If there’s one beauty lesson to learn it’s that just because you don’t see a product all over your Instagram feed that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your attention.
The fact we now live in an Instagram-obsessed world means the way beauty products are packaged has never been more important.
It’s mostly thanks to to the likes of Glossier, Milk Makeup and Drunk Elephant that we’ve slowly become more and more fixated on how pretty or slick a product looks. So fixated, in fact, that how well something photographs, on a shelf, for an Instagram picture, next to products that look equally as good, is more important than how effective said tool or formula actually is.
While some products have it all (aka fancy packaging teamed with a hardworking formula), others don’t. But that shouldn’t make investing in something less desirable. And, actually, as the Stylist beauty team have discovered, it’s usually the products that look a little less fancy that are the most relied upon, the most hardworking and the most effective.
So, although they probably won’t make main grid, keep reading to discover some of our all-time favourite bits that we each rely upon day after day and wouldn’t ever want to be caught without.
Shannon Peter, beauty director
Jessica Pedicure Foot File
Even if I could afford fortnightly pedicures, there’s no way I could actually find the time for them so more often than not, I have to take matters into my own hands. This foot file is as basic as they come, but it’s bloody brilliant. It’s rough enough to leave soles so smooth, you end up having to cling on to the tiles for dear life so as not to slip over in the shower, but gentle enough, there’s no risk of doing any damage to the softer parts of the foot. And you can proclaim to be grossed out all you like, but I defy anyone not to get major kicks from seeing all that dead skin flake off. So. Bloody. Satisfying.
Oskia Dual Active Cleansing Cloths
When it comes to unsung beauty products, I reckon flannels are the most maligned of them all. I get it, they’re invariably unsexy, but they’re also the cornerstone of my cleansing routine. Not only are they a vital vehicle for peeling away my balm cleanser (Clinique Take the Day Off, £25, always) and melted makeup remnants with ease, but they offer a satisfying scrubbing sensation, too. My airing cupboard houses a stack of run of the mill John Lewis white washcloths, but the creme de la creme of the flannel world has to be Oskia’s Dual Active Cleansing Cloths, £21. One side is a smooth muslin, and the other is a flannel as puffy and fluffy as the towels in the bathrooms at Soho Farmhouse. The dream.
Lucy Partington, beauty editor
Holland & Barrett Aloe Vera Gel
I will never be caught without a tube of this stuff, because it’s truly the most effective multi-purpose product I’ve ever used and owned. It can treat, cool and soothe sunburn, it’s incredible at calming down chafing (dresses + summer is not ideal) and I use it after shaving, too, as I find it helps prevent both ingrown hairs and that horrible itchy feeling that can sometimes happen. It’s also really hydrating (if my skin is feeling parched, I slather it on), and it’s brilliant for moisturising my forever-dry elbows. It’s the best multi-tasker and it’s one of the only formulas I’ve found on the high street that is almost 100% pure aloe vera.
All of that, and it’s under a tenner – perfect!
SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF
Vitamin C is one of the most effective ingredients (along with SPF and retinol, which also tend to come in simpler, more clinical-looking packaging) that can be used on skin. Used during the day, it acts as a potent antioxidant and works to protect skin against things like free radicals and pollution. Used at night, it helps brighten and even out skin tone. I always notice a difference in how my skin looks when I stop using it for an extended amount of time.
Hanna Ibraheem, beauty writer
Vatika Coconut Hair Oil
I first started using this product when I was six years old. Every Sunday, my mum would make me sit on the floor while she massaged it into my scalp and then I would leave it in all day, before washing it out in the evening. I don’t use it as often now, but when I do, my hair feels softer and stronger.
Eucerin Anti-Pigment Dual Serum
I’ve always had hyperpigmentation on my face and nothing has really helped – until I started using this. One chamber uses thiamidol to inhibit the skin’s melanin production, while hyaluronic acid in the second chamber, rehydrates skin. I recently got some spots that left marks on my cheeks, and this serum is slowly making them disappear, too.
Ava Welsing-Kitcher, junior beauty writer
CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion
CeraVe’s Facial Moisturising Lotion saves my skin during eczema outbreaks, but I always reach for it even when not in a crisis. Packed with ceramides to help restore the skin’s barrier, it also gives lightweight moisturisation that dries down perfectly before you apply make-up.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Body Lotion
I’ve used Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula probably since I was born, and probably will for the rest of my life. It’s smooth, creamy, smells rich and familiar, and also comes in a solid formula that adds the perfect summery sheen to skin (and seemingly keeps you a little warmer in the winter).
Images: courtesy of brands