When you write about beauty for a living, you lose count of the hours you spend researching the market.
It’s a good gig, don’t get me wrong, but most of the time, it’s simply your job. You try something, perhaps write about, move on. Nothing to get too crazy about.
What keeps most beauty writers going (and scrubbing and slathering) is the thrill of the chase, that eternal search for hope in a jar. Because occasionally, you do get blown away. You come across a new cream or serum that is so good it makes your pulse race a little and, more importantly, your skin look smoother, younger, glowier.
Take, for instance, right now. I – and my skin – have been totally wowed by four new launches. Each has raised the bar of what to expect from skincare, and changed my skin for the better.
Without further ado …
1. The Gentle Eye Exfoliant: Perricone MD Blue Plasma Orbital
Exfoliation of the eye area, which I touched on here, is a controversial issue. Opponents say it could irritate and inflame the delicate skin here, while those pro argue that exfoliation is the best way to get the most out of a follow-up treatment or cream, as well as to smooth this line-prone area.
My take: exfoliating the eye area is effective … if you do it correctly. Read: super-gently.
Some experts suggest lightly using a wash cloth to manually slough away dead skin. I prefer the idea of a product that does the exfoliating for me – no potentially aggravating scrubbing action necessary.
Enter Blue Plasma Orbital.
Instead of the usual hydroxy acid suspects, salmon egg enzyme has been used to zone in on and remove only the dead surface skin.
You can layer your usual eye cream on top, although you might not want to, as Blue Plasma Orbital also contains treatment ingredients: plankton extract, to de-puff and tighten, licorice derivative to brighten, and copper to repair.
It might not be to everyone’s budget or taste (vegetarians included), but for those of you wanting to invest more time and care into the skin around your eyes, this one’s a winner.
2. The Look-No-Oil Skin Oil: Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil
Face oils are a huge trend these days, taking over from traditional moisturising creams as the preferred way to nourish skin for many women. One reason is that a pure oil doesn’t need a preservative system, so it’s as natural as can be; another is that oils have such great slip, you can really massage them in and make application a luxurious and indulgent process.
So why launch an oilless oil? It’s all about celebrating the key ingredient, squalane. Which is, in fact this is the sole ingredient in this formulation.
Squalane is a natural antioxidant found in sebum that helps to keep skin supple. Unfortunately, our squalane levels deplete with age, which is why it pays to apply it topically.
In the past, squalane has been sourced from shark liver – thankfully, there aren’t many companies that harm sharks for this anymore. Squalane is also often sourced from olives.
Peter Thomas Roth chose to use squalane from sustainably grown sugarcane – it’s produced when sugarcane juice is fermented – which is then purified. The result is that it’s clear and odourless. And it also feels remarkably like an oil.
It’s silky and slippery and you can massage it all over. But unlike many oils, it absorbs beautifully, while still leaving a lovely sheen (not an oil-slick-like shine). It’s also non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t block pores, which some other oils might do. This suits all skin but if your complexion is dry or dehydrated, mist your skin first with a facial water, to ensure this absorbs as well as it can. If you still feel a little tight or taut, you can easily follow up with your usual moisturiser.
Bonus: it also works a nice treat on elbows, knees and cuticles.
3. The Minimum-Effort, Maximum-Results Facial: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Boosting 5-Minute Facial
If you don’t have time to get to a skin salon regularly – actually, you barely have any time, full top – this is a perfect next-best option.
A two-step, twice-weekly routine, you simply apply a dollop of the Self-Foaming Mask over uncleansed skin – after two minutes, its lactic acid-powered mix has drawn out surface impurities – and then follow with the Replenishing Serum. This silky formulation contains retinyl linoleate and tropical fruit extracts to smooth and strengthen skin, and a skin-identical lipid complex to boost your complexion’s protective barrier.
And that’s all you do! It could barely be easier. And yet the skin-plumping results really do make you look like a therapist has been hard at work, tending to your every line and pore.
4. The Look-Younger Eye Gadget: Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Contouring Eye Lift
This lovely anti-ageing lotion for the eye area boasts skin-tightening polymers for an instant lifting effect, as well as all sorts of fancy ingredients (think black tourmaline) to energise skin cells and stimulate collagen for longer-term youthfulness.
But it’s the delivery that’s half the story – the sculpted ceramic tip dispenses product and then serves as a massage tool, to help the de-puffing elements of the formulation (such as algae and golden chamomile) really get into skin and do their thing.
An absolutely beautiful product to use, it’s gorgeously cooling and effective on sleepy morning eyes, or stressed-out evening ones (the massage action also serves as a nice excuse for some me-time), and works both from the get-go, as well as giving eyes a more defined look after a few weeks’ time.