Grace Notes: December 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.
It seems nowadays that the natural evolution of a beauty product is to progress from powder form to cream, and eventually to stick. Not something I’d complain about, sticks being generally easier to use (and as a stationery addict I’m more than happy for my makeup bag to better resemble a pencil case). However, I’ve always been content with my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder (I’m likely onto my fifth consecutive pan of the stuff) and I never thought I’d be swayed. I was so convinced, in fact, that these sat dormant in my room for some time before a visiting friend (and MUA) used them on me whilst making me up for an event. The result was the most natural contour and highlight I’ve ever seen. Truly, skin-like - subtle enough so as not to appear remotely #kontoured but noticeable enough that they match up to be the most photogenic contour I’ve yet observed.
There’s a reason why this foundation amassed a 75,000+ waitlist in the months prior to its launch - and that’s more than just the fact that this costs a mere £5.95. It’s fuller coverage than I was expecting, takes zero effort to apply, and completely obliterates redness and unevenness but doesn’t feel (or look) like I have anything on my face - coverage without covering, if you will.
PHAs aren't very prevalent in chemical exfoliators - which is what made this product exciting for me. In layman’s terms, they’re a gentler alternative to AHAs and BHAs, providing just as effective a peel but with no risk of the redness, peeling, and (potential) sensitivity/irritation of a heavier duty acid. These pre-soaked pads also dispense an antioxidant and multivitamin complex alongside soothing green tea and cucumber so they're gentle enough to use every night. However, what I find most remarkable about them is their ability to give dull skin an immediate glow - which seems somewhat wasted to fall into bed with.
It screams gimmicky (and granted, it’s pure Instagram/Boomerang fodder), but Dr Brandt is a brand that places science and research at the heart of its product innovation - enough to silence the cynic in me when this arrived in the post.
The mask applies old-school-style - it’s a dense black cream and a little goes a long way, but the removal process is where things get fun/cool/#2017; wrap the included magnet in tissue, skim it over the surface of the skin, and the mask lifts instantly and effortlessly. The fun part is also the clever part - the magnetic particles draw out toxins and residue while the magnetic reaction stimulates blood flow, meaning the skin can better absorb the benefits of the mask. The fact that this doesn’t have to be washed off means that a layer of essential oils (rich in antioxidants and peptides) is left behind to be massaged into skin.
This year was the year that I really nailed down the scents that I loved, but my favourite has been this from Penhaligons. I’ve been using it since the summer and it’s become such a habitual feature in my routine that it was only recently I realised I hadn’t done my usual seasonal perfume switch-up - or mentioned this fragrance in these pages.
The one thing better than a good blow-dry, is having someone do that good blow-dry for you - in under an hour and at less than £40. I've raved before about Blow Ltd, the beauty world's answer to Uber/Deliveroo - offering the services of local hair, nail, and makeup professionals in the comfort of your own home, and at the tap of an app. Now, following on from the success of the app, the brand has [quite literally] set up shop, putting down roots in the beauty hall of Manchester's Market Street Debenhams. I visited for a blow-dry on a busy Friday evening at the beginning of the month (manis, pedis, and makeovers are also on offer, so you can tick multiple boxes in one go). It was well in the midst of Christmas party season and there was an infectious tinge of last-minute Christmas shopping mania in the air - enough to throw even the calmest professional, and yet the staff were undeterred, friendly, and efficient. Whether you're in need of an elaborate up-do before a big event, or a clean, swingy blowout, Blow will easily become your reliable go-to.