The bare essentials work

RIGHT around this time of year I get ready for my beauty New Year’s resolutions: take care of my hair, wear less mascara, defuzz my legs more often.

Generally, it doesn’t go so well because grooming can be a bore, and I usually find something more interesting to do instead — like alphabetising my book collection or trying to develop an interest in ornithology. But the one beauty resolution I actually enjoy is tackling the almighty amount of rubbish I collect from one of the year to the next. I’m talking 12 bottles of nail polish; six bottles of hair oil; a total of eight foundations (randomly placed in bags, suitcases, drawers, and, bizarrely, even in a filing cabinet) and six nude lipglosses that all look pretty much the same.

It is entirely possible to do much better with much less stuff. Apart from the fact that these days the environment almost audibly moans every time another bottle of shower gel is bought, all the products just create an unholy amount of clutter.

As famous textile designer William Morris once said: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” And, take it from me, that four-year-old lipstick partially squashed into its own lid is neither useful nor beautiful.

The best place to start is with skincare. Skincare has become incredibly complicated over the last few years, but that’s only because cosmetics companies want you to buy stuff, and lots of it.

For cleansing, my star buy is Bobbi Brown’s Oil Cleanser, €37. It’s simple, very effective and the simple design means it looks great on a bathroom shelf. Plus, it’s minimal in terms of waste — there is no cotton wool or separate eye make-up remover needed, you just massage it into the face and eyes and wash it off.

For a moisturiser, head straight to La Roche Posay. The brand is full of great creams — particularly for sensitve skins — such as Hydraphase Intense Rich, €22, which feels like satin, ideal for protecting your skin from the cold. It’s a brilliant choice for January, and because there’s no SPF in it, you can wear it morning and night, thereby eliminating the need for a night cream.

Of course, when it comes to make-up it can be a lot harder to make the necessary edits, but if you have eyeshadows, eyeliners or mascaras that have been sitting around for more than a couple of years, get rid of them. Not only do they gather bacteria, but they just create clutter and bulk.

As with clothes, it’s a great idea to build your make-up around a small set of quality basics. For me, spending a bit more on a really good foundation is always worth it. If your skin looks amazing, that’s more than half the battle.

Giorgio Armani and Bobbi Brown are my favourite brands for foundation, although Yves Saint Laurent is really making its presence felt with its excellent new Le Teint Touche Eclat, €38 (for a more mid-range option, try Max Factor’s Facefinity 3in1 All Day Flawless Foundation, €€14.99 or the slightly pricier Korres Colour Wild Rose Foundation, €28.10).

A great mascara is definitely worth it. I’ve tried lots over the years, and Lancôme stand out. But if you don’t have the budget for one of their luxury products, then don’t worry. Better value brands have really got their act together over the last few years with great mascaras from the likes of Rimmel in particular.

Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil, €37.

My only quibble with this product is that it’s a mite expensive for a cleanser. Because it’s a rich, effective oil, you only need to use a little bit and you can massage it into the eye area as well, without any problems. Wash it off with water and it turns slightly milky and leaves no residue other than exceptionally clean skin.

La Roche Posay Hydraphase Intense Rich, €22.50.

I find La Roche Posay excellent for colder weather, and the range includes a moisturiser for everyone. This one is perfect for dry and dehydrated skin. It has a rich luscious texture and sinks right in, making it an ideal base for make-up.

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup SPF 15, €45.

I really adore Giorgio Armani foundations. They are the business. Yes, they’re very expensive, and no, they don’t come in the most enormous bottles, but they always feel very luxurious and make my skin (which is dry) look fabulous. This new one is very liquid, but feels like silk on the skin and blends in to make the complexion look flawless, radiant and perfect.

Nars Andy Warhol 47th Street larger than Life Long Lasting Eyeliner, €22.50.

A black eyeliner really is a beauty kit essential. They last for ages, and this one lasts particularly long on the actual eye. It almost has a wet feel to it, and is very, very smooth to apply. This one’s a keeper.

Lancôme Hypnose Star Mascara, €25.

Choose any Lancôme mascara you like — they all work really well. While there is now a much wider range of mascaras on the market, I find myself returning to this one again and again. It coats the lashes really well and it doesn’t flake through the day. Importantly, it gives you the kind of lashes you should have been born with.


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