I am often asked what my favourite products are, and depending on the day, time of year, mood I’m in or look I’m going for, that answer changes on a regular basis. I am always being introduced to new products through launches or through conversations with girlfriends who ‘swear by’ this and that. I also get given a lot of new products to test, which means that if I’m using a particular product constantly with the volume of new products coming in, it must be worth it. I of course, try them all out and sometimes just think ‘meh, it’s ok’ and other times, I go from 1 to 10 on the enthusiasm scale and recommend products to anyone that will listen (or even those that don’t – like Louisa at the milk bar across the road from me – possibly didn’t appreciate my eye cream recommendations). Given this question is so constant and I’m all about making my life easier, I’d go through some of my current favourite products and then send this link to anyone that asks. Fixing an array of beauty problems along the way, here are 11 of my current game-changers:
When I want a glossy lip colour:
Earlier this year, I was introduced to the world’s first tint-in-oil by YSL, Volupé Tint-In-Oil. It’s an amazing lip gloss, which is actually a lip oil that has been infused with colour, so it gives you colour like a tint, is unbelievably moisturising for your lips and leaves a really beautiful glassy/glossy finish without being sticky. The colour lasts quite a while, making it a really easy product to take in your handbag and touch-up throughout the day/night and it looks absolutely beautiful with it’s mirrored silver casing and coloured band (I’m a sucker for pretty things) making it a joy to take out in public (unlike that dying Lucas Paw Paw tube that has sand in the lid from the beach). I’m already onto my second one of these – you can get your own (or 2) from any YSL counter for $49.
When I want to use a face mask:
I’m a big believer in boosting your skin with masks – hydration masks and facials are wonderful at lifting you up and adding a bit of life back into your face. One mask that has had me going back to Priceline to stock up on (at risk of not having a back-up because I love it that much) is the Biore Self-Heating One Minute Mask. The first time I used this mask, I freaked out a little, thinking I was having an insane allergic reaction as I didn’t actually believe that it would be self-heating. It was, and it was like a party on my face. An amazing party where all the guests deeply cleansed my pores. With natural charcoal, it draws out any impurities without striping your skin of all it’s moisture and goodness. It’s dermatologist tested, hypo-allergenic and oil free and if my psycho sensitive skin can take it, yours probably can too. It’s absolutely delightful and will cost you $7.99 for a pack of 4 – no brainer.
When I have a ‘bad spot’ or a ‘bit of dry skin’ or the ‘end of a rash’:
With sensitive skin, you become pretty immune to rashes or redness and just take the reactions as they come. Almost every day, I have a ‘spot’ that may be a potential rash or a ‘sensitive bit’ or something along those lines. Today, it’s a dry patch on my neck, that God knows how it got there, but it’s making my fake tan layer sink in and stand out, so it has to be addressed. I use lots of things on these ‘little dry bits’, which can vary from tubes from the chemist (like DermAid or other mild medicated creams) which can be a terrible habit to get into, as these creams aren’t good. In some cases, they can thin your skin and if not properly prescribed, can cause much more harm than good. Luckily, I’m a self-declared rash expert (and I know everything) yet even luckier still, I found a cream that isn’t medicated but works better than something with ‘riods. It’s Ella Baché Creme Intex. It’s so beautifully thick, dewy, glossy and not only moisturising, but creates a barrier between my trouble spot and my cover up. It’s so good, that I have completely emptied two jars in a matter of months (…maybe weeks). It’s my emergency, super repair, super soothing, super magic cream and I may now have to call my first born daughter Ella (as combating all the dryness will probably be the reason I meet her father). As a fast fact, Intex was born following Madame Ella Baché’s observations of Icelandic fishermen who never had chapped or cracked hands despite their harsh working conditions. The cold water halibut were a rich source of vitamin A and D preventing dry skin. She also recognised that during WWI doctors used the same cod liver oil ingredients to treat burn injuries. So now Nicola in 2015 is reaping the benefits. A 30ml jar will set you back $53 and 50ml $71, but can you put a price on trouble spots? I think not.
When I need to use foundation or touch-up during the day:
You may have heard about this wonderful invention from Lancome that’s just been released, yet I was lucky enough to start using it back in March following the launch. IT IS SO WONDERFUL. It’s called the Miracle Cushion Touch Up Compact and it can be used as a primer, a BB cream for sheer coverage or as more of a foundation by layering to build coverage. It can even be used in a lighter shade as a highlighter or simply to refresh your skin during the day. The ‘cushion’ itself is made up of tiny air bubbles that dispense the right amount of product by simply patting or pushing heavily on the cushion with the applicator. The unique treatment formulation, which contains ingredients to target pigmentation while delivering superior hydration and anti-ageing benefits with SPF 23 protection – stop it, Lancome! It has a cooling effect on the skin, and instantly freshens the complexion and tightens pores, making it the perfect product to carry in your handbag and the perfect ‘quick full face’ when you’re about to leave home. I LOVE this thing – and I don’t say that too often! I LOVE it!
When I need to remove hair but don’t have time or energy:
Hair removal sucks – it sucks so bad. No-one enjoys shaving, waxing, laser or plucking and if you do, you’re either a borderline psycho who likes pain or has such a high pain threshold that you’ll never understand my complaining. During the warmer months, you become used to ongoing hair removal process, yet when it’s a little cooler and you can get away with missing a shave here and there, which of course leaves you really annoyed when you have to get back into it. So thank-goodness for Nair’s new sensitive range, and among it, the Sensitive Hair Removal Shower Cream. It’s infused with Argan Oil so it’s lovely and moisturising and of course being aimed at sensitive people like me, it doesn’t irritate or cause any redness. It’s also so easy to use – apply to *wherever* before getting in the shower, wait 2 minutes, then get in the shower and go about your normal shower-routine for another 3 minutes, before wiping it off with a wash cloth or face-washer. And you’re DONE. Hair is GONE. Legs are SMOOTH. Dates are back ON.
When I need to brush my wet, knotty hair:
This is an oldie, but I am yet to find anything that compares to it. It’s the Tangle Teezer – a brush with cleverly placed rubber bristles that allows you to get all your knots out pain free and without breakage. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? I’ve recommended it to stressed mothers and fathers who can’t deal with complaining daughters, I’ve recommended it to my Mum who has shorter hair which means breakage is quite the issue and I’ve recommended it to high maintenance friends who have long luscious locks and don’t want to start their mornings with tears any more. I use it in the shower to comb through conditioner or treatments, I use it after putting in product to damp hair and I even use it on dry hair when in a rush and just need to brush through my dry shampoo. It comes with me when I travel instead of a brush (or an array of brushes) and it lasts for such a long time, the only reason you’d ever need to buy another one is because you lost your original or got influenced by all the new colours. It’ll cost you between $30 and $35, but in time and energy, it’s priceless.
When I need my make-up to look airbrushed:
Now you might need to look completely perfect for a date, for a job interview or for that time you might ‘accidentally’ bump into an ex and need them to see your face as you look away like the babe you are. The secret weapon, is a blurring brush. It a brush with short, tightly compacted bristles that when used with powder (even over a light application of liquid foundation) it gives a completely airbrushed finish that blurs any lines, covers any mistakes and fills in any spots. It’s a rougher brush that a light finishing or bronzer brush, that works well if you dab in little spots like you would a sponge or if you contour with tiny circles down a line. Mine is the Good Karma Optical Blurring Brush from Urban Decay, and it’s fabulous. For those of you who have a beautiful ethical conscience and were wondering why it’s called ‘Good Karma’, the brush’s handle is made of recycled aluminum, and its synthetic, cruelty-free brush hairs are more hygienic than real hair minus the ‘wet hair smell’. You’re also lucky it makes you look so smooth and airbrushed, as it may win you back the people you lost by telling them you’re vegan.
When I need to do my eye make-up in 3 seconds:
Eye make-up is usually the main reason behind me being late for anything. I either get carried away or make a mistake and have to start again (usually because I got carried away and a heavy smokey eye at a breakfast date looks a bit like I haven’t been home yet). MAC’s wonderful coloured Paint Pots are the BEST instant lift to your eyes that give colour, a bit of a creamy finish that sets into the look of a powder and more importantly, the look of much more time than 3 seconds applied with your fingers. My go-to colours are Groundwork and Bare Study, as they are a wonderful base on their own and a great option to build up with shadows for the night (as chances are if you only had 3 seconds to do your eyes, you probably have 5 seconds to do a night face later than day).
When my hair is going a little orange and I need to tone (down for what):
As some of you may have read, I lightened my hair from black to caramel blonde and in that process, went so many tones of orange I could have written a paint sample book. I’m (usually) pretty good at getting my hair coloured by the scheduled time, yet sometimes I get lazy and the time just passes and I’m either so grey or so orange I’m too embarrassed to leave the house. So thank GOD for Aveda and their wonderful Blue Malva Colour Conditioner – I use it every second wash and it takes away those gross orange highlights that seem to creep back in and scream ‘hey look everyone! Nicola did her hair like a year ago and it went orange and we never want you to forget!’ It adds a silvery brightness to blondes (or grey-haired ladies…which God help me, I’m becoming sooner rather than later) and leaves your hair soft instead of stringy, which some toning conditioners can do. If you’ve gone from dark hair to lighter hair and that underlying pigment just won’t let you live, grab yourself a tube for $39.95 and get rid of that brassiness. How embarrassing for you.
When I don’t want to wear any make-up but still want to look extremely fresh and flawless:
Did you see Kim Kardashian’s recent Vogue Spain shoot? Kim posted so many photos on her Instagram feed that I and the rest of her 40 million followers felt like we were there! How lucky! One thing she kept hash-tagging (Mrs West hasn’t met a hashtag she doesn’t like…except maybe #rayj) was #KimNoFilter and #NoMakeUp – and I’m calling her out. Not only did her second-main man and make-up artist bestie Mario (@makeupbymario) re-gram a photo himself with #MakeUpByMario (but wait, it’s supposed to be make-up free?!) but I don’t believe that Kim isn’t wearing any make-up just like I didn’t believe her when she went platinum blonde from black in one go. Not only did I fail at making myself a blonde in one shot, but I also lie about ‘not wearing any make-up’ even when I totally am. What I wear, is the most beautiful corrective cream from Payot – CC Expert SPF 50+. Not only does it cover imperfections and improve your complexion, but it does so for any skin tone thanks to encapsulated pigments that adjust to anyone. AMAZING. It’s of course moisturising, yet also restores elasticity and stimulates healing properties with ingredients I barely understand like Centella Asiatica extract. What I now know about them (aside from spelling) is that they work – I often have damaged spots on my skin and it not only helps cover but repair as well. AND it’s SPF50+ – good luck, sun! Perfect for that morning walk, that Sunday ‘make-up free’ brunch or a shoot for Vogue Spain. I have no idea what Kim used in her Vogue Spain shoot, yet if I was asked tomorrow to be make-up free for Vogue Spain (…I’d quit this blog…kidding!!) I know I’d be using Payot’s CC Expert 50+ and hash-tagging #MakeUpFreeExceptforPayot
When I need to cover dark circles/redness around my eyes (and cover some other redness on my face):
I turn to the queen of skin, Bobbi Brown. There are a million products from Bobbi that are a go-to for me, but when it comes to anything to do with the ‘base’, I’m always covered (pardon the pun) with their yet to be released, Intensive Skin Serum Corrector and Concealer duo (don’t worry, you can get it August 30th). Correcting and concealing works exactly how you think it does – one product is to correct the dark circles or redness and brighten you up and the other product is to well and truly show that area who is boss by covering up. A little goes a long way with correctors and concealers, so applying tiny dots that you can then pat in with your ‘patting finger’ (mine is my ring finger) and build if needed. They are such an easy duo to apply and travel with, as they are tiny enough to fit in my bag (for those little touch ups when my mascara drops half way down my face) and the product in there seems everlasting. Being Bobbi Brown staples, they are super-charged with amazing holistic ingredients used for centuries in Eastern medicine, like skin-plumping Indian Mukul Myrrh Tree Extract and energising Cordyceps Mushroom Extracts. They re-energise the skin, boost moisture and most importantly, give a bright, healthy look; which works for me without actually having to live a healthy lifestyle. They neutralise my colours, hide my ‘big’ nights out and still moisturise my skin which is usually crying underneath.