effectively.
MAC Tenderling Blush
Ostensibly the most uninspiring looking hue MAC offer, but Tenderling is the ultimate lazy girl shade for instant cheekbones on paler skintones. A light tan-pink, it’s like a long-lasting, slightly more matte version of NARS Douceur.
Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner in Chocolate Truffle*
Brown gel liner was a feature of 2013‘s favourites too, but the, now discontinued, ByTerry shade has been replaced with one of Bobbi Brown’s brilliant gel eyeliner pencils. Although I tend to gravitate towards all-black-everything, you can’t beat a nicely smudgy, but ridiculously long-wearing, cool dark brown shade for just about everything else. As an added bonus, there’s no sharpener required.
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer
Secret Camouflage has been around for years, but it was only in the midst of a skin-crisis that I sought it out. The dual-shade compact is great for customisation year-round to properly disguise blemishes and the oil-free formula won’t exacerbate angry skin – but it can be a little drying when used alone. It’s worth it though as this is (probably) the longest wearing concealer around.
RMS Living Luminizer
Living Luminizer makes the cut for a second year running; there’s simply not another highlighter I own that comes close to faking an ‘alive’ look, without unnecessary glitter and sparkles. Full review here.
NARS Yachiyo Brush*
The most versatile brush I own; the slight point at the end makes it precise enough for soft highlighting, targeted application of setting powder and it’s also a firm favourite for contouring. Full review here.
Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Pink Blossom*
I always have some kind of tinted balm in my bag/coat pocket/drawer, but Pink Blossom is the one I’m usually trying to find. A sheer, raspberry pink, it works nicely as both a lip and cheek colour.
Avalon Organics Lemon Clarifying Shampoo
I’ve finished multiple bottles of this sherbet-y and (reasonably) affordable shampoo. It easily rinses away product and hard water residue, without leaving my super sensitive scalp or hair feeling stripped.
Sebastian Potion 9
Almost solely responsible for making 2014 the year I became ‘at-one’ with my hair; like a less greasy version of Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, this magic stuff is a taming leave-in conditioning treatment without any of the associated slipperiness, residue or weight. Full review here.
Muji Body Towel
I discovered this ridiculously simple, but also kind of genius, shortcut to smooth skin late last year. It’s just a long strip of nylon fabric (long enough to wrap around your back) that’s slightly scratchy when dry, and the perfect gentle body exfoliant when wet combined with your favourite shower gel.