Exciting moments have felt few and far between during 2021; there have been ups and downs, and you may be left feeling a bit ‘meh’, but there is one thing we can count on to never disappoint us… beauty launches. And, we have it on good authority that the new releases of 2021 were pretty exceptional – psst, it’s us! As a team, we get to try every product that’s live on our website, so we have a keen eye for spotting the best in new beauty.
From niche fragrances and iconic eyeshadow palettes to innovative skincare, 2021 was packed full of incredible launches, and here are a selection of our favourites…
1. The Crowd-Pleasing Oud
Oud Eclat is hands down the best fragrance I’ve smelled this year: a bold statement, I know! The scent is unlike anything I’ve experienced before; its rich oud intensity is balanced with the subtle warmth of amber, set against a backdrop of creamy leather, moss, musk and spoonfuls of sugary sweetness in equal measure. It’s seriously delicious!
I never thought an oud would be for me. I thought it was too intense for my personal taste, but Oud Eclat is powerful but also totally wearable. The quality is evident throughout this scent with its incredible longevity, promising 12 hours of wear, but I’d go further and say it lasts longer; my skin, coat and hair hold its scent for hours, so I even get unexpected bursts of it the day after. The quality and complexity of this fragrance is reflected in the price tag and, although it’s on the pricey side, it’s worth it.
2. The Innovative Serum
When I first heard about the Dermalogica Smart Response Serum, I was instantly impressed. A serum that knows what my skin needs before I do? Count me in. But it wasn’t until I tried this serum for myself a short while after it first launched that I really appreciated it for what it is: nothing short of amazing.
Dermalogica’s next level, high-tech serum of course impressed my inner tech-fan due to its Smart Response Technology, which responds to your skin’s needs to hydrate, firm, brighten and soothe your complexion where and when it’s needed. But I also love the way it makes my skin feel; not only does my skin look instantly glowy, but it just feels better all round – comfortable, calm and healthy. Plus, it also puts me at ease knowing that my skin is getting what it needs when I’m struggling to read my complexion.
3. The Moisturising SPF
This year, I’ve demanded more from my skincare; I want it to be multipurpose, science-driven and affordable, and La Roche Posay’s 2021 launch, Hyalu B5 AquaGel, is a product that falls perfectly into this category. Infused with skin-quenching hyaluronic acid, the silky gel works to plump, hydrate and smooth the skin. Targeting everything from fine lines and wrinkles to a dull and dry complexion, the La Roche-Posay AquaGel is an all-rounder! But the best bit? It also offers SPF30 broad-spectrum sun protection, so it doesn’t just repair your skin, but it protects it too.
4. The Niche Green Scent
Picking one launch as a favourite for the year is always so difficult, but Parfums de Marly Greenley has to be my winner as I’ve used this fragrance more than any other during 2021. It’s also the perfume I recommended most to friends, colleagues and basically anyone else who will listen!
Originally chosen as my June favourite, Greenley has become a staple feature in my fragrance collection. At the height of summer, its fresh green scent is ideal for wearing in the sunshine and relaxing with the family; to this day, it evokes memories of long summer nights sipping cocktails at home surrounded by the forest. As the days and nights have turned colder, its day-to-day use has declined in favour of something a little deeper but I still come back to it because I love it so much.
5. The Punky Palette
It has been a while since I’ve been really excited about an eyeshadow palette, but as soon as I saw the exciting selection of wearable shimmer shades in Cyber, I was hooked! Each shadow has a buttery soft texture and each shade has been specifically chosen because they blend together seamlessly. The duochrome shades are my favourite and they’re what makes this palette truly shine; light transforms the shadows so they glisten and reflect beautifully, shifting between different colours depending on the light. And, as always with Urban Decay, the brush and mirror make this a really user-friendly palette to offer a quick hit of shimmer or full glam in an instant.
6. The Show-Stopping Oud
My favourite brand to launch at Escentual this year has to be Initio. I’m a niche fragrance lover, so naturally I’m obsessed with them. One of the best fragrances from Initio – and, for me, the best product launch in 2021 – is Oud for Greatness. Why? It’s fresh, spicy and sensual all at the same time. The fragrance is a perfectly balanced oud which doesn’t feel overpowering, and is even adored by the most acclaimed critics of oud. The entire fragrance is a statement of luxury, from the golden bottle to the main notes, which are wood, saffron, nutmeg, lavender and patchouli; Initio Oud for Greatness is a real show-stopper.
7. The Sweet Vanilla Fragrance
My favourite launch of 2021 has to be Amouage Portrayal For Women; the vanilla scent is deliciously sweet and a little smoky, and it comes in the most eye-catching bottle; the flacon has an iridescent holographic design that draws you in with gunmetal accents and a blue Swarovski crystal that glistens on the top of the lid. But, what I love most about this fragrance is the story behind it. The Creative Director, Christian Chong, created this fragrance to represent freedom and liberation, creating a fragrance for the bold individual ‘who dares to defy the norms of their society.
8. The Sexy Scent
If you could bottle sex appeal and sell it, this would be it; Initio Absolute Aphrodisiac really lives up to its name. It stirs up a myriad of emotions as soon as I spray it; it’s got such a sensual and alluring appeal that just makes me want to cover myself in it. It’s based around notes of amber and vanilla, which doesn’t surprise me as these are two of my favourite perfume notes.
I have to admit, every fragrance from Initio falls into the “sublime” category for me, but Absolute Aphrodisiac is absolutely my favourite!