This year alone there have been around 740 brand new product launches on the Escentual website. That’s a lot of fragrance, beauty, haircare and skincare! It takes a lot to stand out from the crowd as a new product, but there have been some real superstars this year.
So, without further ado, here is my hall of fame for 2013: a year that will go down in beauty history as the year that Bioderma came to the UK, Michael Kors launched his debut beauty collection and Etat Libre d’Orange predicted the end of the world.
From the ultra-handy to the innovative
I raved about this palette in November, and my love for it has grown even more in that short time. I’m a huge blush fan – with a particular affinity for cream blush – and the chance to mix, match and create my own custom colour on a daily basis has been beyond brilliant. The formula of each Convertible Colour blush is pigmented with a very slight tackiness that gives greater adherence, though that settles to a powder finish as soon as its blended. The wipeable metal tin is sturdy and practical, and the selection and size of each of the shades is very generous for the price tag.
I’ve never gotten compliments on my cheek colour before I wore my favourite custom blend of Gerbera, Kitten and Peony (applied with the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, another fantastic launch from 2013). I’m just sad that this palette is a limited edition, though you can buy each of the shades separately here, with the exception of Kitten.
If I could recommend just one nail product this year, it would be this. Designed to give the look and feel of a professional gel manicure, this ultra shiny, self-levelling top coat transforms the look of all of your nail colours – no matter whether they’re high end or high street. As with all top coats, it’ll protects against chipping and flaking and it’ll make your colour last much longer. My favourite thing about this thick formula is that it gives a plumped look to your nails that other top coats just can’t achieve.
The Gel Top Coat is a dream for those with problem nails, too. It completely disguises any ridges and imperfections and gives a rounded finish to your nail tips. I have brittle, short nails, and a slick of this on top of my nail colour (or on bare nails) makes them look so much more groomed, glossy and strong. A special mention also goes to Dior Addict Nail Glow, a clear pink nail varnish which creates an instant French manicure.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the Michael Kors Bronze Powder in Glow when I first tried it, as it’s quite an understated shade from the King of glam. Glow has a light golden colour with a very finely milled formula, so it’s really easy to build up little by little without overloading on colour. It’s great for everyday contouring and shading with a denser brush, but my favourite way to use it is with the Dior Backstage Powder Foundation Brush, which is really soft and fluffy for more diffused winter warmth. It picks up a nice amount of colour and allows me to dust it all over for a subtle glow.
You get a lot of bronze for your buck, too – each of the the Michael Kors Bronze Powders (there are 3 shades to choose from) are a whopping 21g each, which is around twice as much as its direct comparisons. Oh, and the packaging is to die for. See my review of the entire Michael Kors make-up collection here.
The treatments that have made a difference
The star product of French skincare brand Bioderma, the Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, isn’t technically a new product, but as it only officially launched into the UK in March of this year I’ve made an exception! It’s hard to believe that Bioderma’s only been readily available here since March… it seems like it’s been around forever, hasn’t it?
This pioneer of Micellar technology works to micro-emulsify impurities, dirt and make-up, enabling you to quickly sweep them off the face without having to rinse with water. It’s a former industry insider secret that is now a world-renowned skincare darling, winning very many fans thanks to its efficacy, ease of use and mild formula. It even topped our Micellar Water Blind Trial, living up to its claims and beating out its rivals in terms comfort, moisture, suppleness and waterproof makeup removal. I personally go through a bottle of this a month – I use it for everything, including pre-cleansing, mascara removal and as an instant mistake fixer when applying makeup (Sensibio H2O and a cotton bud are your best buddies when creating a cat eye flick). It’s also a saviour for late nights and long haul flights, when you need something quick and easy that works.
This summer I had a battle with some eyelash curlers, and the curlers came out on top. The lashes that escaped the metal contraption were weak and brittle, so I needed something that would help me to repair the damage. After a few recommendations (and some great customer reviews), I decided to give the Lift Activ Serum 10 Eyes and Lashes a whirl.
Forget what you know about lash strengthening products, because this one is as easy as pie. It’s designed for the both the undereye area and the lashes; I use it both day and night, dabbing and massaging it onto the eye area before smoothing it through the lashes. It has quite a milky, fluid formula and only half a pump is needed to cover everything – it lasts for ages. After just a after a couple of weeks my lashes looked plumped and elongated both with and without mascara, and more importantly, they felt really resilient. It’s worked so well that I’ve started using it to fill out my sparse eyebrows, also to great effect.
With no less than 10 patents, Nuxe’s new skincare innovation Nuxellence is a bit of a wonder product. The fluid is designed for every skin type and age, aiming to recharge your skin’s cells by repairing its mitochrondrial DNA by43%, while smoothing, plumping and boosting natural radiance. In other words, it’s a bit like a power up for tired skin (even the packaging is reminiscent of a battery). Not only does it replenish skin but, brilliantly, it also promises to optimise the effectiveness of any other skincare product that you use by 2x.
Living in the city can have some really adverse effects. Pollution irritates my skin, causing clogged pores and dullness, so this energising, does-it-all fluid has been a really welcome addition to my skincare routine. After cleansing, I apply a single pump all over the face and neck, and follow with my usual moisturiser. In the evening, I apply this before serum and moisturiser. Nuxellence instantly makes my skin look brighter and more luminous with its silky mother of pearl finish, and creates a perfect base for my makeup.
A beautifully scented Hall of Fame
Lalique is quite a niche fragrance brand with a spectacular history. Its founder Rene Lalique was a master glass-maker, and created some of the most important perfume bottles, jewellery and decorative items of the early 20th century. Today, the brand is as famed for its fragrances as its glassware – and their new women’s fragrance from earlier this year certainly left a big impression on me.
The bottle alone is a dream. It draws its inspiration from the sun ray rosette of La Perle Noire, a bottle created by Rene Lalique in 1924, which in turn was inspired by the swirling movement of a woman’s pleated skirt. The fragrance is an indulgent floral oriental with gourmand and woody facets. It opens with a beautiful combination of jasmine and gardenia with subtly powdery heliotrope, supported by a creamy heart of tonka bean and vanilla. A base note of vetiver is present throughout the development of the fragrance to prevent it from becoming overly sweet, while patchouli and sandalwood add depth. Satine has such an intriguing blend of light and shade; sometimes it’s confection-like, other times its deep and sensual. If you’re a fan of Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire or Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb, Satine is a must-try.
If you follow me over on Twitter then you may have heard me talk about this new release from Etat Libre d’Orange. It’s fair to say I’m pretty obsessed with it! I mean, the head note is popcorn – that’s enough to pique anyone’s interest.
Despite that seemingly fluffy note, the inspiration for the fragrance is actually pretty dark: as you may have already deduced from the name, La Fin du Monde is all about the apocalypse. This is a specific vision of the end of the world, however, namely the series of events that transpire in Blaise Cendrar’s novel The End of the World Filmed by the Angel of Notre Dame. The fragrance is composed of turbulent notes of cumin seed, sesame, black pepper, woods, ambrette, orris, styrax and a fantastic cannon powder accord, all brought together by the aforementioned popcorn accord. Paradoxically, I actually think that La Fin du Monde smells really comforting, almost nutty, and it makes for a really lovely winter scent.
The products keeping my tresses in check
My greatest hair revelation (hairvelation?) from 2013 was the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil from the iconic Bumble and bumble, a brand that launched with us just a few months ago. Like most ladies with long hair, I need all the help I can get to keep it all in good nick. Anything I put on it needs to be lightweight to avoid greasiness, but substantial enough that it smooths damage and dryness. Up until recently, I had been using a silicone-packed serum to silkify my hair; this little bottle of nourishing oil has helped me to kick that entrenched habit, delivering the same sleek effects that I’m used to while improving the health of my hair.
Only a small amount is needed through the mid-lengths to the ends of your hair before you blow-dry, and a tiny dot of oil afterwards tidies up and protects tips. The Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil has revolutionised my little, pared-back hair routine, and it’s made a real difference to the look and feel of my locks.
After very many years of battling with frizziness and damaged ends, I’ve finally found the perfect combination of products to keep my hair looking and feeling healthy. This means that I try not to rock the boat and introduce new products too often, but I made exceptions for the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil and this new gem from Philip Kingsley.
Daily Damage Defense is essentially the less concentrated, liquid form of the iconic Elasticizer hair treatment. It’s suitable for everyday use and, like Elasticizer, it makes hair infinitely more soft and manageable. I spray this through towel dried hair before blow drying to protect against heat-related breakage. I struggle to give up the heat even though I know it’s frying my hair, so Daily Damage Defense is my compromise. It works wonders to keep my locks feeling supple and swishy despite all that I put them through. Plus, it smells incredible – like flowers and tonka bean.
What were your favourite launches of 2013?