Given that it's our job to tell you about all the newbies in the beauty world, it's rare we get to finish any products (hard life, we know) so if we do hit pan on a blusher or get to the bottom of a tub of moisturiser, you just know it's good. With everything a bit strange this summer, we've all been seeking comfort in familiar things, be that a cleanser we know does the job with zero fuss or a serum that takes down redness brought on by stress. Here are team GTG's beauty empties that have seen us through this most bizarre of summers.
If we've finished something, cut open the tube and squeezed out every last drop, you know it going to be good...
Irene Forte Orange Blossom Body Oil, £99 for 100ml
"Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the nicest body care I have ever used. Sublimely scented with a mixture of orange blossom and pistachio, it's designed to promote calm and made me look forward to bedtime every night when I could lavish my limbs with this easily absorbed oil. It left no stickiness, just supremely soft skin that was very dry after weeks of fake tan usage. I've replaced my empty with Aveeno Daily Moisturising After-Shower Mist , £4.99 for 200ml."
Freck Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner, £22.50 for 210ml
"When we were in the midst of the heatwave (miss you, come back!) I loved using this fresh-feeling toner every morning post-shower. Lactic acid banishes dead skin cells for a more glowy complexion while cactus flower extract prevents moisture loss from the surface of the skin - ideal for a hit of hydration when I was working outside most of the time. This made my skin feel zingy and fresh even on the balmiest of days. I've replaced my empty with Fenty Skin Fat Water Toner Serum , £25 for 150ml."
No. 1 Nourishing Face Serum, £88 for 30ml
"Despite doing less in my day-to-day life this summer, I still didn't feel like performing a long and complicated nighttime skincare routine every evening, so after cleansing, I'd just apply three or four drops of this heavenly floral-scented serum to my face before hitting the pillow. Even though I was only using one product at night, my skin was clearer, plumper and more radiant than it was when I was following a multi-step evening regime. I've replaced my empty with Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil , £62.10 for 30ml."
Starface Space Wash, £13 for 124ml
"I normally like an all-singing, all-dancing cleansing to use in the morning but this year I had a summer romance with this pared-back, fragrance-free foaming face wash. It's soap-free and paraben-free and is made with white willow bark extract to exfoliate and help prevent clogged pores, sage leaf extract to reduce irritation and holy basil leaf extract to treat and prevent skin infections. Any spots that dared rear their head quickly retreated while I was using this. I'm now trying Cerave Hydrating Cleanser , £9.50 for 236ml."
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir, £60 for 30ml
"My Vanderohe serum was reserved solely for night time, while in the morning I applied this to my face and I can honestly say when I reached the bottom of this bottle, it's the first time I've ever finished a serum. Terrible admission for a beauty journalist. This was a pleasure to use, sinking in easily and I don't know if it's all the crystals in the formula or more likely the niacinamide, my skin looked fresher and brighter with a more even tone."
Replaced with: Also Fenty Skin Fat Water , because it's a toner / serum hybrid.
Marie-Louise Pumfrey, GTG contributor
Coola Mineral Cucumber Face SPF 30, £36 for 50ml
"I’d been long under the assumption that SPF in foundation is enough protection for the face. But this is not the case. All the experts recommend dedicated sun protection, worn every day no matter the season. This is my favourite; it's particularly good for oily skin because it's mattifying, but really it's perfect for everyone. It glides on like a primer, giving a soft matte finish and works perfectly under any foundation. I love that it's a natural mineral sunscreen, using sustainably sourced ingredients including evening primrose, linseed, safflower and plankton extract, plus, omega-rich acai oil to strengthen and rejuvenate the skin. There’s even a tinted version which would be ideal if I was going on holiday this year."
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, £18 for 75ml
"I was given a pot of this heaven scented body cream a few months ago and have been obsessed with its fragrance ever since. Think pina colada sundowners on a Brazilian beach bar, after a long sizzling ocean side day. This is a cult, award-winning product and for good reason. It’s infused with caffeine-rich guarana extract to help tighten the skin, plus cupuacu butter, acai oil, coconut oil and the addictive pistachio and salted caramel fragrance. If the staycation is not cutting it this summer, one whiff of this will transport you to holiday heaven."
The Nue Co Magnesium Ease, £28 for 60ml
"I’m never been a great sleeper; I’m either too hot, too anxious, my brain is buzzing or I need the loo. However, I’ve found that the Nue Co Magnesium Ease spray does help. According to studies, most of us are deficient in magnesium which impacts on our sleep. Three sprays of this deliver 40mg of magnesium which is instantly absorbed through the skin. Plus, there’s lavender and arnica oil in it too to help aid relaxation and muscle tension. My evening magnesium spritz is such a tonic and it smells divine. It seems I'm not the only mega-fan, as this is currently sold out. Keep your eyes peeled for a restock!"
L'Oréal Sublime Bronze Self Tan Express Mist Spray Face, £11.32 for 75ml
"My daughter, a self-tan veteran, put me onto this at the start of lockdown. I’m now onto my third can as it's so good. This face mist tans you in an instant with a quick spritz. All you do is close your eyes, spray and go. There are no orange palms and a golden, natural tan develops in a few hours. Plus, it doesn’t have that horrid self-tan cookie smell. Only complaint, my daughter keeps pinching it."
Victoria Woodhall, GTG Editorial Director
Dove DermaSpa Summer Revived Gradual Self Tan Mousse, £4.99 for150ml
"Dove’s mantra is all about confidence in your skin and it's true, I really do like the feel of my skin and the spa-like scent of this gradual tan, which is also a long-lasting moisturiser. It's such a bargain too – normally a tenner but currently half price at Boots and has kept my (fake) tan going. It’s quite subtle in colour so I’ve been using Medium-to-Dark every other day and will switch to the lighter one over winter."
Beauty Pie Featherlight UVA/UVB SPF 25, £35 members pay £9.90 for 50ml
"This fine, hydrating fluid is the best broad-spectrum SPF to wear under makeup and has been my staple for the last two years. I’m switching up my empty now for Beauty Pie’s new Featherlight SPF 50 version £45, members pay £10.09, which is equally light and has peptides and to reduce stress in the skin and is also a primer. Light enough for oily skin types too. (Not a member of Beauty Pie? Sign up with code GTGSENTME and get and extra £50 spending allowance)."
"Another gem that’s lasted me a good couple of years but which has come into its own this summer now that we’re all sweating under our face masks, this superfine clay mask is a physical scrub without the harsh ‘bits’ as well as a gentle pore cleansing treatment. I use it once or twice a week and it’s really satisfying rubbing off the dried mask with your fingertips and reveal clean-but-not-squeaky skin underneath."
Squish Smoosh Vegan Moisturiser, £40 for 50ml
"How much do I love this tortoiseshell pot? When a cream is scent-free as this one is, having gorgeous packaging adds that extra sensory element that makes you just want to dive in. It’s suitable for sensitive and spot-prone skin, but I think it’s a great all-round calming moisturiser for anyone day or night."
Leonor Greyl Soin Repigmentant conditioning hair toner, £39 for 200ml
"When my tinted hair started to go brassy, this totally natural pigmenting silicone-free conditioner (you leave it on for 10 minutes) came to the rescue, making it look more like my salon colour again. It doesn’t cover greys but makes them less noticeable because the rest of your hair looks chic and glossy. Every time you use it, it deposits more pigment. If your hair isn’t coloured, one of the four shades (blonde, copper, brown, black) is sure to add vibrancy."
"This is a powerful vitamin C treatment that launched earlier this year and I've been using it two or three times a week (they suggest you build up to avoid sensitivity). I've definitely noticed my crow's feet improving and the skin under my eyes looking somewhat brighter."
Heliocare 360 Color Cushion Compact SPF50+, £31 for 15g
"I can’t tell you how useful this cushion-foundation has been in our new touch-free world. It’s great for top-ups – both of SPF and colour – over makeup (you can just dab it on with the sponge) but also acts as a great everyday light base in itself. Fans of this trusted performance suncare brand will know that it also gives you a noticeable luminous healthy glow."
Margaret Dabbs Hand Sanitiser, £25 for 200ml
"When I had friends round for a picnic last week and I handed out the hand sanitiser (as you do these days) everyone commented on how soft this one felt. It has emu oil to protect the hands but doesn’t feel greasy or sticky or have that ‘vodka shot’ smell. You’d never guess it had the required 60 per cent alcohol to kill viruses. It's a massive pot that keeps on going, but you can also but the £12 travel size too."
Aromatherapy Associates Rose Enrich and Uplift Shower Oil, £26 for 250ml
"This summer Aromatherapy Associates came out with four new oil-to-milk shower oils and the uplifting rose scent is my favourite. When I have got out of bed feeling a bit low and lacking in motivation this has helped clear my head and put me on a more positive frame of mind. It makes a great gift too."
Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti Pollution Sunshine Drops, £30 for 30ml
"Another product bought last year (or even the year before) that just lasts and lasts. A minuscule pump in your serum or moisturiser brightens up sallow days and makes you look instantly beachy. I use it all year round. It’s super useful in summer if your normal foundation looks a bit pale. I love the fact that it has pollution protective ingredients too."
Jemma Thompson, GTG social media and designer
Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer Deep Bronzer, £12.99 for 11g
"There’s a reason why we all got so excited when this cult US fave ventured across the pond last year and the proof is in the pudding. This ultra-luxurious and incredibly blendable bronzer instantly melts into skin, sealing-in moisture to deliver instant and lasting hydration. It features a blend of murumuru butter, cupuacu butter and tucuma butter that gives you a radiant goddess glow, it would be in my desert island makeup bag; you can see why I hit pan with this one, I can’t get through summer without it!"
Code8 Radiate Beauty Balm SPF15, £41 for 30ml
"When it comes to summer, I’m all about the glow; but on hotter days I want to swap the need for makeup for a refined routine. So, I turn to this, an illuminator, BB cream and SPF all in one. I’ve always found it hard to find a tinted moisturiser / BB cream with light to medium coverage that I can get on board with, however, this is the one. It disguises any blemishes yet remains so lightweight and long-wearing, even throughout the crazy August heatwave. I’m trying to think of ways to get every last drop out of the tube."
"If I want to venture away from my CODE8 Beauty Balm for a slightly more au natural look, I still reach for my oldie but goodie UD concealer in summer. (Yes, my “no-makeup makeup” still requires a fair amount of effort). If you like just a dab of concealer with a natural finish but still full coverage take note, it’s perfect for under eyes, spots and any touch-ups. Buildable, luminous and it’s like a second layer of skin, tears are always wept when I run out of this in times of need.
Becca Skin Love Glow Shield Prime & Set Mist, £22.00 for 70ml
"What’s summer without a little mist action? If I could have a gadget to automatically spray this on my face ten times a day, I 100 per cent would. You could say I was addicted to this spray, but when something gives you such a beautiful illuminating glow it’s hard to resist. In typical Becca form, this multi-tasking spray cools, sets, revives and rejuvenates your complexion and is fuelled by their Brightening Hydra Complex - a blend of ingredients that help brighten, hydrate and nourish the skin. Plus, it smells like a tropical cocktail!"
Amika Supernova Moisture & Shine Cream, £20 for 100ml
"When you have to cut something open three times, you know it’s a goodun. Over the years I’ve tried a lot of hair products but there’s only a handful that I truly love. I wasn’t expecting much when I initially tried it, but after the first use I had to refrain myself from going overboard with how much I was applying. It conditions locks and leaves them feeling soft, silky and frizz-free without weighing down your hair. It gave my hair the boost I needed to embrace my curls this summer, my only wish is that they made the size bigger."
Catherine Fullwood, GTG business development manager
Tan-Luxe Super Glow Body Hyaluronic Self-Tan Serum, £35 for 150ml
"Having been addicted to the face serum last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the body version. I, for one, can’t get through the summer months without a good self-tan. This sinks in in a flash, doesn’t dry out the skin or transfer to sheets. Best of all it doesn’t streak which is perfect for my haphazard application."
Glossier Futuredew Oil Serum Hybrid, £23 for 30ml
"I picked this up on launch when I was visiting my sister in New York and this is the third bottle I’ve finished in the last few months. It looks great under or over makeup and is the perfect pick me up for when my skin is feeling a little lacklustre. Plus the bottle is pink and sparkly, what’s not to love?"
Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick, £32 for 10g
"I’m not usually one for a foundation stick but I fell head over heels for this, plus the range of shades offered is amazing. It blends perfectly, keeps skin glowy and I found it extremely easy to build up coverage. I keep this in my bag at all times."
Morphe Continuous Setting Mist, £16 for 79g
"I can’t believe I only started using a setting mist this year, it’s an absolute gamechanger! Apply between each layer of makeup for best results; this one leaves you looking dewy and makeup does not budge. A must for me and a definite repurchase."
Chanel Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream Cream-Gel Bronzer, £42 for 30g
"If I’m honest I’m usually scared of bronzers, being quite pale I can end up looking a little dirty. But this cream-gel bronzer felt much more gentle and the right tone for me. Does what it says on the tin; a healthy glow and the closest I’ll get to looking like I spent the summer poolside."