In August we finished two foolproof fake tans (a mousse and a water texture), a glow-giving bronzer, a natural deodorant that stands up to sweaty weather and two light-weight bases perfect for sunny days
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It's our job to bring you the latest and greatest finds in the world of beauty which means we're using an ever-evolving lineup of products (check out our latest favourites in our weekly Glossy Picks edit of newness) , but every so often we try something so good, we use it down to the very last drop. Here we reveal all of the beauty products our editors finished in summer 2021 – and given that it seems to have had an unexpected second wind of hot weather, we recommend suggest stocking up on these buys to make the most of those September rays
Melanie Macleod, digital writer
"I've never really been into self-tan, save a few disastrous attempts way back when, but after attending a Zoom launch with supermodel Ashley Graham who was promoting this kit (which includes the tanning mousse and a mitt), I decided to give it a go again. Before I knew it, I was at the end of the bottle, trying to eke out a few more drops to get the even, bronzed look I'd become accustomed to. The formula is tinted, so you can see where you've applied it and I never once got a streak from using this.
"The first few times I used it I showered off after an hour and had a subtle, start of summer glow. As I got braver I started leaving it on overnight and come morning I was deeply tanned, like I'd been on holiday somewhere glorious. It never once made my skin dry, which put me off self-tanning in the past, and it faded just like a natural tan would with no scaly patches or giraffe-like patterns. In the office we've got a shelf full of fake tans we've been sent to test, but I'll be eschewing all of them in favour of repurchasing this one."
"I finished two bottles of this over the course of the summer; this full-size one and a mini SPF 50 version which was great for using on the go. I know some people say you can't rely on spray-on SPF because the wind can blow it away as you apply and you might not be protected everywhere, but if you ask me, the best SPF is one you wear, and for me, this is one of those. It's a mineral sunscreen and has a citrusy scent, doesn't need rubbing in and one application in the morning was enough to stop me burning all day long, without needing to reapply. It's totally clear, absorbs instantly and has aloe vera and cucumber extract in it for moisture. I can't see myself using a different SPF any time soon."
"I only wear this scent on holiday, hence why it's lasted me since summer 2019. It has a beachy smell but without any hint of tropical sweetness. It's citrusy thanks to lemony notes, but has hints of a floral fragrance too thanks to rose, frangipani and jasmine. As you wear this it warms up with a comforting vanilla touch, which works well for warm evenings on holiday. Just a spritz of this reminds me of sunnier climes and given I haven't stepped out of the country since January 2020, that is much needed! It made my (admittedly idyllic) holidays in Cornwall and Devon this year feel just as luxurious as jetting off to Greek island. I'll definitely miss it next year!"
"I started this little two shade bronzer last summer and have only just hit pan, despite using it pretty much every day since then, be it a grey winter day or a gloriously sunny one – how's that for good value? I'm not into makeup that requires precision application. I like to fluff a brush around the pan, dust it on my face and be ready to go and that's exactly when this comes into its own. The bronze shade and pearly half melt together on your brush for a sunkissed, every so slightly shimmering glow that makes you look sunkissed even when it's been raining for week. When it launched there was a matte shade too, if sparkle isn't your thing."
"This is undeniably expensive for a body wash, but I'm all about elevating everyday acts and this made getting up early for a shower that little bit more enjoyable. Firstly, the formula is gold and glittery, so that adds a touch of glamour. Secondly the scent; it's citrusy and zesty, which wakes me up on the bleariest of AMs. Ingredient wise it includes Indian fig extract and monk’s pepper berry, which keep skin hydrated. It's a delightful summer body wash and I look forward to breaking it out again next year – it's only missing from the picture above because I was squeezing every last drop out."
Victoria Woodhall, editorial director
"Lately, I've been consciously trying to substitute my 4 pm biscuits with a glass of sparkling water, after nutritional therapist Amelia Freer told me that what we often think of as hunger is actually just a craving for a new taste or 'mouth feel'. Fizzy water does just that for me and so I bought a Soda Stream carbonator, £69, which has just one reusable bottle – you even send the gas cylinders back on return and exchange. I like to add a dash of something to my water and am now on my second bottle of this very tasty concentrated probiotic drink from gut health pioneer The Beauty Chef . It's supportive of skin, gut and stress levels thanks to probiotics, B vitamins and adaptogens and really tastes like a virtuous can of Coke, thanks to the natural kola nut flavouring. In case you're wondering, it's 39 calories per 15ml 'dash' (less than a Hobnob!). I get 33 servings out of my 500ml bottle (£29), which is a darn sight cheaper than those over-priced cans of 'health' drinks that create yet more recycling. For a mid-afternoon perk, it hits the spot."
"Mineral sunscreens are getting so much more lightweight and invisible with every year that passes, and this 2021 newcomer from NYC doctor Dennis Gross has been my UK staycation staple. It’s a does-it-all moisturising broad-spectrum anti-ageing mineral SPF with anti-pollution and blue light defence (ie heaps of antioxidants) and is reef safe. It’s one cream I can pull out of my handbag and apply without a mirror knowing it won’t leave a white cast if I don’t rub it in properly. I even tried it on my very pale daughter whose skin shows up the slightest ghostly tint – nada! I love the special non-drip nozzle too and the fact that it’s fragrance-free. It’s been flawless under makeup too and one I’ll continue to use all year round."
"This shapeshifting cleanser has won so many awards and for good reason. It gets everything off, including the most stubborn eye makeup, in the most gentle way and can be used by any age (my teens use it) on the most sensitive of skins. I massage the clear jelly into dry skin, where it acquires a balm-like feel and you can really go for it. Then I splash on water and it turns to milk, washing off effortlessly. Once I’ve got the makeup and SPF off, I go in for a second cleanse to get right into the pores. The icing on the cake is the high-tech recycled plastic tube which has an inner vacuum bag that shrinks down, meaning you can get every last drop out. It does that rare thing and leaves my skin not dry, not greasy, but just right."
"This was a total fluke discovery when I arrived at work with no makeup on, and no makeup bag either and dashed to Boots for emergency supplies. I landed at the Bareminerals stand, which had 15 shades of this silky CC skin tint from Opal to Mahogany. I was instantly won over by the sheer texture and the broad-spectrum SPF and after a day of wear concluded that it was much better than the posh Chanel foundation I'd left at home. Now I don't buy anything else. It's glowy and moisturising, with enough coverage to even out skin texture, yet it's light enough that you can layer on two coats for a bit more depth, or if you are going out in bright sunlight and need the full two finger stripes of SPF. I've since learned that it's a cult favourite among makeup artists. Where have I been? Just last week a friend, who commented how well my skin looked, insisted on reference-photographing my tube so she could get her hands on one too."
"I fell in love with Ishga, the Hebridean organic seaweed-centred luxury spa brand at its summer residency at London's Berkeley Hotel spa. Sadly it has gone now but you can find Ishga at spa locations all around the UK . The full body massage was so good I took home the four-piece kit: candle, bath salts, body scrub and body oil. The standout product is the Invigorating Organic Body Oil which has a velvety texture like no other. Being Scottish it contains thistle oil which, it turns out, has a very high concentration of skin-loving fatty acids. With juniper and lemongrass, it's a bit like dousing yourself in a gin and tonic; no better treat in my view."
Jemma Thompson, social media and design manager
"This is a double-whammy of Dr Jart+ empties because I couldn't decide between the two. You've probably seen the K-beauty line, particularly the Color Correcting Treatment , everywhere online in the last year, but these two are the real standouts for me. The range contains cica , also known as tiger grass, which is designed to repair your skin's barrier and prevent irritated, tight, stressed or red skin. Whenever my skin is feeling sensitive, I reach for these. The cream works wonders in a matter of hours; my skin simply absorbs the silky-smooth texture and remains hydrated and calm. The mist is a must-have in my bag because it protects your microbiome from environmental aggressors and soothes skin while giving it a fresh glow."
Isle of Paradise Glow Clear Dark, £19.95
"I recently discovered that I am a self-tan hoarder; I enjoy experimenting with different formulas and finishes but never commit to one. That was until I discovered this. It's the only one I use to the last drop. Unlike other tans, which can leave me looking like a tangerine or a loaf of tiger bread, this clear mousse always gives me a natural-looking and fairly authentic tan. Despite the fact that there's no guide colour (which means no colour transfer) I've never had a streaky finish and I’m very ‘slap dash’ with my application. I leave it on overnight and what I love most about it is that it gives me an impeccable glow; it's formulated with violet colour correcting actives that not only give me a lovely bronzed look, but also help to even out my skin tone and stretch marks. It's also a water-based tan, which leaves your skin feeling super hydrated and fresh – no biscuity vibes here!"
“Whenever I'm feeling down or experiencing brain fog , I reach for these mood-boosting drops. When I get a whiff of this, my shoulders relax a little and I instantly feel perkier and more energised. This aromatherapy oil cocktail contains ylang-ylang, geranium and rose otto, which can help restore your mood, release tension and inspire your senses. If you're feeling a little unmotivated or have the post-summer blues, this is the tonic for you.”
Refy Brow Pencil, £14
"When model Jess Hunt released her three-step brow kit in spring, she truly cast some magic, with constant product sell-outs. With the exception of the Refy brow sculpt, this brow pencil has been the only thing I’ve used to tame my brows over the last few months. This super-fine tipped pencil comes in three shades and adds hair-like strokes where you want extra definition. What I like most about the tip is how precise it is; even at the very end, it was always on point. The formula itself is creamy and soft, but it does not budge and stays in place all day."
Marie-Louise Pumfrey, GTG contributor
"It’s been a staycation summer for me with zero tanning opportunities. Luckily my pasty legs have been saved by the wonderful Sunlite Tinted Leg Cream by Legology. This cool, tinted cream gives your pins a sun-kissed finish in an instant. Plus it smells of sunny times and is formulated to energise and contour the legs. Not surprisingly I’m almost out and it’s at the top of my repurcahsed list this month!"
"Despite the lack of summer sun we've had, my face has been glinting thanks to this foundation. I’ve been applying it daily with a makeup sponge and it’s proved a perfect base. It contains illuminating pigments, vitamin C and SPF 16. It’s on my desert island must-have list and I’m just about to replenish."
"My new beauty love is the Rebalancing Elixir by Perricone MD which I’ve been patting on after cleansing my face at night. It’s like a kiss in a bottle. This calming, moisturising and invigorating tonic rebalances the skin instantly. It contains 99 per cent pure CBD which apparently is great for hydration. It also contains a mushroom complex to soothe and has been formulated with cherimoya, a fruit extract that calms sensitive skin. It’s quite expensive so I'm saving my pennies for the replacement."
Wild Deodorant, £15 for a starter pack
"One of my favourite sustainable and eco-beauty brands is Wild Deodorant. It’s 100 per cent natural, aluminium free and very effective. You buy a reusable metal case and the fully compostable plastic free refills can be ordered online. I noticed they have launched a strawberry flavour which I'm ordering next."
"During the long lockdown, when professional beauty treatments were off the agenda, I’d luxuriate in the bath with this mask. It's like a facial in a jar. It's formulated with chillies to warm up the skin and packed full of minerals and cleansing clays. I’m almost out now and with autumn on the horizon, it’s on my shopping list."