We asked a Make-up Artist (Julie), Creative Fashion Director (Emily) and an Architect and Content Creator (Sade) to give us their honest opinions on three cult affordable beauty brands. Here’s what they had to say:
Sade Akinsanya (@inmysundaybest)
Architect and Content Creator (www.inmysundaybest.com)
For the last few weeks I’ve been trialling out some of Versed products and putting them to the test with my dry and dehydrated skin. Versed have built up a bit of a cult following over in the US where they’re known for effective products that don’t break the bank and do what they say on the tin. I personally love that skincare has become so accessible, gone are the days of shelling out £100+ on a singular product only for it to be lacklustre in performance, now you can go to your local Boots or Superdrug and choose from a seriously large range of products.
Versed products clock in at under £20 and pride themselves on being the ‘cleanest’ drugstore skincare brand. They’re also Vegan, cruelty free and climate neutral certified, all while boasting to be high performance skincare with purpose. So how did this all fair with my skin?
Day Maker Micro crystal Exfoliator (£15.50):
This creamy style polish uses super fine microcrystalline (a 100% biodegradable plant based micro bead alternative) to gently buff away dead skin cells. I found this to be ok, but personally I prefer a little bit of a harsher scrub (skincare guru’s please don’t fight me!), I like to really get in there, especially on places like my nose and either side of my nose where I get congested very quickly. My skin felt smoother and marginally brighter, but I think this product would be perfect for those with more sensitive skin.
Skin Soak Rich Moisture Cream (£16.50):
I am a harsh critic when it comes to moisturisers as I’ve found most high street products just don’t cut it for me in terms of how moisturised I want my skin to be. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I find that half way through the day my skin tends to feel tight and looks dull if I’ve used a moisturiser that is just ‘ok’, but this little pot of dewy goodness surprised me and I’ve been using it both day and night (and have even repurchased it!). With ingredients like squalane (which my skin loves!), vitamin e and algae extracts, it’s no wonder it’s a little powerhouse of rich and nourishing moisture. Really good for these cold grey days.
Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum (£18):
Vitamin C has had a bit of a moment this year and whilst the Stroke of Brilliance serum has a bit of a lower percentage of vitamin C in comparison to some other brands, I do think this is a bit of a gem especially for the high street. I use this in the am on my face and neck and it definitely does what it says on the tin brightening wise. I’d highly recommend for beginner vitamin c users (make sure to use SPF after!)
Baby Cheeks all-in-one Hydrating Milk (£16.50):
I didn’t think it was possible to add another holy grail to my skincare shelf but this hydrating milk is everything your skin wants and needs if it’s as dry and as dehydrated as mine. From the nifty packaging to the dewy plump finish it gives me – I really like this product and it was my favourite out of the bunch. You can use it as a makeup remover, essence or as a last step as it’s a bit of a multiuse product that gives the most bang for it’s buck out of everything I’ve tried.
Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum (£20):
Retinol was another huge buzzword this year and rightly so. The changes retinols have done to my skin has been incredible. This product is a much more gentle retinol, that I think would be perfect for beginners or those with sensitive skin and I actually really liked using this one as I occasionally flare up when I’ve used my stronger retinoids for too long without a break. I used this nightly with no irritation at all and would awake with a smoother texture on my skin and refined pores.
Emily Fitch Miller (@emilyfitchm)
Creative Fashion Director, Stylist and Content Creator (www.emilyfitchmiller.com)
I am a beauty and skincare product obsessive! I am always interested in new brands and product developments and am continually adding to my beauty arsenal.
There are however a few products I repeat buy and after discovering the Q+A skincare range and buying their hyaluronic acid facial serum, it is now a firm favourite.
For affordable skincare it doesn’t get much better in formulation and efficacy and this product works as well as any far pricier hyaluronic serum. So I was really keen to try other products from this UK based, cruelty free, vegan-friendly range.
Q+A (which stands for Questions and Answers) aim to demystify and simplify skincare through their unique skin concern Q+A checklist which you take on the website and then suitable products and a regime for your skin is suggested to you. As a 53-year-old my skin concerns are dehydration, skin firmness, and brightening so I was keen to try the products that help hydrate, boost collagen, and skin brightness.
I loved the Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating cleanser (£7.50), it is a clear gel formula and leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturised rather than tight and dry as some facial cleansers can do. This is a gentle but effective cleanser suitable for all skin types, I highly recommend it.
The Vitamin A.C.E Warming Gel Mask (£9) was also very moisturising. A product to get used to with it’s very thick, honey like texture that once applied to the skin warms up slightly. Once removed with warm water after 10 mins my skin looks visibly plumped up, glowing and nicely hydrated.
For a hit of skin collagen boosting and to minimise signs of aging I tried the PEPTIDE Facial Serum (£9.00) and the 5-HTP Face and neck cream (£12.00). As with the hyaluronic serum the Peptide serum is a lovely formulation that sinks in easily and has been a nice addition to my evening routine leaving my skin feeling more rejuvenated. The 5- HTP cream is a good moisturiser used in conjunction with the peptide serum, on its own I actually found the formula left my skin a little stiff and tight.
Vitamin C is a hero ingredient of mine and I have tried many variations of Vitamin C products so I was keen to try the Q+A Vitamin C Brightening Serum (£9.00). Unusually for a Vitamin C serum it is quite a thick, white formula as it is billed as a serum/moisturiser hybrid. I did not love it..I found its thicker consistency strange and wanted it to be lighter. I also would like to know the percentage of active ingredients contained – an important factor in a Vitamin C product for its effectiveness.
Overall I really think this is a brand worth discovering. There are some excellent, affordable products and as a British company using natural ingredients with ethical practices and sustainability at its core it deserves to be on your bathroom shelf.
Julie Jacobs (@juliejacobsftf)
Make-Up Artist (www.juliejacobs.com)
The first time I went to an Ordinary press event I was shocked (at the low price point); surprised (by the vast range) and VERY impressed (by the knowledge of the staff member who walked and talked me through the Deciem collections, The Ordinary, Niod and Hylamide).
I’m fifty-five years ‘young’ and I have a normal skin type with slight dehydration. I still produce
‘excess’ oil (I had acne till my early thirties). But as I don’t have blackheads or uneven texture I see it more as preserving my skin underneath. My skin was a little messed up just before starting The Ordinary regime as I was using a retinol a little too often. So with this in mind I was advised to stop the retinol and to try the Buffet peptide serum daily (£11.85) and AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (£6.25) once; maybe twice a week instead.
The ‘Buffet’ serum targets multiple signs of ageing at once, it didn’t aggravate my skin but soothed the irritation and tightness.
Now the AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is the show stopper and not because of its bright red colour. This is the one product I researched most (it’s very well rated amongst dermatologists). I’m not one for following instructions but I very much listened to the experts and did not leave it on for more that the ten minutes stated. Yes, there is a slight tingle and yes, I do look like I’m in a slasher movie, however my skin felt refreshed without distress.
I’d heard a lot about the Squalene Cleanser (£5.50) and was excited to try it. It left my skin slightly taut which I was not expecting but it did cleanse well and there was no need to cleanse twice when wearing foundation.
And even though I was concerned about the only moisturiser – Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (£6.50) – not ‘feeling’ nourishing enough it still worked nicely. As the weather has turned bitter-cold and I’m sitting in central heating my skin is drying out a lot more, so I feel the need for a change to something more hydrating.
As for the Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density (£15.80); I have not noticed any difference but also acknowledge I probably need to use it over a longer period of time. But truthfully, I live in hope (or la la land) as I’m menopausal and have observed my hair getting very thin – it’s distressing. So I have to admit this was very much a fantasy pick…I fantasised about waking up one morning having my pre-menopause hair back.
As I mentioned, the low price point shocked me for a brand so well researched. However, I found I went through most of my selection within three to four weeks. The Ordinary is definitely a range I direct my clients towards particularly if starting retinols or acids, I know they will receive sound advice and it’s not too costly for first-timers.