Time to vote for your best beauty buys of the year

Time to vote for your best beauty buys of the year: We all love those little luxuries that get us through tough times and put the colour in our cheeks

  • Some people who are often men tell me ‘no one needs beauty products’
  • I beg to differ as I need make-up and creams, just as I need hair heroes
  • I need them to feel engaged with the world and ready to take it on

When they discover I write Inspire’s beauty column, some people — largely men — delight in informing me that ‘No one needs beauty products’. Naturally, I respond with my best tinkling Marie Antoinette laugh and the exhortation: ‘Let them eat eyeliner!’

But, actually, I beg to differ. I need make-up and creams, just as I need hair heroes, bath oil and scent. I need them to feel engaged with the world and ready to take it on, armoured and optimistic, to feel pleasure and some small joy when there doesn’t seem much about.

A spot of self-ornamentation bolsters my will to stagger on. As Covid has given way to a cost-of-living crisis, I, for one, have required this in 2022. And, from reading your letters and emails, so have you.

When they discover I write Inspire’s beauty column, some people — largely men — delight in informing me that ‘No one needs beauty products’. Naturally, I respond with my best tinkling Marie Antoinette laugh and the exhortation: ‘Let them eat eyeliner!’

So let’s celebrate the best of what we Brits love in beauty with this, our annual awards. Of course, you cannot begin to consider the above without acknowledging the economic fix we’re in, set only to exacerbate in 2023. Filling our mouths is always going to take priority over painting them, just as keeping warm will be more vital than keeping fragrant.

However, as in wartime, when Churchill kept supplies of lipstick coming to maintain morale, little luxuries become even more precious. Many of us will already be stalwartly saving, indulging sparingly — a high-low balancing act built on a foundation of budget wares. Last year, we added the category ‘daily joy’ to champion a product that had sustained us through lockdown. This year, we’ve swapped it for a beloved ‘bargain buy’.

So what in your make-up bag or bathroom cabinet has filled you with joie de vivre during 2022? For inspiration, we asked four women at the very top of the industry: veteran beauty expert Ruby Hammer, perfume queen Jo Malone; royal make-up artist Hannah Martin and cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting.

I’ve listed mine, too. So allow yourself the pleasure of an imaginary browse though the experts’ must-have beauty buys — and vote now to be entered into our rather glorious prize draw!

MEET OUR ILLUSTRIOUS PANEL OF JUDGES 

Jo Malone, CBE

Jo (pictured), 59, is the founder of fragrance lifestyle brand Jo Loves, which she launched after selling her eponymous brand to Estee Lauder.

Jo, 59, is the founder of fragrance lifestyle brand Jo Loves, which she launched after selling her eponymous brand to Estee Lauder. 

Some of my best beauty buys are from Boots and cost under a tenner. If someone offered me a brow product that cost £100, I’d say ‘No, thank you’ and keep my Rimmel London Professional Eyebrow Pencil (£4.49, Boots). I just love it! And I’d never buy an expensive mascara: it’s always Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara (£9.99, Boots). 

But there are some things I won’t skimp on. For example, my Chanel lip gloss: Rouge Coco Gloss in Bourgeoisie (£31, chanel.com). I’d also wear anything that Bobbi Brown or Marcia Kilgore create — both beauty pioneers are amazing. 

I have Bobbi’s Jones Road Miracle Balm (£36, jonesroadbeauty.com) in every shade. I use it on my skin and on my lips and it makes you look like you’ve just walked off a beach. 

I never leave the house without fragrance. I think scent is the new red lipstick. Sales soared through the pandemic and they continue to grow. 

With Jo Loves, we’ve noticed people want their homes to smell like they do — homes are now an extension of ourselves. 

Ruby Hammer, MBE 

Brands like Clarins are now doing products specifically designed for menopausal women, which is great to see. Ignore older women at your peril! (Pictured: Ruby Hammer)

Make-up artist and brand founder Ruby, 60, has been a mainstay of the beauty world since the 1980s and launched her beauty range Ruby Hammer in 2019. 

I’m of an age where I can’t mess around with lots of different cheap products that don’t deliver, so I buy Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream (£69, cultbeauty.co.uk). It is expensive but I know it works for my skin. 

Conversely, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (£10, boots.com) can hold its own next to any product — and it’s a bargain.

The past few years have seen the rise of make-up with skincare benefits. My Ruby Hammer Lip Serum Balm (£18, rubyhammer.com) is a good example. It has oils and cocoa butter to nourish your lips but you can also build up the colour. I layer it over lipstick. 

It’s fantastic to see how far the industry has come in terms of inclusivity. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (£44.50, armanibeauty.co.uk) was one of the first brands to offer a good range of shades for all skin tones, and it delivers every time. 

Brands like Clarins are now doing products specifically designed for menopausal women, which is great to see. Ignore older women at your peril! 

Hannah Martin 

I made up Geena Davis when she appeared on Loose Women, and I rubbed the lotion into her arms just before she went on. The presenters didn’t stop talking about how wonderful she smelt (Pictured: Hannah Martin)

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice are among makeup artist Hannah Martin’s many celebrity clients. 

The speed of innovation in the beauty industry is so exciting — there’s always new concepts, new brands and new products to discover and try. 

Right now, I am a big fan of the Sculpted By Aimee range. Aimee Connolly is a young Irish make-up artist whose brand ethos is all about easy-to-use, easy-to-wear products. Her Satin Silk Longwear Foundation (£27, boots.com) is a full coverage foundation and it’s beautiful. 

I also rate Baebrow G-LAM Clear Brow Gel (£17, baebrow.com). So many brow gels claim to have excellent hold, but they make your brows slightly crunchy. This, however, is the best one around. 

The product that’s been the biggest hit with my celebrity clients this year is Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (£20, cultbeauty.co.uk). It’s a body lotion that smells absolutely delicious. 

I made up Geena Davis when she appeared on Loose Women, and I rubbed the lotion into her arms just before she went on. The presenters didn’t stop talking about how wonderful she smelt. 

Hannah Betts 

My best bargain for £5 or under? Vaseline Lip Therapy Tin Rosy Lips (£1.95, Boots). It’s now just 97p, which means you can allow one for every handbag (Pictured: Hannah Betts)

My list of loves includes a few luxuries, such as Rose Inc Skin Enhance Luminous Tinted Serum (£36, spacenk.com) and Chantecaille Black Jaguar Collection Lip Chic in Orchid (£38, chantecaille.co.uk), a voluptuous berry. Both are age-defying essentials. 

Otherwise, my selection is made up of bargains without being basic. I haven’t chosen the following because they’re reasonably priced but because they’re the best at any price: Zara Eye Shadow Duo in Thunder & Delta (£11.99, zara.com), NYX Micro Brow Pencil (£10, boots.com), Avène Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser for Sensitive Skin (£9.86 from £13, Boots) and Batiste Dry Shampoo Volume (Boots, £4.25). 

NYX Bare With Me Concealer Serum (£11, boots.com) is incredibly impressive as a concealer and/or base. 

My best bargain for £5 or under? Vaseline Lip Therapy Tin Rosy Lips (£1.95, Boots). It’s now just 97p, which means you can allow one for every handbag. 

Dr Sam Bunting 

Dr Sam (Pictured), a dermatologist and skincare specialist for two decades, runs a Harley Street clinic and launched her award-winning skincare range, Dr Sam’s, in 2018

Dr Sam, a dermatologist and skincare specialist for two decades, runs a Harley Street clinic and launched her award-winning skincare range, Dr Sam’s, in 2018. 

I don’t see skincare as being discretionary spending, I see it as essential to confidence and wellbeing. If you have to cut corners, I’d urge people to skip buying a new lipstick and get a good SPF instead. And don’t waste money on a neck or cellulite cream — these things don’t work. 

The pendulum is swinging back from the days when women got excited about buying lots of different active ingredients. We are now paring down our regimes and focusing on the few actives that really work — the ones with the evidence to support them. 

I’ve loved seeing the rise of azelaic acid this year, which used to be available only on prescription. It’s by far the most effective skin acid out there, helping with redness, acne and hyperpigmentation. 

It’s in my Dr Sam’s Flawless Brightly Serum (£44, drsambunting.com) and The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (£8.60, theordinary.com). I’m also a big fan of niacinamide — it’s an anti-inflammatory but also boosts your skin barrier. 

As for make-up, there are some great, affordable Gen Z influencer brands around. I like Refy’s Brow Sculpt (£16, refybeauty.com) and Sculpted By Aimee’s My Mascara Volume & Length (£17, boots.com). There’s no reason why older women shouldn’t try them out. 

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