Jessica Diner, Beauty & Lifestyle Director
Mac Cosmetics Powder Kiss Liquid Lip Colour in Devoted to Chilli
Every so often a lipstick comes along that makes me question why I don’t wear red on my lips more often, and this was most definitely one of them. The softest, most velvety matt lipstick I have tried (and there have been a lot of them – I love how matt lipstick looks, but not how dry it can feel), it has genuine comfortable stay-all-day power and this burnt red shade is especially brilliant.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation
Ah, the power of a Chanel foundation – never to be underestimated. I have been a long-term devotee to one of their previous foundations, Vitalumiere, but this new launch under the Les Beiges franchise might just pip it to the post. Lightweight, medium-coverage and in a glorious dewy finish, it gives you “your skin but better”
U Beauty Resurfacing Compound
A true multi-tasker that will check all of your skincare boxes: combining AHAs, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and E as well as retinol, using this as your serum morning and evening will result in visibly brighter, tighter, clearer skin, without having to worry about what ingredient to use and when in your skincare routine. Brilliantly simple, but supremely high-performing.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex
I love it when brands lean into the upgrade. Moving with the times and with modern innovation, Lauder gave their already-iconic “ANR” a super-boost this year to make it all the more effective using something called Chronolux Power Signal Technology, which on top of its existing antioxidant superpowers means that it helps your skin to turnover fresh cells and boost collagen. There’s a reason this is such a bestseller – it just works.
Lixirskin Peel Express
Brightening without the burn. It’s funny how so many of us (myself included) have got used to enjoying the tingle that comes with liquid exfoliant resurfacing, but it really isn’t all that necessary. And this particular peel (which calls on the power of Glycolic Acid for its A-star resurfacing), has humectants to moisturise and minimise tingling to glowy results. It’s a facial-in-a-jar situation – which, when we aren’t able to go for facials, is most appreciated.
Sisley Triple Oil Balm Make-Up Remover and Cleanser
Cleansers don’t get much more indulgent than this. And in a year of uncertainty, just the simple act of washing my face with this balm during lockdown (and after lockdown, and in another lockdown) felt like a heavenly escape. The texture is akin to butter, which might be something to do with the fact it has mango butter in it, but the babassu, shea and macadamia oils make for the most nourishing cleanse and the smell is out of this world. I have been through four tubs (and counting) since its summer launch.
Lauren Murdoch-Smith, Beauty & Lifestyle Editor
It’s no secret in the Vogue beauty department that I get very excited when Dyson hints at a new tool launch. Ever since the Super Sonic hairdryer, I’ve waited in anticipation for the next innovation to come out of the brand’s top secret labs. This year saw the launch of the Corrale, the first set of straighteners in the Dyson hair line up and also the first Dyson hair tool not to use air to style hair. Instead, its engineers came up with a unique flexible straightening plate design which allows control, protects from heat damage and allows for multi-styling. Oh, and it’s cordless – the full package.
Summer Fridays Soft Reset
A skin resurfacer that you can use daily? Yes, please! Introducing Summer Fridays Soft Reset – a solution that combines lactic and glycolic acid to help lift away dead skin. It’s
turned my dull skin around gently, clearing congestion and making it visibly brighter without any peeling or irritation. It’s also kept maskne at bay, too.
Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Deluxe Moisturise Body Crème
Body cream for me has to meet a certain set of non-negotiable criteria. It must not be sticky, to allow for immediate dressing post-application; it must possess a smell that I love but that is subtle enough not to compete with my fragrance; and, most importantly, it must be able to sink in and hydrate my arid skin, especially on my legs. This, my friends, is exactly what Beauty Pie’s Super Healthy Skin Body Crème does. The luxurious but practical body cream is utter perfection and I promise you’ll be ordering a second pot before you’ve hit the bottom of your first tub.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Posh Lipsticks in Pose and Spice
When I first started experimenting with make-up, it was Victoria Beckham (or Posh Spice as she was regularly referred to back then) that I looked up to, and her sophisticated take on beauty that got me hooked. The sultry lip liner, the spiky, mascara-coated lashes and the clean, glowing skin with a touch of highlighter – I hankered after every element of her beauty look. So, when I heard about the launch of the Posh lipsticks, my teenage heart skipped a beat, and I immediately fell in love with the shades Pose and Spice. The hues err just on the perfect side of your natural lip shade and offer a
luxurious finish that sits somewhere beneath matte and shiny.
L’Oréal Paris Glow Cherie Natural Glow Enhancer Lotion
I dedicated time this year to discovering new products to help adapt to our new way of working. As most meetings are now being conducted over video-conferencing apps, I’ve found myself over analysing my skin more than ever, and seeking out products that can help me become Zoom-ready almost instantly. L’Oréal Paris’s Glow Cherie has quite literally been a skin saviour, with its blendable, lightweight texture and ability to lift skin with a subtle but highly effective glowing formula. It’s incredible at transforming skin, giving a natural, healthy flawless glow in seconds – I’ve finished two tubes already this year.
Twiggy Jalloh, Beauty & Lifestyle Assistant
Tom Ford Bitter Peach Eau de Parfum
As I traipsed through Selfridges on a rare (masked up) outing earlier this year, my eyes scanned t
he beauty hall looking for an item that would pull on my heart, as well as my purse strings. It was this striking orange bottle that caught my eye. The scent immediately transported me from the bustling department store floor to the warmth of the Caribbean islands – ripened mangoes, smooth vanilla, sweet oranges and plump peaches. I was well and truly hooked. The notes of tonka bean and vanilla make the sweetest pairing, whilst the “jasmine absolute sambac” and Indonesian patchouli bring passion and body to the fragrance. The brand’s eponymous founder himself described the fragrances as “explicitly sweet and dangerously voluptuous”. When Tom Ford speaks, the only thing to do is listen – and purchase.
Glossy London Lipgloss
Everyone who knows me is aware of my penchant for lip gloss. Glosses take me back to the days of helping my parents out on their beauty and cosmetics stall on East Street Market – on quieter days, I would find myself trying and testing out products, but would always keep one product, my roller ball lip gloss, in my money belt. My love for lipgloss has continued into my twenties, but now, my current collection goes far beyond the simple transparent gloss of my youth. Gorgeous brown nudes, playful pinks and shimmering iridescent finishes fill my collection. I was recently introduced to Glossy London, a new beauty brand, founded by entrepreneur and beauty expert, Molly Keohane. My favourite shades from the Glossy London collection? Bad Gal and Blessed – they look divine on people like myself with dark brown skin. I pair them with my favourite brown Pat McGrath Lip Liner in Brownouveaux.
The Renatural Wig Fix
In 2017, on a breezy yet beautiful day in Atlanta, Georgia, a powerful gust of wind swiftly knocked the wig from my head and I subsequently watched as it rode the waves of the wind behind me. Luckily, my best friend managed to run down the road in hot pursuit, and catch what passers by could’ve only described as a twig-filled tuft of tumbleweed. The wig’s attempt at a great escape truly was a humbling experience, and meant that I switched to using frontal glues to help secure my wigs. But I was on the lookout for a low-maintenance, easy-to-apply product that would help save me from further public shame. Soon enough, I came across the innovative and functional Wig Fix. The intelligent hair band is simply placed under the wig along the hairline, allowing hair to breathe, while securing your wig all day and night. It comes in an array of tones suitable for all – there truly is a band for everyone. The stunning reviews truly speak for themselves. This rollercoaster-proof product is one of a kind.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer in Deep
As a dark-skinned Black woman, I have always found it difficult to find bronzers that actually show up as a bronzer on my skin. Mostly, they just blend in, making little to no difference to my look. I have spent quite a bit of time carefully blending cream stick foundations or concealers on the parameters of my face to mimic the sculpting effect I so wanted a bronzer to give me. But this year, Charlotte Tilbury, one of the best beauty brands to ever grace this earth, released the most gorgeous, oyster-shaped bronzer. Not only is the packaging divine, but the bronzer comes in a shade deep enough to bronze my dark skin – I was elated. There is truly nothing like it on the market right now.
La Mer Concentrate Serum
This year, I have had the absolute pleasure of dousing my skin with one of the most velvety and nourishing serums to ever exist. Taking advantage of my commute-free mornings during the initial lockdown, I decided to spend a little extra time on my skincare and wellness routines. With this La Mer serum, I used the wand to swirl the product as though it were a brewing concoction, warmed the serum between my hands, pressed onto my skin, and massaged the remainder of the product in upwards motions on my neck. The smell of juicy limes with a hint of basil definitely had a positive effect on me in those early mornings – I’d feel revived as soon as its crisp scent passed my nose. As for its effect on my skin? Even better. The silky yet light texture is perfect on its own on good skin days and allows for layering of subsequent products on dull skin days. It was, and still is, the perfect serum for me.
Hannah Coates, Digital Beauty Editor
Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cleanser
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about getting (and keeping) good skin this year, it’s that gentle and steady wins the race – even if you have oily skin like mine – and keeping the skin barrier strong and robust is a must. This Kate Somerville wonder cleanser (and the rest of the range) does just that and contains peptides and ceramides to soothe skin that’s irritated, stressed and dehydrated. Mine has been all of the above in 2020 – thank you, pandemic – and this lovely lilac tube helped my skin through it all.
Medik8 Press and Glow Daily Exfoliating Tonic
You probably already know about alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids, but Medik8’s Press & Glow contains poly hydroxy acids (or PHAs) which seem to work best on my skin (oily and spot prone). PHAs work to exfoliate pore clogging dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, rather than penetrating deeper, which means they are gentler and more easily taken by reactive skin types. You can use this formula every day but I tend to use it every two to three and have noticed a huge difference in the tone, quality and, most importantly, radiance of my skin. Plus, it’s refillable.
Kevyn Aucoin Stripped Nude Skin Tint
From the moment I first applied this lightweight skin tint, I knew it was a beauty match that was meant to be. Forget “stripped nude skin tint” – I call it perfect skin in a tube. Its forte is bringing the skin to life, offering a healthy, dewy finish that so many other foundations promise but don’t always achieve. When I first wore it on the daily Vogue Beauty team Zoom call, every single one of my colleagues fawned over my skin (and they know a thing or two about good formulas!). I use it in two ways: on its own when my skin is playing ball, and on top of a medium coverage foundation when I want a little extra oomph, applied with an Artis Brush for extra glow – it’s perfection.
Fable & Mane HoliRoots Hair Oil
One thing I got really into this year in the name of self-care? Scalp massage. The Fable & Mane HoliRoots Hair Oil makes for the perfect partner and contains the adaptogenic (i.e. stress-relieving) herb, ashwagandha, to help strengthen the scalp, as well as dashmool, which helps calm the nerves. It’s the lightest, silkiest oil out there and doesn’t feel “oily” but rather coats the hair in a glorious scent, is an excellent facilitator of a slicked-back bun. Upon washing it out you’ll notice a huge difference to your hair, best described as “shine central”.
L’Oréal Elvive Full Resist Reinforcing Fragile Hair Shampoo & Conditioner
If there’s one thing I’m into, it’s an affordable shampoo and conditioner duo that leaves hair shiny, soft, and bouncy. The L’Oréal Elvive Full Resist range is made for those suffering hair fall, and contains ingredients such as biotin, vitamin B5 and arginine to help fortify each strand and reduce breakage. What I like about these two formulas is that you can feel and see the difference in how hair looks and feels after one use – it looks thicker, feels softer, styles better and shines more. And for under £10 for the two, what’s not to love?
Garnier Micellar Reusable Make-up Remover Eco Pads
2020 was the year I swapped cotton wool pads for Garnier’s Reusable Eco pads: a sustainable switch which makes washing my face a guilt-free affair. They are ultra-gentle, soft, microfibre pads that are designed to be used with micellar water, but I also use them to wash off cleanser in lieu of a muslin cloth. The best part is they make lifting stubborn eye make-up a breeze and, when the time comes to travel again, will also make cleansing on the go a quick and easy affair.
Kathleen Baird-Murray, Contributing Beauty Editor
Trinny London BFF De-Stress Tinted Serum
Trinny Woodall has positioned herself as every woman’s best friend, not just because of her positive, “I’m-here-for-you” attitude but because she knows we want natural looking make-up that’s easy to apply, in a matter of minutes – and she delivers it. Her latest light-weight tinted serum, Trinny London BFF De-Stress Tinted Serum, was 2020’s new best friend. Not only does it come in 12 shades from light to dark, but it has added skincare benefits, namely active ingredients which claim to neutralise cortisol and stimulate collagen production. A relaxed, glowing complexion, without the hassle.
Glossier Exfoliating Bar
I’m a lover not a shirker, at least when it comes to soap. And I absolutely love Glossier’s Exfoliating Bar, which is a feat of soap engineering. Ergonomically designed to be just the right size and curvature to sit in the palm of your hand comfortably, while affording you the perfect grip, it has biodegradable bamboo powder to slough away dead skin cells, and aloe leaf juice and sunflower oil to hydrate at the same time. I was surprised at how effective the bamboo powder is at smoothing skin, and while I won’t forsake my usual dry body brush, this is the perfect second act.
Hermès Rouge Hermès Satin Lipstick
We will always have Paris. And with it, Hermès Beauty, whose Rouge Hermès lipstick launch of 2020 was, for me at least, the most stylish by far. Only Hermès could have re-imagined a lipstick case that combined lacquer, brushed gold and matte finishes and made it effortlessly cool. Inside, one of 22 colours and assorted finishes that transported us from classic and highly wearable to a little bit eclectic while always remaining highly desirable. My favourite? Hard to choose, but at a push, Rose Mexique, a hot pink-y coral that transports me back to the Mexican beach where I finally learnt to surf…
Funmi Fetto, Contributing Beauty Editor
StriVectin Super C Retinol Serum
This incredible serum comes under my imaginary skincare category “I’d drink it if I could”. The formulation is insane and the results highly addictive. It combines the force of two gold standard ingredients, vitamin C and retinol. The stabilised vitamin C, along with acerola cherry, will give you much brighter skin – to the extent you’ll look like you smuggled a ring light under your pores. You’ll also have a much smoother skin texture – that’s thanks to the retinol. The difference, in this case, however, is that it will do the job sans irritation. Retinol has such a reputation for being a no pain, no gain ingredient – acolytes say it eventually results in better skin but peeling, shedding and irritation come with the territory, which can make it slightly terrifying. So, the fact that this serum gives you all the benefits without your face temporarily falling apart is glorious. Needless to say, Super C has become a non-negotiable part of my skincare repertoire.
Clever. This is the one word I would use to describe this skincare brand, a brand I am currently obsessed with. 4.5.6 Skin was created on the premise that darker skin tones react differently to external trauma and ingredients. It also has a much thicker skin barrier than its Caucasian counterpart and needs deeper hydration. Most brands don’t take this into consideration, so 4.5.6 Skin decided to fill the gap by providing customised products for darker skin tones. Unlike many personalised brands, the price point is not prohibitive and the products do not take an aeon to arrive – mostly, they’ll be with you the next day. I love that the brand’s thinking is not based on ethnicity. Instead, it is based on physiology and uses the Fitzpatrick Scale; a system developed by an American dermatologist which groups skin according to its level of melanin and treats it accordingly. There are six skin prototypes in total and 4.5.6, are the darkest, hence the name of the brand. Yes, I know I am cheating somewhat by not choosing one particular product from the range but I have honestly found every one of them excellent. But then, of course, why wouldn’t they be – they are made specifically for me. As I said, Clever.
I am getting a little ahead of myself because Topicals, a super cool US skincare brand created to treat chronic skin conditions such as eczema and hyperpigmentation has not officially landed in the UK yet (it is slated for 2021). It has, however, made my cut for a number of reasons. The women behind it, Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng, are two of the most erudite brand founders I have met in a long time. They overcame both racism (Olowe is Nigerian-American, Teng, an Asian-American) and ageism (both are under 25) to raise $2 million (£1.5 million) for their skincare project. The lack of funding for businesses started by women of colour has been well documented making this win even more impressive. As are the products. Science-backed (with cool, fun, packaging), Topicals is set on transforming the way we view skin conditions – the brand’s real-life, skin-positive Insta feed is testament to this. No other brand is doing this in such an authentic, joyous and intelligent way. Quelle surprise, it’s a hit with the Gen-Zs.
Byredo Colour Sticks
Like most people this year, I, somewhat unconsciously, eschewed make-up for skincare. The thought of wearing colour on my face felt exhausting and the act of applying it (for certain Zoom meetings) was carried out joylessly and in auto-pilot mode. Then, the new Byredo make-up launch landed on my desk and thus my love for make-up was instantly reignited. The Colour Sticks in particular wowed me. They come with the kind of superb design we have come to expect from Byredo (the magnetic click sound you get as you close it will never get old) but it isn’t all style over substance. The colour range – I particularly love Sick Pink, UltraMagnetic and Mesolithic – is satisfyingly wide but not so much it gives you decision fatigue. The textures are incredible. They glide over your skin like silk and leave a really strong pigment and a “look” in one fell swoop. This is especially great for anyone like me who has no patience for endless blending and buffering. Oh, and it’s multipurpose – you can also use it across lips, eyes and cheeks. So yes, I loved this colour range as it really brought me joy and gave me back the impetus to experiment with colour.
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