14 beauty experts on the products they actually buy

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Lucy Partington and Hanna Ibraheem
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We quizzed some of the industry’s most successful beauty brand founders, dermatologists, journalists and make-up artists to find out which products they spend their money on. 

The beauty world can be a tricky place to navigate. With new products launching every single day and many of them being hailed as ‘cult’ in no time at all, it’s difficult to know what’s actually worth spending your hard-earned cash on. 

So, to help make things a little bit easier, we quizzed a number of industry experts - from consultant dermatologists to brand founders, journalists and make-up artists - to see what hair, make-up and skincare bits they actually deem worthy of purchasing. 

Get your shopping lists at the ready because we predict you’re going to want to treat yourself to at least one of everything…

Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible

Jan Marini Bioglycolic Oily Skin Cleanser, £35

“This is a high strength glycolic acid product which is an effective chemical exfoliator. It’s a good skin brightener and helps fade pigmentation.”

Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50, £31

“A lightweight, tinted gel formula that sits nicely under make up, and most importantly, it doesn’t make me break out in acne.”

Dija Ayodele, aesthetician and founder of Black Skin Directory 

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, £12.50

“The most effective and price-friendly oil I’ve found. I used it as a first cleanse in the evening to break down make up, sunscreen and grime. Even though its an olive oil base, it’s really lightweight and spreads on the skin easily without being sticky and subsequently washes off easily - though I use a flannel to towel off, then proceed to cleanse skin. I especially like the fact that it comes in a variety of sizes, including a little dinky one that ideal for holidays and travel - I’m not about the decanting life! I recommend this to everyone who sees me in clinic.”

Neostrata Glycolic Face Wash, £36.40

“An oldie but a goodie for me. 20% AHA content may not be for everyone, but for me and my borderline oily skin, it is perfect at keeping oil under control, delivering smooth skin by exfoliating old skin cells and also instantly brightening. I believe in incremental exfoliation - i.e., using products that provide a small amount of exfoliation at every stage so that I keep on top of issues like texture and hyperpigmentation. I use one pump and massage on to my face then use warm water to splash off. Sometimes in the morning, I apply, then jump into the shower so it’s on for a few minutes as a mask.”

Dr Sobia Ali, Skin Health Doctor at Dr Nestor’s Medical & Cosmetic Centre 

ZO Retinol Skin Brightener 1% Serum

“I discovered the benefits of Retinol 1% during my medical training, and I’ve used it ever since. I find it works particularly well on my skin to help me retain a smooth texture and a brightness to my complexion. I love it because of its efficacy and ease of use, and the difference that it makes to my skin. I use it morning and evening, every day. I just apply one or two pumps to the face, as I need it, after cleansing and before SPF. I recommend anyone starting out using a retinol to start using it twice a week, and slowly increasing it to daily use; it’s very powerful so you need to take time for your skin to build a tolerance to it.”

ZO Smart Tone Broad Spectrum SPF50 

“I love this because it works so well, and protects against so many different things. It’s a very lightweight, non-irritating SPF and it protects against a very broad spectrum (as the name suggests) of harmful factors, including UVA and UVB rays, HEV light and IR-A rays, as well as free radical damage. This particular SPF also contains DNA repair enzymes, so the skin is repaired as it’s being protected. I it this every day, liberally and at least 15 minutes before I go out. I find it sits really well under makeup, so I apply it after cleansing and using my serums, and before I apply a makeup primer. I like to give it at least five minutes to settle into the skin before adding other layers on top.”

Loretta De Feo, founder and creative director of Dizziak

Living Sea Therapy Sea Salt Scrub, £32

“I’m a bit obsessed with anything relating to seaweed - it just feels ‘good for you’. This product really delivers - it smells so fresh and my skin feels incredibly polished and moisturised after use. I use it most weekends as a little treat.”

Ren Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil, £47

“Every night, about 15 minutes before I go to bed, I apply this. I’m not concerned about the ‘anti-wrinkle’ claims, what I love is the texture, how quickly it absorbs and how soft it makes my skin feel.”

Chanice Sienna, founder of BAM BROWS 

Mac Lip Liner in Spice, £15

“This lip liner makes my lips look defined but very natural, and seems to work with so many skin tones. It’s a staple in my makeup bag all year round. I always do the outer line and corners then blend it in with my fingers so it looks like my actual lip line. I can then apply lip balm with it throughout the day but still have a defined lip.”

NARS Climax Mascara, £22

“I was gifted this mascara by a friend, who praised its ability to separate and boost lashes. I love it because it works great with my fine lashes and still looks and applies well with my LVL lash lift, too. I always brush from the top of my lashes first and then go in from the underneath. I also always double up layers on the corner lashes to make them pop.”

Ruby Hammer MBE, make-up artist 

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, £9.50

“I love this cleanser. I discovered it years ago when I was in the States and have it used it to back up all my skincare needs ever since. It’s deeply hydrating and removes excess oil, dirt and impurities. It doesn’t contain soap or or fragrances, has time-release technology, and is full of essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid.”

Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Wash, £27

“I can’t remember when I first discovered this, that’s how long I’ve used it for. I use the body cream (£42), too, which acts as my perfume and everybody always comments on it. I actually buy the professional-sized versions because it’s the one thing I always come back to. My husband says it’s my signature scent.”

Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, founder of SKNDOCTOR 

Dior Face & Body Foundation in 5W, £30

After a much-needed clear out of foundations (some of which I’d been holding on to for almost two years!), I decided to pick up this Dior foundation, as I had heard a lot about it. Shade 5W is a perfect match for my skin tone and it gives me the most amazing dewy but non-greasy natural look. Oh, and it’s just £30!”

Stacked Skincare Dermaplaning Tool, £68.29

“Dermaplaning is a great way to exfoliate your skin, and this tool is pretty much foolproof. The razor is designed in a way that makes it difficult to cut yourself. I have quite resilient, oily skin so I do this monthly - it helps to remove the top layer of the skin and vellus hair and leaves me with glowy skin. But more sensitive, fragile skin types should approach this with caution!”

Farah Naz, founder of EX1 Cosmetics 

La Roche-Posay Physiological Make-Up Remover Micellar Water Cleansing Gel, £13

“This cleanser will deep clean your skin without over drying it.”

Oléo-Relax Serum by Kerastase, £23.80

“I love using this on my naturally curly hair. It leaves it perfectly smooth without weighing it down, and it smells great too.”

Charlotte Mensah, owner and artistic director of Hair Lounge salon and founder of hair range Charlotte Mensah 

Tata Harper Revitalising Body Oil, £100

“I discovered this while I was shopping in Space NK - the packaging is really striking and I love the smell of it, it helps wake me up when I’m feeling tired. It absorbs into skin really quickly, and although I usually use it on its own, if my skin is feeling really dry I mix it with shea butter to make a thick ointment.”

Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser, £52

“I also found this in Space NK - it was actually in the very first store that opened. I took a sample home and I haven’t stopped using it since. It really helps brighten my complexion and makes it look like I’ve just been on holiday. It’s really nourishing, too, and sometimes I’ll just it as a mask by leaving it on for 15 minutes or so before washing it off.” 

Ateh Jewel, beauty journalist

Bobbi Brown Extra Lip Tint in Bare Blackberry, £26

“I love a tinted lip balm and have been obsessed since I was a kid. The grown up version I am loving is Bobbi Brown’s Bare Blackberry. It’s rich and deep enough in pigment to show up on my lips but lovely and sheer and natural which I love. I slather it on, but you can also dab onto your eyelids and cheeks for a dewy look.”

Milk Make-Up Lip + Cheek in Quickie, £20.50

“I love this deep, dewy berry lip and cheek tint from Milk. It really pops and looks great on darker skin tones. I’m a big fan of Kush High Volume Mascara, £20.50, too because it gives a voluminous, full, fat, super-black lash without clumping.”

Florence Adepoju, founder of MDMFlow     

Jim + Henry Eight Leave In Conditioner, £23.50

“I love this because it makes my hair super soft, malleable and has an incredible light scent to it. I can’t remember how I discovered Eight, honestly it might have been on Instagram - I’m always looking for new hair care wonder products.”

Iiuvo Gilot EDP, £135

“This scent has a lovely fresh, fruity fragrance that makes me think of summer - especially now the weather is starting to get warmer. I discovered the brand when I met the founders on a press trip to Australia, then when we got back to London they invited me to their studio in East London and I fell in love with the brand and the wonderful stories behind their perfumes.

Lan Nguyen-Grealis, make-up artist

Benefit The Porefessional Face Primer, £29

Years ago, back when primers began to become popular, I found this one to be superior and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s especially good when I’m under pressure as I know it solves a lot of problems before I even begin working on a client. It’s best used just before applying foundation sas it hides fine lines, smooths out tiny bumps - and the fact it’s a neutral colour means it works on most skin types.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner, £8.50

“I’ve suffered with acne for years and I’ve found this to be a complete life saver for my skin. I like that it’s all-natural and not evasive on skin - it balances everything out and helps control my combination skin. I tend to use it after cleansing and instead of a cream - and I make sure I use it every time I get a spot, too. Even at 39 toner works for me!”

Tobi Oredien, beauty and lifestyle journalist

Big Hair Milk Leave In Moisturiser, £16

“I tried so many products when I decided to stop relaxing my hair which were often recommended by black natural hair bloggers. Somebody suggested Big Hair and I just decided to try it and several years on, I’m still a loyal customer. It keeps my hair super hydrated - which is essential with Afro hair types - and it’s not too greasy. I use it on slightly wet or dry hair and it works wonders to breathe life into an old twist out style.”

Flow Beauty Co Order Everything Oil, £15

“I’m a fan of the MDMFlow beauty brand in general, and now she has a skincare line too so I’ve been using this oil. It has great ingredients, only costs £15 and the oils don’t take ages to dry or absorb. It has a beautiful, understated scent, too. I use it on my face but it can work all over your body. I even used it on my lips when the weather was colder.”

Vanita Parti, founder of BBB London

Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer, £38

“I discovered it when I was with my daughter while trying and testing different products in Space NK. I was looking to find the perfect solution for the dark circles under my eyes. This is amazing and it’s especially good for brightening. I love using around the eyebrows to define the shape/arch, too.”

Omorovicza Rejuvenating Cream, £115

“I’m always on the hunt for interesting and niche brands that are really focused on what they do and do it well, I also have quite dry skin, so I naturally came across this product through word of mouth. As I’m prone to dry skin it’s great for soothing and healing my skin overnight. After my evening cleaning routine, I apply a small amount evenly on my face and neck - a little bit goes a long way.”

Image credit: courtesy of brands/women featured


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