Every time the heel would break off the cheap pair of shoes I picked up in town or the zip would fall off my £15 jacket, my mum would never be too far away with the mantra, “You get what you pay for, Frederika”. Like every fashion-conscious girl, I love a bargain and that’s not to say that you can’t pick up some great pieces in the likes of Primark, New Look and H&M that are certainly worth their weight in pounds, but all of us know that some capsule wardrobe pieces are well worth investing in!
Having said this, I have noticed some serious overlap in lower-budget and high-end products when it comes to the beauty industry, and this has particularly been the case during the last year. The vast majority of our much loved High Street brands have been launching products that not only rival those in the top price range but, in my opinion, are better – and trust me, I’ve tried and tested enough to know. So to help you kick off the new year on the right foot, I’m here to share with you the inside info on the must-have designer beauty products that are undoubtedly worth their price tag, those that aren’t and the budget brands that are just as good, if not better!
BECAUSE THEY’RE WORTH IT
Top of my ‘100% worth it’ list is the holy grail of foundations – Estee Lauder Double Wear. This foundation is truly unbeatable. Trust me – I’ve tried them all. The Double Wear range covers an amazing variety of skin tones and also includes a Light and Water Fresh range for those who prefer slightly less coverage than the original Double Wear offers. I have never worn a foundation that has a staying power of Double Wear and, although it provides full coverage, its lightweight consistency means that you can use of little or as much as you like between day and night. The advanced colour development means that it blends flawlessly with my skin tone and it looks just as fresh and dewy at 8pm as it did at 7am that morning after a busy day in the fashion industry. To be honest, I’d pay more than the £32 price tag for this foundation (but don’t tell Estee Lauder that!).
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that the Clarins Daily Energiser Cleansing Gel has been at the absolute centre of my skincare regime for the last three or four years. I truly do swear by it. To be really honest, I swear by the entire Clarins range, but this in particular! Granted, Clarins isn’t the cheapest range out there, but this foaming cleanser is well worth the price and never fails to take away all of the residue that a make up wipe leaves behind. Trust me, if you wipe a damp cotton pad over your face after removing your make up with a make up wipe, you’ll be amazed (or probably disgusted) and how much is still left on your skin. This cleansing gel clears my pores of impurities, without drying out my skin, leaving me with a fresh glow as I lift my face from the bathroom sink. Not to mention, it smells divine! I always follow it up with my favourite Clarins toner (Extra Comfort Toning Lotion with Aloe Vera) and a pea-sized amount of the Clarins Daily Energiser Cream.
As you can probably tell already, I take my skincare routine very seriously. It’s definitely something I have inherited from my mum. If you could see her skin at nearly 50 (sorry mum), you’d jump on my bandwagon too. So, when I came across the Dermalogica Microfoliant, I was hooked (much like I am hooked on most of Dermalogica’s products to be honest). Yes, £48 for a 75g pot of powder might seem ridiculous, but it lasts AGES so probably works out cheaper than the less expensive products that aren’t as effective (so you have to use more!). This really is a unique product and the most effective exfoliator I’ve ever come across. The rice-based formula powder activates upon contact with water, releasing the natural ingredients of Papain, Salicylic acid and rice enzymes, which micro-exfoliate the skin. This means the formula picks up dead skills cells rather than just scrubbing away a layer of healthy skin. It doesn’t over-dry my skin and I honestly feel like I’m glowing after using it.
Another product that I consistently come back to despite trying a variety of other shadows out there is the Urban Decay Naked Palette Range. I usually stick to Naked 2 as it works well with my skin tone but I genuinely love them all. Not only are the colours super-pigmented meaning that the colour vibrancy remains all day but it doesn’t crease – even by the time I have made it to removing my make up around 11pm. You only need a small amount to create your desired look, whether it’s a light peachy tinge or a full smoky eye. Despite what many may think with this being a powder eye shadow as opposed to a cream one, I find I have very little to no fallout when applying it – a big tick in my books, because lets be honest it’s so counter-productive having to remove eye shadow from your face when you’ve just applied it. And, I for one, don’t have the time! For 12 such high quality shadows, I think that £39.50 is a justifiable price, especially as they last so long.
From Mac to Estee, and Rimmel to L’Oreal, I really have tried every lipstick in every shade. But, no lipstick even comes close to Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Lips Collection. Everything about these lipsticks are top-notch. Firstly, the lipstick glides on like gloss and feels as weightless as a balm but looks like a full coverage lipstick. Unlike most heavy lipsticks which immediately dry out my lips, the beeswax in this range ensures that my annoyingly dry lips don’t crack after an hour like they usually do. In fact, the colour stays beautifully moist on my lips for hours. They’re also enhanced with anti-ageing ingredients which I guess isn’t so relevant to me at 24, but hey, it’s never too early to start. I’m meticulous with my skincare routine, why shouldn’t I be with my lips? The crescent applicator makes it so easy to apply in one sweep, even on the move which is where I’m usually doing my make up! CT truly has our backs with the Hollywood Collection, ladies.
MEH. HARDLY WORTH THEIR PRICE TAG
As terrible as I feel speaking ill of the iconic House of Dior, I have to be honest about my recent disappointment at what, I expected to be, one of their most price-worthy products yet – the Diorshow Pump N Volume Mascara. Its claims of mastering lash extension technology and, in all honesty, Bella Hadid‘s face on the ad campaign meant that I couldn’t wait to purchase this mascara. But, alas, I was met with disappointment and horrendously clumpy lashes after just one stroke, not remotely worth the £25 price tag. Not only that, but it had a really strong acetone-type smell, which really put me off every time I brought the poorly designed wand towards my eye. Forgive me, Dior. Ten times better at achieving luxuriously long lashes, and at just 1/3 of the price is Maybelline’s Falsies Volume Express Mascara – yes you heard me correctly. This gem is available in every Boots, Superdrug and decent pharmacy for just £7.99 and never fails enhance the length and volume of my lashes instantly. And, unlike Diorshow, it doesn’t smudge – even when my often-sleepy eyes begin to water.
Another product that never lived up to my expectations was Smashbox’s Halo Highlighting Wand. Firstly, I found that the applicator made it very difficult to achieve a naturally highlighted look across the cheekbone easily. In reality, your only option was to draw a big straight stripe across your cheek and spend ages attempting to blend it with a brush and my finger. Then I was met with the challenge of it lifting my foundation as I tried to spread it evenly across my cheekbone. Personally, I’m much more in favour of the easy application, and more natural look of a powdered highlighter. My absolute favourite is currently Topshop’s highlighter in the shade Crescent Moon. It’s only £12 and gives a gorgeous glow that lasts all day.
Although not the biggest beauty disappointment I’ve ever experienced, another product that didn’t quite live up to the hype, and the price tag, was the Sisley Paris Instant Perfect Corrector. Whilst it promised to reduce shine, tighten my pores and create a flawless make-up base, I found that it left an oily residue under my foundation – definitely adding unwanted shine rather than preventing it. The smell was very pleasant and, whilst it felt soft on my skin, I felt its consistency made my foundation harder to blend for a natural and flawless look. Far superior to this product is my all-time favourite primer – The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer. It provides the perfect level of moisturisation under my foundation to allow by make up to have a healthy dewy glow, but not appear oily. As if by some miracle, the adaptive silicones drastically minimise my larger pores (particularly those on my nose) ensuring that my make up adheres to my skin all day – and night if I need it to. And the best part is, you can pick up this gem for just £3.90! Yes, I’m serious! It’s undoubtedly my best beauty buy of the year because on those days I’m rushing to put on my make up and forget to use this primer, I definitely notice the difference in my make up’s application and staying power.
So, my biggest issue when applying my make up is covering up those dark under-eye circles. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m fair or just unlucky, but no matter how much rest I get or what lotions and potions I use, my dark circles never seem to get lost! I’ve accepted they are just another one of my many imperfections… but that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried every product on the market to conceal them. So when Benefit brought out their Boi-ing Industrial Strength Concealer, I was straight to the make-up counter. But, alas, I was left disappointed. Whilst it promised to effectively conceal ‘heavy duty dark circles’, it was its own consistency that was ‘heavy’ and, although it initially appeared to work well, after a few hours it started to crack and made under my eyes look extremely dry. Not the look I was trying to achieve. At £17.50 per pot I quickly concluded it was very expensive for the amount of time it was effective. Whilst I’m still holding out for that miracle product to eliminate my dark circles altogether, my favourite product to effectively conceal them has always been Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer in shade Light. The formula enriched with goji berry keeps the area under my eyes well hydrated throughout the day to ensure its staying power. The concealer cleverly neutralises the darkness under my eyes and sits flawlessly over my foundation creating a natural, bright-eyed look.
Finally, face masks! Nothing feels better at the end of a long day than a face mask. But with so many on the market claiming to work a plethora of miracles on our skin, it’s very difficult to know which one to choose – and my favourite was certainly not what I expected it to be. I’m a big fan of natural skin products so, following the trend of charcoal face masks, I was immediately drawn to The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Mask to tackle those pesky pours that can often appear. Although this product initially appeared to reduce the size of some of my pores by drawing out the impurities, after using it for a few days my skin felt tight and a few whiteheads appeared around my chin area. It seemed that this product over dried my skin causing it to produce excess oil to compensate, hence the spots. After much trial and error, I have found that when it comes to my skin it is necessary to keep my pores clean and well hydrated rather than getting lazy and attempting to suck out all the impurities in one go. My favourite mask for this is the Garnier Moisture Bomb Tissue Mask. Once the antioxidants and hyaluronic acid has been absorbed into my clean pores, I find that a touch of toner seals in the moisture whilst reducing the size of my pores and leaving me with that post-spa glow we all hope to achieve from our face masks. Yay!
Of course, I appreciate that everyone’s skin is different and a lot of it is about the trial and error of various products that work best for YOUR skin. But, what I can tell you is that I truly have tried them all and can guarantee that all of the products I have hailed above will not leave you disappointed.