GRACE NOTES | MARCH 2017
Working as a beauty writer practically requires me to turn up at work wearing as little product as possible – a blank canvas if you will – to be smothered and swatched in potions and pigments from 8 ‘till 5. As it's my job to swatch and sniff my way through the latest and greatest beauty launches, each month I debrief on the ones worth writing home about. Say hi.
A few years ago, only the skin savvy were clued up enough on ingredients to know exactly what could be used to cure various skincare ailments. Buying 'spot creams' and hoping for the best was de rigueur, but nowadays consumers are a lot more conscious of exactly what they're putting on their skin, and they're opting for targeted treatments over one-size-fits-alls. Gone are the glory days of powerhouse serums with lengthy and indecipherable ingredients lists - after all, if you have blemish-prone skin what more do you need than niacinamide and zinc?
I've been working my way through Glossier's ever-growing skincare line with the fervour I normally reserve for my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist and limited edition Krispy Kreme releases, so I was very excited to finally get my hands on one of the brands three serums last month. Blessedly, it's exactly what it says on the tin - niacinamide and zinc - the most credible blemish busters there are. Niacinamide is a multitasker - it regulates sebum production [excess of which leads to clogged pores], calms inflammation, fades scars, and actually tightens pores [so less of the bad stuff can get in and clog them]. Zinc is a wound healer, it boosts immune function which means blemishes heal quickly and don't flare up as badly. If you're in the UK or simply want a cheaper alternative, The Ordinary's Niacinamide + Zinc Serum is literally the exact same product [and actually has a higher zinc count and marginally more virtuous formula].
ALTERNA Caviar Replenishing Moisture Care Shampoo & Conditioner
Post pro blow-dry I'm guilty of postponing my next hair washing session for as long as possible in order to maintain that weightless, silky texture which my hair only ever seems to have after a salon visit, and is nigh on impossible to recreate from home... 'Impossible' is no longer the appropriate word, because I've found the answer to getting the exact same result without stepping foot in a salon. In fact, you may perhaps recognise these purple bottles because they're salon favourites - you'll be hard-pressed to find a professional that doesn't use [and swear by] the caviar range. Hairdryers and round brushes may be the key players in a blow-dry, but I've come to learn that shampoo and conditioner are the understated foundations of the perfect blowout.
Formulas are not to be underestimated - I test so many shampoos and conditioners, and find that a good 50% of them leave my hair with the kind of texture that simply does not cooperate with heat and heat tools. This duo gives my hair the sleek, smooth, weightless texture vital to achieving bouncy, voluminous waves - so much so that even on days where I've had to let my hair air-dry, it's still looked and felt like I've just left the salon.
The benefits of using an eye serum over an eye cream aren't widely touted - likely because 90% of the eye product market is made up of creams, and stating that they're anything but miracle cures for dark circles, fine lines, and puffiness would be nothing short of suicide to a successful marketing ploy. Beauty industry gripes aside, the fine line [ha] is that creams [whilst great in many ways] are actually the number one cause of your eye puffiness. Granted, they're not all guilty - I love Clinique's caffeine-infused and ultra-lightweight Pepstart Eye Cream - but [especially if you apply them at night] you'll find yourself waking up to bigger under-eye bags than you went to bed with. The alternative? Eye serums - a lighter and more fluid option that [thanks to the thinner texture] won't cause the delicate under-eye areas to swell.
What's more, serums are packed with actives that offer a more treatment-focussed approach to eyesore. You'll see better results, faster. My favourite is NIOD's single eye care offering. It's completely weightless and spreads easily so you only need the tiniest amount - I can see the bottle lasting years. I was worried about the thin texture running into my [very] sensitive eyes, but it absorbs quickly and without leaving residue, delivering 28[!] ingredient complexes to the skin. I'm 24 and for me eye cream is a preventative treatment - I have absolutely no idea if this will make your crow's feet disappear - but if you're serious about eye care, I can wholeheartedly say this is one of your best options.
When it comes to makeup I love nothing more than a multitasker and this little pot of makeup magic is just that - there's a reason why it's a backstage favourite [I know few MUAs who don't have the entire colour range in their kit]. The densely pigmented formula can be used to spot-conceal [pair it with a fine-tipped brush], contour [when used in shades lighter/darker than your skintone], or as a base.
Mixed with moisturiser it provides a sheer BB cream effect, straight - blended out with a finger - it gives skin the kind of even, perfected complexion that normally requires complex layering. A little goes a long long way - literally a rice grain-sized amount will suffice for an entire face worth of coverage - its magic is its ability to be as dense or as sheer as you want it. I mostly use this to conceal, or I mix it with Glossier Skin Tint for a quick everyday base, but occasionally I do use it in place of foundation - if my skin is particularly bad or I something exceptionally long-lasting. Most full-coverage bases look thick and mask-like, but this has an uncanny ability to mimic the exact texture and radiance of natural skin.
Like most beauty industry insiders I swear by Seche Vite as a topcoat. I'm on my fourth consecutive bottle and won't entertain the idea of using anything else - it's unrivalled in its ability to make a mani last twice as long and look twice as shiny. Over the years I've sought to find a base coat that has the same success story but it wasn't until this month that I finally struck gold. Base coat might seem like an unnecessary addition - but ever since a particularly scarring episode with a green nail polish that stained my nails yellow for a good six months, I've been a stalwart fan.
The premise is that nails are protected from staining andcolour lasts longer and applies smoother - the best will also nurture and strengthen nails. Horse Power is the equivalent of your favourite makeup primer - the one you can rely upon to make your foundation look as good at 11pm as it did at 6am - and what's more, it does good. The formula is infused with biotin, vitamin B, and calcium - all key to maintaining strong healthy nails. Paired with Seche Vite, my at-home manis are looking and lasting better than ever.