Tried and tested: Oils, highlighters and concealers

From skin oils to highlighters to concealers, Rachel Marie Walsh has got you covered    


The Abnormal Beauty Company, The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil,

€8.90 at 


The Abnormal Beauty Company is so straightforward about its oils and serums, all comprised of few ingredients and priced reasonably, that it really does depart from the norm. Estée Lauder invested in its Canadian parent in June, tempted by the brand’s young and digitally-vocal fanbase. A bottle of their marula oil (which has a similar fatty acid composition to olive oil) contains nothing but that plant extract, and the label explains how it functions as support for your skin’s moisture barrier. That is the whole pitch: this is it, what it is and what it does. You could tweet the lot with hashtag space. Ideally you would use more than one antioxidant on your face (brand sister-oils include Argan and Rosehip) but the price and texture makes for easy layering. Marula is a pleasant addition to your favourite SPF moisturiser or makeup prep for dry skin.

BareMinerals Externalix, Skin-Volumizing Oil Serum, €48

Eternalix is an antioxidant oil-blend with added serum-like ingredients. Peptides and hyaluronic acid are the most interesting of the latter, giving the formula a distinct anti-ageing edge over facial oils. This would be a fantastic moisturiser for normal-to-dry skin if the brand had not included fragrance. Fragrance is sometimes generated by natural ingredients but that does not mean it benefits skin. Regular applications of scented stuff makes skin more sensitive over time. I also dislike the ‘skin-volumizing’ claim. Massaging on an oil can certainly leave skin look temporarily plumped but volume comes from injectable fillers.

Pestle and Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil, €78, available at,


Lots of ingredients are described in superlatives but retinol (Vitamin A) really is a superstar, with a four-decade research record showing it benefits multiple skin conditions, including acne and eczema. It has also been shown to refine pores, boost collagen production and improve elasticity and pigmentation issues. The tricky part of using it daily is avoiding irritation, as you can use an irritant-free formula (like this one) and still see some redness if it is a higher level than your skin can tolerate. One way for brands to make their retinol products more catch-all is to use retinol palmitate, or some other mild cosmetic form of the molecule, and keep their serum super-commercial while implying all the benefits of the real thing for their any skin-type serum, etc. This is not an untruth but putting ‘retinol’ in a product name when the ingredients list suggests moderate amounts of two cosmetic forms of Vitamin A is a bit like hyping a Kardashian club-night and then tottering Kylie out half-way through: Kardashi-lite. That said, as a straight night treatment this is lovely skincare, blending organic jojoba, avocado, grapeseed, blackcurrant and pomegranate seed oils in an antioxidant cocktail sure to make skin feel marvellous. It also contains smaller amounts of black cumin and carrot seed oils, both noted for reducing inflammation.


BEST BUY MooGoo Skincare Evening Primrose and Starflower Oil, €12.70 at, 5/5

You may recognise this oil blend as more common in female-targeted supplements, and puncturing one of those capsules for your skin would get you a tiny amount of this product. The liberated oil’s texture is generally pretty stick and this one, stored in a stability-protective pump-bottle, goes on super-smooth. Both starflower and evening primrose reduce redness, and support skin’s natural moisture barrier. This formula feels very comforting. It is best added to a regime for normal-to-dry skin but the acne-prone can reduce inflammation and promote repair using MooGoo’s Cold-Pressed Tamanu Oil, €12.70. You still want to go for a cocktail of great ingredients in your overall skincare but, as with The Abnormal Skincare Company’s doubles and singles, adding pure antioxidant oils to your favourite moisturiser is a boost.

Bobbi Brown Cream Glow Highlighter, €32, 4/5

Bobbi Brown’s signature look is so subtle, so close to bare-face that her counter is no natural starting point for a highlighter hunt. Your search may end there now this newbie’s arrived but I am in two minds. One says: “Look how silky, sheer and skin-like this is, I cannot get enough,” the other: “How much more do I have to apply to see shimmer?” This glow is for mild daytime illumination, less so if you like a glamorous look in a flash.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer Highlighter, €35.45 at, 5/5

RMS Beauty, soon to launch at SpaceNK, is an organic makeup brand from South Carolina. Living Luminizer, a strongly-pigmented champagne tint with benefits, is its most famous product. Brand founder Rose Marie Swift describes her cosmetics as skincare with mineral colour, so it is no surprise the formula is higher in beeswax and coconut and castor oils than luminous minerals. The jar is small and using it as antioxidant primer feels indulgent, but it does make a nice eye-area treatment/brightener.

CoverFX Enhance Click, €15 at, 5/5 recently launched CoverFX, though if you are interested in the brand’s foundations I strongly recommend colour-matching your skin at a bricks-and-mortar stockist. Their shade range is so vast, their coverage so substantial, that online guessing is more likely to go very wrong than the obverse. This is a brand begun to completely conceal scars and severe pigmentation problems and inexact matches waste its perfecting powers. The colour cosmetics are easier to tablet-shop, and I like this twist-and-click illuminator very much. It has a light texture and blends seamlessly. This nude-gold shade ‘Celestial’ lifts most complexions and there are strong pinks, peaches and berries you can layer over blushes in the same colour-family. It is all about enhancement.


BEST BUY L.O.V. LOVglow Highlighting Drops, €10.99, 5/5

These drops are somewhat similar to MAC Lustre Drops, €28, but have an oilier texture that the acne-prone should avoid. Oilier skin-types tend to generate the effects of liquid highlighter naturally, though this one comes in gold or silver-pink tint pores don’t produce. The wand allows for quick and precise application and the formula blends well.

Dior Diorskin Forever Undercover Concealer, €32, 4/5

‘Forever Undercover’ is right! This concealer launched with Dior’s latest long-wear foundation, a high-coverage makeup, and contain 25% more colour pigment. Shade-match permitting, the formula camouflages blemishes and stays put. It will blanche under-eye shadows but I do not recommend leaving it on delicate skin all day. Colour pigments are themselves somewhat drying but factor in long-wear ingredients and a true-matte finish and Undercover really seems ideal for spots or rosacea.

BEST BUY Bobbi Brown Instant Full Cover Concealer, €28, 5/5

This concealer looks similar to the above but it is under-eye specific. It is radiant and comes in fifteen natural-looking shades. The coverage is considerable but the formula is emollient enough not to dry the skin. It lasts without caking, though you may need an evening touch-up, which still seems a healthier thing to me than stressing your eyes out with oil-control and film-forming substances all day.

Rimmel Hide The Blemish Concealer, €5.79, 3/5

This is a classic matte-cream concealer stick and — like most of its kind — prone to under-eye caking. I advise swatching on your skin first as some medium shades are a little orange. This is reliable camouflage for minor blemishes. It blend easily and wears well until early evening.

L.O.V. Camouflage Concealer Palette, €12.99, 3/5

L.O.V offers a blend-to-taste under-eye camouflage in a four-product palette. Blend-to-taste stuff can be fun with cream eye, lip or cheek colours but in an everyday product like concealer it seems unnecessarily laborious. The lightest shade is a brightener, the next two are for colour-mixing and the third is translucent powder. Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage, €38, is a twenty one-year-old cover-up, still popular and also mix-to-taste. Perhaps I’m just not hearing another woman’s gospel here but give me a shade-matched mono-concealer any day.


The biggest cancer killer will take your breath away

Hopefully she had an idea...

Power of the press: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks discuss 'The Post'

More From The Irish Examiner