My love of lists is well documented and there are very few genres I like better than lists of cult beauty products (the other contenders being Best Books of All Time and Perfect Wardrobe Staples). If you are a beauty junky, however, cult product lists often disappoint – they tend to be too obvious and mainstream, heavy on big brands.
This list is also going to be obvious, but mostly for those who are regular readers of beauty blogs and/or follow skincare gurus on Instagram. If you have no time for this, but are still curious about what serious skincare fans rate, here are 9 mainstays of bloggers’ routines. Intentionally, there’s nothing brand new here, some of the products have been around for ages and everything more than a year. The Most Buzzed About list would be different – maybe for another time? Let me also say that this is not my personal best-of (although I love many products here), but my reflection on what I see happening in the online skincare community. In the order of application:
1. Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm (first cleanse). This is the product that kicked off – with a little help from Caroline Hirons – the balm cleanser craze and has been featured on my blog several times. I see it a bit less on social media these days, but I don’t think it’ll disappear any time soon. This is a wonderful, effective oily balm cleanser that is also more affordable and accessible than many of the fancy balms inspired by it. A classic.
2. Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser (second/morning cleanse). Tata Harper’s cleansers are legendary, especially among the green beauty fans. I think the other three are nice, but probably not nice enough for the price, and the constantly malfunctioning pumps are frustrating. The Purifying Cleanser, however, is outstanding and many people out there agree with me. With its slightly gel-like texture and ingredient list that includes kaolin clay and fruit enzymes, it lives up to its name. Very sensitive skins need to be careful, though, as it really is effective.
3. NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1%. Nobody really knows what this is or what it does, but among the cult favourite NIOD products, this is the cultest of them all. Designed to improve long-term skin health, the results are hard to assess, but the science behind the blue copper liquid sounds solid. After the initial hype – of gargantuan proportions – has died down, I still see many serious skincare aficionados using it. I do, too: it might be wishful thinking, but I do believe my skin heals faster when I use this regularly.
4. Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 (chemical exfoliant). This foul-smelling lotion is the very definition of a cult product: it’s French, difficult to get and not immediately appealing. It’s also without a doubt one of the most effective acid toners out there, resurfacing and brightening like a boss. There are several different versions, so do your research first, but none of them is gentle. If you need something milder, Pixi Glow Tonic is a great alternative that could easily be on this list, too.
5. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (well, essence). It’s not often I see crazy skincare people regularly use something from a mainstream brand. FTE is an exception: there is almost universal agreement that this is the best essence out there – hydrating, softening, clarifying, generally better-making. Fermented ingredients are one of the biggest trends at the moment, but SK-II has been there with its Pitera (a unique strain of yeast) for decades already. The only issue I have with this bottle is the price.
6. May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden (toner/mist). May Lindstrom has almost a religious following among those beauty lovers who like to turn their skincare into a meditative ritual. I could have included most of her line-up – from The Blue Cocoon to The Honey Mud – in this list without much of a stretch. My relationship with her green Earth-Goddessy brand is complex, but her hydrating mist is the best I’ve ever tried. I have used all the other fancy mists (Tata Harper, Tatcha, Omorovicza) and I think Jasmine Garden beats them easily. It hydrates, leaves no film and smells gorgeous. Let’s see if Josh Rosebrook’s up and coming Hydrating Accelerator will change things.
7. Sunday Riley Good Genes (serum). Another brand that could well be represented by additional 5 products, but even among cult favourites like Luna oil, Tidal moisturiser and Ceramic Slip cleanser, Good Genes stands out. My adoration for it is well known, but this is not the reason it’s included. It’s included because almost every beauty instagrammer agrees with me.
8. Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturising Cream (moisturiser). Moisturisers don’t often inspire strong feelings in their users – bloggers tend to be drawn to the richness of oils and balms or the efficacy of serums and exfoliators. Kate Somerville creams are widely loved despite the utilitarian reputation of the category, and Goat Milk is possibly the best loved of them all. It’s a beautiful, gentle, effortlessly nourishing milky formula that suits almost everyone (unless you’re oily). The recent reformulation has turned off some fans, but I think it’s great.
9. Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum (oil). Vintner’s Daughter only does one thing and that thing is this beautiful bottle with 22 different botanicals. VD is the Queen Bee of the vast kingdom of face oils and for many people, it is worth the significant price tag. I’m not sure if I’m one of those people (still testing and currently not convinced), but I can see why it inspires an unprecedented level of loyalty and enthusiasm in beauty lovers.
The whole point of lists is, of course, to argue about what should have been on them, so let me know. What did I leave out? What should I have left out? See anything you like?