During lockdown we put a few affordable, cult and raved about brands to the test. Here’s our verdict…
GARDEN OF WISDOM
Tested by Chloe Forde, stylist and co-founder of Ace & Prince
I am obsessed with beauty products, I think it stems from working on a magazine. Being emailed about an upcoming staff beauty sale was often the most exciting part of any month. My salary may have been low but my bathroom cabinet was heaving with overpriced face masks and creams promising goddess-like skin. That being said I’ve never been particularly loyal to any one brand or product so when I was asked to try the Garden of Wisdom (cruelty-free) products for a month, I thought it was a great chance to actually see what does and doesn’t work for my skin.
I have ‘normal’ skin, it’s not particularly dry nor particularly oily. I get the odd spot here and there but generally it’s on its best behaviour. I’m 32 years old and have a toddler who has only just mastered consistently sleeping through the night, as a result fine lines and dark circles are the thing I’d love my skincare routine to tackle the most.
The range is simple, there is a heavy focus on serums and oils, they specialise in having more active than inactive ingredients in their products and the ingredients list reads like the most gorgeous menu at spa. Oils range from cold pressed rosehip, pure prickly pear and organic argan.
My skincare routine has to be quick as time isn’t always on my side. The ‘Daily Cleanser’ (£12) is exactly what I look for when washing my face first thing in the morning, it’s foamy and feels like it really gets the dirt off. A spritz of the ‘Triple Toning Treatment’ toner (£18), and then a cream: GoW’s is called the ‘Daily Hydrater’. For me I need a cream that’s almost like whipped butter, I quite like the feeling of over doing it on hydration. I found that the daily hydrater wasn’t quite enough for me and without using one of the oils (I tried the ‘Prickly Pear Seed Oil’ (£20)) alongside my face would have felt far too dry. This isn’t necessarily a problem as I had no qualms about going heavy on the ‘Anti-ageing Multi Peptide’ serum (£20).
The ‘Pore Cleaning Powder’, reasonably priced at £12, has a pink kaolin clay base so it does that satisfying thing of drying on your skin making even a smirk feel strenuous. Once washed off my skin felt super fresh and tight which again ticks a box from me. Followed by another generous slathering of serum and self care is done.
Garden of Wisdom is brilliantly priced, serums starting at £9 feels like a really nice opportunity to maybe try a few out and see what works. The packaging is simple and chic with a nod to some of its far pricier counterparts.
Tested by Kate Milmo, at The-Frugality.com
I am a sucker for a good looking product and the box design for these is beautiful. The Boots ‘Ingredients’ range is a selection of 8 vegan & cruelty free serums and acids priced from £5 – £7.
I have (over 40) oily prone skin so chose to test the hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and salicylic acid.
The ‘Vitamin C Serum’ (£6), known for brightening dark spots and smoothing fine lines was lightweight & easily absorbed but I felt none of the tingling that I would with my usual vitamin C. Boots don’t give the percentages of the active ingredients in this range and vitamin C is an ingredient where you do need a certain percentage for it to be effective. I rather felt the same about the ‘Salicylic Acid Serum’ (£7). It’s a BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acid) which is great for exfoliating the skin’s surface, helping with fine lines & dark spots but is also great for oily skin by helping to unclog pores. I had hoped it would help reduce the oiliness of my skin but there was no difference to my oil levels after 4 weeks of testing.
Perversely, I think the likely low levels of active ingredients are exactly what led me to fall in love with the ‘Hyaluronic Acid Serum’ (£5). I’ve never got on well with hyaluronic acid, I’ve always found it to be too sticky but this was light, my skin felt really hydrated and my SPF and makeup went on smoothly over the top. Due to hyaluronic acid’s ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, it’s an ingredient that can still be super effective even at small percentages and in this case at a small price point as well. I am definitely adding this to my regular routine, it would be excellent for travelling; small and lightweight enough for hand luggage (no heavy glass bottle), great for in-flight hydration or for after a day in the sun.
It’s a great value, entry level range for teens or young adults, gentle enough not to irritate and reasonably priced so that if you find you don’t like the product you’re not left with an expensive mistake sitting on your bathroom shelf. But it’s a shame a range called ‘Ingredients’ doesn’t state the percentages.
THE INKEY LIST
Tested by Alexandra Stedman, at The-Frugality.com
I had heard good things about this cruelty-free brand, especially when lamenting the hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary (too sticky for me!) on Instagram stories. This brand came up again and again in the recommendations so I was excited to give it a go.
And the products were…nice. Not the most amazing products I have ever, ever used (sadly I am spoilt from being in the industry perhaps!) but I would repurchase a few. The bottles look chic on a shelf and start at £4.99 – a no brainer.
I personally would give the ‘Oil and Water Double Cleanser’ (£9.99) a miss, mainly because it ruined most of my reusable cotton wool pads and I didn’t feel many benefits in exchange. But the ‘Turmeric Moisturiser’ for £7.99 smells very satisfying, and I would recommend as an easy everyday lotion (turmeric can apparently help acne and reduce scarring and this feels very soothing) – you only need a tiny amount so it lasts a good month, considering the small bottle.
The ‘PHA toner’ (poly-hydroxy acid – £9.99) felt quite basic and doesn’t have a scent which I kind of missed but I liked how the ‘Polyglutamic Acid’ (which can hold 4 times as much moisture as hyaluronic acid) felt on my skin – it went on almost matte and my skin felt primed. And then the ‘Collagen Booster’ (£8.99) is a great skin pep which I definitely felt I needed as I approach my forties with a toddler in tow.
Even though I wasn’t wowed by the entire range, I felt that there were definitely a few products that worked for me and it’s a price point I can get behind. I’m still intrigued to try other products, too – the ‘Caffeine Eye Cream’ is apparently excellent and I’d love to try their vitamin C.