Last year may not be a year on which many of us care to look back, but from a beauty point of view, it was unexpectedly fruitful. During lockdown I discovered what I can safely call my favourite cleansing balm of all time. I have now bought three large tubs of Farmacy’s Green Clean (£24), and I doubt I’ll ever be without it. It’s not thick and gloopy, but fine and elegant in formulation, liquefying instantly with fingertip warmth before removing every last scrap of makeup (including caked-on mascara, which swirls off muddily in seconds). A dash of warm water sends it milky; a swish of a flannel removes it completely without stripping any residual moisture. It’s perfect.
Despite being mostly home-based and with more time on my hands, I have further streamlined my skincare routine in the past 12 months. Murad’s Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum (£72) does the work of an exfoliant and an antioxidant serum in one pump, applied straight after cleansing. This timesaving innovation is suitable for all skins and ages, adds instant plumpness, visible glow and lasting hydration, and is impeccably behaved beneath makeup. I eagerly await a bargain dupe I can share with you: rest assured, I shall report back when one inevitably lands.
It’s probably not fair to include a whole skincare brand in my picks but, truly, Versed seems incapable of making a dud. Fairly priced and as consistent as it is prolific, Versed makes great moisturisers, serums, masks and more. Last year, its winning streak continued with Weekend Glow Brightening Solution (£16.50), a liquid exfoliant for those who don’t want the 2-in-1 concept of the Murad serum. This tonic is swept over face and neck after cleansing, to keep both flake-free, bright and smooth. It’s comparable in performance to others at three times the price.
Last year was also a vintage year for sunscreens, and three superstars spring immediately to mind. La Roche Posay SPF30 Hyalu B5 Aquagel (£34.50) is a dream for dehydrated types who find most sunscreens greasy. Garnier Ambre Solaire Over Makeup Super UV SPF50 (£6.50) is arguably the most useful, bargainous product of the decade, and solves the age-old problem of needing to top up your sun protection without removing your makeup. Finally, Medik8’s Advanced Day Ultimate Protect SPF50+ (£59) is the best facial sunscreen for dry skin I can remember – in any year.