Product Watch with Rachel Marie Walsh

Product Watch with Rachel Marie Walsh

Prepare for the beauty sales with Rachel Marie Walsh’s thoughts on January deals that will be coming your way.

The January sales are upon us and confronted by dozens of notifications on your device you may be tempted by a beauty bargain or two. Not that scary palette of rainbow glitters or a home micro-dermabrasion kit, no, but maybe a time-saving treatment you know you’ll need for months or a wellness trend that you have considered at least as long.

Fortune favours the prepared and I know I’ve made some questionable buys even out of sales season. Here are some products that may not be the bargains they seem.

CBD (Cannabidiol) skincare

CBD oil is still a VIB (Very Important Buy) according to wellness and a suspicious number of reality TV stars. Cannabidiol is the non-druggy component of marijuana or hemp plants. It is extracted as a powder and usually mixed with an oil or coconut, all of which enhance application.

If you use this on your skin or indeed drop it under your tongue each morning and find it makes a positive difference then I am pleased but its independently proven skincare benefits include water-binding, antioxidant effects, and — most significantly — the prevention of inflammation.

It’s having a moment, certainly, and a bargain bottle is worth trying but you can get all the same benefits from Vitamin E or squalene, which are currently more widely and cheaply available in higher concentrations.

Anti-cellulite creams

I cannot possibly recommend all the self-care advice you’ll find on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, I don’t believe either mineral oil or talc is harmful and her more intimate products freak me out (Google “yoni eggs” and prepare to cross your legs).

I do, however, admire her straight-talking, seen-everything Beauty Director Jean Godfrey-June and her firm dismissal of anti-cellulite creams (according to her former assistant Cat Marnell’s memoir How to Murder Your Life), a product category that indulged for far too long (Ms Godfrey June recommends Lancôme’s Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Leg Gel, €30, or a pair of well-cut black trousers for coverage, according to her own memoir Free Gift With Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup).

These creams promise to prevent through skin what begins inside of you, and to smooth fat that bumps and bulges through a muscular lattice that ingredients cannot touch. “But don’t anti-ageing products also claim to prevent wrinkles that still emerge?” you ask.

The anti-ageing industry is playful with the truth, it’s true, but your skin really will look younger for longer with consistently gentle cleansing and broad-spectrum UV protection, at least. No anti-cellulite cream can so much as slow orange peel’s development.

So why are so many still on the market? In my opinion, they are sustained by a mix of careful language, by the psychological impact of ingredients that give skin a temporary sensation of cooling, tingling or tightening, and — most galling of all — the troublingly light regulation of cosmetics, on which women spend far more money than do men. Just saying. Forget “fat is a feminist issue,” how about “show me my girly-creams-that-did-nothing money”?

Consider: Massage

Self-massaging tools won’t cure cellulite but they do help with water retention and circulation.

Reparative hair treatments

A split end is split, end of story. While it is not true that snipping them off will make your hair grow faster, this is the only permanent fix. Many products, including hair masks and deep conditioners, make claims of repairing hair, even though every strand is dead. What can happen when you use good conditioners is that your damaged hair can temporarily feel smoother, softer, shinier, and healthy. This feeling will take many repeat purchases to sustain.

Consider: Colour care treatments

Hair colour really can be revived as well as protected between salon visits. The shade your colourist mixes may be bespoke but you can certainly keep it vibrant by using conditioners with polyquaternium compounds that keep colour from oxidising and fading. Living Proof’s Color Care Whipped Glaze, €33 at Marks and Spencer, is a leave-in styling product available in formulas for light and dark hair. The fairer blend contains a chelating agent that keeps hard water minerals from interacting with dye when you shampoo for maximum colour performance. There’s also a cationic temporary dye in the mix to illuminate your shade and reduce brassiness. Ceramide-emulating substances keep strands smooth and glossy.

Gel Nail Kits

I think some women have a stage through which they don’t feel ‘done’ unless every feature is maxed out, from nails to hair to a full face of ‘natural’ makeup. Nails were a significant part of this time for me, they needed to be perfect always or I felt like I was letting some future version of myself down. What made me think I could take care of anyone when I couldn’t take care of my own little hands? I still needed to type, do laundry, clean, and cook throughout this period so sought out hard-wearing solutions like gels, which come in DIY kits with LED lights to harden the polish.

No more. I won’t pretend I’ve stopped berating myself about nail flaws, I did that this afternoon. However, I am now convinced that repeatedly choosing gel or acrylic nails is an act of self-depletion on a par with sitting for bonded hair extensions and routinely scrubbing or chemical-peeling fake tan from your skin before reapplying. Well-meaning specialists will tell you that none of these habits will become a problem as long as you keep visiting a salon. Maybe they’re right but after two years of keeping my own nails covered, they were noticeably thinner.

I’m not here to judge other women and most fakery is harmless in moderation but to those I love I say “don’t cover what you have, coddle it”.

Consider: Using protective polishes and nourishing creams

While it is difficult for nails to absorb healthful ingredients through the polish, two coats of Cutex Care+Color Nail Polish, €4.99 at pharmacies nationwide, are pretty and protective.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Touch Hand Cream, €18.29 + shipping at cultbeauty.co.uk and spacing.com, is packed with selenium-rich brazil nut oil, helping nails grow long and strong. Its blend of cupuaçu butter and açaí oils provides an antioxidant boost while coconut oil conditions.

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