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I’ve tried a lot of beauty products this year, so here’s my top 10

IMAGE VIA EMMA LEWISHAM

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

Our digital editor gives us the rundown on her top 10 products of the year.

I am an absolute product junkie, so you can imagine my delight when I started as the digital editor at Fashion Journal at the beginning of this year and was told I could browse the office’s ‘beauty cupboard’ and take what I wanted to test out home.

A cupboard entirely full of beauty? It was the type of thing I’d fantasised about since I was old enough to read Dolly, Girlfriend and Total Girl. Back then, I’d spend hours enviously appraising their respective beauty editors’ columns where they would each extol the virtues of this mythical beauty cupboard.

So impressed was I by said cupboard (and the beauty editors), I would take everything they wrote as absolute gospel. Upon reflection, this led to some truly shocking decisions beauty-wise, but I suppose that’s the fickle nature of beauty trends in the early 2000s for you.

In the years since that time, I’ve occasionally had freelance jobs where I’ve had the opportunity to write about beauty, but never as regularly as I would have liked, and certainly with much less access to products.

But this year I’ve had unprecedented access to products. So unprecedented, that I’ve had to force myself to stick with products for longer than a week or two so I get to really see the effects. Like a retinol-loving magpie, I’m easily swayed by the shiny new things that arrive in the mail each week.

Although I’m always eager to trial new products, I am big on brand loyalty and when I find something I like, I stick with it. I know I really like a product when it makes it into my makeup bag or the cabinet with my everyday skincare in it.

For products to attain this coveted position, they have to be part of my daily routine or be used regularly enough that they become worthy of being kept there. (As you’ve probably gathered, I have a lot of products these days, so they have to be truly superior to make the cut.)

The list below has been put together after much trial and error, several adverse reactions and some serious “I’ve seen the light!” moments after trying a product that changed my skin or routine, and by association, my life, for the better.

Obviously, because we’ve spent most of this godawful year with food stains on our sweatshirts and sleep in our eyes, our beauty routines have been whittled down to the absolute basics, hence why so few makeup products have made it onto this list.

I’m a serious makeup person when I’m not living through a global pandemic, but as we’ve barely had the opportunity to wear the stuff in 2020, my focus has predominantly been on skincare and pampering.

So please, read on as I indulge my thirteen-year-old self’s fantasy of being a beauty writer with access to a real-life beauty cupboard. (Seriously, it will never get old for me.)

Emma Lewisham Supernatural Triple Vitamin A+ Face Oil

I first heard about clean beauty brand Emma Lewisham earlier this year, when her Supernatural Triple Vitamin A+ Face Oil started gaining a bit of a cult following in New Zealand. Being a New Zealander myself, I’m always eager to get behind a Kiwi-run brand, and Emma Lewisham’s ethos is seriously impressive, something you can read more about here. But on to the product. Basically, this is a natural version of retinol. It contains three concentrated sources of vitamin A, including bakuchiol, which has been proven to be as effective as retinol, but without the annoying side effects (redness, dryness etc). I can say, without a hint of hyperbole, that this face oil has changed my life. My acne scars have faded, my hormonal acne has almost entirely cleared, and my skin looks brighter, bouncier and healthier. It’s also incredibly luxurious to apply, and the packaging is sleek and attractive, which never hurts. This is by far and away the star product of 2020 for me.

Get it here.

Youth To The People Dream Eye Cream

I’ve never really believed that eye cream actually does anything, other than give you the feeling that you’re doing something for the most delicate area on your face. But as I turned the corner into my late twenties, I started incorporating eye cream into my nightly routine. I trialled a lot of them this year, but I never noticed any noticeable difference to my under eye area until I started using Youth To The People’s award-winning Dream Eye Cream (seriously, it’s won a lot of awards). It’s a super-natural vegan formulation, is packed with antioxidants, and I always wake up looking somewhat well-rested, despite never getting enough sleep.

Get it here.

Asuvi Refillable Deodorant

 

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I’ve been trialling natural deodorants for years in an attempt to find one that doesn’t make me a) stink to high heavens or b) smell like a peculiar plant, so I was sceptical when I received Asuvi’s PR package. But what captured my attention was the fact that the deodorant is refillable, and the refills have biodegradable packaging – it’s such a smart idea, and I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before. The deodorant itself is smooth, creamy (but not too creamy) and smells natural and fresh, but in a subdued way. It just really works, and it’s become a staple product for me. I recommend it to anyone who’s on the lookout for an effective, earth-friendly deodorant.

Get it here.

Evo Baby Got Bounce Curl Treatment

 

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Haircare is an area I usually don’t spend much time on – I have wavy hair that’s usually chopped in some type of low maintenance, seventies-esque shaggy style (right now it’s a mullet, which I have iso and a friend who is handy with a pair of scissors to thank for). I’m a wash and go kinda lady, and pretty much never do hair masks, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to trial Evo’s range earlier this year (which you can read more about here). Baby Got Bounce is a spray-in curl treatment that I keep in the shower, and the spray nozzle makes it simple as heck to administer. It’s low effort, but your curls get a big, bouncy, soft pay-off – in short, it’s my kind of haircare.

Get it here.

Clarins SOS Primer 09 Amber Pearls

 

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So technically this is meant to be a primer, but the shade I use, 09 Amber Pearls, is intended for darker skin tones. Because of this, I don’t use it as a primer, but as a cream bronzer and eyeshadow. The primer-like consistency means it sits really nicely on bare skin and patted on top of foundation, and it’s a handy product to have on hand when you want to wear makeup but can’t be bothered doing a proper eye – it gives the area depth and glow without the hard work of putting together an actual eye look. It’s firmly established its place in my everyday makeup bag.

Get it here.

Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara

 

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I’ve always been a mascara fiend. Love the stuff. If I was to take only a few products to a desert island, I would stupidly choose to take a mascara, despite it being entirely pointless if I were stranded alone on a landmass surrounded by water. I just feel my best when I’m wearing mascara – the longer and more voluminous the better. So you can imagine my dismay when my eyes became painfully sensitive this year and started rejecting all my favourite chemically-laden mascaras. Desperate to find a natural formula that actually worked, I trialled a selection of the best-reviewed natural mascaras on the market earlier this year, which you can read about here, and Ilia was the resounding winner. It’s a clean, non-irritating formulation that gives impressive length, definition and volume.

Get it here.

IKEA Washcloths

After years of eschewing flannels/washcloths/face cloths (whatever you choose to call them), I started using them daily during lockdown, and, well, the results speak for themselves. I raved on and on about it here, but basically, my skin has never been so clear, and I’m convinced that prior to incorporating a flannel into my daily routine, my makeup was never really entirely off my face. There’s something very satisfying about seeing every last scrap of muck transferred onto a cloth. I use a cheap 10 pack from IKEA and they do the job just fine.

Get them here.

Kosas 10-Second Liquid Eyeshadow

 

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I’d read rave reviews about Kosas’ 10-Second Liquid Eyeshadow before I trialled it, so I had high expectations. It definitely exceeded them – the formula is really runny and liquid-like, but the colour can be blended out to a light wash or built up to be more intense. The best part is the staying power, and how little skill is required when using it. I have the shades Globe, the ideal everyday colour, and Waterfall, a cool-toned grey-blue that gives me huge PJ Harvey in the ’90s energy.

Get it here.

Patchology Eye Revive FlashPatch 5 Minute Hydrogels

 

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I was late to the eye patch game (no, not that kind of eye patch), but I’ve since tried a fair few and these Patchology ones are the standouts. They’re incredibly cooling, and contain caffeine which helps reduce puffiness. I use them once a week, or whenever I’m having a bad day and want to feel like a pampered princess (which is more often than I’d like to admit this year). My under eye area is always noticeably plump afterwards, and it’s my most sincere hope that if I use these every week for the rest of my time on this earth, my under eye area will remain suspiciously fresh.

Get it here.

Maison Balzac Green Carafe and Glass

 

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Does water count as a beauty product? Probably. And if we’re counting water, then I’m including my Maison Balzac Carafe and Glass. My boss and FJ’s managing editor (hi, Giulia) gave this to me as a birthday present earlier this year, and it has quickly become one of my favourite products. I know, it’s not technically a beauty product, but I’ve been drinking triple the amount of water since it came into my life, and my skin is very thankful for that. The carafe and cup set sits on my desk every day while I work, reminding me to drink more, while looking exceptionally sleek and stylish. I’ve taken to carrying it all around my house with me, carefully cradling it as I walk down the stairs and bringing it outside to sit in the sun with me at lunchtime. It must be love.

Get it here.

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