We all have a dress, coat or pair of shoes that not only makes us feel good when we wear it, but reels in flattery over time. Not that praise on our appearance is fundamental to our self-esteem, but you know, a kind word and nod of appreciation can have the power to turn a crappy day around, or bolster an already brilliant one. Given that we test gazillions of beauty bits, it’s telling when a few standout products get noticed by onlookers (or ‘onsmellers’), and they’re not always the freshest launches or the products you’d expect. Here are the liners, lotions and lippies that consistently get us noticed. Not bigging up our bad selves, just sharing the love.
From perfumes to lipstick to good old SPF (it CAN be flattering), we share the products that get the most public appreciation...
Le Labo Rose 31 perfume , £165
This fragrance is definitely a talking point. People have stopped me and asked me what I'm wearing before, friends will nuzzle into my neck and ask me what it is. To be honest I'm not surprised, when I first smelt it I was literally hooked. Unlike any other rose scent I've ever come across, Le Labo has used the Centifolia Rose and has transformed what would be traditionally feminine into something really warm and spicy using a heady mix of cumin, Gaiac wood, cedar and amber. With a distinctly physical animal note it is sensual, mysterious, a bit unisex and very moreish. I'm not normally the woody fragrance type (I like cleaner fragrances, usually) but when I smell it on my clothes I too am astounded by its warmth and beauty. Warning- a little goes a long way.
This is probably my most asked about product of all. Whether I'm in a yoga class or on a train people have asked me what I'm wearing. I did the same though when I first smelt it. I was on a shoot and could smell this warm scent and I was going up to everyone saying 'who smells amazing!?’. Eventually I worked out it was the model. This fragrance has a cult following, firstly because it's fascinatingly created from just one chemical or note called Iso E Super. Secondly it is also meant to adapt to your own pheromones making it unique to everyone, and I know many people who layer it with other scents. What does it smell like? It's hard to pinpoint its exact smell (something to do with it being a note that's been man made), as it's not floral or oriental, for example, but I think that it has a velvety, woody scent that just makes you want to keep smelling it. It's this slight ambiguity that I feel makes it so intriguing to the nose.
I don’t think this mascara gets enough air time. It is, in my book, AMAZING, and often people ask me what it is. My cleaning lady asked me if I had eyelash extensions on once when I was wearing it. Why is it so brilliant? It is non-clogging (can't bear a clumpy mascara), seriously lengthening and very defining, giving loooong, lovely lashes that don't look stupidly thick or WAG-like. It also doesn't tend to budge in the gym, in yoga, or after a long day commuting from Oxfordshire to London. I'm a huge fan.
'Have you been away? You look really glowy’ is usually the comment I get if I remember to apply this beauty of a product. I know, I know; it's expensive for a self-tan, but think of it as seriously good skincare and self-tan in one. I love it because it gives just the right amount of an even, bronze glow without looking orange, plus it doesn't sit in pores. Top dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting recommends it on her list of products and that's a seal of approval if ever there is one.
Gemma Bellman, Managing Director
This has got to be my most complimented item of makeup to date. I use it for full lip coverage, rather than just lining the edges, as I love the rich colour and matte finish it gives. I also wonder whether all that "colouring in" gives my lips a slight added pout! Compliments generally come in the form of ‘where is you lipstick from’ followed by instant surprise and delight when they hear it's actually a just a pencil - it's like they've just been let in on the world's best kept lip cheat secret (which they have)! This piece of kit is in my handbag at all times.
Judy Johnson, Online Editor
I cannot bear the feeling of hair on me, and don’t particularly like my lacklustre and fine locks either, so it is usually swept back in any kind of up-do that I can get away with without looking too shabby. I used to find as many ways as I could to avoid a ponytail, but sometimes hair length doesn’t allow for much experimentation and so hair accessories come into play. I’m known for my love of headbands (hello Ibiza style all year round) but this year I discovered Kitsch hair ties- super soft, super cute ribbon-like elastic ties in all sorts of colours and prints. They’re so bright and pretty that whenever I wear them my colleagues and friends compliment me, which is good going when all I’ve done is tied my hair back in 10 seconds flat. I doubt I’ll ever use a standard hair band again.
My friends don’t realise that this is what they’re complimenting (until I tell them, in that classic beauty-writer-enthusiasm way), but I wear Clinique’s City Block every day of the year under my foundation or alone - and I’m always getting compliments for my skin looking clear, glowy or feeling ridiculously soft. For someone who writes about her many sensitive skin woes and is usually hiding a reaction or redness, this is quite a coup; I’ve even had (close) friends stroke my face (yes, it is a little odd) and comment on how soft it feels - and I swear it’s all down to this sun-blocking, gently tinted wonder which has the smoothest, lightest, creamiest texture I know.
Victoria Woodhull, Deputy Editor
I have actually just cribbed this non-greasy but highly moisturising day cream from my friend, who recommended it precisely because she was receiving so many compliments. I too spotted how glowing her skin looked in it; she was recommended it by top naturopathic doctor and skin expert Dr Nigma Talib, and I hear makeup artist Lisa Eldridge is a fan too.
Interestingly, my friend and I have completely opposing skin types (apart from the fact that we are both in our 40s, with youthful sun damage coming home to roost). Hers is problematic oily/combination skin and mine is dry, yet we both love it. It has enough coverage to even out skin tone and is sufficiently moisturising to go straight over my serum. I bought it and she immediately noticed when I was wearing it - it gives a distinctive luminosity to skin, which adds a touch of smoke and mirrors for wrinkles. I actually spotted it recently on someone I'd only just met. It comes in two shades, dark or light. If like me you have pale skin, you can mix the two if you want to go a bit more bronzed. The broad spectrum sun protection is a must for me. It’s a great anti-ageing radiance booster for all skin types.
Sarah McGinnis, Art Editor
When you get complimented on the quality of your skin, it's an instant confidence boost, however bad your day is going. My skin is noticeably dull and uneven during the winter months. Long gone is my summer glow and my face often reflects the cloudy grey skies. It's incredibly dry and breaks out so much more! Enter life's hero product: Revitalise & Glow Serum by Aurelia. Whenever I wear this serum it gives my overall complexion a boost and people remark on how refreshed my skin looks. Skin is noticeably more even and glowy, with red and uneven patches disappearing, which means less faffing with foundations and concealers! It really 'wakes the skin up' in the morning and I feel it has instant results.
I am yet to find a kohl eyeliner to beat this waterproof one from YSL. Whenever I wear it, I'm told my eyes are looking bright, sparkly and blue - I literally wear it everyday and if I don't for some reason, people really notice, apparently I look tired, or run down (no that’s just my face!) so I vow to wear YSL forevermore. Its soft and creamy texture allows you to build up intensity easily, plus it’s a deep, jet black, so much better than those pencils where you keep going over your waterline and are then left with a grey smudge. It's 100% budge-proof. It survives my whole work day (including long commutes), hot yoga classes and even a bout of tears (not that I cry everyday - but it’s handy to know!). If this ever discontinues, I would probably spend a good few weeks behind closed doors until I found a replacement - which is I think, not possible.
Anna Hunter, Senior Features Writer
They got the ‘major’ bit right with this mascara - its effect, and audience reactions to it, are pretty remarkable. From fellow beauty nuts to casual acquaintances and boys in my life who don’t normally notice these things, when I wear this mascara it provokes comments such as ‘who does your insane lashes?’ (that’ll be MJ) to ‘how do you get them that long?!’ (hey MJ) to ‘you look very fluttery’ (boy comment). Unbeknownst to me one of my colleagues started to wear it fairly recently and I threw such lines at her too, just so you know I’m no natural Bambi. This sooty, darker that night, thickening, luscious, long-lasting and nothing short of smoking mascara is the best to come on the market in a long while, in my eyes. It was inspired by the effect of velvet ribbon, and it’s as luxe as it sounds. Layer it up and feel the compliments flow.
This silver bulleted beauty feels like a proper, grown-up lipstick, and given my struggles to find a nude that doesn’t make me look embalmed, this shade is just the thing for brightening and enhancing lips that are naturally darker than the standard ‘beige’. It dials up the natural tone of my lips, and the mango oil infused formula adds a plump sheen that makes you look alive and kissable even if you’ve gone down with the lurgy and feel a bit deathlike. I’ve had enquiries from beauty editors and family members alike as to what I’m wearing, which never normally happens unless I’ve gone full fire engine red, and I’m yet to meet a better formula in terms of moisturising power plus longevity (the holy grail of lip colour). It’s joli indeed.
Ayesha Muttucumaru, Senior Features Writer
Ever since I was 16, liquid eyeliner has been my most trusted beauty tool and a feline flick, my favourite look. A committed relationship to say the least, this however has been the extent of my loyalties because when it comes to brands, I’ve been around the block a fair few times…
Dalliances with L’Oréal, flirtations with Stila and one mad night with both Eyeko and Charlotte Tilbury have made for a fun-filled past, but there’s only one man that’s made this former commitment-phobe the most faithful of partners - Tom Ford. Created with the inkiest of blacks and the slickest of formulas, it’s made quite the impact on my darker skin tone. Most noteworthy though is its choice of two differently shaped nibs - one with a longer tip; the other, slimmer and smaller - to make it suitably equipped to tackle either long, sleek wings or precision touch-ups for fine-tuning my handiwork. Certainly not the most affordable, but definitely the most eye-catching, it’s the one people always comment on, (also funnily enough, when I feel the inclination to stray).
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer , £22.50
Without tempting fate, I’ve fortunately been blessed with relatively good skin. Due to genetics and questionable sleeping habits though, my dark circles warrant a little more coverage than my daily tinted moisturiser can offer - and this is where this concealer comes in. Like butter for my bags, this beautifully formulated cover-up melts into my skin like a dream to leave supreme evenness and regularity in tone in its wake. An effective add-on to my lightweight base of choice (my skin would revolt if I used a foundation all-over on a day-to-day basis), it helps provide a much-needed pep talk for times when my complexion’s showing the skin-sapping effects of fatigue and when people comment on how healthy my skin looks, well, NARS has definitely played a pivotal role in that...
Lorna Patrick, Marketing Assistant
When I wear this fragrance everyone always wants to know what it is. It's unlike anything I've ever smelt before, with notes of pink pepper, cinnamon and bergamot, with Damask Rose, cypriol, Indian sandalwood and finished with tonka bean and Bourbon vanilla. It's the perfect mix of fresh, spicy and feminine and I can't get enough of it (and apparently everyone else can't either!).
I always get compliments on this. I love a bold lip and this long lasting liquid lipstick is just that. From the deep red shade to the gorgeous finish, everyone always wants to know what’s on my lips, whether I’m running around in the lipstick during the day, in the office or even in the ladies loos. Everyone wants to get their hands on this lippy it seems!
Gemma Painter, Digital Marketing Manager
MAC Pigment , £16
It seems like a while since anyone has commented on any of my beauty products - certainly while on my face (away from the face and in the drawer seems to get the most of compliments), and perhaps that is because I am not so frequently bright and bold as I used to be (age is catching up on me), but one product that seems to catch the attention of my ‘admirers’ is MAC’s loose powder pigment. The pigment is, I believe, designed primarily for use on and around the eyes, although MAC does a good job of never actually giving you any direction, so you could be encouraged to find other applications for the product (there is certainly enough powder in the pot to go around).
Needless to say, I tend to use MAC’s pigment to add an arresting streak of luminous colour to my eyes - not too much, but just enough to highlight or complement aspects of a particularly bright garment or to draw interest out of an otherwise plain black outfit. There are neutral shades available, but it is the brightest of MAC’s colour options that crowd my bag of cosmetics (you can find 45 shades in total), and I always opt for these eye shadows in loose powder instead of MAC’s eyeshadow compacts, simply because the colours are that much brighter, and I always go for matte (Basic Red, Red Electric, Rock-It Yellow) as the pearlescent colours are too soft and ‘dreamy’ for the look I like to achieve. That being said, I do use one pearlescent pigment - Old Gold. This is a stunning rose gold that is excellent for adding a glow to the corner and highbrow area of your eyes, or to line under the edge of the lower lid to contrast against darker makeup on the eye. MAC’s pigments are perfect for any look where you want a hint of colour all year round, and they really catch the light.