Following a few recent conversations about the products I used when I was first getting into makeup, I realised very few are still in my routine. They’ve either been discontinued or I’ve ‘graduated’ onto something else. Maybe we can call it an upgrade (admittedly all but one product has been replaced with something a little more damaging to the bank balance) but that isn’t to say the originals are bad products; particularly in the case of fragrance, which is of course purely subjective. But here are five products that have convinced me there’s no going back.

Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl / Calvin Klein CK One > Maison Martin Margiela Untitled

One of the conversations that inspired this post was about early fragrance choices (Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male was a prevailing choice for men). My earliest olfactory leanings were for Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl and Calvin Klein CK One; both no longer in my possession. I tend to gravitate towards woody fragrances now, but the fresh green notes of  Maison Martin Margiela Untitled l’Eau (£70, reviewed here) are not a million miles away from those old favourites.

Head and Shoulders > John Masters Organics Bare Unscented Shampoo

If there is one thing I could go back and tell my teenage self (besides not to overpluck my brows or bother with that Biology A-level) it would be: ‘you don’t have dandruff or some bizarre disease, you’re reacting to sulphates and/or fragrances’. My hair and scalp were constantly varying degrees of painful and while the zinc in Head and Shoulders went some way to calm things down, ditching sulphates and unnecessary fragrance for gentler products like John Masters Organics Bare Unscented Shampoo (£14.50) has been the biggest beauty revelation of all.

The Upgrades

Clean and Clear gel cleanser > REN  Rosa Centifolia Gel Cleanser

Before my mum steered me towards Simple face wipes (an improvement of sorts) my teenage skincare was pretty heavy on Clean and Clear. Namely a brutally astringent ‘toner’ and a gel cleanser in some lurid shade of blue. They’re not my first choice for removing makeup, but I still like the texture of a gel cleanser when I’m not wearing much makeup or to team with my Clarisonic. I’m now on my second tube of REN Rosa Centifolia Gel Cleanser (£17), which is free from harsh ingredients and leaves my skin feeling clean but never parched or tight.

Benefit Dandelion > MAC Sheertone Blush in Tenderling

When one of my best friends got a weekend job on a Benefit counter about eight years ago we were all fanatical about their box blushes, and none more so than Dandelion. It’s a perky, brightening everyday blush on paler skin, but photos from our first parent-free holiday belie the chalkiness that can appear should you dare get a hint of a tan. These days I prefer the matte finish and sculpting, brownish undertone of MAC Sheertone Blush in Tenderling (£18) as my everyday blush of choice. It’s a dusty, muted pink still best suited for paler skin tones, but much more forgiving in photographs.

The Upgrades

Rimmel Brown Kohl > Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner in Scotch and Chocolate Truffle

School rules said no black eyeliner so, in a pathetic rebellion, I started ringing my eyes with as much brown eyeliner as I could get away with. Unfortunately that eyeliner was a rather reddish brown (I’m almost certain it was called ‘Rich Tea’) that, more often than not, looked less Chloé catwalk and more like a low grade eye infection. It also didn’t wear particularly well (this was before the days of Rimmel’s awesome Scandaleyes pencils).

I still love a smudge of brown kohl for easy definition but, having worn down my ByTerry Secret Brown to an unusable nub, I’ve now moved on to Bobbi Brown’s ultra smooth and long lasting Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner twist-up pencils (£18) in Scotch (a medium brown with a hint of bronze shimmer) and Chocolate Truffle (rich dark brown) – and, unless I’m sporting a smokey eye, it’s  top lashline affair only.


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