5 cult Irish beauty buys for brighter skin this winter

Including an oil that's especially good at concealing dry, flaky skin in a hurry; and a fragrance-free, plant-rich balm that can support healing, protect the skin’s moisture barrier, and provide instant comfort
5 cult Irish beauty buys for brighter skin this winter

Tracey Ryan of Codex in the research and development laboratory. Picture: Larry Cummins

Buying Irish means you’re spoilt for choice in the skincare aisle — our selection is impressive. In my experience, every beauty company in the world has one thing it does better than others and any smart skincare brand bases it on well-researched, trending ingredients. These are the Irish besties I’d keep adding to your basket.

Pestle & Mortar’s Vitamin C

Vitamin C is wonderful but slightly confusing. The active cosmetic form of the ingredient (l-ascorbic acid), can aid elastic skin repair, help to improve pigmentation, and support natural collagen development, according to independent research. However, it is volatile and can be expensive to stabilise in cosmetic formulas. Many brands opt to use far less impactful forms (most commonly ascorbyl palmitate) instead. They generally put Vitamin C in a product’s name without highlighting any distinction. This can be annoying when you think you're buying Vitamin C’s famous skincare benefits. The most prevalent ingredient in Kildare-based Pestle & Mortar’s Vitamin C 2-Phase Serum, €76 at pestleandmortar.com, is 3-o-ethyl-l-ascorbic acid. 

Pestle & Mortar Vitamin C 2-Phase Serum €76 at pestleandmortar.com
Pestle & Mortar Vitamin C 2-Phase Serum €76 at pestleandmortar.com

This ethylic form of Vitamin C is not the same as l-ascorbic acid, but skin can metabolise it into up to 80% l-ascorbic acid, again according to independent studies. It is considered the most effective derivative for boosting collagen synthesis and lightening pigmentation after l-ascorbic acid itself. Pestle & Mortar puts some other great ingredients in this product. Hyaluronic acid, evening primrose oil and glycerin all support skin’s natural moisture barrier while the star ingredient does its thing. Ferulic acid is often used to help stabilise Vitamin C and bolster its antioxidant benefits. Vitamin C products are best applied in the morning after your cleanser, as they help the skin to fight free radicals throughout the day. Try to use this daily from the time you open it rather than sporadically, as the ingredient becomes less potent the longer it’s been exposed to light and air.

Skingredients’ Broad-Spectrum SPF50

Any sun protection you enjoy is the best. You are more likely to apply an adequate amount of a lotion or a cream than a spray or a foam — and chemical UV filters that aren’t reef-friendly should be avoided but if your favourite formula is broad-spectrum and SPF50, it is a winner for skin. Skingredients Skin Shield SPF50 PA+++, €57 at skingredients.com, is light with a dewy finish. It comes with niacinamide and Vitamin E. Avoiding single-use plastics should be important to us all and this product’s packaging is both pretty and refillable.

The White Witch’s Coconut Balm

You’ll always empty a multi-purpose balm you keep on your dressing table, especially when it’s cold outside. A fragrance-free, plant-rich balm can support healing, protect the skin’s moisture barrier, and provide instant comfort. The White Witch Connemara Regenerating Skin Balm, €28.50 at whitewitch.ie, is mainly organic, ethically sourced coconut oil and cocoa butter. There’s also some rosehip in there, as well as borage oil, calendula, and copaiba balsam. It is very rich, naturally, but that’s a welcome feeling when skin is dry and chapped. The plastic-free packaging and vegan certification make you feel that bit better.

Seabody’s Hyaluronic Acid

Seabody Aquasurge Day Serum, €50 at brownthomas.com
Seabody Aquasurge Day Serum, €50 at brownthomas.com

The hyaluronic acid trend’s abated in the last two years but I suspect that is because the super-humectant got so ubiquitous. It is still nice to see it form part of a complex formula rather than a single-note serum. Seabody Aquasurge Day Serum, €50 at brownthomas.com, uses niacinamide, sea buckthorn and two different species of seaweed support the antioxidant effects of HA in this formula. You’re also likely to see plumper skin immediately, Hyaluronic acid may be skincare’s best-known temporary volumiser and the seaweed extracts draw water to the skin’s surface, too.

Codex’s Rosehip Oil

Bia Facial Oil
Bia Facial Oil

I don’t use makeup primers every day because my skin is normal and the natural emollience of a facial oil creates a smooth surface instantly anyway. Any fragrance-free plant oil does this, Codex Beauty Bia Nourishing Facial Oil, €85 at codexbeauty.com, is special for other reasons. This is a lightweight oil that supports the moisture barrier with a mix of emollient and occlusive plant extracts. It is mainly rosehip, making it a luxurious facial massage aid as well as antioxidant rich. There’s also some baobab seed oil in there, as well as sweet almond, sea buckthorn, and prickly pear. The blend is sustainably made and absorbs quickly. It benefits most skin types but is especially good at concealing dry, flaky skin in a hurry.

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